Title: DIAGNOSIS MURDER - Revelations
Author: Clare
Email: clare@solomon29.freeserve.co.uk
Pairing: Steve/Jesse
Programme: "Diagnosis Murder"
Rating: PG-13
Series: None
Status: Complete
Archive: Write first
Disclaimer: The characters and location herein belong to Viacom and
Paramount and no profit is being made from this story.
Summary: Steve has to solve a series of gay murders and learns something
about himself and his best friend in the process.
Warnings: M/M sexual interaction and mildly graphic descriptions of murder
scenes.
Comments: This takes place at the end of the fourth season ('cos that's as
far as I've seen!). A big thank you to Eileen for beta'ing the story.

Diagnosis Murder - Revelations

by Clare

Steve paused to say, "Ignore me: I'm just angry," then continued pacing up
and down the room like a caged lion.

Mark watched this with concern, while a part of his mind noted how much
smaller his office always seemed when his son was in it. Steve had flung
his jacket down on a chair and the Smith and Wesson gun at his waist made
him look positively dangerous. Sometimes it amazed Mark that this tough cop
could be his son. On the other hand, he knew perfectly well how much of the
macho image was simply a front. It was just at moments like these that it
was hard to believe how naturally gentle and caring he was.

By Mark's side Doctor Amanda Bentley and Doctor Jesse Travis also stood and
waited for Steve to say what was wrong. When the detective had arrived at
the Community General Hospital they had appeared from their opposite corners
of the building to join Mark. That was the way their lives worked.
Whenever Steve turned up here with a problem - usually of the homicide
variety - the trio united to help him solve it. Whether he wanted their
assistance or not.

The cop turned to face the three doctors. "Have I mentioned that my boss is
an idiot. He's dumped a new case on me. Gay murders. I could really do
without this."

Mark waited for him to continue and was puzzled when he didn't. Steve was
his son so he couldn't possibly have any prejudices. There was a movement
beside Mark and he glanced round in time to see Jesse turn away from them
all and look out of the office window. His shoulders were hunched, Mark
noticed. Something was bothering him. This worried Mark as much as Steve's
mood did. While the policeman was his real son, Jesse was like an adopted
youngest son to him.

From the moment Jesse had arrived at the hospital six years ago, Mark had
felt a bond with him. And he'd seen Steve react in much the same way,
bickering and laughing with the young stranger as if he'd known him for
years.

"I can't get out of handling the case so I'd really like a medical
viewpoint of the photos of the victims. Dad?" Steve was clearly too caught
up in his own problems to notice anything wrong with Jesse.

Somewhat distracted by the differing emotions in the room, Mark said, "I'm
up to my eyes in work right now. Jesse, you've just got off-duty, haven't
you?"

Jesse turned to face the group, expression shuttered, and simply nodded.

"Okay, then, will you take a look at the pictures?" Steve asked.

"I don't think you'd want me to do that," Jesse replied in a subdued tone
as he crossed the room to the door. "I'm bisexual." A heavy silence
followed his departure.

So that was it, Mark thought, annoyed at himself for not somehow avoiding
this. Not that Steve had helped any, making stupid comments about the
subject. "Clever: completely alienate your best friend in one move," he
said.

Steve glared at him. "Did you know he was bisexual?"

"No. Does it matter?" He was beginning to wonder if he knew his son's
attitudes as well as he thought.

Steve ignored the question and walked out of the room.

There was a moment of silence then Amanda said in a worried tone, "They'll
sort it out, right?"

"I certainly hope so."

* * *

Jesse walked into the staffroom and poured himself a cup of coffee with
shaky hands. Had he lost his best friend? They'd been through so much
together this last two years; it seemed incomprehensible that it should all
count for nothing simply because he was bisexual. Yet he'd encountered
fiercely negative reactions before. At college he'd narrowly avoided being
beaten up by an anti-gay gang. Also, his mother's reaction to the news of
his sexuality had been pretty much the last straw in their always difficult
relationship.

He took a sip of his coffee and noticed for the first time that there were
other people here. The buzz of their conversations drifted to his ears but
he was still too distracted by his thoughts of Steve to pay them any
attention.

Then the object of his thoughts entered the room and Jesse felt alarm rise
up in him. Steve looked round then his eyes met those of Jesse. The doctor
's stomach gave an unpleasant lurch. It was bad enough having to take in
the fact that Steve must hate him now; he couldn't face a confrontation.

Steve walked up to him and opened his mouth to speak, then seemed to change
his mind. Several of the hospital staff were looking curiously at the two
men, after Steve's abrupt arrival. "Can we talk outside?" he asked quietly.
"Please."

Jesse nodded, thinking that Steve didn't sound angry. Then again, it was
difficult to tell as he was wearing his neutral expression, the one he used
in his professional capacity to keep the suspects guessing.

They walked out into the corridor, which was empty.

"What was that about?" Steve asked. "Did you honestly think that it would
be a problem for me to know that you're bisexual?"

Jesse grimaced. "It sounded like it. You obviously had a problem dealing
with a case about gay murders and we've never talked about the subject
before."

"Jess, it's a miracle I can put a coherent sentence together right now, I'm
so tired. I've been pissing people off all day by saying the wrong things.
That's what I was trying to explain just now. I've been working on my last
case for a month without break. I haven't had a proper night's sleep in most
of that time and I'm still finishing up the paperwork for it now. That was
the only reason I was objecting to being given this new case. I could do
with ten hours of sleep and a couple of days' rest. But the last thing I
intended anyone to think was that I have a problem with the case itself, and
I definitely don't have a problem with you being bisexual."

"Honestly?" Jesse checked.

"I swear it."

Jesse was so relieved that his emotions got the better of him and he had to
blink back tears. Steve's expression softened and he reached out, pulling
the smaller man into a hug. "I'm sorry."

Jesse clung for a moment then pulled away, and managed a tentative smile.
"You still want help with those photos?"

"That would be great - they're in my car. If you're hungry we've got the
remains of one of Dad's casseroles at the beach house. I know I need some
sustenance to keep me going for the rest of today."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Jesse glanced at his watch. He should have
finished his shift an hour ago, so it was nearly 2pm. No wonder he was so
hungry. "I'll get my coat."

Mark and Amanda were hanging about outside Mark's office when Steve and
Jesse walked to the elevator. "It's okay, dad, Jesse's giving me a hand
with the case," Steve said as they passed.

Mark grinned. "That's good," the doctor said, although Steve had a feeling
he wasn't talking about the photos. Mark and Amanda exchanged speaking
glances and disappeared off to continue their own work.

"So what are the details of the murders?" Jesse asked as they stepped into
the elevator.

"There've been two men stabbed to death in the last forty-eight hours. The
knife wounds are identical in both cases. I'm sure the positioning of the
injuries as significant which is why I want your input."

"The police coroner couldn't help with that?"

"I've got her report in the car but, by the time I was given the case, Lisa
had already finished her shift, so I couldn't talk to her. I'm hoping that
by understanding the way the killer attacked the men I may get an insight
into his mind, and be able to narrow down my list of suspects."

"You're already got a list of suspects? That's quick work," Jesse said,
trying to lift his friend's mood by pointing out something positive.

