|Title: Once in a Blue Moon
Archive: CI5 Operational Control (http://www.CI5Ops.co.uk),
Category: The New Professionals - Curtis/Keel.
Spoilers/Warnings: No spoilers. No warnings.
Summary: Just a gentle romance, for Jan, in which the song
Blue Moon plays an important part. Chris comes to a gradual
Keywords: romance, relationship, songfic
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 Brian Clemens 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. :) The lyrics and music to ~Blue Moon~ are
copyright Lorenzo Hart and Richard Rodgers.
Notes: Yes, I know that I said I couldn't write songfics, but
Jan wanted something sweet and romantic and claimed that I'd
have time to write one while I had a break from Journalese for
the end of September (for by now obvious reasons <evil
chuckle>), so I wrote this for her.
Thanks to Lou as always for betaing duties.
Once in a Blue Moon
~Blue Moon... You saw me standing alone...~
The words spilled out into the room as Chris Keel turned the
CD player in his partner's apartment on. He raised one eyebrow
quizzically. He'd never figured on Curtis going for this type of
thing, not with his new partner's comments about slobs and the
cracks he'd made the one time he'd ventured into the Keel abode.
Chris was perfectly willing to admit that he was a slob when it
came to housekeeping but he did have an appreciation of the
finer things in life where it mattered.
He even knew what 'libation of Dionysus' meant, not that he'd
admit it to his anally retentive new partner.
He couldn't figure the guy out. First the cool attitude in
Tom Perry's hospital room, and then the refusal to leave him
sitting on a car bomb in the Marriott's car park. Talk about
Still, all in all he could have pulled a worse partner.
Curtis seemed cool under fire, logical and yet still not too
cautious when it came to the action stuff, Turks with three-foot
machetes notwithstanding. So he had hopes of this partnership
thing actually working out. They were both professionals, and as
long as he didn't end up actively disliking the man they should
be fine. And Curtis' main problem, to be honest, seemed to stem
more from a natural reserve than anything else.
And speak of the devil, here came his rather reserved partner
now, looking anything but reserved in a pair of old sweatpants
and t-shirt, towelling his hair, wet from his shower. Hell,
maybe there was hope for him if he could relax this much.
"Find a drink?" Curtis asked in his soft voice, his green
eyes quizzical but not as cold as when they'd first been
Chris made a soft sound of disgust, waving his glass of wine
in Curtis' direction. "No beer," he said succinctly, watching as
the Englishman's mouth quirked upwards in an interesting way.
"I'm sorry," Curtis said lightly, a gleam of amusement in his
changeable eyes. "I wasn't expecting to have to entertain the
philistine element." His smile deepened slightly. "Guess you're
going to have to make do with the libation of Dionysus until I
can get some beer in."
The comeback Chris was about to make died on his lips at the
suggestion that Curtis would be getting beer in, for him
presumably although he was finding it difficult to believe that
Curtis didn't drink it at all. The statement, and the suggestion
that lay behind it, had thrown him a little. Curtis seemed to be
incorporating him in his life remarkably easily for someone who
had a reputation for being a loner.
He watched, his eyes narrowed slightly, as Curtis made his
way to the couch, dropping into it with seeming relief and a
little gracelessly. He didn't miss the slight flinch the
Englishman gave as he sank down.
The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them,
and on reflection he didn't want to - partnerships were two-way
streets after all.
Curtis gave a wry smile. "Remind me not to pick any more
fights with cars," he said easily, the confession hardly seeming
to faze him. "I lose."
Chris snorted, seating himself comfortably in the armchair
opposite his partner. "Having been in a car with you driving,
I'd say they bear a grudge."
Curtis chuckled lightly, his eyes tired but still holding
that air of amusement as he looked in Chris' direction. "You
"Count on it."
They settled into silence for a moment, each lost in their
own thoughts and Chris was a little surprised about how
comfortable it was. He felt no urge to fill the spaces between
them with some of his trademark wit, the way he had early on in
their partnership, instead letting his mind drift over the
events of the day, his head resting on the soft, upholstered
back of Curtis' stylish furniture.
"We did good today," he mused eventually, out loud.
He lifted his head, met his partner's serene face and raised
his glass in Curtis' direction, too tired now to do more.
"To partnerships," he intoned solemnly.
A faint trace of a smile graced his partner's face as he
returned the gesture, echoing softly, "To partnerships."
Chris bounded into his partner's apartment, full of
enthusiasm and not a little sugar.
~You saw me standing alone~
He grinned, still not quite able to adapt to the idea of his
partner as a jazz fan, mellowing out with a glass of Merlot and
He followed the sound of his partner's voice, finding Sam
standing by his living room window, staring out over the streets
below him, a little more picturesque than the view from his own
apartment. The inevitable evening glass of red wine was held
loosely in one hand, his hip leaning casually against the wall
and his top shirt button undone.
Chris couldn't resist.
"You know, Elvis did a version of this."
Sam shuddered and gave him a look that spoke volumes.
"Hey! Elvis is the King!"
"Of Rock and Roll," Sam conceded with a small smile. "This is
jazz. And I'm afraid Billie rules the roost there."
Chris pulled a face. "I prefer Elvis," he persisted
Still with that small smile, Sam turned his attention back
out to the vista beyond his windowpane.
"How did it go with Sommelson? You get the pic for your Dad?"
He was only making polite conversation and wasn't quite
prepared for the slight tension entering his partner's frame but
was observant enough that it didn't go unnoticed. For all his
partner's protestations that his life was like an open book,
Chris was becoming to realise that it was anything but. He was
about to open his mouth again, and probably put his foot into
it, when Sam recovered, turning to him with a flawless and easy
"Yes," Sam replied lightly. "Ms Sommelson was appropriately
gracious and accommodating and my Dad's mantelpiece now has a
It was only the weeks of working closely together that
enabled Chris to catch the slight edge of sarcasm in the last
statement, and he raised one eyebrow quizzically, only for Sam
to treat him to another rendition of that deflecting smile and
sidetracking him with a question about how he thought Phoenix's
capture would affect things in the former Yugoslavia, if at all.
