Title: The Book of Keel
Series: Yes - Billet Doux
Author: Alyse (alyse@CI5Ops.co.uk)
Archive: CI5 Operational Control (http://www.CI5Ops.co.uk), Britslash
Category: The New Professionals - Curtis/Keel.
Rating: NC17.

Spoilers/Warnings: No spoilers. No warnings. Sex (surprise, surprise)

Summary: What can I say? It's plotless and an erotic vignette, as all of these are. Sam finally reveals a fantasy.

Feedback: Yes please, to alyse@CI5Ops.co.uk. Constructive criticism welcome, flames will be used to melt chocolate, and we all know what I'll do with that :)

Disclaimers: They belong to Brain Clements and David Wickes Productions. They don't belong to me - if they did we all know what they'd be doing. I don't make any money from this. I have nothing but my own warped imagination and therefore I'm not worth suing. :)

Notes: Many thanks to my excellent beta Lou, for the eagle eyed spotting of typos. Inspired, in part, by 'The Pillow Book'. Not a great film, but a nekkid Ewan is to die for.

There are more notes in the final part of this, mainly because I didn't want to give too much away too soon. If you're the kind of person that rushes to the end of a book, you might want to read them, but since there are no warnings but there are some plot spoilers contained within, I would suggest you wait.

The Book of Keel

by Alyse


Chapter One

After a long and difficult day, or rather several days, it was late when Chris finally got to his partner's flat. Sam had left him finishing off the paperwork, having completed his portion and for once not bailing his partner out of doing his own, claiming that there was something he had to do and rather mysteriously adding that Chris wouldn't regret it. The slight smirk on his partner's face, combined with the light in his eyes, had Chris biting back on his automatic complaint that rose at the mere thought of anything approaching paperwork. Instead, rather to his surprise, he found himself nodding, if not agreeably at least without any obvious irritation, and Sam was out of the door almost before he realised what was happening. All he could do was mutter to himself that whatever Sam was up to it had better be worth it.

The second that he walked through the door he knew that it was.

Sam had definitely been busy; the room had been transformed. Normally Sam preferred clean, crisp lines in his living environment, modern and minimalist, but those lines had been softened into something almost unearthly by the multitude of soft candles placed strategically around, providing the only illumination. It should have been clichéd and yet it wasn't. It was just romantic.

He peered at the number on the door. Yes, definitely his partner's flat. Besides, his key had worked so this must be Sam's place. It was just...

A soft sound flowed from the elegant speakers in the corner of the room. He vaguely recognised it as one of the arias he'd bought Sam for his birthday. And talking of his partner, he realised that Sam was standing in the doorway to the bedroom, a glass of red wine clasped loosely in one hand, wearing a pair of faded denims and nothing else. His hair was slightly tousled and damp, his grey-green eyes languorous and his whole attitude relaxed. It appeared that it wasn't only his partner's flat that had undergone a transformation.

He returned his partner's gaze, his lips curling up slightly in amusement. "Had the decorators in?" he teased.

Sam gave a brief snort of laughter, his eyes never leaving his lover's face. He padded over on silent feet to where Chris was standing, and placed a gentle kiss on the American's lips before answering. He tasted of the wine he was drinking, and yet underlying it was the distinct and delectable taste of Sam.

"Not quite," he replied softly. "Like it?"

Chris didn't know if he was imagining it but there seemed to be a trace of something in his partner's voice that he couldn't quite identify, something sounding close to concern or perhaps nervousness, which wasn't like Sam at all. "It's different," he answered with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "Why do I get the feeling you have something special planned?"

Sam's smile deepened, now holding the same mysterious quality that had so intrigued the American back at the office. "Wait and see," he said, and then he gave Chris a look from under his lowered lashes that had the ex-Navy SEAL's temperature rising. "I got you a present," he said.

"Oh?" asked Chris intelligently, wondering what on earth his partner could have bought him that was putting that light in his eye. "Can I have it now?"

Sam chuckled again, the warmth of affection shining in his remarkable eyes. He moved gracefully over to the sofa, picking up a parcel that Chris had missed in the dim lighting and handing it to his partner.

"Here," he said softly. "Why don't you go and take a shower and then open it."

Chris raised his eyebrow quizzically, wondering what on earth his normally reserved partner was up to. Sam didn't give him any hints, merely raising his glass to his lips again, watching Chris over the top of it, amusement clear in his gaze.

Chris watched his throat move as he took a long swallow, a sudden spike of arousal coursing through him as the image of sucking at that long, elegant neck rose unbidden in his mind. He could almost hear the moan that the act would drive out of Sam, knowing from past experience how responsive his partner was to a love bite placed just right.

He didn't know whether once again Sam was reading his mind, but the amusement in his lover's eyes deepened and the Englishman chuckled lightly. "Shower," he insisted, pushing gently at Chris' shoulder to both turn him and get him moving in the direction of the bathroom. Chris pouted at him over his shoulder, but for once the action left his lover unmoved. Deciding that not only was discretion the better part of valour, something he would never admit to thinking to his partner, but that he would never find out what Sam was up to unless he played ball, Chris reluctantly got moving, not wanting to be separated from his lover any longer than necessary. Not tonight when Sam had that light in his eyes.

A shower proved to have been a good idea on Sam's part, loosening muscles he hadn't even realised were tense from the last couple of hours crouched over a keyboard and easing some of the familiar tension coming from a case that didn't go the way they wanted. For some reason, however, he always found paperwork more stressful than actually getting shot at, maybe because paperwork didn't produce the adrenaline rush that got him through their more dangerous and difficult assignments.

