Soul Alone 3: Forgiveness
Written by Justine

Notes: This story concludes the Soul Alone trilogy. It might be a good idea to read the two previous stories to better understand the plot.

Tim sat in the darkness, without company, without sound. The vague scent of the candle he'd lit to relax his taxed sensibilities bounced along his senses seeking to provide solace amid the aggressive emotions that lately controlled him. The temperature in the room was nearing seventy but Tim was freezing and pulled his sweater tight around his slender frame. Even though it was technically spring, he icy chill in the weather had him feeling lower than usual. Tim hated the cold, especially winter. The sinister way the trees resembled shattered skeletons with clumps of snowy skin clinging to their broken bones always reminded him of a mass grave of murder's he'd worked a few years back. All young men, all tortured, all dead.

Life, death, and in his case, life again. His cycle was so damn screwed up. No wonder he didn't seem to fit in. With Frank he was a part of something extraordinary. Partners. God, the word had meant so much to him then. He remembered feeling sorry for Munch when Bolander left and when Crossetti killed himself Tim had been in shock. Poor Munch and Lewis, their partners were gone. He'd thought at the time that he could handle Frank leaving like Bolander, at least he'd be alive and well. But Frank dying? He trembled.

Even then, in the early stages of their partnership Tim knew that Frank would be his best friend even if his partner would never agree with him. His faith in that belief didn't waver when he confided to Frank about abuses suffered at the hands of his Uncle George and temporarily disbanded their relationship. And it certainly shouldn't have budged an inch after he took a bullet in the back for his friend, dying once on the operating room table and then a million times thereafter from the pain. Of course, when he lived again Frank was gone. For a while he was special, he was someone's partner. But then everything changed and his life collapsed in a whirlwind. It was the biggest shock of his life and Tim felt so out of sorts it was staggering. He was alone. No phone calls or contact. Just a stiffly signed Christmas card with an updated photo of Frank's kids dressed in their holiday finery. How could Frank cut him out of his life so completely?

It had been hard at first but Tim found a way to get involved in life again. He partnered with Munch, who was always interesting, and Shepard who turned out to be a great friend. He missed her since she left the department. Sure he tried, but something was gone from his life. He once told Frank he wasn't confused but damned if that overconfident remark hadn't come back to smack him hard in the face. Tim was more than confused; he was in massive relationship withdrawal. Unable to connect with either men or women, he floated from day to day on a vapor of denial, allowing himself that he was doing okay when in reality his life was a vague breath away from hell.

He couldn't remember exactly when Frank became the center of his universe. The bond between them, at one time so impenetrable had shattered without warning under the weight of conscience and vice. He wasn't surprised when Frank couldn't forgive himself for Tim's shooting. Frank was an emotional guy when it counted even though he didn't wear his heart on his sleeve. Whatever he felt, he felt private and deep. Frank had said it best himself years ago. He wasn't a hugger. But god, how Tim wished he had been. One year without his friend in his life made Tim realize just how badly he missed him. // And how badly you want him, don't forget that.// As if he ever could.

The thought of anything beyond a platonic relationship with his partner had been unthinkable. It was the biggest taboo he could possibly break. No matter how many nights he spent jerking off in his bedroom with images of his desire dancing just out of reach, Tim knew he would never admit his feelings to Frank. Oh, there were times he wondered if Frank suspected that his needy repressed partner harbored secret desires, but if he had any problems they were never mentioned to Tim.

He remembered how disconsolate Frank was when Mary took Olivia and walked out on their marriage and consequently how shocked he had been to find himself finally invited over to Frank's for dinner. Mary was an excellent cook but Tim was too busy watching Frank's thick lips slurp spaghetti to taste much of anything. He sighed. Soon after that evening, their partnership resumed and things went back to normal.

He remembered Frank being gentler with him personally and more cooperative professionally though he was never sure why. It was smooth sailing in calm waters until he had the stupid misfortune to get shot in the middle of a drug war that should never have happened and his guilt-ridden partner took his dying much too personally.

Regardless of the outcome, he'd learned to accept the void in his l ife and try to find ways to make up the difference. Tim found himself slowly pulling away from Frank because it hurt too much to consider him. He made new acquaintances and tried to strengthen old ones.

Chris called him a few times and the routine was the same: a fantastic dinner and passable sex. But it was never what he wanted; it was never good enough. Tim finally had to break their relationship off. His passions had become too self-destructive to risk dimming the one bright point in his near meaningless life. An ill-fated liaison with Roger Fisk ended badly but at least it was a lesson well learned. Always one to display faith too easily, Tim found out one day he'd stopped trusting all together. He didn't trust the suspects he collected in the street, he barely accepted the opinions of the other detectives in the squad room, and he withdrew from personal contact with any possible sexual partners and close friends. Tim wasn't living; he simply existed. He was as vibrant as a stone and too uninvolved in his own life to give a damn.

But then Frank came back, took him to bed and suddenly everything changed.

Tim shuddered and opened his eyes surprised to find the darkness of the meditation was all in his mind. He stood up and fully stretched his lean body, the tips of his fingers nearly reaching the ceiling of the small apartment. Tim walked to the refrigerator and took out a carton of juice. He looked at the living room light guiltily. Ever since the rape he hadn't been able to turn the damn thing off. Tim closed his eyes. His rape. He remembered the pain of penetration with an uncanny sense of familiarity that was terrifying. The humiliation when Barlow touched him was palpable still in the safety of his home, the monster's smile a waking nightmare on the face of every stranger in the street. He moaned softly and put the juice on the counter.

The crab soup he had for supper was acting very unpredictable in his belly and Tim made it to the bathroom just in time to vomit the entire contents of his stomach into the thankfully raised toilet. Nearly a month and it still hadn't got any better. He held himself tight and sat back against the bathtub. The tears fell quickly, dribbling from his lashes and coating the cracked tile floor.

"Oh god," he whispered and closed his eyes. "Oh dear god."


Frank stood outside Tim's door pondering whether or not knocking was a good idea. His friend had been acting strange lately and although Frank knew there was a good reason for his distress, it was maddening to see him close up like a clam instead of chattering away like a parrot. He raised his hand to knock and pulled back. Maybe it was better if Frank stayed out of Tim's life.

What the hell did he ever give him except grief and indecision? But maybe Tim needed him and Frank had promised to be there to help him get on with his life. // Yeah, that's why you've been missing in action for the past two weeks.// He pondered going to his hotel and calling first but he hadn't bothered to check in yet and besides, sometimes Tim kept the phone off the hook or just let his answering machine grab the message anyway. He'd better go in and check on his former partner. After all, he was in the neighborhood. Frank nearly knocked the glasses from Tim's face.

"Frank," Tim stared at him warily. //Partner, friend, lover, which one are you now?// "I saw your car pull up."

"Do I have to beg to get an invitation or are you going to make me talk in the damn hall?" Tim hesitated briefly and Frank feared for a moment that's just what he'd do. But then the familiar flat smile drifted across Tim's pale features and he moved back to let Frank step inside.

"You don't have to keep checking up on me Frank," Tim closed the door and waited.

"I'm not." Frank gazed around the apartment.

"Oh, you're not." Tim's expression lightened.

"No dammit Tim," Frank changed the subject. "How are you sleeping?"

Tim smiled again. "What's sleep?"

Frank moved closer and stared at his recent lover. The light skin was marked by black half-moons starkly situated under captivating hazel eyes. "Something you're not getting enough of obviously."

Tim supported Frank's theory by yawning on cue and flopping lengthwise across the sofa. Frank picked up his ankles and dropped them on the floor, momentarily thrilled by the enticing sight of ten pink toes peeking out from under the bottom of Tim's flannel pajamas. He sat next to his friend.

"You should wear slippers."

"Slippers," Tim said in disbelief. "You're what…concerned about how I dress now?"

"It's cold Tim." Frank lay a hand across Tim's thigh and he jumped like a jackrabbit. "Sorry," Frank frowned and pulled the hand away.

Tim closed his eyes and spoke quietly. "Put it back Frank. Please." He lay his head back over the sofa and breathed in and out. When Frank's hand returned he trembled in relief.

"Just relax," Frank spoke soothingly.

Tim didn't make a sound when Frank put his arm around his shoulders and pulled him into a gentle embrace. It was strange to have Frank touching him again, to have anyone touching him really. He nuzzled Frank's shoulder for a moment before shrugging free and sitting up with a small smile. "Thanks Frank."

Frank watched Tim move away in dismay. God, it was so hard. Images of Tim writhing beneath him, clinging to his arms and panting with desire as Frank thrust in and out of his sweaty body gripped him hard and Frank shuddered. Making love to Tim held a sweetness and passion he hadn't expected. When he was finally inside the lithe, familiar body Frank took no prisoners. One push, then another, Tim on the edge of a dangerous precipice and Frank trying desperately to hang on to a sense of reality that suddenly seemed very far away. He sighed. The erstwhile rookie once so enamored of his more experienced partner and t he jaded former detective struggling with the emptiness of life after the badge. What a pair they still made.

Frank shook his head and searched Tim's expression. "How's work?"

"You're full of questions today." Tim reached for an empty glass and noted Frank's sour grimace when he poured himself a shot of bourbon.

"I don't seem to be getting any answers."

"Ahh, that's 'cause you're out of practice. You know, civilian life and everything Frank." He swallowed in one gulp. "Why are you here?"

Frank watched transfixed as Tim's throat flowed elegantly. It was so damn long. Everything about him was long. "I'm concerned about you. The counselor told Gee you missed the last session."

"And Gee told you, right?"

Frank frowned. Tim wasn't angry; in fact he looked like he didn't care at all. "I wouldn't think that would bother you Tim."

"It's not your business anymore Frank. That's all I'm saying," Tim moved to pour another. "Besides, I didn't think the sessions were mandatory."

"Gee seems to think otherwise." Frank paused. "He's worried about you."

"Oh." Tim sighed in mid pour. "And what about you?"

"Don't get so defensive. I just asked about work."

"You really wanna know how work is going?" He put the bottle down and stared at Frank. "I'll tell you how it's going."


"Gee treats me with kid gloves like he thinks I'm gonna break or something. Munch doesn't really know what the hell to say to me but I've noticed he sometimes gets my coffee in the morning and it's driving me crazy. Ballard, she tries hard but it kind of freaks her out you know? Falsone acts like I have leprosy but then he always did that before the rape anyway. Gharty I don't know and I don't care. The homophobic bastard probably thinks I asked for it. But Lewis really bugs me Frank. Lewis I really don't understand one bit. It's like Emma Zoole all over again with the cold shoulder I've been getting. It really pisses me off that Shepard left the squad since she's the only I'd be able to talk to." He winced and turned away. // That didn't come out well at all..// Tim took a deep breath. "I had to come back. I was going crazy here with nothing to do just thinking about it and staring at the walls. To much time on my hands..." He noticed the look on Frank's face.

Frank was stunned. "You can talk to me Tim."

Tim's laughter was unexpected. "Right."

"What? Did I say something funny?" Frank fumed.

"You expect me to talk to you about being assaulted. Mr. I'm not a hugger, you Frank?" Tim shuddered. "No."

"I thought we'd come to an understanding of sorts." Frank sat on the edge of the sofa watching Tim. He looked terrible. It didn't take a practiced detective's eye to notice the red rimmed eyes and pale lifeless features. But what really bothered Frank was the cold hatred evident in the once warm hazel eyes. The anger wasn't directed at him, Frank knew, but a result of the rape ordeal that had reshaped quite a few lives. Tim was in pain and Frank didn't know what the hell to do about it.

"I understand you fine." Tim poured another drink and made it vanish just as quickly. "I haven't seen you in weeks."