They left the elevator and walked towards the hospital entrance, nodding to
Sunita, the Asian woman at reception, as they passed her. She waved and
yawned at the same time, setting Steve off. "No," he said, "it's just in my
head and I have about five hundred suspects which is about as useless as
none at the moment."

"Anti-gay gangs?" Jesse guessed.

"Yeah. And a supremacist group. And various individuals who've made
unpleasant comments on the subject."

"Oh."

"God, Jesse, I'm sorry," Steve said with a grimace. "That was tactless,
especially after we've just talked about . I mean, I never meant to make you
feel unsafe."

"No, I know. It's fine. It's just a jolt to hear that there are that many
seriously homophobic people wandering around LA. I guess I was lucky that I
came out of the closet at college - it was a really open-minded environment.
Although, thinking about it, I've just come out of the closet again, haven't
I? I hope Mark and Amanda didn't mind me just blurting it out like that and
not staying long enough to talk it over or anything."

"Given the way they glowered at me when you left the room, I don't think you
have anything to worry about. I know it would never bother Dad and I'm sure
Amanda feels the same." Steve unlocked his car as he spoke and they both
climbed in.

"That's good to know." Jesse paused in the middle of pulling his seat belt
across his waist to raise an eyebrow at the other man. "They 'glowered' at
you?"

"Oh, yes. I would have been dead meat if I hadn't sorted things out with
you. I sometimes think Dad's more protective of you than he is of me."

"Mark's great. Have I ever told you how lucky you are having a father like
that?"

"Only several hundred times."

They grinned at each other and Steve started up the car. It was a hot day
and, as they neared their destination, Jesse gazed out over the ocean with
longing. If only he'd got his board with him he could have gone surfing
later. He was beginning to feel sweaty away from the air-conditioned
hospital, and the cool blue waves beckoned to him.

"You can borrow my surfboard later, okay?" Steve said in an amused tone.

Jesse looked round and realised that he must have been lost in his thoughts
for some minutes. Steve had parked the car, got out, and was now leaning
through the window, his face resting against a muscled forearm.

Jesse returned the cop's smile with a sheepish one of his own as he realised
he was keeping him waiting. "Sorry." He hastily undid the seatbelt and got
out of the car, then it hit him what his friend had said. His face lit up
in a brilliant smile. "I can borrow your surfboard?"

"Sure." Steve put an arm round the younger man's shoulders as they walked
to the house together.

After their earlier argument, Jesse found himself particularly aware of the
affectionate touch, and grateful for it. Steve's hand rested on Jesse's
collar, thumb against his neck. When he moved away to unlock the front
door, Jesse could still feel the imprint of his thumb, a warm damp patch on
his skin. If he'd lost Steve's friendship . He shuddered at the thought,
unable to put into words how bleak his world would have become.

Steve held the door open for him, expression questioning. Jesse smiled at
him. "Did you say something about casserole?"

"It just needs heating in the microwave," Steve assured him.

"And Mark made it, right?"

Steve's eyes narrowed in mock anger. "Are you insulting my cooking
abilities? I'm a good cook."

Jesse patted his friend's arm. "The important thing is that you believe
that."

"Not wise to insult a cop," Steve told him sternly. "You could end up
handcuffed to a chair for the rest of the afternoon."

"Kinky," Jesse said without thinking, then he threw an uncertain look at the
other man, wondering if Steve would take this comment as more than their
usual banter now that he know Jesse was bisexual. However, he needn't have
worried. Steve just laughed and wandered into the kitchen. "You wanna
beer?"

"That'd be great," Jesse called back. He reached out a long-fingered hand
for the envelope of crime photos Steve had brought inside with him, then
changed his mind, the pictures of mutilated bodies not something he wanted
to face before eating.

Steve returned to the lounge holding a glass of water and a can of beer. He
passed the can to Jesse then took a sip of his own drink.

"You're not having a beer with me?" Jesse asked, surprised.

"No, it would send me to sleep," Steve answered and promptly started
yawning.

"Okay, that's it. Once we've eaten you need to go and get some sleep."

"I can't. I have too much work ."

"Steve, listen to me," he interrupted. "I know you well and if you can
manage to give the wrong impression to me then you could seriously offend a
member of the public, the state you're in. I'll look at the pictures and
make some notes for you. However, you've got to get a few hours' sleep if
you want to be any good to anyone."

Steve would normally have argued but with the ghost of their
misunderstanding still hanging in the air, he didn't have the heart to
disagree with his friend. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Just two or three
hours, though, and you have to promise to wake me if you have any questions
or find anything I should see. Okay?"

"Sure."

The cop put down his glass of water and stretched. "You know, I think I'm
too tired to even eat. I'm going to lie down. The food's in the microwave.
Call me in a little while."

"I will."

Steve left Jesse with a pot of coffee and the photos and went gratefully to
his room, visions of finally getting some sleep a happy prospect. However,
the moment he lay down and closed his eyes he couldn't stop his mind going
over and over the revelation that Jesse was bisexual.

He hadn't lied when he said he wasn't prejudiced. Yet it changed things
between him and Jesse. It changed their relationship. After two years he'd
thought that he knew most things about his friend but apparently he didn't.
How many men had Jesse been involved with? Had he lied about his
relationships these last couple of years? And how exactly did he feel about
Steve?

He didn't know if he should even ask Jesse this last question as he had no
idea how he would respond if Jesse said he was attracted to him. Steve
snorted. What was he thinking? Why on earth should Jess be attracted to
someone twelve years older than him? If they'd known each other this long
and there had never been any sign of anything going on under the surface,
then it was a pretty good indicator that there was nothing being hidden.
After all, Jess wasn't exactly the world's greatest actor.

He frowned, confused, as he realised that he felt almost unhappy at the idea
that Jesse wasn't attracted to him. What was that about?

His mind travelled back to when he'd met Jesse, trying to analyse their
relationship. The doctor had arrived to fill in the position made vacant by
Jack Stewart's departure. Steve had been friends with Jack for years and
the last thing he had ever anticipated was instantly replacing an old
friendship with a new one, yet that was what had happened.

It wasn't even as if Jack and Jesse were alike: they were about as different
as two men could be. Jack filled all the requirements of the description
'tall, dark and handsome' whereas Jesse was short, blond and cute but in a
self-effacing way. Jack was street-smart and, whilst there was a caring
side to his nature, he wasn't anyone's fool. Jesse, on the other hand, fell
for every sob story presented to him. He helped old friends; he helped new
acquaintances; he helped complete strangers. He helped solve *animals'*
problems, for goodness' sake! The entire saga of a dog named Bob was just
too ludicrous and convoluted for Steve to bear to recall - although he had
grown quite fond of Bob . Which *wasn't* the point, he reminded himself.
The point was that not only did Jesse take on the problems of the world, but
he also had to drag Steve, Steve's dad and Amanda in to help solve them. As
if Dad wasn't bad enough on his own.

To this day, Steve didn't know what it was that he and Jess had in common.
That Mark should fall for his air of vulnerability and want to look after
him like an adopted son was to be expected. That Steve should react
emotionally to him was not.

Yet .

If his life had depended on it, Steve could not have stopped himself hugging
Jesse at the hospital. The man had been so unhappy that Steve would have
done anything at that moment to make him feel better.

An hour later he gave up on the idea of sleep and joined Jesse.