He let the hot water wash all of that away - the heat and humidity of the office, the frustration of cases where the good guys didn't always win, the tension of dealing with supposed allies who in fact spent their time jockeying for some tenuous position, all of it. Until, at last, when he stepped out of the shower all that was left was one pleasantly tired and slightly randy CI5 agent.

Skin still tingling from the power of the water, he towelled himself off, his gaze fixed on the parcel sitting innocuously next to the washbasin. He'd been very good, not tearing it open as soon as he'd had the opportunity although it had been tempting. For some reason Sam wanted to take this slow and he was content to play along if it made his lover happy. Besides, Sam had said shower and then open it. Of course, he'd now taken said shower...

He was very good about not ripping the paper off too, opening it as carefully as Sam had opened his birthday present, not entirely sure that Sam wouldn't have returned the favour and given him a present in the same vein even though somehow he couldn't quite visualise it; Sam shopping for a sex toy.

He hadn't. Instead, the famous Curtis taste had reared its head again, and the present he'd been given was stylish, tasteful and undeniably expensive. The cool silk flowed through his fingers as he shook the garment out, soft and supple to the touch and making his skin tingle some more.

It was a kimono style dressing gown, reaching to his knees in a deep blue so rich that purple highlights shone in it as he held it up to the light. Slipping it on, he shivered as the cool silk slid against his now overheated skin, as gentle as a butterfly's touch, and caught sight of his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Even through the steam misting the surface he could see how the colour brought out the blue in his eyes. Oh yes, his partner had exquisite taste. In a lot of things.

He fastened the tie around his waist, knotting it loosely, before running his fingers through his hair, spiking it up into its normal style. One last, quick glance to see that he was presentable and then he moved to rejoin his partner in the living room. He stopped in the doorway, frozen by the vision in front of him.

The free standing cheval mirror had been moved from Sam's bedroom and now stood in the very centre of the room, the subtle flames of the candles caught and reflected from its surface, a hundred shimmering points of light filling the whole room with a soft glow. Remembering the last time that mirror had featured in their love life, he couldn't suppress the shiver of arousal that ran through his body, leaving his knees weak in its wake.

Sam had also changed, the faded denims replaced by far more elegant silk pyjama bottoms from the very pair that Chris had bought him the previous Christmas, mainly, it had to be said, so he could take them off Sam again. He may not have quite the same exquisite taste as his partner but he'd chosen well with those, the dark mossy green complementing his partner's dark colouring and making his eyes appear very green in the dim light. And even though he'd changed out of his jeans, he still looked relaxed lounging on the sofa, and sexily tousled in a way that had Chris' fingers itching to get him out of those pants again. His eyes hadn't lost their mysterious gleam either.

Sam didn't say anything, just holding out a glass of clear liquid to Chris. When Chris raised his eyes, Sam explained softly, "Sake."

Japanese rice wine. Now what on earth was his partner up to? He took the proffered glass, his eyes surveying the room searching for hints of his lover's plan, since Sam wasn't giving anything away. They settled on a collection of items placed carefully in the centre of the room. He'd been so caught up in the erotic memories evoked by the mirror when he'd first come out of the bathroom that he'd missed them the first time around. With a cautious look at Sam to make sure he wasn't messing up his partner's plans he moved towards them, kneeling down on the floor to get a better look.

Sam still said nothing, letting him examine the objects in front of him in peace. A couple of soft and fine brushes, delicate wisps for bristles, a small, leather bound book and a bowl of dark liquid. Placing the glass of sake carefully on the floor, he picked up the book and once again glanced at Sam, checking that he wasn't overstepping any marks. Once again, Sam seemed content to let him explore, watching him with those intense silver-green eyes, the very focus in them increasing Chris' level of arousal.

The book fell easily open to his hands, the leather supple with use. The pages were a rich, thick cream, soft under his fingertips. It wasn't a printed book, but handwritten, and written with care.

In what looked like Japanese.

It made sense, he thought, going with the kimonos, the sake and the rest but it left him none the wiser as to what his partner had planned. Once again, he met Sam's mysterious eyes, his own questioning.

Taking pity on him, Sam rose gracefully to his feet, the soft silk whispering around him as he moved. He stalked towards Chris on virtually silent feet, gently removing the book from Chris' grasp and pressing his mouth firmly against his lover's. The tip of his tongue brushed very lightly over Chris' lips, darting back again as Chris opened up with a sigh, teasing him before withdrawing. When he pulled back, there was mischief mingled with the heat in his gaze.

"Do you remember," he asked softly, "how you keep asking me if there's some fantasy of mine I want to act out?"

His eyes dropped from Chris' to watch his hand as it trailed lightly down from Chris' cheek to trace the line of his throat. "Something I wanted to do because you felt that you were taking advantage?"

It was all Chris could do not to demand that Sam take advantage of him right there and then, the heat in Sam's eyes as they darted up to his face again echoed in the heat curling through his body at Sam's feather light touch.

"Do you?"

Sam's voice was husky with desire and Chris sighed, the breath escaping him in a rush as Sam's hand ghosted down over the skin of his chest, the fingertips outlining the fall of Chris' robe. "Yes," he breathed. "I remember."

"Good." It was a soft exhalation, Sam's breath whispering over the now sensitised skin stretched taut over expectant muscles as Chris tried to anticipate where the next touch would come. "May I?"

He gathered his scattered wits together, lost in the ebb and flow of pleasure from these simple caresses. "Whatever you want." A submission and a plea all rolled into one.