"Not sure," he admitted honestly. "Small cog and all that
jazz. I think he was a tool if anything."
Sam chuckled softly. "A million pounds a shot. Puts what we
do into perspective."
He stilled, wondering where this was coming from, his gaze
boring into his partner, trying to figure out what was going on
in Sam's complicated mind. He settled on flippant. "Hey,
bastions of justice and all that."
It seemed to work, Sam chuckling again but this time there
was genuine amusement in it. "That so?"
"Yeah. But there's more."
"We get nice shiny badges too."
This time Sam's laugh was full-bodied, his partner's eyes
sparkling as mirth shook Sam's body. "Yeah," his partner
laughed. "That makes all the difference."
"Works on the chicks."
"Well," Sam continued, devilment in his expression, "that
does explain how you ever manage to get laid."
He pasted a mock offended expression on his face that didn't
fool his partner for an instant before sighing dramatically and
heading to Sam's fridge for a beer.
When he came back into the living room, Billie was still
belting out her lovelorn blues and his partner had gone back to
looking out of the window. He settled himself on the couch and
"What was Bosnia like?"
The question was out of his mouth before he thought about it,
and the tension was back in Sam's form before he could take it
back. And so he sat, and waited. Finally Sam turned to look at
him, his eyes and expression veiled.
"I wasn't there long."
He gave his partner a long, searching look. "Bad, huh?"
Sam's mouth twisted in a wry grimace. "You could say that.
But then, having been a SEAL, you must know...?"
His partner's voice trailed off but his eyes fixed on Chris,
rueful now rather than veiled.
"Yeah." He did know what it was like, seeing despair all
around you and being powerless to do anything but complete the
mission parameters. That was all you could do and remain sane.
Didn't help with the nightmares though. Or the guilt.
Sam was back to staring through the window, his face serious,
reflective almost. Catching Chris' look, he gave a small smile
and raised his glass.
"To the past."
His partner stalked in, laden down with a couple of carrier
bags and gave him a stern look before reaching down and removing
the ruler from his grasp.
"Stop doing that."
Chris scowled mutinously. "It itches."
"I know it itches, but I am not taking you back to
have a new cast put on you because you shoved a ruler down
He scowled at his partner again, to no effect, as Sam placed
the ruler firmly out of his reach. Instead he had to settle on
lying back and folding his arms, glaring at Sam.
Sam smirked at him, before heading into the kitchen.
"Yeah?" he yelled back.
"You off the painkillers yet?"
Smart-ass, he thought, debating whether to actually answer
his partner or let the Englishman stew. He settled on answering,
unsure what other torments Sam would come up with otherwise.
The word was sullen at best, but his mood was dramatically
lightened by the bottle of Bud that came sailing in his
direction, closely followed by the bottle opener.
Bliss, he thought, as the amber liquid slid down his neck
with ease. He looked up to catch sight of Sam's smirking face
peering around the door.
For this he would even forgive Sam's uncharitable behaviour
in removing his favourite scratching implement.
The rustling of plastic bags in the kitchen ceased and by now
his fridge was no doubt full of healthy green stuff. He couldn't
find it in him to care.
Not when his partner had brought him cookies too.
He pounced on the blue box that appeared, as if by magic, on
his coffee table, not even needing to look up to know that his
partner's face probably had an indulgent look on it. Oreos. Yes!
A taste of home.
It was amazing what you could get in this country. Especially
if you were as persistent as Sam.
He paused in his scoffing to look up at where his partner was
lounging by the large picture windowpane, watching him with,
yes, an indulgent look and having liberated his own libation
from Chris' kitchen. Sam stocked beer, he now stocked wine.
Sam cocked his head at him quizzically and in answer he
gestured towards his prize. They both knew, however, that
cookies weren't all he was thanking Sam for.
How did you thank someone who'd carried you miles across the
savannah under a burning sun? Who refused to leave you, no
matter what? Every time he tried, Sam managed to deflect it with
a joke or a flippant comment.
Sam's eyes, though, told another story. They said that he
hadn't been sure that either one of them would make it.
He owed more than cookies to his partner's persistence.
Sam didn't let the slightly awkward moment last,
straightening up and stalking towards the CD player. Once again,
Chris could hear the crackling of cellophane and craned his
neck, trying to see from his supine position on the couch.
He raised his eyebrows at Sam as his partner turned around,
smirking again, tossing him the CD case.
The Best of Billie Holliday.
"Thought I'd take advantage of your immobility and educate
you," Sam grinned.
Bastard. Smug one too.
Although, he had to grudgingly admit she was growing on him.
He watched as Sam turned back to his perusal of the view and
then scratched absently at the flesh at the top of his cast, the
itching growing unbearable again.
"Stop that," said Sam without turning around.
~Without a song in my heart
Without a love of my own...~
The soft strains of Billie Holliday echoed through the small
hallway as Chris let himself into his partner's apartment. He
followed the sound through to Sam's small lounge, leaning
against the doorjamb and watching his partner for a moment.
Sam was sitting on the couch, a glass of wine in his hand,
staring into space, his expression thoughtful and a little sad.
Feeling like a voyeur, Chris cleared his throat and Sam
jumped, rapidly assuming his normal pleasant and cheerful
"You okay?" Chris asked, concern for his partner making him
pry where normally he wouldn't. It hadn't been a difficult case,
all things considered, so he could only presume that Sam's
melancholy was due to personal matters.
None of his business, a stubborn voice in his head insisted,
trying to persuade him not to pursue it should Sam deflect this
question as he deflected so many other personal ones. He
couldn't, however, dismiss the look of unhappiness in his
Sam hesitated for a long moment, before twisting his mouth
wryly. "Same old story," he said ruefully. "Got dumped."
"Ah." There wasn't a lot he could say to that, without
resorting to platitudes, and so he settled himself on the arm of
the chair opposite the couch. "Work?"
"Work, play," Sam sighed. "Who knows?"
Platitude time. "Plenty of more fish in the sea, buddy."