"Hey," the younger man greeted him with a smile. "I thought you were
supposed to be resting."

"I know. It was a great idea but sleep didn't happen. I couldn't get my
mind to stop working." He sat down on an armchair, opposite Jesse.

"You were thinking about the murders?"

"No." Steve ran a hand through his blond hair, not sure how to broach the
subject he had been thinking about.

"The whole bisexual thing?" Jesse said with a slight grimace.

"How did you know?"

"I figured you'd have some questions. I mean, it's not every day a close
friend tells you he's gay!"

"No, it's not," Steve agreed with a smile. "I meant what I said before
about not having a problem with it. It's just . well, I guess it's that we'
re friends and that's an aspect of your life I don't know anything about.
Do you mind talking about it?"

"No. No, that's fine. What do you want to know?"

"Well, when did you first realise you were bisexual?"

"I don't really know. I suppose it was one of those
I-always-knew-but-wouldn't-admit-it-to-myself situations. I think I always
felt something around guys but I chose to ignore it and concentrate on
girls. It was at college that I actually faced it and got involved with a
guy for the first time. Two guys, in fact. Oh, um, I-I mean ." He
stammered as he realised how that sounded. "I mean, not two guys at once,
but two guys during my time at college."

"And how many men have there been since then?"

"Oh, no! None, honest," Jesse almost tripped over his tongue in his haste
to answer. "I would have said something, Steve, I swear, if there'd been
anyone in my life since I've known you. I mean, there's no way I would have
lied to you. The only reason I didn't say anything was because there's not
been anything to tell lately. Okay, and I guess I was nervous about how you
'd react. But I would have said something if I'd met anyone lately."

"I feel better knowing that. I couldn't really believe you would lie to me
to keep it secret but I didn't really know what to think. So then I don't
know either of the guys you've been out with?"

"Actually you have met one of them: Rick Page."

Steve's expression remained blank for a moment then his eyes widened.
"Slick Rick?"

Jesse grinned on hearing the nickname his friend had earned at University
and had never been completely able to shake off - probably because Jesse
used it so often. Rick had hated the name but he usually let Jesse get away
with using it. He'd let Jesse get away with a lot. The two of them were
opposites in looks, temperament, just about everything, but they'd been
inseparable from the moment they'd met. "That's the guy," he verified. "I
just couldn't deny that part of my character when I met Rick. I never
expected him to feel the same way, though. I mean, you've seen him - Rick's
gorgeous."

Steve smiled fondly at the young man. With his large blue eyes and blinding
smile, Jesse would win any 'cutest doctor' award in the city, but he
genuinely never expected anyone to find him attractive. "So how long did
that last?"

"Just over a year. We stayed best friends after that and I met another guy
six months later."

"So does Rick's wife . what was her name? Wendy?"

"Yeah, Wendy. She knows he and I used to date. Rick told her he was
bisexual, and about me, as soon as things started to get serious between
them. He said she barely raised an eyebrow. She was great about it. And
she and I have become good friends too now."

"He's a lucky man."

"Yeah, Wendy's amazing."

"That too," Steve said and smiled as Jesse immediately blushed with startled
pleasure at the words. *What the Hell made me say that?* He asked himself a
moment later, confused by the fact that one of his first reactions to
finding out his friend bisexuality was to flirt with him. He changed the
subject. "So did you have any luck with the photos?"

Jesse picked up his notebook from the coffee table, frowned at his scribbles
for a moment, then said, "I noticed several things. I don't know how much
use they'll be, but ." He tailed off and gave Steve an expectant look.

The cop smiled. "Go for it."

Jesse grinned and moved to the edge of his armchair. He turned the photos
so that both he and Steve could see them the right way round, glanced at his
notes once more and began, "Firstly, there's the angle of the first knife
wound which suggests that the killer is tall, over six foot. Unless you
have any statuesque women on your anti-gay list, I'd say it was very likely
that the killer's a man. The force of the initial wound also makes that
probable. I know most serial killers *are* men but it's always useful to be
able to rule out half the population, right?"

"Definitely." Steve helped himself to a mug of coffee from the pot on the
table, unable to resist the tantalising smell of the brew. He gestured to
Jesse's empty mug and, when the doctor nodded, filled it up.

"Thanks." Jesse flicked through the photos then spread three of them out on
the table. They showed the faces and torsos of the two victims. "You
mentioned earlier about wanting to get an idea of the killer's motivation.
Well, the first strong wound killed the victims so all these others were
superfluous."

"He took his anger out on the corpses," Steve guessed.

"Yes, that's what I thought, but it's strange. He kills them swiftly and
cleanly, not making them suffer first. Then he lets his anger out. I don't
really know how to interpret it." Jesse shrugged.

"Me either, but it's interesting. I reckon a lot of the people on my mental
list would want to hurt the victims before killing them, either by beating
them up or cutting them. Their opinions are so extreme, so bigoted, that
there doesn't seem to be enough hate in these killings for them. And a gang
would be more likely to hunt as a group. There's no evidence that more than
one person's involved here?"

"No, none."

"That should narrow down the list." The mixture of coffee and ideas was
waking up Steve's exhausted brain for the first time that day. "So it's
most likely an individual, a man, working on his own. He's angry with the
victims but not enough to want them to suffer. I should check to see if
there are any connections between the victims as soon as possible. I can't
overlook the slim chance that the killings have nothing to do with them
being gay."

Jesse grimaced. "It's a very slim chance. Aside from the victims' sexual
orientation there are a significant number of cuts over the genital area of
both the victims. The only different angle I'd suggest checking is that
this is about them being gay but from the opposite direction: a gay man they
've both dated who's gone psycho for some reason."

"That did cross my mind earlier but an anti-gay motivation seemed more
likely. It's worth checking out." He finished his coffee and helped
himself to another mugful. "Is that everything from your notes?"

The doctor checked. "Two more points. The killer stayed calm enough to get
the victims somewhere out-of-the-way before murdering them."

"So he showed some measure of control as well as cold-blooded calculation,
making sure he wouldn't be seen committing the killings."

"Yeah, and there's the fact that the victims went with him. There are no
bruises on their wrists or arms to indicate that they were forced. Of
course, he could have put a knife to their throats, which would make them go
where he wanted, but if he's calm enough to take precautions not to be
seen ."

". Then he's unlikely to risk it all by threatening them in a public place,"
Steve concluded, following his friend's reasoning. "So then it's possible
that this man is someone the victims knew and maybe even trusted, if they
were willing to go somewhere secluded with him in the middle of the night.
That seems to point more to the psychotic ex-lover theory."

"Or some kind of acquaintance. Or, at the least, someone who doesn't look
dangerous or hostile." Jesse closed his notebook. "Well, that's everything
that occurred to me."

"It's a big help, Jesse. I didn't have a clue what to think about the case
this morning and you've given me plenty of ideas."

"They're only guesses," the doctor pointed out.

"Educated guesses," Steve corrected him. "Sure, some things might be wrong
but it's a place to start which is exactly what I need. The forensic report
should be on my desk by now too so, with any luck, I should really start
making some headway." He got to his feet and gave a cat-like stretch,
several joints creaking as he did so. "Getting old," he muttered to
himself."