"I've been busy," he frowned. "Not the best excuse I know, but it's all I have."

"Huhh." Tim tried hard not to shudder. //What the hell are we pretending at anyway?// The room spun a bit. He was starting to feel extremely light-headed.

"I want to help you." Frank glanced away.

"Sure you do Frank. I know that. You're concerned that maybe I read too much into our little tryst. That maybe your over emotional friend will want the great straight Frank Pembleton to screw him again. Is that right partner?" Tim moved his face to within inches of his startled friend. "Don't flatter yourself." He considered. "Or maybe you're surprised that, ah…I don't know…maybe that you kinda enjoyed me Frank. So you want to... what…sample again?

"Tim, that's not why I'm here." Frank was shocked by the hostility in Tim's voice. "What happened between us has nothing to do with this.

"It has everything to do with this!" Tim shouted. " We had sex, remember? Or did you conveniently forget that aspect of "what happened between us" Frank? We had sex and you walked out and then I had sex again, only not with you this time Frank." He sighed. "What the hell do you want? I…" Tim stopped suddenly and closed his eyes.

"You didn't have a choice." Frank hated the expression on Tim's face, a distant pained glare he couldn't recall ever seeing before.

"Oh, I had a choice Frank. That's part of the problem." Tim held his gaze.

"You didn't have sex with Barlow Tim. Not in the way you're saying anyhow." Frank shook his head. Why the hell was he putting himself through this?

"Do you think I need you to tell me I was raped Frank?" Tim couldn't laugh anymore. He didn't have the strength.

Frank moved closer but Tim pulled away. "What *do* you need?"

He shuddered, the response as painful as it was honest. "You, here, now." Tim turned to Frank quietly and placed one elegant finger over his lips. "But I can't." He smiled. "It was good though wasn't it? Us I mean. Not just the sex, which was of course fantastic, I mean it was wow Frank. But when we were together as partners. We moved so good together…our ideas, our thoughts, we were in-sync and it was beautiful."

"It seems we're in-sync when it comes to everything Tim."

Tim wished he could stop trembling but Frank was so damn close. "How did I get so fucked up? I've been asking myself that question a lot lately." He reached for the bourbon and flinched when Frank's strong hand covered his. "Don't…"

Frank squeezed the pale fingers until Tim squeezed back. "Let me in Tim. Talk to me."

"There's nothing to say."

"I think there is." Frank waited patiently. // I can still outlast you partner. Not everything's changed.//

"Well, strange as this may seem, it wouldn't be the first time you were wrong Frank."

"Oh, I don't think I'm wrong." He paused. "You're not being honest."

"Truth, right? Your god Frank not mine."

"You can lie to yourself all you want but I see the pain. There's hurt in you Tim and you got to face it." Frank wanted so badly to touch him.

Tim shuddered. Why here, why now? "I'm so tired. I feel…" Tim closed his eyes. What would his friend think if he knew that Tim drank himself to sleep most nights in a desperate attempt to keep the bizarre combination of nightmares at bay? That it was a freakin' challenge for him to even get up and shower in the morning? He cringed. Or that suddenly, oh so very suddenly for Timmy, sex was a bad, bad thing again, and after all he'd been through in his life, that was the most painful thing of all. Tim stared at Frank, his eyes vacant, his expression numbed. "I need to sleep Frank."

"Fine. We agree on something." Frank stood up and shut off the light. "I'll keep you company." The look on Tim's face hit him hard. "On the couch Tim," he added miserably. "On the couch."


The first thrust tore a cry from his ravaged throat. The second had him biting back tears.

It was unbelievable that something he once thought of as enjoyable could bring such excruciating pains to his thoroughly exhausted body. Barlow's cock throbbed within him, filling him completely and extending his already sore flesh to shelter it's blossoming thickness. He pulled out, then shoved back in, the wicked smile on his face turning Tim to stone. His erection buried deep to the root, again and again, with each cruelly timed stroke, brushing arrogantly across Tim's prostate until the soulless arousal of the orgasmic sensations instilled him with a nausea from which there was no escape.

Tim kept his eyes open at Barlow's directive, shuddering as the sweat soaked face of his attacker jostled above him, radiant with lust as he pummeled into the deepest recesses of his used body. He gripped Tim's hips, savagely bucking and thrusting, large fingers digging into and bruising the pale vulnerable flesh as Barlow gathered Tim closer against his muscular waist.

"Oh, yes…you like this don't you?" Barlow spread his legs impossibly wide and lifted Tim across his heavy thighs. "I'm gonna give you more of what you asked for."

Tim wanted to scream that he didn't ask for anything, didn't want the pain of the penetration or the flickering possessiveness of the lifeless empty touch but his mouth wouldn't allow him to make a sound. He clenched his fists and allowed himself to be taken without regard for the mental or physical agony, his body a cold lump of clay for Barlow to mold as brutally as he wished, his thoughts a haunted haven for a future filled with doubt.

He trembled when a deep thrust brushed his stomach. Barlow grabbed his face and forced him forward, planting a sloppy kiss across his already swollen lips. Tim opened his mouth immediately, closing his eyes for a brief moment at the feel of Barlow's slippery tongue caressing his teeth and gums. He groaned into the wetness, felt Barlow push down to the base of his throat before pulling away.

"You belong to me Detective and I'm gonna fuck you every chance I get."

"Why?" His voice was barely a whisper.

"It's your punishment. You're a bad boy Timmy." He licked Tim's jaw and cheekbone. "Telling lies about your Uncle George. "


"Shame on you." He nuzzled Tim's chest and bit down hard on one sore nipple, delighted by his shuddery refusal.

"I didn't lie." Tim was crying now, tears flowing down his cheek in time with the beat of his heart.

"Yes you did Timothy. You wanted him too." That wasn't Barlow talking that was... //Oh God.//

He shook violently at the sound of his father's powerful voice and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was a little boy in flannel pajamas, holding a hand to his face where his father recently slapped him. "Liar."

"Please Daddy, I'm not lying."

"LIAR!" He slapped Tim again and stood up to leave the room. When he turned back Tim saw something strange in his eyes, an anger laced with shame and understanding. He crossed the floor toward his son and Tim winced.

He knew it was a dream the moment his father hugged him…

Tim opened his eyes and groaned. He tossed his long legs to the side of the bed and stood shakily.


//Shit.// Frank had been sitting in the chair in his room and not on the couch like they'd originally planned. // So much for leaving me alone.//

"I just need a glass of water." He could barely make out Frank's disbelieving nod in the darkness.

"I can get you that. Get back in bed." Frank watched him warily. He'd been unsure whether or not he should shake his friend and wake him up but in the end the conflicting horrors in Tim's mind did the job for him. The moaning had been unbearable with Tim's body thrashing back and forth across the sheets in a pitiful display, but hearing Tim cry "Daddy" was like a punch to the gut. He bit his bottom lip and tried again. "I said I'll get that for you."

Tim didn't answer, just continued walking across his apartment, stopping at the parlor table and pouring himself a double, before flopping on the couch, bottle and glass in hand.

Frank watched as Tim swallowed the shot in one gulp and poured another just as quickly. "Tim?"

"Don't follow me Frank. Somehow I've done without your sweet concern for the past year. I certainly don't think I need your special brand of…what's it called?… tough love… now." Tim laughed and took another drink. "You did say you loved me that night, didn't you?" He poured again and drank it straight down. "No, wait. That was me Frank. I stand corrected."

Frank stared at him thoughtfully. "I get it now. I know what you're doing."

"What? You get…what?"

"Your destructive behavior." He sat next to his friend. "It's a shield."

"You don't know anything." Tim's voice was slurred slightly. He raised the glass to his lips and drank slowly wishing that Frank would just leave him the hell alone. Tim noticed the worried look on his face and smiled. "I'm fine Frank. I just… hurt. I'm not's not that at all...I'm just tired now." He finished the drink. "Everything's faded."

"Tim…" Frank hated the shattered expression.

"I can't get it out of my head. It's stuck there, you know, kind of like in limbo or something."

"Let me help."

"I want to Frank." He shuddered. "I miss us so much." Tim searched Frank's face for any hint of desire, however fleeting, that would allow him to believe they still had a chance to be together. He wondered what he needed from his friend: sexual fulfillment, companionship, or understanding? The one night spent in Frank's arms was the most intense and erotic experience of his life but he'd made his peace with the possibility that they would not be lovers again. Frank had a life without Tim; Tim was alone without Frank. He sighed. //God, I still want this man. I think I've always wanted him.// Dark thoughts drifted back to Barlow and he trembled. Would he ever be able to make love again? Tim needed to try. It was important to dispel the power of Barlow and his cruel actions and not let them dictate his future with Frank or anyone else. If he made the monster powerless then maybe the pain would fade away.

Frank watched Tim tug his lip nervously. Confusion and hurt dotted his expression and made Tim seem more vulnerable than ever. He wanted to help him, he'd do anything to make it better, but Frank knew it wasn't going to be an easy path for Tim to travel. He thought of Uncle George and frowned. // Why can't anything in his life be simple?// "You have to get past this Tim. Forgive yourself and get on with your life."

"That's what I always do Frank. Push the pain aside and get the hell on with it." He shuddered. "How can I do that? Tell me how the hell you expect me to get past this when I can still feel him inside me?" He clutched his stomach and closed his eyes. "God, make it stop." Tim opened them and stared at Frank. "Give me something to replace it. Please Frank."

Frank caressed the side of Tim's face memorizing every elegant line and curve of his jaw. He leaned in nice and easy, careful not to startle his shaky friend, and kissed Tim softly on the mouth. He heard the throaty whimper in the other man's voice, tasted the bourbon on his breath and deepened the oral embrace, pressing his tongue insistently until Tim's mouth opened with a helpless sigh of delight. Tim fell into his arms immediately and Frank felt his cock start to throb. //Mercy.//

The kiss was soft and sweet, Frank's full lips a comforting balm to the heat of his nightmares. Tim wanted more, god he wanted everything. He pushed his body hard against his lover's, and Frank pulled him closer, plundering his mouth with a desperate need that spoke volumes for his desire. Tim shuddered and imagined them joined as one. Two sweaty bodies consumed by passion, Frank loving him, mounting him, making him beg for more of his exquisite lovemaking. He opened his mouth wider and moaned as their tongues battled for control. Eager fingers tugged down the waistband of Frank's pants and felt his quivering erection, shuddering when it throbbed wildly in his hand.

Frank clutched his damp, wavy hair and sucked Tim's bottom lip, surrendering to the insistent pull of his lover's shaky but zealous excitement. Tim's grip on his cock was steady; the cool elegant fingers driving Frank mad with their relentless tugs and strokes. He groaned, "Tim…" and added his hand over Tim's to continue the intoxicating ministrations. "Yes…baby yes."

He splayed Tim's leg across his thighs, helping his lover sit on his lap, face to face, compressing Tim's lips and yanking their bodies together. Frank smiled at the unchecked fury in Tim's hazel eyes. He wondered if it was too soon to be so demanding with Tim's body, after all it hadn't even been a month since the assault, but his lover was on fire and Frank was finding it increasingly difficult to restrain his own pressing desire

"Do you want this Tim?" Frank gasped raggedly.

Tim moaned his approval into a deep languid kiss releasing his hold on Frank's weeping erection and wrapping his arms around his back. He could feel Frank fumbling with his underwear and trembled when he finally freed his pounding erection, allowing the glistening length to slick carelessly against Frank's own swollen shaft. Their cocks kissed in a delicate rhythm, bodies pounding together groin to groin.

"Oh god Frank."