Sam's hand slipped underneath the soft silk, moving down to stroke lightly over the fluttering muscles of his abdomen. "I saw a movie once," he began, his words still a whisper against Chris' skin. "The plot doesn't matter. I'm not sure that there was one to be frank." His hand moved down to the tie of Chris' robe, pulling on it steadily. "But the lead female was a writer. Japanese. And to get her book published..." The tie loosened and fell free and Sam's hand continued on its journey. "She covered her lover's body with her words and sent him to the publisher."

"Uh huh." Words were failing him as Sam's warm and slightly calloused fingertips reached the dark and crisp whorls of hair above his thickening member. He swayed slightly, trying to prolong the touch only to be disappointed as Sam's hand began its return journey, this time along his side, underneath the silk.

Sam's intense and focused eyes continued to watch him closely as he stroked along Chris' pelvic bone to his waist and then began to trail upwards. "It doesn't matter what words she wrote," he whispered. "What's important is not what it says but the act of writing itself. The act of painting another with words. Feeling the brush gliding over skin, watching as the ideas take shape on a perfect canvas..."

He was trembling slightly under Sam's touch and Sam had to feel it, still staring straight into Chris' eyes, devouring him, owning him. "And you are the most perfect canvas I can think of, Chris."

His hand reached Chris' shoulder, moving under the fabric and he brought the other hand up to mimic it on Chris' other side. "May I?" he asked again.

"Yes." Another soft exhalation, and finally the silk was drifting down his arms, leaving him naked to Sam's gaze as it dropped to the floor.

Sam stepped back slightly and took his time surveying his prize, something that didn't bother Chris at all. There was nothing in Sam's gaze to make him feel uncomfortable; intense concentration but not a hint of a leer. There was too much genuine emotion singing between them for that. Too much love and respect.

Sam sighed, a soft, ragged sound and Chris watched, enthralled as his lover's pupils dilated. A sheer sign of arousal per Sex Ed 101. He resisted the urge to smirk, deciding that would only spoil the mood that Sam was striving for. Instead, he stood there, loose limbed, waiting for whatever Sam's pleasure was, admitting to himself that, if nothing else, the idea was intriguing.

Sam dragged his eyes back up to Chris' face, his eyes sparkling silver-green. "Beautiful," he breathed, the word bringing a slight flush to Chris' pale skin. He could feel the heat rising to the surface. He said nothing, not returning the compliment although in his opinion the description could be equally applied to the Englishman and that wasn't just a bias on his part. He was well aware of the admiring looks his lover got sometimes but, to his immense joy, Sam was his.

And he was Sam's. And now Sam was going to mark that on him. Even though it wasn't permanent, the thought still sent an erotic frisson through him.

Sam seemed to have looked his fill, moving closer to Chris once again, his hand grazing lightly over Chris' skin, trailing goose pimples in its wake. He gently turned Chris so that the American was looking straight in the mirror and moved to stand behind him, meeting his reflected eyes.

"May I?"

Chris gave a little unsteady nod, his knees trembling. A myriad of images were fighting for attention in his head; flashes of what had happened before in front of this very mirror, each memory increasing his arousal. Sam had barely touched him yet and he ached for it, for the feeling of Sam's hands firm against his flesh.

Another feather light touch traced the line of his spine, and he swayed into it, balancing lightly on the balls of his feet, his eyes hooded. Sam crouched down behind him, reaching for the small wooden bowl, his movements as graceful as always. The dark liquid was ink, he knew now, or something close to it if not quite as long lasting. And as he watched in the mirror, Sam picked up one of the fine brushes and began to swirl it around in the bowl, meeting Chris' eyes once more, his expression serious although his silver flecked eyes were still shining with mingled arousal and affection.

The ink was cool against the overheated skin of his back. It was a strange sensation, feeling the brush trace symbols onto his flesh that he wouldn't recognise even if he could see them. Each brushstroke was light and slow, Sam obviously taking a great deal of care, and he let himself drift, lost in the sensation.

A flash of warmth air against his skin dragged him gasping out of his reverie. Meeting Sam's eyes in his reflection again, he watched as the Englishman once again leant forward and blew lightly against his skin, drying the ink. Both the sight and feel of it sent tendrils of heat straight to his groin, causing his already swollen member to twitch almost painfully. And then Sam began again, another mark against his skin, a devastatingly attractive crease furrowing his brow as he concentrated on the task in hand. Once again his partner's intense concentration was focused on him and solely him. It made him feel incredibly special; loved, protected, wanted.

It made him feel incredibly turned on.

A huff of heated breath against his skin drove another gasp out of him. He caught Sam's amused gaze in the reflection, and twisted his own mouth wryly. There was no doubt that his partner was enjoying this and on more than one level. He watched with narrowed eyes as Sam continued to mark him, painting smooth and crisp lines down his back and over his ass, onto his legs. It tickled a little when Sam was writing on his buttocks, tickled and aroused in equal measures. And then finally Sam was rising to his feet and turning him around.

He stared straight into Sam's heated gaze; no longer softened by the reflecting power of the flat, mirrored glass behind him it was heat and light and so many things. Sam's mouth descended on his, hard and demanding for an instant, and he submitted with abandon, letting Sam's tongue plunder his mouth, own his body as he owned his soul. Sam's hands gripped his shoulders firmly as the Englishman explored his mouth, and he longed to be wrapped in Sam's arms, pressing himself as close to Sam as he could, his hands fisting into the fabric of Sam's pyjama bottoms, until he came to his senses enough to realise that Sam wasn't going to risk smudging him. Not yet, anyway.