Sam gave a small smile, although it was obvious that his
heart wasn't in it. "Don't you ever get tired of fishing?" he
asked softly before looking up at Chris, his expression sombre.
Chris gave the question serious consideration. "I caught the
fish I wanted," he said eventually. "I suppose I accepted a long
time ago that I wasn't going to be that lucky again. So..."
"So you always throw them back?"
He gave Sam a rueful smile of his own. "Guess so."
"And you don't mind that?"
There was genuine curiosity in Sam's face and tone and he
found that he wasn't offended by questions that from anyone else
he would consider prying.
"Mind, I don't know. I suppose I'm resigned to it."
Sam dropped his gaze down to his wineglass, turning it around
and around in his hand and staring into the ruby depths. "Your
wife..." he began tentatively, still not looking in Chris'
"Died," said Chris shortly, the pain still fresh in some
"I'm sorry." Sam did look at him this time, and there was
genuine regret and remorse in his eyes. But no pity, Chris was
glad to note. Just the empathy of a fellow human being for his
"It was a long time ago," he admitted softly. "But, yes, I
still miss her."
"You always do," agreed Sam, equally softly. At Chris' look
he elaborated. "My Mum. Died when I was twelve."
Tough break, he thought. Losing his own father at his wedding
had been a cruel blow, but he'd coped, as an adult. Losing a
parent at that tender age was something he could only try and
Changing the subject to something he would feel more
comfortable with, he commented, "I didn't know you'd been seeing
Sam shrugged, that slightly guarded look back on his face.
"Two years," he admitted, to Chris' obvious surprise. Sam gave
him a little self-deprecating smile. "It's been kind of on again
off again, if you know what I mean."
Oh. "Maybe it'll be on again," he offered.
Sam shook his head sadly. "No. This time it's off for good."
"I'm sorry," he said, a little lamely, unable to find the
words to comfort Sam as so many had failed to find them after
the loss of his wife.
"Yeah, well," Sam sighed. "Guess he finally got tired of
being messed about."
He. His mind registered the word, and he opened his mouth
only to leave it open, words failing him. At first he thought
that Sam had let slip something he hadn't meant to, but a quick
glance at his partner's tense form and set face convinced him
Sam wanted him to know.
His mouth finally caught up to his brain.
"Then he's an idiot," he said simply, watching as the tension
drained out of his friend's body and Sam treated him to a
slightly shy smile. "Come on. Let's go to the bar - pub," he
corrected automatically, earning another smile from Sam, "and
I'll buy you a beer or three to drown your sorrows."
Sam snorted, but stood up happily enough, snagging his jacket
and following Chris out of the door while Billie Holliday
continued to play in the background.
Something was bothering his partner. Something had been
bothering Sam for a while, certainly since Richmond and possibly
even since Nomine Patri.
He just didn't know what it was, and it was bugging the hell
out of him. Sam, of course, was doing that repressed Englishman
bit again and bottling it up, and he wasn't prepared to take
Sam's beating about the bush any longer. Which was why he was
letting himself into his partner's flat, uninvited.
Of course, it was always possible that Sam's preoccupation
wasn't work related at all, he realised belatedly as he slid the
key into the lock. Maybe his partner had more... personal
matters on his mind.
In which case letting himself into Sam's flat uninvited was a
really bad idea.
He hesitated, for once second-guessing himself. It wasn't
even the thought of Sam being in there with a man that gave rise
to his sudden reluctance, although that would be awkward to say
the least. And as for women... he just didn't know. Not any
more. He'd thought Sam had no interest, for all his flirting
with Backup, until Abigail Prentice came along.
That had rankled, and he was at a loss to understand why
except that he'd taken an instant dislike to the woman - one
that had been borne out by her actions. At the time he'd
wondered what the hell Sam was doing paying that much attention
to her, unless it was camouflage. But then why pretend around
him? He already knew which way Sam's preferences lay. Didn't he?
He just didn't know that either and it was starting to
irritate him again.
With a last frustrated kick at the wall beside Sam's front
door, discretion won out and he rang the doorbell instead.
"Hey," he said, as Sam finally opened it.
"Hey." Sam's eyes were guarded and his greeting a little
Pretty much the conversation for the past few weeks, if Chris
were truthful. "Can I come in?"
Sam looked at him for a second, as though wondering what
Chris was still doing standing on the doorstep, and then moved
silently back from the doorway, letting Chris through.
"There's Bud in the fridge."
Oh great. He trailed in his partner's wake, watching with a
frown as Sam sat back down on the armchair by the window,
staring out into the darkness. He wasn't at all surprised to
realise that Billie Holliday was playing softly in the
background, an indicator, if he'd needed one, that Sam was in
one of his strangely reflective moods.
~Without a dream in my heart...~
How was he going to broach the subject?
He settled for blunt.
"You going to tell me what's bothering you?"
"Nothing's bothering me."
Sam's reply was soft, and surprisingly non-defensive. He may
even have bought it if he hadn't known Sam well enough by now to
register the lingering traces of sadness lurking in the depths
of those green eyes.
"Uh huh. Wanna pull the other one, Curtis?"
Sam sighed, rubbing his hands tiredly through his hair.
"No," said Chris gently but firmly. "Something is bothering
you. So will you just tell me already, buddy?"
For a long second he held Sam's gaze, mentally willing the
other man to open up and yet somehow convinced that he wouldn't.
Finally Sam sighed and slumped back in his chair, and with an
immense relief he realised he'd won. Some innate instinct kept
him silent though, refusing to push his partner any further or
faster now than Sam was willing to go, knowing somehow that that
way Sam would clam up again and the moment, and momentum, would
be lost. Instead, he sat forward, letting his elbows rest on his
knees, his hands hanging loosely between his legs and just
"Do you remember," Sam said slowly, "on Nomine Patri, how you
were convinced that everything was going to be all right? That
at any second the cavalry was going to come rushing in?"
"I was right," Chris answered quietly.
"No," Sam corrected, shifting around in his seat so that he
now faced Chris full on. "The cavalry didn't come, Chris. The
only reason that Malone came was to outwit Dane. We were
expendable, remember? You, and I, could have ended up as dog
meat as far as he was concerned."