"Right, and I'm running for President," Jesse scoffed, brightening the other
man's mood with his vehemence. "You're not going to the station now, are
you? I mean, what about those few hours of sleep that you badly need."

"I've woken up now," Steve told him. "I'll go get my surfboard if you still
want to borrow it."

"Er, yeah, thanks. Promise me you'll come home tonight and get some sleep."
Jesse followed Steve into the bedroom, the cop's diversionary tactic not
working for a second.

"As long as there are no new developments with the case, I promise."

"At least five hours."

Steve rolled his eyes. "I'll try." He passed his surfboard to the younger
man then, as he turned towards the door, muttered loudly enough to be
overhead, "Talk about a mother hen!"

Jesse threw him an evil look, eyes narrowed and mouth pursed, which looked
more endearing than dangerous, and Steve gave him an unrepentant grin.

"Oh, here's the spare key for the front door." The cop got out his key ring
and took a key off it which he held out to Jesse.

"Thanks." Jesse took it, his expression suggesting that this didn't get
Steve off the hook for the mother hen comment. "Do you know where I left my
surfing gear?"

"Not a clue. Have a look around." Steve walked back into the living room
and collected the crime photos. He also picked up Jesse's notebook and
said, "Can I keep your ideas about the case?"

"Sure."

"Thanks again for your help, Jess," Steve said as he headed for the front
door.

"No problem. Oh, and Steve ."

The cop paused in the doorway. "I know - sleep."

"I was actually going to say: think of me relaxing on a warm beach while you
're working away in that air-conditioned office." When Steve grimaced,
Jesse smirked at him and the cop's face relaxed into a crooked smile.

"Okay, you're even with me for that mother hen comment. Seeya, Jesse."

"Bye, Steve."

* * *

Jesse got out of bed, walked into the bathroom, walked out, got dressed.
The usual chores that he'd performed a million times, but it felt different
now. The conversation with Steve yesterday afternoon had changed
everything.

Jesse had spent two years convincing himself that what he felt for Steve was
purely friendship. He hadn't even noticed how much of a lie that belief had
become until now. When they'd first met, he'd felt a mild attraction for
Steve. A month later he'd wanted him in a way he'd never felt before. Tiny
things - a raised eyebrow, a hand on his arm - had set off a burning ache
inside him. He'd thought about telling Steve how he felt back then but . he
was a coward. There'd been no sign that the other man wasn't a hundred
percent heterosexual. And Jesse didn't want to lose the friendship that
was forming between them. He convinced himself that he had to block these
desires out and concentrate on the friendship. And that was what he did.
He buried the feelings so deeply inside himself that on a day-to-day basis
he wasn't even aware of them.

But now Steve knew he was bisexual and didn't have a problem with it. The
world hadn't come to an end. Their friendship wasn't in tatters. And now
the feelings that he'd buried so long ago were re-surfacing. Only they'd
changed over the years into something unrecognisable. The lust and want
were still there but they were joined by a confusing collection of other
feelings that made him hurt inside with this *need*. It wasn't just about
sex anymore and that made him even more scared than he'd been two years ago.

* * *

Jesse spent a couple of hours at the Community General hospital then drove
to the police station where Steve worked. He'd been here enough times over
the years to get to know the place and many of the officers. A lot of them
were just vaguely familiar faces: he would smile at them and they would
smile or nod back. There were a couple of women and a couple of men who he
knew quite well and liked. And there were several men who looked at him
with a distrustful contempt whenever they saw him. He wasn't sure why -
they either disliked doctors, or disliked any friend of Steve's, or just
disliked him on sight.

Perhaps they'd caught the scent of fear on him the first time he'd been here
alone. He wasn't the most confident of people and a building full of tough
cops had made him distinctly nervous at first. He could remember vividly
how intimidated he'd been by Steve for the first hour after they met. It
was funny to remember that now.

The officer at the front desk was a man Jesse didn't really know but liked.
Steve always spoke well of him and, the few times they'd met, he'd always
been friendly towards Jesse. He smiled at him now and said in a gravely
voice, "Hi, Jess, are you looking for Detective Sloan?"

"Hi, Marco. Yeah, I am."

"I'll give him a call."

As the man picked up the phone, Jesse added, "If he's in the middle of
anything, tell him I can wait."

Marco relayed the message and a few minutes later Steve walked through the
internal doorway. "Hey, Jess, what are you doing here?" he said with a
smile.

"I just thought I'd call by and see if you've come up with anything new in
the murder case."

The cop grimaced. "Nothing. And I won't be able to follow up any leads
this morning as I've got to give evidence in Court in an hour."

"Really? Can I watch?" Jesse asked with the expression of a kid in a candy
shop.

Steve smiled and nodded. "Sure. We can grab some lunch afterwards and then
I really need to do some digging and question some people about this case."

"Okay."

"I've got some work to finish up before I leave. Shall I meet you at the
County Courthouse or can you wait?"

"I'll stay here. I'm not in your way, am I, Marco?" Jesse checked, smiling
at the officer.

"Feel free to say 'yes'," Steve told the man, earning himself a punched arm
from his friend.

"Not at all," Marco answered, with a quick flash of teeth. "It'll be nice
to have someone to talk to for a while."

"Hey, maybe we could trade embarrassing stories about a certain lieutenant
we both know," Jesse suggested, with a mischievous sideways glance at Steve
which was all blue eyes and fire.

The cop pulled a face at him and left, returning to his office. When Marco
had called to tell him Jesse was here, half of his brain had asked him why
the information made him so happy, while the other half told him he didn't
want to know the answer. In the minute or so he'd spoken to Jesse, he'd
felt an awareness of the man that hadn't been there before yesterday. The
doctor smelt of hospital medicines, a musky deodorant and the mint he must
have recently been chewing. He'd been wearing warn jeans, black shirt and a
denim jacket which gave him a casual appearance and showed off his slim
body. And Steve had noticed something again which he'd gotten used to in
the first month of knowing the younger man: how Jesse managed to frequently
'miss' meeting his eyes. The doctor must have been painfully shy as a boy
because he'd retained the habit of not keeping eye contact, even after his
friendliness and confidence had grown as an adult. He looked at Steve a lot
but mostly when the cop was looking at something else; when Steve glanced at
him his eyes were suddenly focused elsewhere. Jesse had only looked into
Steve's eyes in the first moment they met and in that sly glance just before
the cop walked away. It made Steve even more aware of the man's eyes; how
they dominated his face and were such a rich cornflower blue.

Steve had tried to maintain his usual banter with his friend but he kept
being distracted by all these little details that he usually took for
granted. And his mind kept asking him over and over again how he felt about
Jesse, and whether it was possible that the man felt something beyond
friendship for him.

As he sat down at his desk, he told himself he couldn't afford to be this
distracted in the middle of a murder case. That wasn't strictly true,
though; he couldn't have worked any harder so far and was making good
progress. He hoped Jess wouldn't ask when he'd gotten home last night and
how much sleep he'd had, since the doctor wouldn't be happy with his answer.
Steve had done yet another all-nighter, falling asleep at his desk and
waking a short time later when the cleaning staff arrived and switched on
their hoovers.

"Steve, did you see the fax that arrived for you?" Detective Anthony Liotta
checked. His desk was situated closest to the facsimile machine so he
tended to pass on any papers that arrived through it.