The heat of Frank's pulsing shaft burned him with its intensity and Tim squeezed the firm head simply to hear the potent ardor of his fevered moans and whimpers. He clung to his lover helplessly, feeling his blood race every time Frank kissed him. God, how he wished they could go on like this forever. The expression of love and lust intermingling on Frank's face thrilled him. He would give himself freely to his lover and let Frank use him as gratefully and thoroughly as Barlow had, forcing his battered body to accept the blunt fury of his cock until he was sobbing for release. Tim willed himself to believe that sex with Frank would be different because Frank loved him.

//But he never told you that, did he?//

He knew what Frank wanted to do to him would be painful, but Tim would allow Frank a million indiscretions. His lover would be screwed tightly inside him and Tim would shudder and moan, keeping his eyes open so Frank would not get angry. He moaned. Why would Frank get angry? It was all so damn confusing since Barlow…he shuddered, suddenly nauseated by the painful images the name conjured. They had made love only once…no, not made love…had sex. Tim gasped as Frank's teeth found his neck and nipped deeply. Sex and love…what the hell was the difference? Suddenly he had to get away from Frank's touch. It was wrong somehow, very wrong to be acting this way. Tim didn't want to fuck. He didn't want to ever experience the pain of penetration again or force himself to enjoy the submissive posturing of having his body brutally invaded. He didn't belong to Frank. He didn't belong to anybody. // Oh god…// Tim sobered up fast and pushed Frank harshly away, standing up and stumbling backwards into the wall.

"Stop touching me!" Tim closed his eyes and started shaking. "I can't Frank."

Frank nodded through half-closed lids, his erection full and heavy against his muscular belly. "I shouldn't have pushed." He stood and dressed himself quickly but decided against approaching his emotionally exhausted friend.

Tim shook his head. "I have to sleep. Work tomorrow…" he mumbled without meeting Frank's eyes.

"I'll leave. After work maybe…" Frank let his voice trail off miserably. His body was still highly aroused and it would take a couple of cold showers before he lost even an ounce of desire. He moved for the door.

Pain filled hazel eyes found his and smiled sadly. He wondered briefly where Frank was staying. He hadn't mentioned anything and Tim honestly didn't think to ask. "Frank…don't go. It's so damn late anyhow."

Frank eyes never left Tim's face as he moved to the sofa. His complexion was wickedly pale, almost translucent in the dim atmosphere. He followed Tim's gaze to the living room lamp and frowned as a look of concern crossed his features. "Don't worry Tim. I won't turn it off."

Lewis frowned at the mountain of paperwork piling up on his desk before darting a quick look to where Tim was sipping a sweet mochachino compliments of John Munch. It had been four weeks since the kidnapping and Lewis still couldn't shake the guilt over the part he played in the injuries inflicted on his friend. //Friend?// Even as he thought about it, the word sounded strange when referenced toward Tim Bayliss.

Sure, they owned the bar together and partnered together on more than one occasion but how well did he really know the man anyway? He'd thought Mike was his friend at one time but even that closeness was questionable. It was heartbreaking, really, the way Mike had grappled with his feelings over the Mahoney shooting. Brave on the outside, his almighty bravado carrying their partnership on faith if not fact, but on the inside Mike was a small child, defensive and scared, wishing only for the suffering to go away and leave him alone forever. Lewis bit his bottom lip and buried his face in an open file, the burning tickle in his nose an unhappy prelude to tears. He shook his head and breathed deeply. Mike made a mistake and forced them all to pay the price. He didn't have a partner anymore, but could he really say he missed his friend? Fat chance. Gone in disgrace and nearly taking Lewis and Stivers with him. Friend indeed. What a tragedy he turned out to be. Lewis cringed at his thoughts and hoped no one noticed the instant regret shading his handsome eatures. He saved your life, he loved you and you needed him. Still need him, Lewis amended. Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. // Dammit, when will I ever get you out of my system?// Lewis sighed and scratched his arm under the cloth cast. The bullet wound had healed nicely. He was glad some things did.

His thoughts turned back to Bayliss. //Well, he's got you to thank for his problems this time.// Just like Moss…just like Mahoney. Tim looked drained, worn down to a state Lewis had never seen him in before. It was frightening the way his eyes clouded over at the slightest hint of personal conversation and how he clenched his fists tight enough to turn his knuckles white when he thought no one was around to notice. Yeah, there was some heavy pain there, but damned if he didn't do his best to hide it. He watched as Munch approached Tim, saw his face turn from blank shield to quiet smile and felt guiltier than ever. // It's all a show put on for our benefit, isn't it Timmy?//

"Thanks John, but you know, really, I don't want…I mean, you don't need to get me a coffee whenever you go to the Grind. It's not that I don't appreciate it but…it's not necessary, okay?" Tim's eyes met his and Lewis looked away.

"It's nothing Tim," Munch interrupted. "I was getting one anyway." Munch smiled but inside he was reeling. What the hell is my problem? He was assaulted, okay; he's not terminal. //Leave it to me to let Tim know that everything's changed for the worse just by being nice to him. I can sure be a moron sometimes.//

It was just so damn hard to experience this. // Not as hard as it is for him John.// Seeing Tim after the rescue, so fragile and alone, shattered him and no matter how he tried to dispel the image of his battered friend, it clung to him like a second skin, a sunburn not quite finished peeling. Raped. God, why did it have to be that? Shot in the line of duty he could accept, they all could, but assaulted? Maybe if Tim's sexual history hadn't been so exposed lately the news would have been easier to take. But let's face it, the guy wasn't exactly an innocent. At least he knew what to expect. Munch flashed back on the weary hazel eyes that thanked him without uttering a sound when he threw a blanket from the paramedics across Tim's trembling shoulders at the rescue scene and frowned at the unfair cruelty of his remark. // Who the hell am I turning into, Gharty?// If more people thought that way Tim was certainly in for a long haul. His lips twisted into a smirk when he made his decision.

Munch sat on the edge of Tim's desk. "Sorry."

"For what?"

"For being a jerk." Munch sighed.

"You're not a jerk," Tim replied. "And besides…this is good." He took another sip.

"Great. Enjoy it Tim. If you want another they cost two-ninety-five." Munch stood up. "Oh, and another thing I'm not your flunky. If you want coffee, get it yourself."

Tim smiled. "Whatever you say John."

Munch shook his head and turned away before bending low to Tim's desk and whispering softly. "Glad to have you back Timmy."

Tim nodded quietly and closed his eyes as Munch departed. Lewis watched the scene with interest. What the hell had Munch said to get that emotional reaction? Munch was his insulting best and somehow Tim found that comforting? Lewis sighed. Why the hell couldn't he speak to Tim normally? Oh they conversed well enough following the assault and he was comforted by the belief that he helped Tim a bit but at work things flowed differently. Maybe it was the guilt that seemed to be eating him alive lately. The depressing feeling that he screwed up every life he touched. First Mike, now Tim. Lewis cringed. He couldn't imagine being in Tim's place and willingly letting Barlow screw his brains out before… // Shit!// No, that's not the way it was. How could he ever forget the tortured eyes that stared helplessly at him when Tim finally regained consciousness or the bruised mouth that made him wince in pain every time he uttered a sound? He remembered wanting to touch him desperately, a half-crazy attempt to verify the warm breath escaping Tim's icy body. //God, my change in attitude must be confusing the hell out of him. Why did I ever make that call?// Lewis shook his head. He didn't have a choice either. When he looked up he was staring into Tim's curious eyes.


"That was pretty low man."

"What?" Tim was confused.

"Munch and the coffee. You know what I'm saying."

"John's just being John." Tim trembled briefly. "I wish more people would follow his lead."

"I…" Lewis said.

"We…" Tim said at the same time. He laughed.

Lewis cringed at the hollow sound. "You first Timmy."

"No you go on."

The phone rang on cue. "Lewis, homicide." He took down the information and looked around. Munch had managed to make himself scarce and Tim was on desk duty for a while.

"Take Bayliss." Gee appeared out of nowhere, his booming voice halting Lewis in his tracks.


"Gee?" Tim stood immediately.

"I think you both heard me the first time. I hate to repeat myself. I really do. It shouldn't be necessary. I hope that's not what you're asking."

"Tim's not working cases Gee. You know that." Lewis's head was spinning. "It's only his second week back." The thought of working with Tim again scared the shit out of him. He didn't know what to say or how to act. Lewis noticed Tim staring at him. Damn, why the hell did he still have to look so freakin' vulnerable?

"I'm ready. Really. I feel good." Tim vocally pleaded with Gee while his eyes begged volumes from Lewis.

"I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing but I do know I'm getting sick of watching you play with that damn cube." Gee smiled. "Bayliss is the secondary. Solve this gentlemen and then we'll take it from there."

Lewis sighed. "Will do lieutenant." Then to Tim, "I'll drive."

"Today, I don't even care." Tim grabbed his coat and glanced at Gee. "I'm okay."

Gee watched his two detectives go with a touch of worry clouding his stern features. He remembered the dead look in Tim's eyes when he recounted the details of the assault. The bizarre contrast between the way his long arms held tight to a body that wouldn't stop trembling and the cold detached demeanor in his voice when he started speaking, chilled Gee to the bone. Who the hell was this man pretending to be Bayliss anyway? "I'm okay", he'd said then, just like today and Gee wondered if he should trust the comment any better nearly four weeks later.

It was strange to see the Pembleton and Bayliss together again, but not so really to see Frank protecting Tim. The pain in the hazel eyes begged for guidance and understanding while their trembling owner offered only vague speeches to the contrary and a flat shaky smile. He suddenly wished his memory wasn't quite so good…

They were talking in the hospital, Tim pale and shivering under a thin hospital sheet, looking like he'd been through hell and back. His mouth was swollen and sore, with four red bruises dotting the sides of his neck. Munch had called them "love bites" and the doctors backed that up using medical lingo that made Gee's skin crawl. His mouth was bruised; the earlier dried blood already wiped away after being checked for saliva samples. The thought of Tim being forced to have sex with the monster that was Barlow made him sick. He didn't want to press the issue, really he didn't, but procedures were procedures and who better than Tim to understand that folly?

"You need to talk to me Tim. I have to know what happened." Gee forced their eyes to meet.

Tim stared back dully. "You know everything. Barlow shot Lewis. He assaulted me. Frank killed him."


"Why? I tell you THAT and you have to ask why?" Tim shuddered violently at the memories. He hated the look of compassion on Gee's face, wanted to wipe it off with one good punch to his arrogant jaw. He clenched his fists.

Gee sighed. "Earlier, at the warehouse, no one mentioned anything about the assault. Now, I'm hearing things…"

Tim brushed off the sentence. "Frank told you. He wouldn't lie Gee. I didn't want anybody else to know." He looked away. "It would have been easier."

"Pembleton did the right thing."

"He's Frank. Of course he did." Tim winced at his sarcasm. He never specifically asked Frank not to tell about the rape but when Lewis kept silent, Tim assumed Frank would as well. But no, trust it to his former partner to choose honesty. Tim winced when a sharp pain shot through his belly. The cramps were becoming less frequent but the occasional twist in his gut still made him nauseous. He rubbed his stomach absently, noticed Gee's eyes following his hand, and pulled back as if struck. "I'm okay."

Gee nodded but offered no other display. "Are they finished with the tests?" Tim squeezed his arms tighter. "Tim? The tests, are they finished?" He was wishing his detective would look more alive, more like the old Bayliss when it suddenly struck him that he hadn't seen that naïve kid in a very long time. Tim, the idealist was gone for good, replaced by a cynic who sometimes seemed to be going through the motions.

"Yeah, Gee. No more tests." His answer sounded more like a plea. "They want me to stay overnight. I want to go home."

"You'll stay," Gee responded with finality.


"That wasn't a request." Gee placed his hand on Tim's shoulder but pulled back when his detective flinched away from the touch.

