TITLE: A Striking Balance 
AUTHOR: elfin
FANDOM: Dalziel and Pascoe
PAIRING: Dalziel and Pascoe
RATING: NC-17 for m/m sex
WARNINGS: lovely loving sex :-)
ARCHIVE: Britslash only
EMAIL: elfin@burble.com 


'Dalziel & Pascoe' characters copyright and beloved creations of 
Reginald Hill. Story copyright Maddy Hughes, 2000



A Striking Balance


by elfin



Part One

a year ago

Dalziel stopped the bottle half way to his lips. He stared at the 
carnage around him, carnage that only two hours ago - before his 
admittedly somewhat extended lunch break - had been a peaceful and 
rather pretty village green. "What the 'ell...?!"

There had, he would have been the first to admit, been a metre-square 
patch of grass stripped from the lawn just to the right of the marked 
cricket pitch and some earth shovelled up from that shallow ditch, piled 
as tidily as the police knew how at the side. The site had been 
cordoned off to stop the interested villagers from standing on the 
delicate burial of what had once been, it seemed, a young man.

But that had been before he'd nipped out to join an old friend of his in 
a midday pie and a pint. Amazing what destruction could be wrought in a 
couple of hours.

There was a bright yellow digger parked in the centre of what had been 
the cricket pitch. A good twenty square feet of grass had now been 
lifted, along with a good deal of earth that had been unceremoniously 
dumped onto the edge of the village green.

Eyes blazing, Dalziel lowered the bottle of beer and looked around for 
his sergeant. Peter was standing in the centre of the chaos. 
"Pascoe!!!" His bellow cut through the noise of the digger, the 
shouting of the men working the digger, the open-collared constables 
talking loudly around the edges of the ditch and the onlookers chatting 
amongst themselves. Sergeant Pascoe straightened from whatever he'd 
been bent over looking at and glanced around him until he saw his boss. 
And then, with a surprising spring in his step, he headed for Dalziel.

"Sir!"
"Don't 'Sir' me, lad! What the bloody 'ell is this?! I'm gone for two 
hours and you turn a beautiful village green into a building site!"
Pascoe's face fell. "You told me to dig it up!"
The Superintendent's eyes widened in disbelief. "I told you to do some 
diggin' around! For background and stuff, any reported or unreported 
disappearances in the village."
The usually intelligent Sergeant stood silent for a moment and Dalziel 
found himself looking forward to whatever was coming next. He was 
slightly disappointed when Pascoe unexpectedly managed to redeemed 
himself.
"We have found another six bodies, Sir."
Dalziel rolled his eyes. He couldn't stay mad at Peter for long, that 
had always been the trouble and probably always would be. It was what 
allowed the smart-alec BA graduate to now and again make a monumental 
idiot of himself and still retain both his promotion and his boss' 
grudging respect. "All right, Sunbeam, let's have a look." 'How do you 
always manage to strike gold?' But he kept the thought to himself.


Seven sets of human remains had lain buried under the village green for 
nigh on five years. This at least was agreed upon by the pathologist, 
three forensics boys and two archaeologists from the local museum. It 
was the two archaeologists who had immediately caught the attention of 
Dalziel but possibly for the obvious reason that one of them was a 
long-haired blonde female wearing a tight-fitting sleeveless T-shirt 
without obvious sign of underwear.

Out from nowhere, Sergeant Wield stepped into view. He looked as busy 
as he always managed to look. Dalziel had never worked out how he did 
it, but he did and sometimes it amused him, sometimes it irritated him. 
Sometimes he dragged the man out to the pub in the evening just to stop 
him working. There wasn't a woman to stop him working - that was a part 
of the problem. Not that Dalziel had a problem with it. He wished 
Wield was happier with being gay - otherwise wasn't it a contradiction 
in terms?

He thought about that. And he thought about Peter. At some point (and 
Dalziel knew exactly when that point had been - as they'd been held as 
prisoners in Tankie Trotter's mocked-up army cell) the university 
graduate had wound his way into the senior policeman's life. It hadn't 
taken too long for him to wind his way into Dalziel's soul. Rightly or 
wrongly he saw Pascoe as his protégé. He already had a sergeant in 
Wield. Pascoe was a different proposition altogether. Dalziel knew 
himself well enough to know when it was more than his professional 
inklings drawing him to someone. Peter drew him like a child to the 
pied piper.