Steve held up the memo. "Got it right here, thanks, Tony." The information
confirmed that one of his murder suspects had a solid alibi, so that was one
more person off his list. He put a line through the relevant name and
scanned those that remained, "And then there were seven."

A dark head swivelled round and green eyes looked questioningly at him.
"Huh?"

"Nothing, Tony; I was just talking to myself and, before you say it, yes, I
know what that's a sign of."

The younger man chuckled and returned to his work.

* * *

Jesse had always been fascinated by court trials and had seen many cases
over the past two years. Of course, he'd had a vested interest in some of
them; the ones where he, Dad and Amanda had helped Steve catch the killer.
He'd even had to give evidence in a couple, although he'd found this
experience more terrifying than pleasant.

As they walked into the Los Angeles County Courthouse Steve watched his
young friend's expression of happy awe as he admired the stone architecture
and soaked in the atmosphere of the building.

"Okay, I'm going to go and wait with the other witnesses. It's an open
trial so you can take a seat anywhere inside. It should be beginning in
about ten minutes."

"Great. Don't you just love being in a place like this?" Jesse looked
round again, face lit up.

A woman walked passed Steve and he nearly choked on the overpowering smell
of her perfume. He cleared his throat and said dryly, "It's the thrill of
my life."

Jesse gave him a bashful smile. "See you in a while."

"Yup."

It was over an hour before he was called on for his information about the
defendant. He had been the arresting officer and there had been a wealth of
evidence around the woman; in fact she had been in the midst of trying to
burn some of it when he and two uniformed officers arrived.

Steve took the stand and was sworn in, then he turned to face the courtroom
and the red-haired prosecuting attorney who had called him in.

"What made you first suspect the defendant, Detective Sloan?" the attorney
asked.

Steve answered calmly, trying to remember every detail of the incident and
also attempting to avoid noticing Jesse grinning at him from the front row
of the court room. He replied to the cross-examination of the defence
lawyer, easily overcoming the attempts to undermine his information, then he
left the court.

The court emptied as the jury went to deliberate the case and Jesse met
Steve in the corridor outside. "Wow, that was really cool!" he enthused.
"It was just like those television court cases."

"Glad you approve," Steve said, smiling back at the doctor. A man walked
passed them and he nodded to him.

Jesse glanced round, catching a glimpse of cold eyes above a quirky tie and
dark suit. There was something familiar about him so he asked, "Who was
that guy?"

"'That guy' was Judge Cain, as in the judge from the case you just saw.
Talk about paying attention!" he teased.

"Hey, I was spell-bound by the brilliance of your evidence. I didn't notice
anyone else," Jesse answered with a grin.

"Okay, what do you want?"

"Nothing. Not a thing."

"Really?" Steve checked suspiciously.

"Honest." He tapped Steve's arm and began walking. "Let's get some lunch."

They had barely left the building when Steve's beeper went off. "It's the
station," he told the doctor and got out his phone. After he talked to the
police station, saying no more than a few monosyllables which told Jesse
nothing, he switched off the phone and began striding towards his car.

"What's going on?" Jesse asked, half-running to keep up with him.

"There's been another murder," Steve said grimly. When he got to his car he
stopped and looked at Jesse. "I don't know if you'll want to see this; it'
ll be a mess."

"But I might be able to help," the younger man insisted. Steve continued to
look at him for another moment then he nodded and unlocked the car. As they
got in, Jesse said, "Is it definitely the serial killer?"

"I'm not certain yet but it sounds like it. If it is then I'll probably be
catching up on my sleep a lot sooner than I'd intended."

"The FBI will take over the case?"

"Yeah. If I'm lucky, I might have a day left to get a suspect, otherwise
that's it."

He sounded irritated by the prospect so Jesse said, "Would that be so bad?
You really do need a break."

"When this is over." The doctor through him a questioning glance and he
added, "I know I didn't want the case when I first got it but as soon as I
get involved in an investigation it gets personal. I need to solve this for
my own peace of mind. I have seven faces in my mind's eye and I need to
know which of them has killed two, now probably three, people."

"We'll figure it out," Jesse reassured him.

* * *
The crime scene was, as Steve had predicted, a mess. There was a lot of
blood and amidst the blood, a horrifically mutilated body. Around the body
were a group of police and forensic officers, keeping civilians away and
collecting evidence.

"Poor guy," Jesse said, grimacing as he took in the scene. The corpse
seemed to meet his gaze, expression shocked yet unseeing, eyes a warm
chocolate brown in a face covered in crimson slashes.

"He was killed in the same way as the other two," Steve said, then he called
to a uniformed officer and asked him, "I don't suppose we have any
witnesses?"

"'Fraid not. Do you wanna talk to the woman who found him?"

"Yes." The officer pointed her out and, before he went over he her, Steve
glanced at his friend.

"I'll talk to the coroner," Jesse said.

"Good idea."

Steve walked towards the shell-shocked woman and Jesse knelt down beside the
coroner, who was examining the victim. "Have you found anything
interesting?"

She threw him a suspicious glance then, before he could get ready a speech
about how he was sort of working with Steve, she seemed to recognise him.
Now he saw her close up, she looked vaguely familiar to him but he couldn't
remember what case he'd seen her working on. She held up an evidence bag.
"More grey hairs. They've been found on all three victims so it's
reasonable to assume they're the killer's."

"That's something," he agreed. "The wounds are pretty-much identical, aren'
t they?"

"Yes."

"What do you make of the way he attacks their bodies after they're dead?"
This had been on his mind ever since he'd since the photographs of the first
corpses.

"It's not uncommon," the woman said, guessing: "He lashes out at them in a
rage then keeps on going after they're dead."

"But he kept cool-headed enough to get the victim to a secluded spot."

"That's true." She shrugged then bit her lip, brow furrowed in thought.
"Maybe it wasn't the victim he was angry at; maybe it was himself, and the
killing just let it loose."

"That never occurred to me." Before Jesse could consider the idea, his
beeper sounded. He hastily reached into his pocket and switched off the
loud noise, casting an apologetic look in the direction of the people around
him. He checked who wanted him, made a phone call, and sought out Steve.

"The hospital?" the cop guessed.

"Yeah. I have to go."

"So much for your day off." They both grimaced at a shared problem with
their jobs. "Your car's still at the station: I'll get someone to give you
a lift."

"I hate to be a nuisance."

"You never are," Steve reassured him. "If the hospital needs you urgently
enough to beep you, then they need you right away." He called over an
officer and explained what was needed. The man agreed cheerfully enough; he
'd probably seen enough gore today to last him a lifetime.

Jesse thanked the man then said to Steve, "I'll probably speak to you
tomorrow."

Steve smiled at him, then was called back to the scene by the tall coroner.

* * *

Eight hours and two operations later, Jesse was still at the hospital. He
entered the room of the first patient he'd operated on that day, to check
how she was feeling.

"Hello, Mrs Saunders," he began, before he was interrupted by the sound of
his beeper going off. "Sorry about this," he told her. "I'll be right
back."

He made his way to the reception area and was told he had a phone call. He
lifted the receiver, waited for the call to be put through, then said,
"Doctor Jesse Travis speaking."

"Hi, Jess. It's me."

He brightened at once. "Hey, Steve, what's up?"