Chris frowned slightly, wondering where this was coming from.
It was an unsettling reversal of their usual stances - Chris
accepting and pragmatic of their circumstances and Sam
questioning Malone's motives. Sam usually accepted the politics,
and potential expendability, of their situation with, if not
grace then at least an acknowledgement of their role in the
overall scheme of things, and quiet if frustrated acceptance. On
the odd occasions when Chris had wondered about this he'd come
to the conclusion that if nothing else Sam's experiences with
MI6 had taught him to deal with the less savoury aspects of the
work they did.
Sam, however, rarely talked about it.
"And?" He finally broke the silence when Sam failed to
continue. His look was serious, searching and Sam turned away,
obviously frustrated with him.
"And," his partner ground out through gritted teeth, "what
Ah. Now they were getting to the crux of the matter. "What
about Richmond?" he asked reasonably.
Sam stared at him. "Richmond. Organ trade," he ground out.
"You almost ending up on a morgue table like Peter Morgan and
Malone not giving a fuck."
"You did though." His tone was still reasonable and Sam just
blinked at him. "Sam, I had a job to do and I did it."
"You could have ended up dead."
"Yes. We could have died on Nomine Patri too. Or a dozen
times since we took this job. You wanna talk about that pleasant
little episode in Novak's crypt? If not for you there wouldn't
have been enough of me to make a decent meal for a Chihuahua,
never mind anything else."
He didn't let his partner finish, ignoring Sam's sudden
flush. "You wanna tell me what's really bothering you?"
Sam sighed again. "Chris..."
He waited, only to be confronted with the sight of his
normally eloquent partner searching for words that never came.
"Sam," he finally said gently. "You didn't let me down."
Sam looked away, his expression strained. "That wasn't -"
"No," Chris interrupted, letting a slight trace of amusement
into his voice, "'Course it wasn't."
Sam looked back at him, his face expressionless, and Chris
felt his heart give a lurch. He hadn't quite seen Sam look quite
so remote since the beginning of their partnership. And then
that look disappeared, to be replaced with Sam's normal genial
expression, although the tension lines around his eyes remained.
"No, you're right," Sam continued calmly. "I'm worrying about
things needlessly. Thanks for giving me the kick up the arse
that I needed, mate." He punctuated the last statement with a
small smile, taking any sting from the words, but still Chris
found himself less than reassured. He watched as Sam turned back
to his window, Sam's shoulders slumped slightly as though
defeated, at a loss of what to say. The lingering irritation at
Sam's behaviour with Prentice evaporated in the face of his
partner's melancholy. There was something so alone about
his partner's posture at that moment that it tore at his
He opened his mouth, hoping that words would come, but they
didn't and then the moment passed, lost, as Sam turned back to
look at him with another slight smile, his stormy-grey eyes
"C'mon," the Englishman said, his voice soft. "I think I owe
you a beer."
He blinked, taken aback by the sudden change in the subject
matter. "Why?" he queried before he could think better of it.
Sam shrugged, and this time his smile had a slightly bitter
twist to it. "For screwing up with Abby Prentice, or whoever she
was," he replied succinctly. He was on his feet before Chris
could phrase a rejection of the assumption that he was holding
it against Sam, and picking up his coat.
Silenced, Chris trailed in his partner's wake, worried, the
dying strains of Billie echoing in his ears as he closed the
door behind him.
It did nothing to ease his own suddenly reflective mood.
You knew just what I was there for...~
Billie was crooning away again in the background again, but
this time Chris had settled on the music himself. It seemed to
match his mood as he sat on one of the wrought iron chairs on
his small balcony, overlooking the cemetery below.
That suited his mood too, which was best described as 'blue'.
And as for Billie - well, she seemed to work for his partner
when Sam was down, so he'd put her on to see if she'd help for
And speak of the devil...
He looked up from his contemplation of yet another half-empty
bottle of Bud. He hadn't heard the door open and yet, here his
partner stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorjamb and
watching him with a slight smile gracing his thin and handsome
"Hi," he replied before returning his attention back to
picking the label off his bottle. He lacked the energy or will
to start a conversation and settled on sighing heavily.
"Yeah." The word came out dispirited and he didn't need to
look at his partner to know that Sam's face would be registering
his disbelief at Chris' answer.
Sam said nothing, and eventually Chris felt obliged to look
up, to meet his partner's gaze.
It was understanding, as always.
"Just..." He trailed off, not able to explain the odd sense
of melancholy he felt. Perhaps it was the fallout from the surge
of adrenaline he'd been living off the last few days as he
hurtled around Brands Hatch - he'd been bound to crash and burn
eventually. Maybe it was the fact that Monique had dumped him.
They hadn't been particularly close but the sex had been
memorable and now he was faced with the search for someone else
to provide him with the kind of physical release she had.
Maybe that was what was depressing him - the fact that these
days it only ever seemed to be superficial and physical. He
didn't expect to find the kind of connection that he'd had with
Teresa - in fact he was pretty much convinced that the love he
had felt for his wife was kind of a once in a lifetime deal -
but maybe he was reaching an age where he wanted more from a
date than a casual fuck at the end of it. Something like
companionship, friendship, someone to be there during the bad
times as well as the good - although he had Sam for that, didn't
As soon as the thought occurred to him he looked up to meet
his partner's eyes again. Yeah, he had Sam for that. What the
hell was he complaining about?
"Don't I owe you a beer?" he asked.
Sam chuckled softly. "I'll settle for whatever cheap plonk is
currently gracing your kitchen cupboards," he said. "No, don't
get up," he added, as Chris showed signs of doing just that, "I
know my way around by now."
Yeah, he did. Just as Chris now knew his way around Sam's
place. Comfortable. That was the word that sprang to his mind
when he pondered on it. Not 'dull' or 'boring' but...
Disturbed somehow by the way his thoughts were going, he went
back to his contemplation of the depressing view, the
encroaching darkness doing nothing to improve the ambience.