Tim nodded and lay back on the bed, his face turned slightly away. "Whatever."

Gee smiled briefly and left the room without a backward glance…


Falsone's voice drew him back to the present. "Do you think it's safe for Tim to be out there? I mean, honestly, the guy looks like he's barely standing."

"Bayliss is fine. I trust him to do the right thing." Gee's eyes drilled into the younger man with a slightly threatening posture. "I trust all my detectives," he added menacingly and Falsone didn't argue.

*********************************************************************** The case was a dunker with a bit of a twist.

Sure, they had a killer. A robust man in his early forties, Avery Dowell had confessed immediately to shooting his wife thirty seconds after the detectives arrived on the scene. The slighted husband arrived home from work early to find his wife of twenty odd years wildly carousing with a man fifteen years his senior. Jacob Gilley, the suitor, raced for the back door when the hell fire and commotion started and quickly called the police from his car phone as he zigzagged away.

"Dammit she was fucking an old guy. How's that supposed to make me feel?" He implored Tim hopefully.

"Calm down Mr. Dowell," was his only reply.

The only problem with the case as far as Lewis was concerned was the slight obstacle of the wife. Despite taking two shots to the head and neck, Loretta Dowell was very much alive and breathing though the paramedics stabilizing her at the scene said survival was a definite long-shot.

"We got to go to the hospital Timmy."

Tim groaned inwardly. The hospital was the last place he wanted to go. He watched the paramedics load Mrs. Dowell into the ambulance with a mild sense of detachment. He'd told Gee that day that he didn't need the ambulance, that Frank could take him to any hospital they chose but his lieutenant had insisted and so he and Lewis were bundled up in white blankets and zoomed away in style. God how he'd wanted Frank's company during that long ride. He'd been so afraid and so sick, throwing up once into a small pan alongside his stretcher. // Keep it together dammit!// "Let's go," he said hazily to Lewis. "They're taking her to Hopkins."

Lewis caught the rift in Tim's voice and noticed the peculiar stare he gave the ambulance. "I remember too Timmy." He was surprised when other man smiled.

"Yeah, it's kinda hard to forget." He climbed into the passenger seat of the car and watched as Lewis entered. The swift change of subject made him rethink his position. Lewis was still the same person who helped him through the assault, still the same calm soul who forced him to understand that it didn't matter that Tim had agreed to the sex, rape was still rape.

Lewis had been so gentle with him it was kind of surprising. Tim had to admit he didn't expect much from the guy who's only answer when Tim killed Larry Moss was for him to come over to the Waterfront for a couple of ice cold brewskies. From the therapy sessions he attended Tim knew that a catharsis or emotional outburst at such an acute stage following an assault was something that only happened in the movies. The victims always cried and screamed, venting their way to forgiveness and psychological absolution. If Lewis had tried for that kind of reaction he wouldn't have succeeded but instead he was wise enough to let Tim's understanding come naturally with just a small bit of guidance. Tim boarded the ambulance sure of only one thing: he was not to blame for Barlow assaulting him. He smiled thoughtfully. Maybe that was small potatoes in light of all that happened but to Tim it was a satisfactory delay to an ongoing nightmare. He'd made a conscious decision to have sex with a monster to save his friends from an even worse fate. When he saw Lewis and Frank, battered but breathing, he knew it was a decision he could live with.

Lewis made a sharp turn and stopped at a light. //Dammit Tim, what the hell are you thinking?// He searched Tim's face thoughtfully. "It's weird isn't it?"


"To have a murder with the victim still being alive."

Tim frowned. "Technically it's not a murder yet. She might make it."

"No way no how. You heard the paramedics Bayliss. It would take a miracle for that to happen."

"I don't believe in miracles." Tim's voice was soft and laced with sorrow.

"No such thing in my book either." Lewis started the car and cringed. "But you never know…"


Munch couldn't believe his eyes. Frank Pembleton was walking into the Waterfront for a drink. He looked outside cautiously, half expecting the sky to start falling.

"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in."

Frank acknowledged him with a nod. "I thought Tim had this shift."

"You thought right." Munch smiled. "He's tied up at the hospital with Lewis."

"What happened?" Frank's eyes narrowed in apprehension. "Is he okay."

"Oh, he's fine Frank." He looked at his watch. "Their murder victim's taking a little too long to die."

"I don't want to know about it." Frank considered leaving the bar but changed his mind and took a seat at the counter.

"What can I get you. It's on the house."

"Ice water."

"At least have something carbonated. I hate to drink alone."

"I only want a glass of water."

"Your wish is my command." Munch poured the water and passed it across the counter.

"I heard you got married." Frank smiled showing perfect teeth. "So, who's the lucky lady."

"The lucky lady and I have had a bit of bad luck so I may once again be a bachelor." He sighed exaggeratedly and raised his glass. "To the perils of love."

Frank frowned but made the toast.

"Talk to me Frank. That's what bartenders are for."

"You're a homicide cop."

"If you've committed a crime get a lawyer, if you're worried about Tim, I'm your man." Munch leaned over the bar. "It's pretty hard for you, huh?"

"Well what the hell do you expect John? That bastard drugged and fucked him, played with his mind and used his body to barter for my life. How would that make you feel?" Frank gritted his teeth and turned away. "Get me something stronger."

"It's called guilt Frank. Otherwise known as the bane of human existence. Everybody feels guilt at one time or another." He considered. "Well, maybe not Nixon, but then again, we can't all go to China. Have you told Tim how you feel?" Munch asked calmly. Talk about making a bad situation worse.

"He knows."

"Are you sure?" Munch poured Frank a shot of whiskey. "Look what happened last time you assumed something."

"I never assume." Frank sipped the drink. The burn of the alcohol hit his system in seconds and he took a deep breath. //You're not used to this. Take it slow.//

"I beg to differ." Munch wiped the counter slowly. "You're the king of guilt Frank. You're the guy who dumped his career in the gutter after his partner nabbed a bullet all because of a little guilt. The same guy who was so conflicted and angst ridden over taking Kellerman's badge that you swore never to go back in the box again." Munch smiled without mirth. "What are you doing now Frank? Living the good life in some cushy D.C. apartment with your wife bringing home the big paycheck every week. Taking the kids to daycare and dance lessons? How can you stand the domesticated boredom? Don't you miss it pal? Don't you want us back?"

Frank finished his drink. "I don't need a rundown of my post ." He put on his coat and turned. "If Tim gets here tell him I was looking for him."

"Wait. Don't go." Munch spoke urgently. "Tim should be getting back soon. I have a whole pitcher of ice water with your name on it."

Frank didn't have to be asked twice. It was getting late and he really didn't have anywhere to go. Besides, what Munch said made a lot of sense. He was guilty. Guilty as hell over the negative effect he seemed to have on Tim's life. He couldn't fire his weapon and his partner paid the price in blood. Frank was never prone to nightmares but the ones he had since the shooting were whoppers. He frowned. It was always the same…

…Tim falling forward, blood pouring from his mouth, pale and shivering as he clung to the sleeves of Frank's coat. "I'm glad you're my partner," Tim says weakly as the bullet melts deep into his flesh. He kneels by his friend and sees the life drain from Tim's hazel eyes, waking up when the tears start falling…

Frank shuddered and rubbed his eyes. Why or why had he slept with Tim? Last night on the sofa, Tim's body was so pliable and so needy that all Frank could think of was taking him into the bedroom and screwing his brains out. The soft lips on his mouth were sheer heaven; the elegant fingers around his cock an intense delight. Tim was a sensual and giving lover and Frank wanted nothing more than to share his passions again and again until they were both exhausted and battered beneath slowly cooling sheets. When Tim pulled away he hadn't even been able to meet Frank's eyes. The fading bruises covering his hips were a brutal reminder of an all too recent horror. He was shaking slightly in the warm room, all vulnerability and confusion, his body wanting to fuck like crazy, his mind demanding he cool down fast. //The guy's trying to put his life back in order and you choose now to start thinking with your dick?//

Frank sighed. "I hate this feeling John."

Munch was shocked. Pembleton was never the most emotional guy in the room. He kept so much bottled up inside his mind that he was bound to explode like a volcano at one time or another. He remembered the stroke and winced. // Let's hope that never happens again.// Munch would never forget the look on Tim's face when they arrived at the hospital. The red tinged eyes and runny nose were proof positive that Tim had been crying. He didn't know why it surprised him.

Sometimes, especially in the early stages of their partnership, the relationship between the two men bordered on servant and master. Tim was like a little puppy dog following Frank around without a leash, listening to his instructions and drooling for acceptance. Later, as Tim's confidence as a detective increased, they became an equal and unbeatable team. It was magic to watch them work an interrogation in the box. No set plans or patterns for these two. Frank and Tim were always in tune; always ready to follow the others lead. Gentle when needed, with a sly prod or innuendo here and there, but forceful as hell when it came down to the wire. Their shouting matches and disagreements were legendary. Munch smirked. Two distinct personalities and two very separate styles, but somehow they became friends.

"God, I hate it so much," Frank frowned.

"Yeah, I know. I wish that crazy bastard kept it in his pants too Frank." Munch poured him another drink and sat down to listen.

***************************************************************************** Tim entered the emergency room with an eerie sense of déjà vu. God, how he hated hospitals. There was so much death here…so much suffering. He gazed briefly into the eyes of a woman sitting on a gurney and looked away in shame. He had no right to examine her thoughts and prayers. Tim sighed. It was almost four weeks ago that he'd sat in a room very much like this one, sore and chaotic, his life on display for the entire world to see. The doctor tried to be nice, at least that he remembered but Tim didn't think he would ever forget the humiliation and pain of the medical exam and the other procedures he'd been forced to endure. Poked and prodded from all angles, touched intimately in areas that made him squeeze his eyes shut and flinch both inside and out Tim wondered if he would ever be whole again. He shivered and clenched his fists glad that Lewis remained near the operating room. Tim inhaled the distinct hospital odor and sighed. If only he could keep up the charade of indifference for just a little while longer.

The questions they asked him during the medical history check were the worst part of all. He realized they treated him differently because he was a police officer and in his case there were extenuating circumstances up the wazoo but from where Tim stood it was hell on earth. From what little he knew about the treatment of rape victims, he was aware that the medical check came first in a compulsory effort to put the patient at ease. As far as Tim was concerned, getting two teeth pulled without anesthesia probably offered more peace and tranquility. The room was quiet and tasteful in that medicinal way that always made him think of dead germs and live bacteria. He flinched remembering how small he'd felt and how very much alone.

The first questions were queries about recent surgeries and medications, allergies and tetanus boosters. Then the real fun began…………

"Tim, when was your last consensual sexual experience?

"Uh, yesterday." Could it have really been that recent? His night with Frank seemed so far away.

"Have you urinated, defecated, or given yourself an enema since the assault?"

"I had to pee."

"…bathed, washed your hands or face, brushed your teeth, gargled, changed your clothes?"

"No….ah…just my hands." It sounded good to wash. He felt so dirty.

"Are you being treated for, or recently completed treatment for, any sexually transmissible diseases?"

"No." He'd been tested of course, because of his relationship with Chris but he was clean. Tim tried to calm the rising fear that was turning his stomach to jelly. "Could I maybe get something from him? Do you think that's possible?" He shivered. "It was only one time. He didn't' even…"

"Relax detective. We'll check you out for that possibility, okay?"

Tim nodded. So there was a chance after all. He wondered briefly if it were possible to look as numb as he felt.

"At any point during the assault did you lose consciousness?"


"How many attackers had sexual contact with you?"

"What? Oh, one."

"Tim, did the sexual assault include any of the following acts: Fondling"


"Attempted anal penetration or anal penetration."