"Are you still at the hospital?"

"Yeah, but the surgery's over; I just stayed to check on some patients.
Why?"

"You remember a couple of weeks ago we both said we wanted to see the new
Tom Wang martial arts flick when it came out?"

"Yes."

"Well, I noticed that it's on at the moment so I wondered if you wanted to
meet up to see it tonight."

"I'd love to. Can you spare the time from the case?"

"I've got to the point where I've gone through all the evidence and just
need to visit more suspects. I can't go and see them at this time of night
so I may as well call it quits. The Station will beep me if they need me."

"Absolutely," Jesse agreed, then wondered if he sounded too enthusiastic.
In a calmer tone, he added, "What time do you want to meet?"

"Does an hour give you enough time to finish up there?"

"Yeah, that's fine."

"I'll come by the hospital."

"Okay, great. I see you then."

Jesse put down the phone. *Stop smiling*, he told himself: *people will ask
if I've got a date and it's not a date. It may resemble a date in certain
ways but it's definitely not a date.*

He made his way back to his patient's room. "Where were we?" he said,
beaming.

"You've cheered up," Mrs Saunders said. "Got a date?"

* * *

Steve entered the Community General and immediately felt himself begin to
relax. The hospital was just as busy as the police station but the
atmosphere always seemed more calm. Or perhaps that was his father's
presence.

As he left the lift on the third floor he saw his dad and Jesse talking in
the corridor. He approached them, automatically glancing at their white
coats as he did so. He could always tell how long they'd been working by
the state of their coats: the longer the shift, the more rumpled the
clothes, especially in Jesse's case. Then again, you couldn't miss it when
Jess had been on a double shift as he was either a walking zombie or scarily
hyperactive.

Jesse glanced round and, seeing Steve, smiled at him.

"Hi," he said to them both.

"Hello, son, what are you doing here?" his father said brightly.

Before he could answer, his nose caught the aroma of roses and he turned to
smile at Amanda as she appeared seconds later. He noted that her coat was
in pristine condition as always. He suspected that she had a stash of spare
coats and changed every hour or so. Probably at the same time as she
touched up her make-up, tidied her hair and dabbed on more perfume, since sh
e almost always looked immaculate.

"Jess and I are escaping work to go and see "Death Chase" at the cinema."

"That's nice; you could both do with a break."

"Do you want to come with us, Mark?" Jesse checked.

Steve smiled at his father and answered for him, "Martial arts isn't really
his thing, is it Dad?"

"Not really. I think I'd rather have a quiet evening with a good book."

"Amanda?" Steve asked.

"The only time I'll watch a martial arts film is if it's got Chun Ling in
it, because he's cute enough to make up for long boring fight sequences. He
's not in this, is he?"

"No," Steve answered.

"Then I'll pass."

* * *

The film was entertaining and the two men left the cinema in a far more
relaxed, light-hearted frame of mind than when they'd entered it. They
joked about outside, aiming mock punches and kicks at each other then, still
laughing, they went in search of food. Once armed with numerous boxes of
Chinese take-out, they headed back to Jesse's house.

"Fork?" the doctor offered, having collected two from the kitchen.

Steve gave him a pitying look as he waggled the chop sticks he was holding.

"I'm too hungry to use anything that might slow me down," Jesse responded.
"I've eaten a packet of crisps and two buns since breakfast and it's now ."
He checked his watch: ". after midnight."

"I don't think I've eaten much more than that today. On the other hand, you
're the doctor so you're supposed to set the good example."

"Not a chance. Our jobs are both so hectic that I defy any doctor, nurse or
police officer to manage regular meals and a balanced diet."

Silence descended for a while as they fell on the food like starving
animals. Half-way through the meal, as Jesse's need for food became less
urgent, he queried, "Did you say that tomorrow you were going to visit
suspects?"

"Yeah, that's right," Steve answered indistinctly, as he chewed on a spring
roll.

"How many are on your list now?"

"Just three."

"Tall with grey hair?"

"Yup." Steve paused, the remainder of the spring roll held in the air. "I
know it's not much of a description but it's something."

"Have you got a 'favourite'?"

"Not really. I still haven't got a clear motive worked out. It's like a
jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces missing - once I find them everything
should fall into place."

"Did you talk to the coroner? She mentioned something to me, just a vague
idea, that may be useful."

"I don't think she said anything particularly new to me. What was her
theory?"

"Well, it was when I said that it seemed odd the way the killer kept cutting
up the victims after they were dead. The coroner suggested that maybe it
wasn't them he was angry at but himself. Then I thought this afternoon that
maybe he felt guilty over something and that was the basis of his anger, and
his motivation to kill."

"So he's striking out at people who remind him of his guilt?" Steve
suggested.

"Yeah, something like that anyway. Maybe." Jesse shrugged.

"It's a new angle and there could be something in it. I'll have a look
through the suspects' background checks, see if anything stands out. Or
better yet ." He reached for the folder beside his jacket and handed it to
Jesse. " . You can."

The doctor ate another fork full of fried rice then he opened the folder.
"This is all the evidence from the case?"

"Yeah."

Jesse leaned forward to study the information and Steve, in turn, found
himself studying his friend. The main light in the lounge had blinked out
when Jesse tried to switch it on that evening and, rather than fix it, he'd
turned on a couple of lamps instead. Steve hadn't thought twice about it
earlier but now he noticed how the dimmed lighting gave the room a more
intimate atmosphere than usual. It also altered Jesse's appearance,
softening his features and turning his eyes a deep midnight blue. He looked
almost angelic; he looked .

Jesse glanced up at him and Steve jumped to his feet, feeling guilty but not
prepared to admit to himself what he felt guilty about. The doctor's
eyebrows lifted in surprise at the sudden movement and Steve said, "Um, I
was going to put the kettle on for coffee, if that's all right?"

"Sure. Good idea. You know where everything is, don't you? Oh, and there
are some chocolate biscuits in the fridge if you want to bring them in."

"Okay." Steve vanished into the kitchen, switched on the kettle and leaned
against some cupboards as he took a deep breath. *Jesse's not interested in
me and, besides that, I'm =heterosexual!=* he told himself, but couldn't be
convinced.

When he returned to the lounge with the coffee and biscuits, Jesse was
looking over the suspect profiles. The doctor said, "This Judge John Cain -
is that the judge from the court case we went to the other day?"

"Yes, it is." Steve put the tray on the coffee table and sat down. "To be
honest, I'm not really taking him seriously as a suspect, but all the
victims have passed through his court and his sentences with them were quite
harsh which *could* be seen as anti-gay."

"But you don't think he is?"

"I've met the guy a number of times. He's an honest, down-to-earth man and
I like him. I know I can't just rule him out because of that but all my
instincts say it isn't him."

"Will you still go and question him?"

"Yeah, in the morning, then hopefully I can eliminate him once and for all."

"If he is innocent, then that reduces the suspects to two, so you've
practically solved it!" Jesse said.

"I wish it was that simple. I've got a possible motive and no real alibis
with all the suspects, but that's about as circumstantial as it's possible
to be. I've got uniformed cops watching all three people tonight in case
one of them tries to attack someone. Other than that, I've just got to hope
that DNA samples from the hairs found at the murder scenes solve the
matter." When Jesse yawned and stretched, Steve found his eyes rooted to
the languid movement of the doctor's body. Panic ran through him again and
he said, "I'd better be going."