Finally Sam let go of him with another ragged sigh and stepped back, his eyes almost black with desire. Chris swayed again, his mouth feeling wonderfully swollen. He could taste Sam with each inhaled breath and licked his kiss stung lips, watching, entranced, the effect the gesture had on his lover. Sam swallowed heavily, his eyes falling automatically to Chris' mouth before he dragged his gaze back up to meet Chris'. For a second Chris honestly believed that Sam was going to grab him again and damn the consequences and then Sam seemed to give himself a mental shake. He could see the calm control descending again as Sam eased back into his normal persona. Only his eyes gave him away. They stayed intense, glittering with need as he reached down for the bowl that he'd placed safely on the floor.

Sam's hand was perfectly steady as once more he dipped his brush into the bowl of ebony liquid, scraping the excess off against the side before letting the tip glide over Chris' skin. Chris watched, fascinated, as the shapes began to blossom on his chest and down over his abdomen. Sam's head was bowed in concentration, watching the brush skitter over his lover's body and consulting the leather bound book frequently. He avoided the tingling flesh around Chris' tight nipples and skirted his groin entirely, moving down the front of Chris' legs.

He switched his attention between watching Sam and watching the brush's gliding path, once again immersing himself in sheer sensation. The ticklishness had passed and now all that he felt was heat, each stroke of the brush sending shudders through him, cranking up his arousal level touch by touch until it was all he could do to remain upright.

Watching Sam did nothing to dampen it either. His partner's hands skated over his skin, holding him steady and preceding each brush stroke with the glide of fingertips, smoothing down the light dusting of golden hairs with an almost reverent touch. He seemed to be taking as much pleasure from the simple act of touching Chris as the more exotic and erotic act of painting him. And Chris took pleasure from watching him. Watching Sam tease and torment him. Watching Sam touch and caress him. Watching Sam watching him.

Finally Sam reached his ankles and painted the last of his words, resting the brush carefully back in the bowl, closing the book and peering up at him. Chris reached out and traced one gentle finger over Sam's face, starting from the corner of his eyebrow and finishing with a caress across Sam's lips, feeling his lover's breath over his fingertips, the only hint he had before Sam sucked his finger into his mouth, swirling his tongue around it.

It sent a bolt of lightning straight to his groin.

He gasped and stared down, heavy-lidded, at his seductive partner, catching the tail end of a smirk crossing Sam's face. His own lips curled up in a reluctant smile, and then Sam was rising up on his knees, his hands coming to rest lightly on Chris' hips, being careful not to smudge him. He leant forward and nuzzled gently at the curling hair surrounding Chris' arousal and driving another wordless gasp out of the American. The gasp turned to a low moan as Sam's tongue laved his erection from root to tip, swirling around the head and dipping into the slit. He placed his hands on Sam's shoulders, his fingers digging into Sam's flesh as he struggled to remain standing in the face of such pleasure.

Sam took his time, slowly bringing him to the peak with flicks and sucks before pulling back and gentling him back down, his thumbs caressing Chris' hipbones. Chris let out a ragged sigh as the need to come eased slightly, leaving him still highly aroused but not desperate. When Sam felt that he had himself under control, the Englishman rose gracefully to his feet and pulled Chris in for a gentle kiss, sharing the taste of his pre-cum with him, salty and tangy and contrasting wonderfully with the smooth taste of Sam. It was a taste he couldn't get enough of and he whimpered in protest when Sam finally pulled back.

His lover smiled at his disappointment but didn't give in, instead turning Chris so that the American could see his reflection in the mirror. Even Chris, not a particularly vain person, had to admit that it was a stunning image. The black of the ink stood out clearly against the pale alabaster of his skin, dark and mysterious and erotic. He caught Sam's eyes reflected in the mirror again, and held them, intense and serious, before turning around and looking straight into those eyes for real.

This time Sam didn't resist as Chris pulled him into his arms, letting his body mould against every part of the American's and opening his mouth to Chris' probing tongue. Chris took advantage of it, mapping every inch of his lover's mouth, delighting in the familiarity even though the unusual submissiveness of Sam in this was wonderfully new. He didn't need to feel the hardness pressed against his to know that Sam was aroused; he could taste it in Sam's unique flavour, musky and sweet.

He pulled back, panting slightly and staring into shining green eyes. Glancing possessively up and down Sam's lean and fit form, he realised that for all of Sam's care he hadn't been quite dry and here and there Sam's skin showed black marks, perfect reversals of the words adorning his own body. He liked it. It somehow marked Sam as his as much as he was marked as Sam's. He reached out and traced one of the words, his touch a caress against Sam's skin. His lover sighed softly, watching Chris' hand as it moved down his flank towards the top of his pyjama bottoms, which were hanging low on his hips. Chris watched him carefully and, seeing no sign of reluctance, gently eased them down over his lover's hipbones and now prominent erection before stepping back again to peruse Sam's body at his leisure.

Beautiful, even with the smudges of ink here and there. Beautiful and all Chris'.

He let out a soft sigh of his own before asking, still softly, "What now?"

Sam's somnolent eyes met his as his partner licked suddenly dry lips. "Bedroom."

Any disappointment at not making love in front of the mirror again evaporated as soon as he set foot in Sam's bedroom. His lover had been busy in here too. Candles filled every available surface here too, guttering and warming the room and ebony sheets had replaced Sam's normal stylish and yet practical duvet. Satin by the look and feel of them.