Tim hesitated slightly. This was so hard and he felt so cold. "Yes." He shuddered. //Oh god yes.// "He was inside me." He noticed the doctor's emotionless glance.


"Yes." Tim's voice sounded small.

"Attempted oral penetration and oral penetration."


"Ejaculation and if so, in or on what parts of the body."

"No, he didn't come…I…he couldn't."

The doctor nodded encouragingly. "You're doing fine."

"Okay." He breathed deeply and released. // God, let this be over soon.//

"Did the perpetrator use a condom?"

"No," he whispered.

"Use a lubricant? What kind?"

He stared confused. "Lubricant? He used…" Tim swallowed. "Ah…"

"Did he use pre-cum?"

"Yes." He looked away.



"Did he use violence?"

Tim nodded. "He hit me a couple of times in the stomach," he pointed to his belly and cringed, "The kidneys and the ribs too I think." Tim trembled. "He slapped me across the face once or twice. I don't remember." // Please don't make me remember.// "Oh, and he bit me."

"Did he use an object to penetrate you?"

He didn't answer, only stared back in horror….

Tim shuddered at the memory. Oh god, what the hell kind of people made up the world to make that question important to ask at all? He thought briefly of Adena Watson and stifled a moan. Tim felt sick. He wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there forever. The questions had been so damn personal but in the part of his mind that wasn't placed on standby he also knew they were necessary.

The medical exam that followed was nearly as bad. First Tim was given a series of "just in case" injections for immunization against Hepatitis B and some other anally transmitted infections. They shot him up full of something called Ceftriaxone sodium for gonorrhea and incubating syphilis and promised to take HIV tests as soon as possible. The nurse who administered the shots was careful not to smile too much lest Tim might think there was a reason to be happy.

He wrapped his hands across his chest and tried his best to be invisible. He wanted to shout at the top of his lungs for someone to talk with him instead of to him, to treat him like a person and not just another pitiable victim in the ER. Tim felt lost and frightened, adrift in a sea of nausea and confusion. Where the hell was Frank anyway? They told him he could see someone shortly after the tests were completed but he doubted that would be any time soon. He was slowly beginning to hate the looks of sympathy he received from the doctors and nurses on the floor. He wasn't Timothy Bayliss any longer. He was the cop who got raped. The poor bastard unlucky enough not to be murdered by the serial killer. He shuddered and bit his lip. Unlucky indeed.

He removed his clothes as instructed and placed them in a brown grocery bag. No one other than the victim was allowed to touch them for fear of contamination. He was told upon asking that plastic bags were given to mildew and therefore produced unreliable results when tested for samples. Tim flinched at the realization that he still had to know "the why" and shuddered. He was inhuman and untouchable, a dirty contagious thing that had to be segregated from the rest of the hospital population. Tim swallowed heavily and tried to hold his head a little higher. He thought briefly of Uncle George and knew he'd survived worse.

The flimsy hospital garment he was given barely covered his thighs when he lay down on the gurney for further examination. He cringed as the doctor exposed his body in sections, carefully marking a male body diagram with every bruise on his body. He wished he felt detached instead of embarrassed, able to pretend it wasn't really him at all, but some other poor guy with handprints on his hips and hickeys dotting his neck. // Please let this not be me.// Tim sat still for the oral exam even though Barlow hadn't demanded any cock sucking that he could remember. They swabbed his teeth and gums for semen and saliva samples just in case his attacker had decided to poke around the tight orifice while his victim was knocked unconscious. Funny he hadn't tasted anything like semen but then he was hardly an expert.

Tim held his arm stiffly while blood samples were collected, wincing when the needle painlessly entered his flesh. He tried to block out the memories but they drove on, refusing him an avenue of escape. If Barlow was dead why the hell did he have to submit to more torture? "You know who assaulted me," he shouted, "Why do all this stuff if he's dead?"

The doctor frowned and capped a vial of blood. "It's procedure. Just relax."

"Relax?" He laughed coldly. "I don't think you understand how bad this is for me. I can't relax. I…" He clenched his fists nervously. "Where are my friends? Look, stop this, please." Tim couldn't stop shaking, could only see Barlow's leering smile flashing in and out of his field of vision. "Get the fuck away from me!" He sat up immediately and pushed the doctor away, his breathing a jerky staccato rhythm in the pained stillness of the examining room.

The doctor placed the blood on a nearby cart and sighed. "I'm going to touch your arm okay Tim?" He steadied the shaking man gently. "We're almost finished. Just a couple more tests." When Tim nodded the doctor helped him lie back on the table. "You'll be fine."

Strange that he hadn't said the worst was yet to come.

When he calmed down the tests continued. Tim could still feel the doctor's cold hands during the rectal exam and he shuddered. His ass was parted gently along the crevice and Tim fought back the urge to vomit and run by biting hard into his bottom lip and tasting the coppery sting of blood in his mouth. // Why the hell are they touching me there?// The doctor lubricated him with saline solution and inserted a thick gloved finger deep inside his tender opening. Tim nearly jumped off the bed at the invasion and fought back tears.

"This may be a bit uncomfortable Tim." The doctor informed him. "If you want me to slow down or stop just say so, okay?"

//Slow down? You're not fucking me god dammit!// He'd wanted to shout but he kept silent and only nodded his head as he was turned on his side. A swab was gently inserted into his rectum and moved around to collect samples. When one was removed another took its place until the doctor was confident he collected a clear sample. The finger was reinserted and caressed him, rubbing blindly and searching out hidden tears and torments, contributors to the hateful cramping sizzling through his gut. He closed his eyes when he was delicately turned on his back and felt the doctor pressing around his pelvic area and stomach.

"Does this hurt?"

Tim gasped when the spasms shot through him. "Yes." He shuddered against the pain. // Please stop touching me.//

"And here?"

Tim nodded again and every time thereafter until the doctor finished. "Well?"

"Detective Bayliss, Tim, I think you should know that there isn't any sign of rectal bleeding. Now, that's terrific news but the cramps and internal pain tell me that you have some bruising inside you." The doctor made a note on his chart. "Do you understand?"

"I…yes…but…" he swallowed. "What does that mean?"

"It means that you're lucky."

Tim stared. //God, he couldn't possibly mean that.// "Lucky? That's funny 'cause…really…I don't feel that way at all."

"By lucky I mean it could have been severely worse for you." The doctor frowned. "There are numerous threatening conditions that result from a violent anal penetration."

"Yeah, I see…so I should be glad that what…he didn't tear me in half?"

The doctor gave him an understanding glance and said, "We're finished here. Someone will help you clean up and we'll get you to a room. I want to do a couple of x-rays and keep an eye on those cramps." He picked up the chart as a nurse entered and collected the other items. "If all's well you can go home tomorrow."

He nodded and closed his eyes. The silence of the small room was deafening. It would feel very good to cry …………

Tim shuddered mindlessly to dispel the memories and raced for a bathroom. He should have known better than to drink the entire mochachino this morning. Standing over the toilet and slamming the stall door he emptied his stomach, vomiting quietly and then retching dry heaves until he was sure there was nothing at all left inside him. He hadn't been able to keep a bite down in days even though his appetite was practically nonexistent anyway.

Tim stared into the mirror. The man gazing back at him was a shadow, a ghost who didn't have the smarts to know that death had come and gone, pathetically hanging on to even the briefest glimpse of life. He splashed water over his face and hair and tried to calm the rising tremors. It was easy to feel the phantom pains of brutal fucking in his belly and the pounding throb of pain inside his head. "Oh god." // Why the hell wasn't this better by now?//

"Timmy? I was looking everywhere for you…" Lewis opened the door to the men's room and jerked back in shock. Tim was standing in front of the sink, tousled and wounded, the hint of tears in his soft hazel eyes.

"Why?" he said and Lewis felt his heart sink.

"I don't know man. This is difficult stuff." He touched Tim's shoulder gently, surprised when he didn't move away. "It's too soon for you to be here. The memories are too fresh."

Tim smiled weakly. "You know what they do to you in this place? Do you have any idea?"

"No." Lewis braced himself for a showdown.

"They hurt and humiliate and probe and pry. It's true. Just like being assaulted only they do it better. They fuck you so gently you don't even know you're having sex until they tell you they're finished with…ahh…your body." Tim shuddered. "That's what professionals do." His voice lowered. "That's what we do Lewis every single day."

"We're talking about the doctors here?" Lewis was confused.

"Yes, the doctors," Tim said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Asking questions about my sexuality, whether or not I took a leak, did Barlow use a condom."

"Tim, maybe we should just leave."

"They take blood samples, did you know that? To check for AIDS and other diseases and you can't tell them no. It's not allowed. You just watch the needle dip in and out of your arm while they smile. But you don't smile back, right, because why the hell should you?" He leaned back against the wall. "They can do the smiling. They can be happy." His voice grew louder. "Because they're not the ones who were fucked by a mad man!"

"Calm down." Lewis knew it was good for Tim to vent but perhaps a change of venue might have been more appropriate.

"The doctor put his fingers inside me…checking for blood and semen I guess." Tim trembled and held fast to the sink.

Lewis cringed. // Oh god, I do not want to hear this. // "God Timmy, why you got to go and tell me that for?" He frowned. "That's just the way it is. What Barlow did to you is never gonna change. Ditto for what happened at this hospital and you just got to live with it man."

"Live with it," Tim stared. "What if I can't?"

"You can and you will." Lewis squeezed his shoulder gently and considered. "This morning, when Munch told you to get your own damn coffee that made you happy didn't it?" Tim didn't respond. "Just one screwy little Munchkin putdown and suddenly you're feeling like a new man. You can't deny it to me. I saw the look on your face."

"So, you're what, wise again?" Tim pulled away. "Yesterday you wouldn't even glance in my direction and today you're dispensing advice."

"I didn't know what the hell to say to you Timmy. He shuddered "Listen, I called that bastard. Me. I did it. I suckered you right into his sick little trap." Lewis winced.

Tim frowned. "You didn't have a choice. My god, he would have killed both you and Frank." Tim nodded, slowly coming to an understanding. It wasn't that Lewis was uncomfortable around him because of the rape but because he thought in some confused way that he was responsible for it. Tim winced before continuing. Poor Meldrick. "You shouldn't feel guilty.

"No? Isn't that the way you feel? Guilty? And Frank? God knows what he's going through. Frank was Barlow's bait Tim." Lewis turned away. "It was easier to talk when you needed me but now…" He shrugged.

"I still need you. I need all the friends I can get." Tim shuddered and searched Lewis's gaunt expression.

Lewis gave him a shaky nod. "Well, you got me Timmy. I ain't going nowhere."

"Yeah…I...thanks." Tim turned away. God this emotional stuff was exhausting.

Lewis nodded. "I pulled away from you Tim but you did the same. Acting like a silhouette half the time. Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside sort of shit." He frowned. "That's not right man."

Tim wanted the conversation to end. "Looks like he fucked us all up pretty good, huh?"

"Ain't none of us dead Tim. We just gotta take it slow."

He agreed with Lewis completely but still…"It's so hard."

"Who said it would be easy?" He laughed dryly.

Tim smiled softly and pulled himself together. "So, did she live?"


"The wife? Did she make it?"

"Hell no she didn't. We got ourselves a dunker." Lewis smiled back briefly. "Now give that nose of yours a blow and et's get our butts back to the station before Gee sends out another search party."

************************************************************************* By the time he arrived home the sun was starting to blanket the city, setting the night sky aglow in a vibrant orange-red blaze. Well, red sky at night, sailors delight, he mused. Tim felt better than he had in days. Talking with Lewis didn't solve any of his problems but it sure helped a little in the "get on with your life" department. He'd heard from people that Lewis was difficult to talk to, in fact Lewis himself had on occasion lamented the fact that he was hardly the consoling type, but lately Tim had lately found him to be a highly sensitive listener. He sighed. Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about an individual they turn around and surprise the hell out of you. For some reason that notion made him happier than he'd felt in days.