"You haven't drunk your coffee," Jesse commented, with a confused
expression.

Steve knew his behaviour must seem strange to the other man but he couldn't
explain it, so he feigned obliviousness and left.

* * *

Jesse had fallen asleep the previous night feeling uneasy and confused. He
woke up aware of two things. Firstly, he was in love with Steve Sloan and,
secondly, he wasn't remotely convinced that Cain was innocent. Steve was
planning on visiting the judge this morning so, if wanted to phone Steve
with some kind of warning, then he needed to work out what to tell him
pretty quickly. Unfortunately, his concern was based on the knowledge that
something was wrong, but he had no idea what it was. There was no evidence
that Cain was homophobic so he seemed to have no motive for killing the
three men. He had a link with them but it was tenuous in the extreme: he'd
judged thousands of cases. Jesse knew he was overlooking something but he
didn't know what on earth it was.

He got ready to go to work in a distracted fashion, less than half his mind
on what he was doing. Before he left he called the Beach House, but the
answering machine was switched on, so he hung up. He looked at his watch:
nearly 6am. Steve wouldn't be calling on the judge for hours yet so Jesse
may as well phone him from the hospital. By that time he might have figured
out what to say apart from: *Do you want to marry me? Oh, and, by the way,
I think your friend Judge Cain is a homicidal maniac. No, I don't have any
proof - it's just a feeling.*

As soon as he arrived at the hospital, Jesse had to go to OR to assist with
an emergency operation. By the time he got to a phone it was 9.30am. He
paused before picking up the receiver, still not certain what to say.

Mark walked up to him, a cup of coffee in his hand and a concerned
expression on his face. "Are you okay, Jesse?"

The younger doctor stared at the coffee, its distinctive smell sparking a
memory. At the start of the case, when he and Steve were sitting discussing
the killer at the Beach House, they'd talked about the victims feeling safe
enough to follow the killer to a secluded spot. *Who looks more trustworthy
than a court judge?* he thought. Another memory followed on the heals of
the first. He and Steve were joking together in the court room when the
judge walked by. Jesse remembered the odd expression on his face as he'd
looked at them. It was almost . condemning. Jesse had been complimenting
Steve, practically flirting with him. "Oh, god!" He felt sick as he began
dialling the number for Steve's phone at the LAPD.

"Jesse, you look awful: what's wrong?" Mark asked but the other man just
shook his head as he waited for his call to be picked up.

An unfamiliar voice answered so he said, "Is Steve Sloan there? It's
urgent."

"No, he's not. Can I ..?"

"Where is he?" Jesse interrupted.

"I can't tell you that, sir, but ."

"Has he gone to see Judge Cain already?"

"Er, yes. How do you know that?"

"I'm a good friend of Steve's. Listen, I think Cain is the serial killer;
we have to warn Steve."

"Are you a policeman?"

"No. No, I'm a doctor."

"But you have some evidence against Judge Cain?"

"Well, no, not exactly."

"Then there's nothing I can do unless you tell me exactly what this is
about."

"There isn't time for that." Jesse realised he was practically shouting and
took a deep breath. "Look, if Steve calls would you ask him to contact me
urgently? My name's Jesse Travis."

"Very well. Does he have your number?"

"Yes. Thank you." Jesse put the receiver down with a thud, then he dialled
the number for Steve's pager. It was switched off. He never switched it
off.

"Jesse, is Steve in some kind of danger?" Mark asked him.

"Yes, I think he is."

* * *

Steve returned to consciousness with a thudding pain in his skull, as if a
drummer had taken up residence inside his head and was pounding steadily.
He'd barely got into the judge's house before the man had struck him. As
his head cleared slightly, he noticed that his hands were tied up and he was
lying on a fawn coloured carpet. He looked up and saw a familiar figure
sitting in an armchair opposite him.

"I hoped you'd wake up before too long," Cain said.

"I'll be missed at the station. Everyone knows I came here."

"Then I don't have much time."

"Time for what?" Steve asked, knowing he wasn't going to like the answer.

"To kill you."

* * *

Jesse drove out of the hospital parking lot with Mark in the passenger seat.
The pace he was setting was breaking every speed law in the county, but he
didn't care and Mark never complained.

"Have you met Judge Cain?" he asked.

"Yes, at various functions," Mark said.

"He's tall with grey hair, isn't he?"

"Yes, he is."

Jesse put his foot down on the accelerator.

* * *

What annoyed him the most was that he'd liked this man. Cain was one of the
most down-to-earth judges Steve had met and, when the detective had run into
him socially on several occasions, he had also displayed a sense of humour.

"That's the last time I listen to my instincts," he muttered to himself,
then said aloud to Cain, "Why are you doing this?"

"There's an evil inside you that has to be destroyed," the murderer told him
and, bizarrely, there was pity in his voice.

"Are we talking about me or you?" Steve responded dryly.

"You have to die, then your soul might be saved."

"Saved of what?"

"The sickness that draws you to other men. It's a sign of the Devil."

Steve looked blankly at him. "You think I'm gay? What, just because I'm
investigating gay murders you think I must be gay?"

"Don't try to deny it, Sloan. I've seen the way that young doctor gazes
adoringly at you and how protective you are of him. I can put two and two
together."

"And make five! I'm not gay." Steve ignored the little voice in his head
that questioned that statement and continued, "You've thrown away your
career and your freedom for a mistake."

"Don't bother trying to fool me. Anyone with eyes can see the way the two
of you feel about each other."

"But ."

"Now the Devil is making you lie to me. Don't you get it - your soul is
being destroyed by this sickness. I've seen it before many times. I was
just a child when I first realised the Truth. When I was four years old I
saw a teenage boy tortured and executed because he was queer. Ryan didn't
understand that because this evil had infected him he had to die. It was
the only way to save his soul."

How had everyone missed the fact that a federal judge was mentally
unbalanced? Steve wondered. Then again, *he'd* missed it. "You have to
give yourself up."

Cain held a knife to Steve's neck. "No, I don't."

The detective felt the biting slide of metal then the warm stickiness of
blood flowing down his skin.

* * *

"The curtains are all drawn," Mark told Jesse. "I can't see a thing."

"It doesn't matter: I've phoned the police and told them Steve is this man's
hostage."

Mark backed away from the window and stared at his young friend. "What if
you're wrong about this?"

"What if I'm right?"

The police arrived within a couple of minutes and surrounded the house.
Mark and Jesse stood to one side, impotent and afraid, and watched to see
what would happen.

* * *

Cain ignored the knocking on his front door and the ringing of the doorbell,
but the police loud speaker took him by surprise. The man had been making
further cuts on Steve's body, having not gone through with the fatal wound
the cop had been expecting. The judge was leaning over him and his
distraction gave Steve the chance he needed. He kicked out, knocking Cain
off his feet, and managed to stand up, although his tied hands kept him off
balance. Then he kicked an armchair with all his strength, sending it
smashing through the glass door into the back garden.

By this time, Cain had recovered and jumped up, now aiming the knife to
deliver that final deadly thrust.

"Drop the knife *now*!" bellowed a cop from the door.

Cain froze and glanced round.