He looked quizzically at Sam and was rewarded with a wry twist of the lips. "Black ink," was all Sam said.

Of course. Silly him. Even in seductive mood Sam would be thinking ahead, not that he had any complaints about it. His partner had a definite aptitude for planning.

He stepped closer to his lover, once again pressing their torsos together and wrapping his arms around the Englishman, pulling Sam's ass to grind their neglected erections together. No point in going for subtlety now.

Sam let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and a moan, and opened dazed eyes to stare at him. "What now?" Chris asked again, lowering his head to mouth at the join where Sam's neck met his shoulder.

Sam's head rolled back instinctively as his lover sought for the words he needed to answer. "Want... you..." was all he managed, letting out a harsh gasp as the sucking pressure brought blood rushing to the surface of his skin, marking him in a much more elemental and primitive way as Chris' than the elegant way he had marked Chris. "Want you... in me."

Somehow Chris had thought that this whole seduction scene would end up with Sam on top but he didn't let his surprise show. Instead, still sucking lightly on Sam's neck although not hard enough to bruise this time, he let one hand trail down the centre of Sam's chest to his abdomen, feeling the muscles twitch underneath his touch before he grasped Sam's erection firmly. The Englishman let out a gasp and thrust into his grip once or twice, Sam's hands coming up to grab at his shoulders with desperate strength.

He released Sam's cock with one last flick of his thumbnail over the end and turned the pair of them so that the back of Sam's knees rested against the edge of the bed and then pushed lightly so that Sam sat down. His partner took the hint and shuffled backwards, his remarkable eyes never dropping from Chris. He clambered up onto the bed with Sam, moving to straddle him, his hands never ceasing as they roamed over Sam's torso, driving gasps and whimpers out of the Englishman.

Eventually his own arousal wouldn't be ignored anymore and he scrabbled in the bedside drawer for condoms and lubricant. When he moved his hand to Sam's hip, intending to roll his lover over Sam stopped him, his expression intense.

"No," he said. "I want to see you."

Chris gave a little internal shrug but nodded. It made sense that after painting him like this Sam would want to see him. He didn't have any objection; he loved watching Sam's face while they made love, one of the few times that Sam relaxed enough to let his guard down. A sight to be savoured.

He coated his fingers with lubricant, tracing his thumb over the perineum and circling around the entrance to Sam's body, watching his partner's response carefully, judging how long to draw out his teasing. Sam's eyes met his calmly, that green sheen of arousal to them and he flicked a finger over the puckered opening, watching as his partner's eyelids drifted shut and Sam absorbed the sensation. He eased the tip of his finger into the tight heat and savoured the ragged moan that the act drove out of Sam. His lover's torso was gleaming with droplets of sweat as Chris continued to torment him, one finger easing into two and then three, readying him for their joining.

He reached for the packet of condoms, only for Sam to stop him again, his eyes candid. "You don't have to if you don't want to."

He let out a long ragged breath of his own, recognising the gift for what it was. "I won't then." Instead, he slicked his bare erection with lubricant and placed one of Sam's legs around his waist, pushing the other up towards his lover's chest to make his entry easier.

There was something so intimate about sinking slowly into Sam's heat without the barrier of latex between them. It shouldn't have made a difference and yet it did, and watching Sam's face closely as he slid home he knew that Sam felt the same. Bliss. Sam's eyes rolled back in his head for a moment and then his hands came up to cup Chris' face, pulling him down for a deep kiss.

He started to move when Sam's hands moved down to grab his hips. "Slowly," he breathed. "Slowly, love. Please."

Love. He sighed and leant in to kiss his lover again, slowing his thrusts as requested, Sam's unbelievably hot and tight flesh gripping him as though made for him. Sam's hands skimmed over his body, tracing out the patterns painted on his flesh, over his back, down his chest, along his thighs, those long and elegant fingers stroking and arousing him to almost unbearable heights.

He put his weight on his hands, staring down into Sam's face and watching as his lover's eyes dilated, becoming almost black with pleasure. He angled his thrusts, making sure that each movement pushed against that magic gland deep within Sam's body, luxuriating in each gasp and moan his lover made. Slowly.

Sam opened his eyes again, staring back at him for a moment before letting his eyes trace the same path as his hands had. And then his partner caught hold of his head again, pulling him down so that their tongues could duel, Sam's tongue thrusting into his mouth even as he thrust into Sam's body.

The pleasure was coursing through his veins, doubling, trebling with each slow, smooth stroke. Sam's hands moved from his hair, down his back to come to rest on his buttocks, pulling him hard against his lover's body. He took the hint and increased the tempo, swallowing the moan Sam let loose as his lover arched against him. Every inch of his skin felt like it was singing with sensation, Sam's fingers leaving trails of fire in their wake as they moved ceaselessly over his body. He could feel that familiar tension building in his spine, tightening in the pit of his stomach and knew he wouldn't last much longer. Sam's body was tense against his, his lover gasping almost continuously now, his fingers digging hard into Chris' ass. He held back for as long as he could, determined that Sam would come before he did. To guarantee it, he lowered his head and lapped at the bruise now adorning Sam's throat before sucking at it gently, knowing that the mingled pain/pleasure sensation would drive his partner over the edge.

Sam let out a long, liquid moan as his body arched against Chris', his arms and legs tightening around him, almost as if he sought to absorb Chris into his very being. The moan turned to a harsh cry as Chris continued to pound into him, still licking at his neck, and then he came, a flood of wet heat between them. The fluid contractions of Sam's body around his cock, buried in its tight, hot sheath, set off the flutterings in his own belly. He thrust in hard, once, twice, three times and then cursed under his breath as his own climax overwhelmed him, sending him careening into bliss, emptying himself into Sam's receptive body.