Maybe he should think about moving. Renting somewhere a
little more upmarket, maybe in the Docklands. A riverside view
might do more to improve his mood. And maybe his luck in keeping
As if hearing his thoughts, Sam finally settled himself in
the seat opposite him, resting his feet on the lower rung of his
balcony railings, his grey eyes sparkling in amusement.
"Nice view," he commented lightly, not for the first time.
"Neighbours are quiet," Chris shot back automatically, his
mind still wrestling with the concerns that had kept him
occupied for hours.
"Too quiet?" Sam asked softly.
Startled he looked up into Sam's eyes, seeing understanding
and empathy again. He sometimes forgot that Sam's love life was
subject to the same constraints and frustrations as his own -
broken dates, work taking up all their focus and energy, having
to lie, or conceal what they really did. They were about the
only constants in each other's lives.
Although Sam hadn't talked about his love life recently.
Maybe he was even worse off than Chris.
Sam was still waiting for an answer, his head tilted to one
side while he continued to watch his partner patiently. "Maybe,"
Sam was too damn insightful sometimes.
He didn't answer at once, settling for sighing heavily again
and avoiding his partner's eyes. "You want to talk about it?"
Sam prompted gently when the silence continued to stretch
between them. He had a strong feeling that if he said 'no' Sam
would say 'fair enough' and go back to staring out over the view
before steering the conversation with unerring accuracy back to
a safer topic.
He found he didn't want that.
"Do you ever get lonely?"
The words came out unbidden and once they were out he found
he didn't want to take them back.
"Sometimes," said Sam easily, his eyes intense as he
continued to watch Chris. "Everyone does, I think."
"It's not just..." Again he trailed off, at a loss for words.
"Not just sex," Sam completed for him. "No, didn't think it
"Meaning?" The question was curious rather than
Sam's mouth curled up in a slight smile. "Meaning I didn't
think that sex would ever be something you were lacking."
He wasn't quite sure how to take that. He sat back, watching
Sam a little uncertainly as his partner leant back in his chair,
staring out over the dark cemetery. "No," he decided on finally.
Sam turned his attention back to Chris, this time seeming
happy to let him struggle to find the right words.
"Do you ever just... I don't know... want something more...?
"Sometimes," Sam admitted, once again going back to staring
out into the darkness.
Chris pushed harder. "But?"
After a long pause Sam finally looked back at him. The dim
light, spilling through the open French windows along with the
strains of Blue Moon on repeat, lit up his face as he did so,
and for a brief second Chris thought he caught a hint of pain in
the depths of Sam's green eyes.
"If I've learnt one thing, Chris," Sam replied, his voice
soft, "it's that loving someone doesn't necessarily mean that
they feel the same." He turned again, breaking their gaze. "And
they're under no obligation to do so."
There wasn't a lot he could say to that. He could only
presume that Sam hadn't spoken of his love life recently because
he was still hurting about his break-up with this nameless man.
And Chris found that he hurt for him.
Rising to his feet, he let his hand rest on Sam's shoulder
for a moment, squeezing it gently, before heading into the
living room and towards the kitchen for a top up. For both of
He flicked the stereo off as he did so. No point in rubbing
He was worried about his partner, had been worried since the
last time he'd seen Sam, standing beside Carl Dietrich's grave.
And that was why he was, once again, letting himself into Sam's
The funeral had been even more depressing than these events
usually were. He and Sam had been the only 'mourners'. For some
reason Sam hadn't been surprised, which only made Chris feel
worse about the whole thing.
As though watching Sam standing, expressionless and dry eyed
but obviously hurting, by the grave as they lowered Dietrich
into it, wasn't already enough.
He'd tried to give Sam some space after that, realising that
his partner probably wouldn't have appreciated any company,
especially since his one tentative attempt to broach the
subject, suggesting Sam come around to his for a meal, had been
rebuffed. Cordially enough, it was true, but the emptiness in
Sam's eyes had driven Chris' own spirits even further down.
And worried him. And then Sam hadn't answered the phone.
His worry flooding back, he tried again.
Still no answer and now he was increasingly growing
concerned. Perhaps he was overreacting. Perhaps Sam was just in
there, getting completely wasted. He wouldn't blame him if he
were. To the strains of Billie, no less.
~You heard me saying a prayer for...
Someone I really could care for...~
Sam wasn't, however, drinking. Instead, as he eased into
Sam's small lounge, he could see Sam's form outlined against the
window, a dark shape against the pale glow of streetlights
streaming through into the room.
"Sam?" he asked again, the uncertainty clear in his voice.
There was no doubt that Sam heard him - the slight turn of his
head in Chris' direction told Chris that - but still his partner
didn't answer him.
Being ignored didn't deter him. If Sam asked him to leave, he
would - the man deserved some privacy after all. But until Sam
did, he'd be there, silent if needs be. It may have come as a
surprise to Sam, but he could do quiet.
With this thought in mind, he hung his coat up by the door,
and with a last glance in Sam's direction, moved through to the
It had been cold in that cemetery.
Making coffee gave him time to regroup, although he wasn't
quite sure how next to deploy his efforts. He'd just have to
play it by ear. He made the coffee strong, just in case Sam had
been drinking, and carried both cups through to the living room.
Sam stared down at the proffered cup, his expression blank,
before his hand came up automatically to grasp it. Relieved,
Chris leant against the wall on the other side of the window,
watching his partner.
Sam had gone back to staring out of the window, and Chris
didn't disturb his train of thoughts. They were obviously
unhappy; Sam's face was pale and strained with dark shadows
underneath his eyes, which were haunted. Sam knew he was there,
and he'd just remain there, silent and supportive, until Sam was
ready to talk.
If Sam was ever ready to talk.
The thought was sobering in the face of Sam's pain, and all
he could do was trust that their relationship, their friendship,
had developed to the point that Sam felt able to open up to him,
even if it was on a topic far removed from their daily work
environment. He trusted Sam, would trust Sam if their positions
were reversed. Wouldn't he?
He shifted uncomfortably, realising that although he'd shared
some details of his life before CI5 with Sam, there were whole
swathes of his past that Sam didn't know about. Things that he'd
never got around to sharing, or things that were still too
painful to share. It seemed that Sam now felt the same and once
again he wondered how to broach the subject, words failing him
when he needed them the most.