Lewis had been absolutely correct in his assumption about Munch and the coffee. For just a moment out of time it felt like the past instead of the present. Tim Bayliss was just a rookie and John Munch was telling him to go the hell upstairs and pour his java. He was just starting out, excited and overcompensating, ready to make a difference in an already jaded world. Tim frowned. Life existed for him on a different plane, without Adena Watson, without Frank Pembleton. He could certainly do without one, but what about the other?

He yawned deeply. God, it had been a long day. He turned the key in his front door and stopped suddenly. It was unlocked. He remembered locking it before work this morning and Frank had left long before he even woke up. His heart caught in his throat when he noticed the living room light was off. Tim spun around nervously, drawing his gun and dropping the small bag of Chinese take-out he was carrying. The darkness of the room threatened him with its vices, the compelling lack of distinction and form inscribing his heart with dread. Tim touched the sofa for reassurance and felt his way slowly across the floor. A sound coming from the bedroom made him jump and Tim approached with caution, every instinct of his being telling him to take it easy and every memory from his recent assault screaming raw for revenge and redemption. He paused in front of the bedroom door ears alert for any change in sound, fingers poised and ready to shoot. This time he would not be taken without a fight, this time he would not drop his weapon. The noise from the street was a fleeting distraction and he swallowed hard to stop his hands from shaking and take a few deep nervous breaths.

Elegant, sweaty fingers slipped from the trigger. The rapid thumping of his heart was an almost unbearable echo. Despite the familiarity, the dark room was imposing. Not quite as dark as the filthy haven from his one night of hell but darker he hoped, than the fear in his soul. The memory of the vile kisses and painful thrusts timidly caressed the back of his vision, a subconscious whisper of perverse terror that still controlled him. Tim shuddered and fought back a whimper. Barlow was dead. He wasn't in this room. Tim was alone. There was nothing here that could hurt him.

But what if there was?

Maybe Frank didn't kill Barlow. Maybe he was alive and well and hiding in the bedroom, waiting for another chance to screw Tim senseless. He told Lewis that he didn't believe in miracles but hadn't Tim himself come back from the dead? If Barlow stood behind the door Tim would kill him. It was that simple. He wouldn't get a chance to smile again and he wouldn't have Tim for a last chance fuck.

// Thwap…thwap…//

Tim leaned against the wall and heard the sound again. His grip tightened on the gun and he swung the bedroom door open with a flourish. Tim propelled his gun into the unlit room and cocked the trigger straight into the shocked face of Frank Pembleton.

Frank stared at the gun without blinking and then touched the nozzle gently to push it away from his nose. Tim's eyes didn't stray from Frank's face and he didn't lower the gun. The look on his former partner's face was heartbreaking. Tim was terrified and in pain, his entire body shrouded with a haze of indecision.

"Tim? Put the weapon down." Frank waited for a sign of awareness. "Tim, it's me? Remember?"

Hazel eyes blinked rapidly and Tim shuddered. "Oh my god. Frank."

"It's all right."

"I could have killed you."

"You didn't."

"God dammit Frank." He dropped the gun and slid down the bedroom wall to the floor laying his head upon the top of his knees and sobbing helplessly.

"Look at me Tim. I'm fine." Frank followed Tim down to the floor and caressed his chin, raising the red-rimmed eyes to meet his face.

"The door was open and the light in the parlor…it was out… so I get to thinkin' about Barlow and what he did to me…and then the noise and I see you and…" He frowned and tried to get his confused thoughts in order. "Why are you here Frank?"

"You gave me a key, remember? In case I couldn't get a room?" When Tim nodded he continued. "That light burned out and I had to replace it. I must have forgotten to turn it back on." He smiled. "I had trouble finding the spare bulbs."

Tim considered. "I didn't know I had any…" His eyes traveled through the door to the unlit lamp and he frowned.

"Forget about it." Frank wasn't really sure what to say. "I missed you at the bar so I decided to wait here to talk to you."

"I could have killed you Frank."

"You wouldn't have."

"You don't know that." Tim stared into Frank's ebony eyes. My god the man was beautiful. He shuddered. // Oh my god oh my god oh my god.// He wondered if his friend knew how very close he came to dying tonight. Tim reached out to touch Frank's hand, his hunger for reassurance a consuming need, his desire for contact a frightening necessity.

"I know you." He squeezed Tim's long fingers gently and released.

Tim watched as Frank collected his gun and placed it on a nearby dresser. "I haven't exactly been myself lately." He looked at his lover closely. "You neither for that matter Frank."

"You're speaking of the sex, right?" Frank tried to sneak a glimpse into Tim's thoughts. More than anything he wanted to take him in his arms and love the hell out of him. Sex with Tim had been amazing. The long, mesmerizing body so sweaty and tight holding his cock secure in an amazingly erotic embrace. Tim's mouth so eager and swollen and his eyes intense yet frightened, every detail imprinted on Frank's soul for the rest of his life. He examined Tim's shivering profile in earnest. His hair was shoulder length and wavy, framing a long, elegant neck obscenely marked by a series of fading bruises. Tim's nose swooped delicately and his full pouting mouth and suck-me bottom lip begged for attentions of the wickedest kind. Frank stroked Tim's cheekbone and was rewarded with a delicate whimper. It was impossible for him to deny the physical attraction and emotional attachment this man held for him. He wasn't sure if there was a future in a sexual relationship with Tim but he most assuredly wanted to explore the possibility.

"Yeah Frank, the sex." Tim didn't want the caress to stop. The tingle revamping his insides when Frank touched him was remarkable. If Frank wanted him, Tim would comply but he wouldn't submit. He would make love to Frank as an equal, without regret or fear. It should be easy. He loved the man. He'd always loved Frank. Tim gave himself over to the touch, let it sink deep into his bones and captivate his senses. He turned his face to softly kiss Frank's fingers and felt the strong hand close under his jaw; the firm fingers lightly stroke his needy lips. Tim closed his eyes and Frank pulled him close. He hated the immediate tremors that assailed him, warning him to the danger of this type of contact. // You're gonna get hurt…// Tim winced. What did a little pain mean when you were already broken?

Frank noticed his reaction and sighed. "It's gonna get better."

"When?" He nuzzled Frank's shoulder and pulled away. "Lewis said something to me today."


"Yeah, he said you feel guilty about what happened. You shouldn't Frank."

"Since when did Lewis start interpreting primitive emotions?" He shrugged. "I hate what happened to you Tim. And the fact that it came so soon after us makes it worse somehow."

Tim looked up quickly. "Whether we slept together or not doesn't make a difference. I would have done the same thing for just Lewis."

Frank wasn't surprised. "I know."

"You do." Tim took a deep breath. If his friend wanted to talk then it was the least he could do. He frowned. Realizing that he wanted to discuss the assault was weird and it shook him. One look at Frank's brilliant ebony eyes made him nervous as hell. // I love this man so much but more than that I trust him.// He opened his mouth and the words jumbled out in a rush, swarming against his tongue and finding sustenance in the cool, damp air. "At first I didn't believe it was happening and it made me feel better to think that since I allowed him to touch me, to have me, that maybe it wasn't a rape at all. He gave me an option and I agreed Frank. I thought maybe it would be okay because of that…or something."

"You had a measure of control." Frank grazed his back gently. If Tim needed to talk he would listen. This time he would not walk away. Love and friendship were give and take in any relationship and yet sometimes it seemed to Frank that Tim did all the giving and he just took and took. Tim loved him and Frank ran from the bedroom, Tim got shot and Frank ran out of his life. // Why the hell does he put up with me?.// He rubbed Tim's back harder internally aware of what the answer would be.

"Yeah…control. That was something I never had with my Uncle. Whatever he wanted to do to me, he did and I couldn't tell him to stop. I was afraid to tell him anything Frank." Tim swallowed hard before continuing. "With Barlow I agreed to the situation, no matter the consequences, and I thought I could control it."

Frank frowned. "But he hurt you."

Tim nodded absently. "Yeah…he hurt me." He winced at the memory. "I thought it would feel different than what happened with my Uncle but it was the same thing all over again only with a different set of rules. The idea of control was a sham Frank. He took everything…left me with nothing."

Frank felt nauseous. He once told his friend that the sin was not his own. He hoped Tim still remembered.

"Suddenly I wasn't me anymore. I couldn't tell the difference between Barlow and George. Everything was fading in and out. I was seriously doubting my sanity for a while there."

"God Tim." It angered Frank all over again. Barlow kissing Tim's soft lips brutally. Barlow tearing into his friend, pounding his cock ruthlessly, determined to hurt and conquer. Barlow making Tim submit by pulling just the right strings, playing with him expertly as if he were a toy to be fondled. "I can't imagine what you were thinking."

Tim laughed coldly. "Thinking? Oh I tried not to think. Thinking would have made it real somehow and reality…it terrified me. I just drifted or tried to anyway, but sometimes even that was impossible. I was okay as long as he didn't kiss me." Suddenly he felt very cold. "Kissing was too intimate. That wasn't for him Frank." He tried to shrug away the pain and knew it was useless. "Anyway, Barlow's gone. He's dead. You killed him."

"And I would do it again." Frank squeezed Tim's shoulder then turned away. "For a while I thought he killed you and I was terrified."

Tim tried to put himself in his lover's place and the result was shattering. "Frank?" He wasn't a martyr but if it had been Frank instead of him…no! He refused to breathe life into a nightmare.

"Please let me finish." Frank swallowed hard, determined to not stop breathing, to come clean and confess the pain that was threatening to submerge him body and soul. //Forgive me Tim.//

Tim nodded, suddenly terrified of what Frank was going to say.

"God help me but I actually heard myself telling Lewis that maybe it would be better if you were dead!" He looked back at his friend, deep brown eyes filled with tears, begging for forgiveness. "Barlow told us THEY were fucking you, ALL of them ENJOYING you. I thought it would destroy you if that happened. What the hell kind of friend does that make me, huh?" He moved his face close to Tim's. "I wished you were dead. Dear god…dead Tim!"

"No." Tim was stunned. "Shut up! I mean it Frank."

"I thought I was thinking of you, keeping your best interests but that wasn't true."

// Oh god Frank, you love me. I can't handle anything else.// "Stop it."

"I was the coward don't you see? And I was selfish. I didn't know how I would respond to your pain. Yes, I was concerned, you're damn important to me Tim, but I should have been thinking about you --- not me. I didn't figure at all in this drama. My feelings didn't count!"

"Please…don't say anymore, okay?" Tim breathed deeply. "You're really starting to piss me off Frank. I don't believe for one second that you wanted me dead." He stared at his friend. "You got us out of there…you destroyed him."

"I should have done more for you." Frank shuddered and bit his lip. "Especially for you."

Tim closed his eyes. His head was spinning. What the hell was Frank admitting to anyway? "You did what you could. We didn't actually have a precedent Frank."

"I was wrong Tim, don't you see? I thought of your Uncle and everything he put you through but I still should have known better." He paused and gazed at Tim. He looked so vulnerable and trusting it was almost inconceivable that anyone would want to treat him with anything but kindness. "You're stronger than that."

"I am."

"Yes. Don't ever doubt it." Frank's voice calmed to a whisper. "When you came back into that room I was so damn glad to see your face no matter how pale it was." He swallowed. "I couldn't bear it if you died again but..." Frank turned away. "...I felt ashamed. "

"No. I can't allow that. I won't let what happened consume everybody, not you, not Lewis and certainly not me. That bastard is dead Frank." Tim started shaking. "He's dead and we're not and I'm tired of acting like a corpse. I felt so alive for a little while after we…" he stammered.