He collapsed onto his lover's satiated body and lay there, lost in the feel of Sam's arms around him and his lover's strong hands moving soothingly up and down his back. Eventually Sam wriggled a little uncomfortably and he rolled to one side, muttering an incoherent apology.

"S'okay," Sam murmured back, rolling onto his side to face him, his expression perfectly contented. "I like it."

He smiled back, reaching out with a gentle finger to trace one of the new smudges on Sam's torso, obviously transferred during their lovemaking. "What did it say?" he asked once his brain was functioning again.

Sam's look grew evasive. "They were just words, Chris. They didn't really mean anything. Just looked good."

His partner was lying although he couldn't quite understand why. It wasn't just Sam's evasiveness that told him that; logic did too. If they had just been words, Sam wouldn't have needed to copy them out of his handwritten book. And Chris was observant enough to have spotted the similarity between the words written on his body and in the book - both by Sam obviously.

He let it slide though, limiting his response to a simple, "Okay," and not missing the relief in his lover's eyes when he didn't push.

Sam gave Chris' body and his own smudged one a rueful look. "Better get cleaned up," he said. "And get rid of this stuff..." He gestured at the candles. "... before the flat burns down."

For once Chris helped him without complaint, making sure he noted where Sam placed his brush, bowl and, mostly importantly, book.



Chapter Two


"Yes, Chris?"

"You spent some time in the Far East, didn't you?"

The Canadian agent gave him a searching look. "I did," she confirmed.

"Know anyone who reads Japanese?"

"Apart from me, you mean?"

Chris hesitated for a telling moment. "Yes."


The American sighed, giving her an exasperated look. "And Sam. Someone who, maybe, knows something about literature, or... stuff like that?"

She wondered what the hell he was up to if he couldn't ask his partner. She hadn't missed the closeness between the two of them, a deep friendship and she sometimes wondered if it wasn't perhaps more. On those occasions she gave herself a mental slap and told her imagination, and her libido, to behave. Just because Sam seemed oblivious to her obvious flirting didn't mean he was doing the dirty with his partner. His male partner. She was self-aware enough to realise that she'd find it easier to believe that Sam wasn't interested in women generally rather than simply not being interested in her. Less of a blow to the old ego.

Chris was still waiting for an answer, and she sighed, wracking her brains for someone to help him.

"There is someone," she said slowly. "A professor at one of the London Colleges. Not literature, really. More cultural studies, although she does have an interest in poetry through the ages as part of that. Would that help?"

He brightened. "Yep. Thanks, Backup. You're an angel. I knew that if anyone had information like that at their fingertips it would be you."

She snorted. Geek girl strikes again. "Just one thing, Chris."


"If Sam isn't going to like this, we never had this conversation. Understood?"

 He was the picture of wounded innocence but he didn't fool her for a second. She knew him too well for that. She made her expression as hard as she could for a second and he capitulated with a sigh of his own.

"Fine. Just give me the name and address."


Doctor Akiko Saito. From the little he knew about Japanese names, Doctor Saito was female.

She was. She was also about fiftyish, grey haired and cheerful. Her English was impeccable, overlaid with just a hint of an American accent, which was a relief because Sam was the linguist. He knew about six words of Japanese and that was all, and even those he wasn't sure about.

Backup must have phoned in advance, warning Doctor Saito of his impending arrival because she greeted him pleasantly, asked a few polite questions about how 'dear Tina' was keeping and showed him into her comfortably cluttered room. Books filled the overstuffed shelves and piled up on the floor and there were a couple of chipped mugs in the corner by an equally battered kettle. She offered him a cup of coffee, apologising for having to use powdered milk and then settled down to business.

"I understand from dear Tina that you would like some advice?"

"I need a translation of something," he explained. "And I think it's kind of literature based."

"Oh?" She looked quite thrilled at the prospect and it didn't take long for her to give him a hint as to why. "Is this for a case?"

"Not exactly," he was forced to reply, feeling a bit ashamed at the disappointment that crossed her face. "It might be nothing at all, but it is confidential nonetheless."

She brightened at that again, looking almost eager as he handed over the small, leather-bound book. He fought back another pang of guilty shame. "You can rely on my discretion..." she prodded as he held onto the book for an instant too long.

He released it with a sigh. "Not even Tina can know," he insisted and, glancing up from the now open book on her lap, she gave him a sharp look.

"Agreed," she said, pleasantly enough before turning her attention back to the neat lines in front of her, pulling up her glasses that hung from a cord around her neck.

She turned the pages slowly, her lips moving slightly as she read, and he resisted the urge to wriggle like a recalcitrant child. Finally she looked up at him with a triumphant gleam in her eye.

"Haiku," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"These..." She waved the book at him and he winced, hearing the pages flutter manically, "...are mainly haiku."

"Japanese poetry, right?"

Doctor Saito gave him a mildly disapproving look. "Haiku are a particular style of Japanese poetry, Mr Keel. One that, unlike some of the other forms, hasn't fallen out of fashion."


She sighed, obviously pitying him his ignorance. "Not all of them are haiku, Mr Keel, there are some other forms in here too. What is so fascinating about them, however, is that they are all... well, love poems for want of a better word, although erotic would also suffice as a description."

He tried hard not to blush. Oh. Seemingly completely unaware of his discomfort, she continued cheerfully, "Would you like to know what they say?"