In the end words weren't what was needed. He was still
watching Sam closely when he caught sight of a flicker of
movement out of the corner of his eye. His gaze fell to his
partner's hands. They were shaking, clenching and unclenching
convulsively. He raised his gaze to his partner's face, seeing
the tension in the jaw line, the over-brightness in the green
eyes. Sam's lips were thin lines, the creases at the corner
enough evidence of how tightly wound he was, how hard he was
finding it to hold himself together. It suddenly dawned on Chris
that the only reason that Sam was holding himself
together was because he didn't want to break down in front of
Chris. That tore Chris' heart apart.
Acting on instinct, he moved forward, leaning down to place
his cup on the floor as he did so, and then fell to his knees on
the floor in front of his partner, pulling Sam into a rough bear
hug. Sam's frame was rigid in his arms, the tension still there,
and he rubbed reassuringly up and down Sam's back, trying to
imbue Sam's chilled body with some warmth, some comfort, some
hope. For a long moment Sam fought him, the tension not easing,
and then, finally, Sam went limp, unresisting, his body suddenly
heavy against Chris'. Sam's hands came up to clutch convulsively
at the front of Chris' top, his face seeming to find a natural
home in the crook of Chris' neck. His body was shaking against
Chris', but if he was crying, and Chris could only assume that
he was, he didn't make a sound.
Somehow that was worse than if he'd howled.
Chris found himself instinctively taking up a gently rocking
motion, his hand still stroking up and down Sam's back while the
other buried itself in Sam's thick, dark hair, anchoring his
partner against the pain that was consuming him. He said
nothing, because words couldn't make this better, not now. Words
never could. He knew that from his own bitter personal
experience. So instead he contented himself with holding his
partner, and grieving with him, albeit at a step removed.
All too soon, Sam was pulling back, scrubbing impatiently at
his face with his sleeve and refusing to meet Chris' eyes,
muttering a rough, "Sorry," his voice still hoarse with grief.
"For what?" Chris asked gently, automatically softening his
voice. "For grieving for someone you loved?" Sam still refused
to meet his gaze. "You did love him, didn't you, Sam?"
He thought he'd gone too far, pushed into too personal
territory, but eventually Sam turned back to face him, his eyes
still wet and red. "Yes," he admitted, the look on his face raw
and despairing. "I did once."
There was nothing he could say to that either, and so he
settled himself on the floor, waiting, watching Sam's face while
Sam went back to avoiding looking in his direction.
It seemed as though Sam couldn't take the silence any longer,
finally sneaking an unhappy look at him before saying, "I'm
sorry," again. For breaking down so comprehensively, Chris
"Don't be," he said again. "Sam, I do understand. I lost my
Sam shook his head, sadly or in denial, Chris couldn't tell.
"It's not the same."
"Why?" Sam remained silent and the light dawned. "Because you
and Carl were both men?"
This time Sam's look was tired, defeated and still unhappy.
"Some people would think that," he said quietly.
"I don't." His reply was firm, and Sam gave him another slow,
almost empty look, before glancing away and sighing. At a loss,
he could only make the same offer as Sam had, the first time
that Sam had witnessed one of his nightmares. The first time -
it hadn't been the last.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
He sat back, leaning on his hands with a sigh of his own, and
watched his partner, frowning slightly. He didn't want to pry,
but didn't know how to tackle this situation. Wasn't sure that
it could, or should, be tackled.
"He was the first."
Sam's words were so soft that it took a second for Chris to
realise that he'd spoken. He still said nothing, not wanting to
interrupt Sam's flow of thought, glad that his partner was
opening up now even though Sam was still not looking at him,
staring out of the window instead. Silence had served him well
so far. His mind, however, was racing. First person Sam had ever
loved? First... man?
"It was over a long time ago." Sam's voice was dull, his face
almost empty of expression now, signs of the pain that his
partner must be feeling. "I let him down."
"No," Chris said, unable to keep silent. "You didn't."
The look Sam shot him this time was angry, but he didn't take
offence, knowing that it was born from grief and guilt and not
directed at him personally. "He came to me for help and
now he's dead."
"He came to CI5 for help," he corrected gently. "And yes,
maybe CI5 as a whole could have done more but on the information
we had we did the best we could - more than procedures say we
should. There was nothing to suggest that they'd really try a
hit on the hospital. Hell, we didn't even know what it was all
"He's still dead."
"Yes," Chris admitted painfully, "he is. But that's not your
"Wilmot's dead too," Sam added, his voice back to empty and
expressionless. "And I sent him there."
"Wilmot screwed up, wasn't paying attention to the task that
was assigned to him. If he'd taken it seriously instead of
reading magazines, he'd probably still be alive. Malone isn't
blaming you for it, and believe me if he thought that you were
in anyway responsible he would have kicked your ass for sure."
Sam looked at him again, that air of defeat still hanging
around him. Chris could tell by the look in his partner's eyes
that Sam wanted to believe him, desperately wanted to believe
him, but didn't. Couldn't bring himself to.
Unable to bear the pain in the depths of those grey eyes, he
leant forward, squeezing Sam's knee gently. "The only people to
blame," he insisted softly, "are Kinsal and his ilk. And we'll
get them, Sam. Believe me, we'll get them."
That, he was pleased to note, Sam finally believed. Chris
couldn't bring himself to believe it was anything more than a
cold comfort, however.
There was another, slightly awkward silence while he left his
hand on Sam's knee, unable to offer more support than that. The
silence stretched between them as Sam buried his face in his
hands, but he didn't pull away from Chris' touch. Finally, Chris
couldn't stand it anymore, and cleared his throat. Sam glanced
up, startled, almost as though he'd forgotten that Chris was
"Tell me about him?" Chris requested gently, somehow
instinctively coming to the conclusion that Sam needed to talk
about it, about Carl. Only time would tell if his instincts were
Sam shook his head, not denying Chris' request, but almost in
despair. "Like I said, Chris," he began hollowly, "it was over a
long time ago."