Frank interrupted his plea with a soft kiss and after a moment Tim responded with the barest of moans. He held Tim close and stroked the back of his head. "I'm glad we made love Tim."

Tim flushed and bit his lip hungrily.

"I wanna do it again Frank."

For a moment Tim thought Frank was going to deny his request and tell him that they were better off being friends and not lovers or that maybe it was too soon but once again fate astonished him.

"When?" Frank replied huskily.

Tim thrilled at the breathy tone of Frank's voice and suddenly it seemed right that they should be together intimately. He loved no one more than Frank, wanted nothing more than what his partner could give him. He touched Frank's sleek scalp timidly, roaming carefully to the curve of his neck and lingering in a tender skim across his full, pouting lips. The feel of Frank was delightful and he moaned weakly when his fingers were absorbed into the hot mouth and suckled in unison. He removed his hand and closed his eyes, allowing himself to be pushed back to the plush carpet and straddled by his lover's muscular body.


Frank responded by kissing him deeply, mentally willing the inviting mouth to open, and Tim obliged eagerly, wrapping his long arms around his lover's back and welcoming him into a warm embrace. Frank tasted Tim fully, licking from the top of his mouth to the back of his throat. He crushed Tim's lips as delicately as he could, fearing that the lithe man below him would crumble to pieces if he pushed against him too hard.

Tim whimpered into Frank's mouth and thrust his pelvis fully against his lover. He felt Frank's erection with a mixture of glee and trepidation and groaned when Frank returned the thrust with a n eager movement of his own. Frank's hands were everywhere on his body, groping his hair and stroking the inside of his thighs. Tim needed to feel the heat of his lover's skin upon his body. He wanted to loose himself in Frank's embrace and never leave his arms again.

The way Tim made him feel was amazing. He licked the entire length of the graceful neck, pausing to suckle Tim's Adam's apple until he shuddered violently, gasping for breath and arching his slender body forcefully against Frank's. Tim's arousal was a blessing, his ardent desire a showcase for his astonishing strength and Frank pulled him close, nearly crushing him in a blind obsession to touch and taste. He wanted to take his lover right here on the floor and knew that Tim would agree to any location, any position, as long as their mouths and bodies did not break apart. He pushed his knee between Tim's thighs, felt his throbbing hardness and heard the growl start deep within his throat. Seeing Tim consumed by passion was a complete turn-on. Frank bent close to nibble his ear. "I want you Tim." The shuddery response was desperate and wild as Tim turned in an instant and devoured his mouth.

"Yes…" Tim gently prodded Frank's body away and sat up unsteady but determined. "…but not here." He stood and removed his coat and jacket before nimble fingers made short work of the buttons on his dark blue shirt.

Frank watched his lover undress before him, his cock hardening to the seam of his jeans, constricting his movements and playing havoc with his heartbeat. Tim's nipples were stiff and his skin glistened with an alluring mixture of sweat and goose bumps. He looked so damn fragile, lips swollen and used, heavy lidded eyes searing deep into Frank's soul. When the long trembling fingers started to unbutton his pants Frank rushed to his feet and placed his hand over Tim's to finish the job.

"Let me."

Tim demurred to his request and closed his eyes as Frank's strong hands lifted his heavy cock and squeezed his balls gently. He looked at his lover and for a moment their eyes met. It was going to happen. Frank was going to make love to him again and again, all night long if possible, and Tim didn't want to do anything that would break the erotic spell and condemn his heart to loneliness. Frank finished undressing him and Tim lay naked on the bed, long and beautiful, his erection sailing proud and straight, his body an open invitation for Frank's advances. He clenched his fists and freed them slowly. //This is Frank dammit. Everything is going to be okay this time. //

Frank made quick work of his clothing and sat on the edge of the bed. His lover looked ready but Frank had been a detective long enough to know how deceiving appearances could be. He closed his hand over Tim's raging hard-on, stroking tight from base to head, while Tim trembled and moaned loudly, undulating his hips and begging for more attention. Frank bent forward and kissed his nose sloppily until his lover smiled softly.

"Frank." It was so unlike Frank to do something playful and he smiled his appreciation at the sweet gesture. / / God, I love this man.// Tim rolled his eyes and pulled the muscular body atop his own. He shuddered at the added mass upon his frame and kissed deeply. Tim's mouth opened to explore the moist heat, his tongue caressed Frank's warmth with abandon. He felt a brisk tug on his bottom lip and wrapped his arms tighter, burrowing his face in Frank's neck and sobbing softly.

"I want you so bad."

"I know baby." Frank smoothed the trembling shoulders and considered. "I want to be inside you. I want to make love but it has to be right." He raised Tim's face to his own and smiled. "We have lots of time."

Tim nodded. What Frank was saying made sense. What if he couldn't go through with it -- again? He knew in his heart that he wanted to be with Frank intimately. He wanted to feel the power of his lover's beautiful body crushing him flat to the mattress, using his weight as leverage o subdue Tim with wet kisses and maddening thrusts. He trembled at the thought of having Frank inside him. He remembered the satisfaction of Frank's thick cock burrowing into him, the surge of emotion when joined completely with his partner and the instant physical pain that their wild encounter produced. It had all been so new to him, so wonderfully, intoxicatingly new. He'd expected the agony, hoped in fact that Frank's passion would leave it's mark on him in any number of ways, but the early morning heartbreak of Frank's leaving he could have definitely lived without. Tim sighed. He didn't want to wait any longer. He wanted to feel alive again, to thrill at the pleasurable high only the most intimate contact with another human being could produce. Tim watched Frank's eyes cloud over with concern and smiled. "I want this." He lowered his eyes. "I need this."

Frank stroked the inside of Tim's thigh running his long fingers up to fondle his cock. "If anything doesn't seem right or bothers you, tell me Tim and I'll stop." He positioned his lover on the bed and smiled. He removed Tim's glasses. His eyes looked huge without them. Again he was struck by the beauty of the man. Not conventional by any means, but enticing and intelligent with just the right mix of vulnerability and erotic appeal to make heads turn. And Tim's mouth…Frank shuddered. The first physical aspect of Tim he ever noticed was the talent housed within his supple bottom lip. The way it twisted and pouted, the way Tim licked it regularly from nerves or distress, and the way it puffed out on command changing his appearance from fragile to arrogant in a heartbeat enticed him from the start. He kissed Tim lightly across the brow. "Relax." Frank trailed a sloppy wet kiss from Tim's chin to belly, playing with all his magnificent angles, taking the time to fully enjoy the elegant body below him. Frank squeezed one nipple firmly and Tim moaned, arching himself into the welcome touch. His mouth found the other nipple and Frank suckled at his breast, rolling the tender nub between wanting lips and biting without regret until Tim grabbed the back of his head and forced him to continue.


Tim groaned his name aloud, trembling when Frank finally pulled away. The look of desire in Frank's eyes was overpowering. His lover knelt above him, straddling his thighs until finally sitting heavily atop Tim's hips. He couldn't take his eyes away from Frank's cock. Dark and heavy, it sprung up from his groin like a tree trunk, throbbing savagely in front of his ace and begging for him to eat it. Tim swallowed hard.

Frank glanced at Tim's nipples, aroused by the marks of his passion still evident upon the flushed skin. He pressed one swollen tip inward, popping it in and out of the taut flesh and trembled violently. This was Tim he was touching, Tim who was moaning and writhing against the glide of his fingers and Tim who was making his cock oh so painfully hard. He carefully eased himself from Tim's thighs and spread the long legs open across the bed. He noticed his lover clenching tight to the sheets and eased the shaky fingers open, bringing first one hand, then the next to his mouth for a brief but heartfelt kiss. "It's going to be all right."

He moved between Tim's legs and laid belly to belly, squashing the slick caress of their erections maddeningly together. Frank moved up and down, rubbing his muscular body over Tim's slender one, creating a friction that nearly put him over the edge. He watched Tim close his eyes and suck in his bottom lip. // My god, he's nearly there already.// Frank pulled away just a bit and wrapped his fingers around the base of Tim's cock and squeezed softly. His lover moaned and thrust forward, nearly bucking off the bed and taking Frank with him. He sat back and pulled Tim against him, lavishing attention on the full pouting lips, inserting his tongue and kissing Tim deeply. Shaky arms quickly roamed across his back, gaining confidence with each lazy stroke of Frank's tongue between his teeth, each subtle caress of Frank's fingers across his swollen cock.

Frank was thrilled at the acceptance in Tim's response. He thought for a moment that his lover would be unable to express his desire openly and would just lie still on the sheets with his hands clenched, timidly hoping for the best but unable to enjoy the experience. There was no way Frank could have continued if that happened. Tim had been hurt so much in his life and Frank knew he had done his share of the hurting. //I'm sorry Tim….I'm so damn sorry.// He squeezed Tim's cock and was rewarded with a desperate shudder. Frank stroked up and down quickly, Tim's cock heavy and proud between his fingers. He buried his face in Tim's long, wavy hair and inhaled deeply before nudging his friend back on the mattress and smiling.

He bent down and nuzzled Tim's neck. "You're mine baby."

Tim reached for his lover determined to make contact in any small way. Frank's words thrilled him. He watched through hazy eyes as Frank started to rub his stomach n smooth circular motions while still tugging on his rigid shaft in deft, eager strokes. The feeling was remarkable. Frank's hands on his body were both calming and claiming, forcing Tim to crave his affections more than anything else in his entire life. He gasped when Frank kissed the head of his erection, then held both cocks playfully in his hands, squeezing and pumping the essence of life back into his lost but still living body. Tim touched Frank's fingers, held them in place and rocked with him, wanting the erotic caress to never end. Their fingers entwined and Tim closed his eyes to savor the slick feel of pre-cum coating their hands and cocks. When he opened them, he looked at Frank directly and licked his lips.

"Frank…what do you taste like?"

Frank shuddered. He helped his lover eagerly and placed the head of his throbbing shaft near the entrance to Tim's hot mouth. Frank watched as Tim swallowed, trembling but determined, and sweetly licked the dollop of pre-cum from around the swollen tip to sample the tangy flavor. His eyes shot open and he stared at Frank briefly before opening wide and devouring the mushroom shaped head and sucking deeply.

Tim slurped greedily; eager to get his fill of Frank and bring his lover over the edge. He moved his mouth up and down the slick length, forcing himself to swallow as much of Frank's burning thickness as possible. Tim closed his eyes and gagged slightly, feeling the throbbing shaft reach the back of his throat and beyond. He moved back to savor just the head, digging the tip of his tongue into the tiny slit opening. He shuddered when Frank moaned, grabbing Tim's head between strong fingers forcing more of the pounding cock inside. Tim tried his best to accommodate his lover, raking his teeth across the length in an impish but erotic gesture and pumping Frank's heavy balls until he screamed.

Frank touched his lover's damp hair, fascinated by the large bulge inside his cheek and satisfied his curiosity by pressing his fingers against it to feel the pounding beat of his cock in Tim's mouth. He felt Tim shudder at the caress, saw more of his cock disappear inside full ripe lips and pushed some more, delighted when his beautiful lover kept up with the intrusion. He inched his shaft into Tim's mouth until the base of his erection caressed Tim's nose and then released his lover's head to allow him a quick breath or two before grabbing Tim's hair and forcing him to swallow the entire length again. Frank reached down between Tim's legs and squeezed his balls softly, stabbing his ass with one slick coated finger and pummeling his prostate. Tim gasped and released Frank's cock from his mouth.

"Jeez Frank."