He struggled for an answer to that but he needn't have bothered. She took his silence as consent and almost leapt out of her chair, bustling to her bookshelves and muttering to herself before finally pouncing on a volume with a triumphant "Ah ha!"

"What is particularly interesting," she explained, her nose buried in her latest find, "is that these poems are from many eras. For example, this one is by Yosano Akiko, who wrote in the early part of this century..." She found the page she wanted and began to quote.

"'Following his bath, I gave my handsome lover my best purple robe to protect him from the cold. He blushed, and was beautiful.'"

There was nothing overtly erotic in what she had just said but he flushed anyway, feeling the blood rising to his pale skin and giving him away. She gave him a slightly arch look over the top of her book, but didn't comment. It was just as well. He would rather have died than admit the images the poem conjured in his mind. He still had the robe, of course, but he'd never quite look at it in quite the same way again.

"Oh, I like this one," she said, reaching for yet another volume. "An entirely different era and unless I'm mistaken.... No, I'm not. Ono No Komachi. Mid ninth century...

"'I know it must be this way in the waking world, but how cruel - even in my dreams we hide from others' eyes.'"

She continued to flick through Sam's book, sighing happily every now and then. "Whoever collected these together has an eye for the poignant and the touching. There's a theme running through them; love, the need for secrecy, longing. Oh!" She stopped and smiled softly. "This one is one of my favourites. Izumi Shikibu, also ninth century. I don't need a translation for this one. I wrote it out for my husband when we were 'courting' as the English call it."

She continued to smile dreamily down at the page and Chris wondered if in twenty years or so he'd get exactly the same look on his face thinking of this particular poem.

"What does it say?" he prompted.

Another sigh, and she began to speak softly. "'Even if I now saw you only once, I would long for you through worlds, worlds.'"

The words, and the sentiments behind it rendered him speechless for a moment. Doctor Saito took advantage of it, continuing to flick through Sam's small book.

"That's strange." Her words shook him out of his reverie.

"What is?"

She hesitated. "Well, I don't know if this will help your case or not, but the last poem is a bit odd..."

"Odd?" he prompted.

"Hmm. Almost as if..." She frowned and her lips moved again. "It's not a haiku in Japanese, not quite, although someone has tried to fit the words to the form, not always successfully..." Once again that look of intense concentration. "If I didn't know better, I'd say that it was written in English and then translated into Japanese. It misses most of the nuances of a haiku written in its original Japanese." She glanced up at him. "The thing about these poems is that they mean so much more in their original form. Words often have more than one meaning, layer upon layer, and that's lost when you translate them into English. This one doesn't have those layers. That's why it stands out compared to the skill with which the others were written. I mean, it's not bad, it's just not good."

He bristled slightly, already guessing why it appeared to have been written in English and translated into Japanese. "What does it say? In English?"

She picked up a pen and pad of paper and began to scribble, crossing words out frequently, before finishing with a triumphant flourish.

"Here you are. As far as I can tell, it says 'I gaze upon your face by dawn's light. My frozen heart, once empty, now full.'"

Oh god. He sank back in his chair, once again speechless. Ignoring him, she made a little harrumphing sound in the back of her throat. "Well, at least it applies the 5, 7, 5 syllable rule of haiku in English. Even if it doesn't follow any of the other conventions."

The words took time to sink in and when they did he bristled again. "Thank you, Doctor Saito." It came out colder than he intended and she raised one eyebrow at him, forcing him to flush again. His tone was more even as he added, "Your help has been invaluable."

She gave him a little faint smile. "I hope she's worth it," she said, her smile widening as his face burned. "I'll take that as a yes then," she added a trifle smugly. "Are you sure there's nothing else I can do?"

He hesitated and then blurted out, "I need a word translating." She looked at him encouragingly and he added, "From English into Japanese."

She nodded and, when he still dithered, wordlessly handed him the pad and pen. With sudden resolve he scribbled down the word that had sprung into his mind and watched carefully while she wrote the Japanese translation underneath it. As an afterthought she wrote out the last poem again neatly too and handed him the paper.

He thanked her politely, collected Sam's book and was on the point of leaving when she called after him, "For what it's worth, Mr Keel? She's a very lucky girl."

He hesitated in the doorway. "No. I'm the lucky one."


Chapter 3

It took him time to decide what he was going to do, and even then it took another couple of days before he was able to put his plan into action. He did, however, make sure that he replaced the book in its little niche before Sam discovered its absence. His partner was so anally neat he was bound to notice eventually.

He was like a cat on a hot tin roof until he could come clean and his partner noticed his agitation, which was probably the only reason that he managed to escape from work before Sam, with Sam dealing with the last of the paperwork for their most recent case. Sam was a little fed-up with him and his low attention span, which didn't bode well for his imminent revelation that he'd been snooping but he couldn't put this off any longer, not and have to listen to his nagging conscience.

It didn't take him long to get things ready. It was still early, and the sunlight streamed through the drapes despite his best efforts to shut it out, so he didn't bother with the candles. Instead, he changed the linen on the bed back to the black satin sheets, rounded up the bowl, ink and brushes and then showered, changing into his rich blue robe.

And then he sat back on Sam's couch and waited, the leather-bound book growing warm in his hands. Finally he drifted off to sleep, the book falling forgotten on to the floor.

Sam was not in a particularly receptive mood when he finally got home, being tired and a little grumpy. Neither of them had had much sleep the night before, too caught up in their latest case, and it was beginning to tell on his partner. Chris' couple of hours had put him back on track, however, and he was feeling much chirpier. Too chirpy for Sam, it seemed.