"But you stayed friends, obviously." It was a faint comfort,
but he wanted Sam to remember that there had been good times,
that Carl had still trusted him, turned to him in his hour of
need and perhaps convince Sam that he hadn't been wrong to do
Again, Sam shook his head sadly. "It was perfectly...
amicable," he answered, although, unless Chris was mistaken,
there was a faint trace of bitterness in his voice. "We
Friends? He wondered what that meant, whether he'd
miscalculated in trying to get Sam to remember the good times.
Maybe there hadn't been any good times.
Apparently sensing his hesitation, Sam looked at him, and any
bitterness seemed to leave him as rapidly as his tension had
earlier. He just looked tired and heartsick and Chris' heart
went out to him again. He squeezed again gently, and Sam sighed,
his eyes lost. "Remember what I said about people not
necessarily loving you back?" He attempted a smile, which only
served to highlight the misery evident in his expression. Again,
it left Chris at a loss for words, searching for the right thing
to say. All he could do, again, was to sit and wait for Sam to
Sam sighed again, this one seeming to come from the very
depths of his soul, and turned back to the window, his face
tight and unhappy. "I was old enough to know better," he
admitted quietly. "Twenty-four and hardly green, even if up
until then it had been with women." He gave a sad chuckle, his
heart obviously not in it. "I suppose I owe Carl for opening my
eyes to that possibility at least."
"I'm sorry." The words were genuine if inadequate, and Sam
shook his head again.
"Don't be. We did have some good times. He taught me a lot."
Sam nodded in the direction of the stereo with a faint smile.
"He introduced me to jazz as well as gay sex."
Chris snorted, relieved to see Sam's normal sly humour
reassert itself. "Something to thank him for, then."
"Yes." The smile this time was more genuine. "A lot actually.
It wasn't his fault I wanted more than he was willing to give."
Chris tried to imagine loving Teresa, and not having her love
him back, and failed. It was a loneliness beyond his
comprehension, thankfully. "That must have been hard," he
"Yeah," said Sam quietly, his expression still a little lost,
melancholy now rather than the intense grief of earlier. "But I
don't regret it. Not really. Another thing he taught me, without
realising it, was that love is a gift. You can't give it and
demand something in return. No matter how you might wish
otherwise. Although, strange though it sounds, knowing that it
still took me a while to get over him, no matter how amicably we
parted." It didn't sound strange to Chris at all, but Sam hadn't
finished. "And then I go and do the same again," he sighed,
more, it seemed, to himself than to Chris. Once again, he seemed
to be drifting, hardly aware of Chris' presence again.
"Sam...? You okay?"
Sam jumped slightly, before turning to him, his eyes
infinitely sad. Once again he managed a small smile. "Don't
worry, Chris. I just seem to be developing this bad habit of
falling for men who are never going to feel the same way."
Unsure what to say to that, he patted Sam's knee awkwardly
before levering himself to his feet and taking Sam's by now cold
coffee from him. "I'll make you some tea," he said, aiming for
light. "You Brits seem to think it's a universal cure all, so
I'll have to try it."
"You don't have to stay."
Sam's voice was soft, his eyes still sad and remote as he
stared back down into the street below. Watching his face, Chris
could see the dampness still clinging to the long, dark lashes,
the dark shadows underneath the translucent lids. His heart gave
a painful lurch at the reminder of Sam's pain, and almost
against his own volition his hand rose and ruffled Sam's hair,
softly and affectionately.
"I know what it's like to grieve alone," he said quietly but
firmly. "With no one who cares about you there to help you
through. No way in hell am I leaving you to do that. Not alone.
Not when I'm here."
This time Sam's eyes had gratitude in them as well as
sadness, and Chris let his fingers slide through the silky dark
strands once more before moving away.
It looked like being a long night. And he'd be there every
step of the way. Willingly.
Wincing slightly, he let himself into his partner's
apartment. Despite his exhaustion, the desire to find his own
bed and sleep for a week, he felt he owed it to Sam to call in,
knowing that although his partner had been kept apprised of
Chris' situation he wouldn't be able to sleep either until he'd
laid eyes on Chris and saw for himself that he was okay.
Just as Chris wouldn't be able to if their positions were
There was relief in his partner's voice and Sam met him
halfway, reaching the door to the small sitting room the same
time as Chris did.
The words came out at the same time, question and answer
mingling together in the cool night air. Sam smiled, genuine
pleasure in his expression, his eyes already moving over Chris'
form, cataloguing the damage - the visible injuries anyway. Just
as Chris was doing to Sam.
Seemingly reassured, and apparently suddenly realising that
he was still standing in the doorway, blocking Chris' entry, Sam
moved backwards, throwing over his shoulder, "Beer or coffee?"
He debated the question as he sank gratefully into Sam's
sofa. In his current exhausted condition a beer, even just one,
would most likely knock him straight out. It wouldn't, of
course, be the first time he'd fallen asleep on Sam's sofa but
right now, with the still tender areas aching dimly and
reminding him of their presence, that would be a huge mistake.
Of course, even coffee might not stop that from happening.
Sam was still waiting for an answer, watching him
sympathetically and he finally mustered enough energy to request
It was wonderful to be back in familiar surroundings and
Sam's apartment was certainly that. Warm and cosy after the
swampland he'd been tramping through for the past few days. It
was late evening, yet the only concession Sam had made to the
darkness outside was to switch on his table lamp, that even now
was casting a soft, golden glow over the room, making it seem
comforting, homely. He didn't need much more than that, not when
the moon hung, full and bright, outside the window - probably
why Sam had left the curtains open.
And to counterpoint the view, Billie was crooning again in
~ Blue moon,
You saw me standing alone~
He snorted, amused. Alone described the past forty-eight
hours, certainly. Working without Sam had been strange to say
the least, both of them teamed up with different agencies on
this information gathering exercise, not knowing what was
happening to the other until after the event. It had left him
twitchy. How much worse had it been for Sam?