He felt himself covered again, Frank's body gliding masterfully over him, Frank's mouth demanding and gaining entrance between his swollen lips. Tim shuddered. It was strange to be wanted this way again. What Barlow had demanded from him had hurt in more ways than one and Tim was tired of paying the price for his sick, twisted passions. What he had with Frank was real. Frank wanted to make love to him and Tim whimpered with joy at the prospect. Images of Barlow infringed on his happiness and Tim shook his head in an effort to dispel them forever. He had no desire to take the despicable man along with him whenever he enjoyed a sexual encounter; he'd spent years in that battle with his Uncle. Frank kissed him, caressed him, brought him to the edge and back again and Tim was not willing to ever let him go. Suddenly he wanted very badly for Frank to be inside him. He pushed his mouth forward to deepen the kiss and wrapped his long elegant legs around Frank's waist thrusting his pelvis fully against Frank's throbbing cock and grinding violently.

Frank groaned and pushed back, pulling Tim tighter around him and cradling the slender body in a tight embrace. He heard Tim sob and pulled away, watching his lover carefully. Tim was fragile Frank knew, perhaps more fragile now than ever before. His body was asking Frank to take him, to penetrate the small opening and screw his cock inside until both of them were gasping and groping, lost amid a swirling sense of passion and lust. God Frank wanted to comply. He wanted to feel Tim's body hold him secure, his muscles clenching and releasing, demanding Frank spill his hot seed deep into the velvety soft tunnel and satisfy the urge building deep within but he was unsure of Tim's capacity to accept the intrusion into his still bruised flesh.

"Are you sure?"

Tim sighed and nodded. He groaned when Frank pulled away, almost terrified to think what the too fast release meant for their encounter. "Please…Frank." Tim watched as Frank pulled open a drawer, removed a small bottle of lube and spread it generously over his cock. //Yes, oh god, yes.// He hissed sharply when two of Frank's fingers entered his body, gradually stretching the tiny puckered opening to ready him for the larger shock yet to come. He remembered the last time his body was breached. Barlow had not taken the time to prepare him thinking only of the excruciatingly strained fit of his huge organ stuffed inside. He blasted into Tim's body like a torpedo, tunneling and taking and wounding and breaking and... // Oh please…not now.// He started to tremble, then shake, until finally he was moaning loudly.

"Please…wait…" Tim breathed deeply and opened his eyes. Frank's face stared back at him, concern evident on the exotic features as he broke away. // Please don't show me pity Frank.// "I just need a second to breathe."

Frank groaned inwardly. His cock was pounding furiously. His cock wanted Tim. He smiled and stroked his lover's face.

"It's okay."

"Is it Frank?

Frank kissed the full lips softly and hauled Tim against him. He felt his lover respond and wrapped his arms tight as Tim leaned fully into the embrace. He caressed Tim's back in firm, even strokes, nibbling his earlobe and inserting the tip of his tongue inside. "We don't have to do this," he kissed Tim's eyes, his nose, his chin and soon the trembling stopped, replaced by a fevered passion that was shocking.

"I want to Frank." Tim's hazel eyes darkened. "I love you." He shuddered. "Did you hear me? And I don't care if you don't say you love me 'cause I know you do Frank. You're not a hugger…but that doesn't matter. You need me and you want me and for now that's enough."

Tim lay back on the sheets taking his lover with him. He jumped when Frank's tongue started playing and opened his mouth to enjoy the liquid heat. Barlow was still with him, perhaps he always would be, but Tim was determined not to let the bastard win. He moaned into Frank's mouth and grabbed his face to deepen the wet embrace. Frank's cock throbbed hard and hungry against his belly and he thrust his pelvis forward, determined to hold his lover steady and not dislodge the tenuous link between them.

"I'm ready Frank. I want you in me."

Frank was exhilarated at Tim's words and smothered him with light, wet kisses, coating his face and body with love in the only way he knew how. He couldn't exist without Tim in his life. His partner was a piece of him; a binding necessity for his happiness, his passion and Frank would never let go. // Just say you love him dammit…it's what he wants…it's what he deserves.// Frank shook his head and frowned. Maybe someday… // God, you're still a bastard.// Loving Tim scared him to death. It was exhilarating to be so exposed and understood and the fact that it was Tim who knew his secrets was all the more thrilling but Frank was at heart a cautious man. Tim would always belong to him and Frank would never again deny that overpowering need and desire. He smiled at his lover and Tim shuddered in response.

"You're mine," he said again, and Tim did not dispute it.

Frank moved one finger inside of Tim and then another, stroking in and out, careful not to hurt, mindful of the recent brutality of Tim's sexual past. Frank added a third finger and Tim stirred slightly, passion filled hazel eyes drilling straight to his soul. Frank removed the fingers and kissed his lover's sweaty face. Their mouths met hungrily, fighting for control, tongues battling out passion on a humid playground. He nipped Tim's bottom lip playfully and heard him moan. Frank sat up and placed Tim's long legs across his thighs and positioned his cock for entrance into the nicely loosened body. He pushed forward, the thick bulge of his cock head a slight problem, but he forced it in slowly and waited for Tim to accommodate the large sensation. It was strange to watch himself enter his lover. From this position, with Tim inclined across his thighs, body taut and extended to the barest covering of skin, Frank could watch his shaft snake inside and burrow steadily to fulfillment. He stroked the outline tenderly and Tim shuddered, nearly collapsed on himself with passionate groans and whimpers.

It hurt bad, very bad…but Tim didn't care. The pain of Frank deep inside him was exquisite proof of his love and desire and not a carefully planned power play like Barlow. Frank was stretching his limits, stroking his prostate, pushing his thick organ hard into the pale, straining flesh. The pain was there but Tim had never felt better. He wanted Frank to push further and further inside, claiming him, fucking him. He tried to propel himself forward, wanted to screw Frank into him in one brisk push, but his lover had other ideas. Frank was moving slow, opening him gradually inch by massive inch until he was fully seated inside. When his cock struck home, Frank waited for a moment before pulling out and edging back in delicately, keeping his hand atop the ghostly specter of his shaft inside Tim the entire time. He nearly screamed in frustration. Tim wanted Frank to lose control and simply take him. He wanted to make love sure, but he also wanted to be seized blindly by Frank's incredible reserve of passion. Tim touched his lover's arm possessively.

"You're being too gentle Frank. That's not what I want." His voice turned breathy.

"Tim I…" Frank stammered. He hadn't realized it at first, but through his efforts to be as tender as possible he was keeping Tim at arm's length, denying him the closeness and surrender he craved so completely. Sex, love and passion, with Tim he had all three. His lover wanted everything he had to offer, and Frank was prepared to give his soul if necessary, Tim already had his heart.

Tim's voice turned breathy. "Fuck me."

Those two words uttered so convincingly were all the incentive he needed. Frank groaned and shoved his cock inside the impenetrable tunnel, delighting in Tim's wistful sigh and groan of approval. He stroked his lover's face tenderly. Tim's bottom lip trembled and Frank kissed it lovingly as his cock continued to pummel and ravage his body. Being inside Tim was heaven. He grabbed Tim's hips and winced at the sight of the fading bruises embedded in his flesh. Tim's hand covered one of his and Frank shuddered at the intensity of the pain and desire commingling in the lidded hazel depths. Tim's expression begged him to ignore the past evidence and concentrate on the present instead. He frowned. Was it really possible for Tim to enjoy his attentions? Tim, damaged so recently, but still strong and needy, filled with love and devotion for Frank and Frank alone. // What the hell right do I have to possess this man?//

He pulled out and plunged back in with Tim bucking wildly beneath him. Frank grabbed hold of Tim's swollen cock and pulled in time with his deep, penetrating strokes. The the muscles of Tim's ass contracted around him and he shuddered violently. He felt incredibly huge inside the hot tunnel, his erection engorged and demanding within Tim's reciprocal body.

Tim moaned when a particularly jerky movement stunned him. Frank was inside him, throbbing mercilessly, and that was exactly what he wanted. He placed his hand over Frank's on his erection, squeezing and tugging until he felt his world glaze over and a spattering of lights caress his darkened vision. His body rocked up as Frank pounded down and he came in a rush of heat and fluid over Frank's hand and across the silhouette of Frank's cock within his belly.

Frank pushed deeper throwing his full weight across Tim's shaky body, thrusting in time with the moans and whimpers escaping Tim's beautifully inflated lips. He nuzzled his mouth against Tim's neck, biting gently then harder to replace Barlow's mark with a brand of his own. He sucked Tim's skin inside his teeth, felt the shudders overpowering the slender frame, and impaled his cock completely inside the shivering body in one heart stopping stroke. He bit harder as his orgasm hit; an intense and sexual high unlike any he'd ever experienced. Frank flooded Tim's ass with semen, pouring ever drop into his body as Tim clung to him shuddering and spent, moaning wordless sounds of satisfaction.

For a moment neither man was able to move, content to allow their strength to gather in each other's arms. Frank was the first to pull away, sliding out of Tim's ass as slowly as possible, entranced by the site of Tim's long arms reaching out to hold him, to complete him with a touch, or a snuggle safe within his embrace. He kissed the bruised lips lightly before moving, aroused again as Tim responded with a whimper and thrust, his hands finding Frank's ass and trying to pull it against him and instead finding himself tugged limply across his lover's sweaty chest.

"Mmmm…" Tim said weakly as Frank kissed the top of his head.

Frank smiled at the reaction. "Is sex always gonna be this good between us?" He stroked Tim's back and pressed the lithe body closer against him, crushing Tim's full lips flat onto his chest. He would spend the night with Tim, holding and caressing the pain away. In the morning if Tim were willing, he'd take him again, longer this time, spending hours in and out of his exquisite body. Frank kissed him. // Mine…//

Tim shuddered and opened his eyes. He didn't have the strength to ask for promises. It saddened him a little that he didn't have the right to do so either. He stroked Frank's muscular arm lazily and wrapped his tongue around a nearby nipple to stifle a moan. Frank owned him body and soul but he could not make the same claim on his lover. He sucked the nipple harder and felt Frank remble beneath him. Frank was in his bed, holding him close. Frank had made love to him gently and fucked him as wild as an animal. Tomorrow would hurt he was sure but tonight it didn't matter. He pressed his face against the nipple and started to drift.


Tim slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb his lover, and walked slowly to the bathroom. He stared at his reflection in the mirror with a mixture of satisfaction and awe. The man that stared back at him was still haunted and afraid but tonight he was strangely content as well. The shadows were gone from his eyes along with the hatred and horror and for the first time since the assault Tim actually smiled at his reflection. He leaned in to take a closer look at the fresh hickey on his neck and noticed a small mark on his cheekbone. He gasped at the erotic thrill that passed through his body when he realized the indentation was of Frank's stiff nipple embedded on his flesh. Tim touched it gently, felt his cock start to stir and closed his eyes.

He turned around to go back to bed when it struck him that the light in the parlor was off. He'd forgotten to turn it on before he and Frank made love. Tim trembled. There was room for forgiveness, after all he had been a very busy boy. He flicked the switch on and shuddered as light flooded into the small apartment. This was not the way he wanted to live. He's survived so many ups and downs in his life, so many pains and consequences that sometimes hope seemed an elusive dream at best, a fable for the lucky and the loved. Tim rubbed his stomach gently to feel the pain of Frank's penetration deep inside and sucked his bottom lip thoughtfully. He didn't know if Frank would be there in the morning or if they would ever make love again. The memories of Barlow were still with him, the pain and humiliation a gentle buzz inside his head. In time maybe they'd disappear. Then again, maybe not. He yawned.

// Maybe, whatever, but I'm alive dammit.//

And for the first time in what seemed like eternity that meant something.

Tim shut off the light.

The end.

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