"Chris, I'm tired. I want to go to bed. To sleep," he emphasised as Chris opened his mouth to protest that bed was exactly the place he wanted to be.

"Fine," soothed Chris. "Go, take a shower, I'll make you some tea but then there's something I want to do."


"Please, Sam?" He put on his best pleading puppy dog expression and watched Sam fold, sighing.

"Fine," his lover sighed. "But I want some sleep. And no cracks about pacing myself, okay?"

He smirked. "Okay. Promise."

True to his word, he made Sam some tea - Chinese, green leaf tea. Not only did Sam like it but it was also about the only type of tea he could stomach himself. He took it through to the bedroom, setting it carefully on the bedside table and lay back on the bed to wait.

It didn't take Sam long to join him, clad only in a pair of loose grey sweatpants and still towelling his hair dry with one hand. His other was holding his little book, and he gave Chris an enquiring look before his eyes settled on the accoutrements clustered around the cheval mirror. His lips quirked upwards.

"Guess I don't need to ask why you had this," he said. "And I appreciate the gesture, love, but I'm not joking when I said that I'm a little too tired. Maybe tomorrow, eh?"

Chris shook his head. "It won't take long, Sam," he said persuasively, cutting off Sam's wry look and inevitable put down by adding, "We don't need to make love, and I promise that it won't take long. I just need to do this before I lose my nerve. Please?"

The last words were a soft plea, and Sam frowned, suddenly concerned. "Okay, Chris. Whatever you need. You know that."

Chris treated to him to a beaming smile, all dimples and genuine emotion and watched as Sam echoed it, probably without even being aware of it. "Why don't you take those pants off?" he asked softly, ignoring Sam's amused snort at the suggestion.

Sam gave him a long searching look and then complied, loosening the tie and letting the soft cotton fabric fall down over his hips and bunch around his ankles before kicking them away.

"Beautiful," Chris whispered, ignoring his partner's sudden flush. He stroked his hand gently along Sam's flank, unable to resist touching him. He placed one hand on Sam's shoulder and turned his partner around so that Sam was staring straight into the mirror. "Trust me?"


It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if Sam forgave him too, but Sam would have no idea what Chris was asking forgiveness for. Not yet anyway. Instead he smoothed one hand soothingly down Sam's back and over his partner's taut buttocks. And then he reached down and picked up the piece of paper Saito had gifted him with and the fine brush.

He took his time in carefully transcribing the symbols onto the small of Sam's back, not as familiar with Japanese script as his partner and not wanting to make any mistakes. When he d finished he took a deep breath and stepped back, butterflies circling in his stomach. He picked up Sam's shaving mirror and held it up so that it reflected the image of Sam's back straight into the free standing glass in front of them.

Sam let out his breath in a ragged sigh.


"How did you know?" he asked finally.

Chris took another deep breath. "The book - it's poetry, right?" A wordless nod from his partner. "I got some of it translated." There was a long silence while Sam digested this. His partner didn't look annoyed, but when Sam got that mask like look on his face it was difficult to tell exactly what he was thinking. "Forgive me?"


The soft sound gave him courage to continue. "Why didn't you just tell me what it said?"

Sam hesitated and then, still not looking at Chris but staring at the reflected words in the mirror, finally answered, "I thought you would think it was silly."

"Silly?" He couldn't believe it. "Sam, you write how much you love me all over my body. How could I think that was silly?"

"You don't think it's silly?" His lover's mask slipped slightly, showing a brief glimpse of uncertainty, embarrassment and perhaps a little fear.

"No, I don't," he replied emphatically. "I don't at all. I think it's wonderful. I could never... Sam, I could never do anything that wonderful for you."

Sam finally looked at him, bringing his hand up to cup Chris' face. "You have no idea, do you?" he breathed, his thumb stroking over Chris' cheek. "You really have no idea just what you've done for me."

Chris swallowed, a lump forming in his throat. "I think I have some idea, Sam. That last poem. You wrote that, didn't you? For me?"

Sam hesitated again and then nodded.

"No one has ever done that for me before. Ever." That got a little smile from Sam and he returned it with a beaming one of his own. "Will you translate some of the other ones for me? When you've had some sleep I mean."

"When we've had some sleep, I want to make love to you."

His lover's eyes were green and intent and he grinned again. "After that?"

"Yes, Chris, after that."

He smiled.


The End



I love Japanese haiku, the idea that you can sum one image up in a few concisely chosen words and some of the images they evoke are wonderful. When you combine that with the images of a nekkid Ewan in 'The Pillow Book' the images become even more wonderful. Replace Ewan with Chris... Well, let's just say I'm sure you get the picture :)

The poems used here are as credited in the text, although I should say that the translation of Yosano Akiko's work is by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson (River of Stars: Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko) and those of Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani (The Ink Dark Moon). The naming convention used for these poets is Japanese (family name first followed by given name) although, since Doctor Saito is anglicised to some extent I've followed the anglicised version for her name (her given name is Akiko) since I think that is more realistic in the context of the story.

Sam's haiku was written by yours truly, for what it's worth.

The translation of Chris' word is courtesy of Jim Breen's online Japanese/English dictionary because that one also lets you use graphics as Japanese words (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/wwwjdic.html). I chose the closest translation according to my understanding but I could be wrong. It could be a legal term for all I know :)

And finally, I wrote this listening to Enya's Paint the Sky with Stars CD.

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