Two police officers entered the room, guns aimed at the killer. "It's over,
Cain. Now drop the knife," one of them ordered.

He obeyed.

* * *

The sight of Jesse was like that first glimpse of water to someone dying of
thirst. The doctor's face was haunted and there was a tension in his body
as if he was keeping himself still with the greatest of difficulty. Then
the man saw Steve and everything changed: his eyes came to life and a
brilliant smile suffused his face. *He's in love with me*, Steve thought,
and this was more of a shock than anything else that had happened today. A
mix of emotions vied for supremity in him: happiness, terror, relief .

Jesse reached his side within seconds of seeing him. "Steve! Are you okay?
God, you're bleeding! How do you feel? I *knew* it was that bastard - I
should have tried harder to warn you."

Steve had no idea what the doctor was talking about and he barely heard the
words, but he recognised the worry and pain beneath them. Jesse was
touching him as if to reassure himself that Steve was here, alive; one hand
against the cop's arm and the other against his chest.

"Are you sure you're all right?" Jesse asked, moving the arm on Steve's
chest around his waist, as if afraid the cop might collapse without support.

Steve had no idea how he looked but he was probably a mess; he had several
cuts that were bleeding all over his clothes, but he knew they weren't too
deep. "I'll be fine."

"I hope they throw away the key on that psychopath."

Steve smiled down at his friend, remembering Cain's words about his
relationship with the doctor. "I don't know. I think he did me a favour."

Jesse stared up at him, disbelieving. "What are you talking about?"

Steve heard his name being called and turned his head to see his father and
Amanda hurrying towards him. A moment later there sounded the blaring noise
of an ambulance approaching. "I'll tell you later, Jess."

* * *

'Later' became mid-afternoon at the doctor's house, after Steve had been
bandaged up at the hospital and had written his report for the station.

"He was the most twisted bastard I've ever encountered, yet I actually feel
sorry for him," he told Jesse as he reclined on the sofa. The doctor had
insisted that he relax despite the fact that he felt fine now that his
introduction to the world of captivity was over.

"Why?" Jesse managed to inject the word full of disbelief.

"When he was a tiny kid he saw an older boy, Ryan, murdered for being gay."

"So he turns round and starts doing the same thing?"

"Yeah. I think that convincing himself that the boy deserved to die was the
only way he could cope with the guilt."

"Guilt?"

"The guilt of being too young and scared to try to stop his brother, Ryan,
being murdered."

Jesse's eyes widened as he took this in. After a pause he said, "He thought
you were gay, didn't he? That's why he took the risk of attacking you."

Steve met the other man's eyes and nodded. "How did you know?"

"I realised this morning that he'd looked at us really oddly in the court
room yesterday."

"He insisted that we were lovers; wouldn't listen to my denials." Steve
tried to read the other man's reaction to this, but the doctor's thoughtful
expression didn't alter. "He said it was obvious from the way we looked and
acted around each other. It made me stop and think about our relationship."

"And?" Jesse still wasn't giving anything away.

"Do you remember the beginning of all this, when you thought I was
anti-gay?" The doctor nodded so he went on, "I knew I'd really hurt you
and I couldn't bear it. I would have said or done anything to make you
happy again."

Jesse smiled, shy but happy. "It really mattered to you how I felt?"

"Yeah, it did. Even then, I didn't stop to think about why I'd reacted so
strongly. It was that bastard Cain who made me see how strongly I feel
about you. Do you want me to stop talking?" Steve asked with
uncharacteristic awkwardness.

"No! God, no!" Jesse dropped his eyes and said quietly, "Ever since we met
I've been kidding myself that all I felt for you was friendship."

"It isn't?"

"No, it's a helluva lot more than that."

"For me too," Steve admitted, the words easy to say now that he finally knew
Jesse felt the same. "So what happens next?"

The doctor gave a quirky grin. "A kiss would be nice."

"Only 'nice'?" Steve asked, a note of challenge in his voice. He wasn't
used to letting another person make the first move but it felt right with
Jesse. He didn't have anything to prove and the situation was strange
enough - not only getting involved with a man but someone who was also his
best friend - for him to feel off-balance and awkward.

Jesse moved to sit on the couch, beside Steve, and touched his hand, fingers
lightly caressing the skin. "I was so scared of losing you earlier, and I
hadn't even ."

"*Had* me?"

Jesse laughed. "Well, I wasn't going to put it quite like that, but yeah."
He looked up at the cop, eyes growing serious. "I know you have a dangerous
job so I'll kinda have to get used to being scared for you, but it won't be
easy."

"I'll make it up to you," Steve promised, committing himself to the other
man with the words.

Then Jesse kissed him and reality vanished, replaced by a world of
sensations where every touch and taste destroyed and recreated him. At that
point it became urgently necessary for him to get acquainted with every part
of the other man's body. When Jesse broke off the kiss to gasp in a few
breaths and nuzzle his ear, Steve let his hands and mouth wander over his
partner's skin, revelling in its taste and texture.

"Bedroom?" Jesse suggested in a hoarse voice. Steve opened his eyes. They
had managed to get each other half-undressed, he noticed, in the few seconds
or years since Jesse had begun the kiss. The doctor got to his feet and
Steve made a sound of protest. "Bed," Jesse reminded him, apparently about
as capable of structuring a sentence together as Steve was, and held out his
hand.

Steve took it, entwining their fingers, a sense of wonder and rightness
settling over him. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Jesse as they walked
into the bedroom. The younger man had left his shirt in the living room and
his body was slim and tanned, with an unexpected hint of muscle in his arms.
His blond hair was mussed up and his eyes held a smoky look of desire which
was nearly enough to send Steve over the edge.

They undressed in silence and moved almost shyly to the bed. Jesse's first
touch was light, fingers caressing Steve's chest, yet it was like an
electric shock. This was Steve's first intimate experience with a man and
he hadn't even considered what it was they would - or could - do together
but it didn't matter. Their bodies drew together as if they'd made love a
thousand times before. Desire rose and then it peaked in an
all-encompassing explosion.

Reality reappeared and Steve opened his eyes. Jesse was curled against him,
breathing heavily. They were lying on top of the striped quilt and the
afternoon sun shone through the thin curtains. Jesse kissed his shoulder
then moved slightly, bending his elbow so that his forearm rose away from
the bed, and he could rest his head on his hand and look down at his lover.
"Are you okay?" he checked. "I meant to give you more time to get used to
all of this, but ."

"It was amazing and I've never felt better," Steve reassured him with an
affectionate smile.

Jesse traced a pattern across his shoulder with one finger, a look of
contentment on his face, then he said, "Hey, now that the case is over, will
you finally get some time off work?"

"Sounds like an excellent idea. Think you can get a few days away from the
hospital?"

"Yeah, I should think so." Jesse folded his arms across Steve's chest and
leaned forward on them, looking into his lover's eyes from just a couple of
inches away. "Got any ideas for what you'll do with the free time?"

"A few." Steve leaned his head forward to kiss the other man's nose. "And,
if I run out, I'm sure I can rely on you for more."

"Oh, yeah," Jesse agreed. "I've got enough ideas to last for years."

Steve wrapped his arms around the man. "And after that?"

"We can just make it up as we go along," Jesse told him happily.

THE END


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