A cup of hot coffee was suddenly in his hand and he grasped
it gratefully, breathing in the heady aroma. He was feeling
better already. He glanced up at Sam, who was settling himself
onto the arm at the other end of the sofa, watching him with a
small smile on his face. There was a small, white bandage on his
brow, just visible under a dark lock of hair that had fallen
into Sam's face, and Chris frowned.
"You okay?" he asked.
Sam snorted, still watching him with something like affection
in his grey-green eyes. "I'm fine," he said. "I'm the one who
made my extraction point, remember?"
He grimaced, letting the soft jibe pass by uncommented on. It
was merely a by-product of his partner's concern for him. As
long as Sam didn't push the joke at his expense too far
over the next few days.
"You knew I'd make the next one though, right?"
Sam gave him that faint smile again. "I knew you thought you
would, but I also know that you have this uncanny knack of
getting yourself into trouble." He snorted again, watching as
Sam's gaze tracked over his face, coming to rest on the bruise
on the side of his chin.
"And I see you managed it."
He was too tired to come up with a snappy comeback and so
settled on scowling at Sam instead. His partner completely
ignored it, reaching out with gentle fingers to catch his chin
and tilt it to one side to give him a clearer view of the
Chris' heart stopped.
Sam's face was inches away from him, his focus fixed on
Chris' chin, but there was a softness to Sam's gaze that he'd
never noticed before, a gentleness to his touch.
~I just seem to be developing this bad habit of falling
for men who are never going to feel the same way.~
Sam's words came back unbidden, and his heart started beating
again, hard and fast. At the time he'd thought Sam was talking
about his ex, but now...
"Chris?" Sam's voice drew him back, and he stared,
speechless, into his partner's eyes, his heart still thundering
in his chest. "You okay?"
There was a frown forming on Sam's face, concern in the
depths of his green eyes and in the tone of his voice. He forced
himself to answer.
"Fine. Just tired."
He felt like a louse for lying like that, but it seemed to
put Sam's mind at ease, and bought him valuable time. Sam's face
relaxed and his partner smiled at him again, his eyes and
"I bet. Listen, finish that coffee. I'll make you something
to eat - airplane food is never enough is it?" Chris made some
kind of affirmative response, his mind still reeling, but no
matter how vague it was it seemed to satisfy Sam. "Good. Eat
then I'll drive you home and you can collapse."
And then Sam was gone, leaving him staring into space.
The moonlight was still streaming through the window, but
instead of cosy it now made the room seem unfamiliar - uncharted
territory, strange and exotic. Billie was still singing, only
this time, now that Chris actually listened to the words, they
didn't seem as unhappy or as hopeless as the first verse
~And then there suddenly appeared before me,
The only one my arms will ever hold~
He shivered - not from fear or trepidation, but as though
someone had walked over his grave. Or maybe over Teresa's. The
thought of his wife, however, didn't bring the usual pain.
Hadn't brought it for months, actually, now that he thought
about it. Not since he'd had Sam to talk to, to confide in.
To care about.
~Love is a gift.~
Sam's voice again, echoing in his memory.
Yes. It was. And not one to be rejected out of hand.
Startled, he stared wordlessly at the proffered plate of
sandwiches, until Sam placed them on the floor next to him,
crouching down to peer into his face, his brow creased with
Without thinking, acting solely on instinct and impulse now,
he reached out with shaky fingers and echoed Sam's gesture
earlier, brushing the hair back from the small, crisp, white
bandage on his partner's forehead.
Sam's eyes went wide, vulnerable. If he hadn't already
guessed, already seen how Sam felt about him, he would have
known then, in that one moment.
~I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me."~
Sam looked away, swallowing heavily, the expression on his
face now almost panicked. He stood up, made as if to move away
but Chris stopped him, catching hold of his hand, saying nothing
because there was nothing to say.
When Sam's eyes met his again, there was fear lurking in the
jade depths, mingled in with confusion. Chris couldn't bear
that. Not fear. Never fear.
He rose to his own feet, his face now inches from Sam's,
holding his partner's gaze. And still holding his partner's
hand. He stared wordlessly at Sam, his own mind still in
turmoil, only knowing that he needed to take that look out of
his friend's eyes.
Needed to take that fear out of Sam's heart.
"Dance with me?" he asked simply.
Sam seemed dazed by the turn of events, and it took a gentle
tug on his hand from Chris to get him moving, stumbling into
Chris' embrace. He was trembling slightly when Chris wrapped
gentle arms around him, getting the pair of them moving to the
beat. It seemed to be due to a combination of trepidation and
shock and then, as Chris continued to guide them in a slow,
sensuous sway, Sam's body relaxed against his, the tension
leaving his partner's body in a slow exhalation. Sam's head
found a natural resting place on Chris' shoulder and Chris'
fingers moved up to stroke through the soft, silky hair, so
familiar to the touch now, first in pain and grief and now more.
Hope. Love even.
Chris let out a soft sigh of his own, closing his eyes,
letting go of the past, losing himself in the soft music flowing
over him, the feel of Sam in his arms.
~And when I looked,
The moon had turned to gold.~
He lifted his cheek from Sam's hair, pulling back to look at
his partner. Sam's head came up too and once again their gazes
locked. The pale light caught Sam's hair, turned his eyes, eyes
that were even now searching Chris' for some answer, into
Beautiful. How had he never seen it before? How had he been
Acting on an irresistible impulse, Chris leant forward,
feeling the sharp intake of breath from Sam as much as hearing
Sam's lips were soft, opening up under his as though it was
the most natural thing in the world, to be held like this,
kissed like this by Chris.
With a sigh of his own, he pulled back, meeting Sam's eyes
again and seeing the love there, the love that Sam no longer
bothered to hide, no longer feared to reveal, before resting his
forehead against Sam's.
He wasn't at all surprised to find an echo of that love in
his own heart.
And then, simply, easily, their bodies moulded together,
moving to the music in a rhythm older than time.
Dancing together in the moonlight.
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.~
The full text of the lyrics:
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Somebody I really could care for.
And then there suddenly appeared before me,
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me."
And when I looked,
The moon had turned to gold.
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.
Copyright Lorenzo Hart and Richard Rodgers
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