Feeling warm inside, which wasn't a feeling Dalziel was too used to, he 
gazed around for his sergeant.

Pascoe was in his element. He had charge of the four men with their 
digger and the five constables. He was born for this job, Andy had 
decided some time back. Whatever Peter had been thinking when he'd 
signed on for a university course in Social Sciences was beyond the man 
who'd let the education system at the age of sixteen. But his degree, 
or maybe just Peter's own temperament, had stood the young man in 
excellent stead for his shining future.

Dalziel decided it was time he pulled rank and got his subordinate doing 
something useful. He sidled up to him, stood for a second to watch the 
archaeologists at work, and then began to reel off instructions. 
"Right, better start putting some procedure in place." He met Peter's 
frown with a generous smile. "I want to know how long each of them's 
been in the ground, and I don't want to hear guesses from Mork and Mindy 
over there." He indicated the museum's pair. "I want the locals 
interviewed, and by that I mean the ones still alive. I don't need you 
digging any more up." He could guess his sergeant's expression and 
didn't need to see it. "Start with the onlookers, make 'em feel like 
they're bein' helpful. And get a team of uniforms in here to start 
house to house. I want to know who remembers what about the time when 
this lot went into the ground. I want to know the names and details of 
everyone who's disappeared in the last however many years. Don't just 
rely on memories, get someone checking records." All standard stuff in 
a case like this. "And Peter," he was wiggling his finger now, "no more 
diggers. I'll be in that pub over there tasting the local brew and 
chatting to the landlord. When you've got some news come over and I'll 
buy you lunch."

Pascoe watched his boss go as he became aware of Sergeant Wield 
approaching. Time to delegate, he thought positively.


Dalziel had been in the pub precisely ten minutes when the heavens 
opened over the village and it poured down. The landlord and his barman 
for the afternoon, one Edward Lockstone, looked up wanly. "That'll put 
the punters off," he murmured, seemingly indifferent.
"I wouldn't bet on it," Dalziel took a long sup of his ale. "There's a 
good few coppers and other such educated people out there who'll be 
looking for shelter in the next few minutes."

He was right. The archaeologists were in first, followed by the two 
from the museum (the girl once again caught Dalziel's eye due to the now 
almost completely transparent nature of her T-shirt). They were very 
closely followed by two constables and Sergeant Wield. The landlord got 
the drinks served faster than anyone could pull off their shoes and find 
their wallets in their waterlogged pockets.

Fifteen minutes later some previously invisible cook had brought fourth 
pies, chips, warm baguettes and sandwiches. Someone had lit the log 
fire for those who had taken up sanctuary on the battered sofas. And 
Dalziel was finally starting to get a little concerned as to the 
whereabouts of his favourite sergeant. He took his pint over to the 
window. Forensics were still at work, although a green tarpaulin had 
been thrown over most of the site to protect the open graves from the 
rain. He thought he could make out Peter's slim form still standing in 
the rain. Wield came to stand behind him and he nodded to the somewhat 
smaller group out on the green. "What's got Pascoe so fascinated?" he 
wondered aloud.
"They've found some pendant buried along with one of the bodies. I 
think Peter recognized it."


Peter stood with the rusted chain wrapped around his fingers, the small 
irregular-shaped pendant rested against his palm. Dalziel could make 
out the design in gold, two letters wrapped one within the other. 'R' 
and 'P'. Peter had been standing like that long enough for his clothes 
to have glued themselves to his body when a large hand dropped to his 
shoulder and he looked up into the frowning eyes of his boss.

"What's that you've got there, lad?" Andy looked his inspector over 
quickly. The moisture on his face might have been tears, but was 
probably rain. Peter hadn't allowed his solid exterior façade to crack 
on the job since that very first time. For a moment he remained silent, 
and then he pooled the chain into his boss' waiting hand.
"'R' is Reggie Glenayre. 'P' is Pauline, his girlfriend. Was his 
girlfriend when she gave him this."
Dalziel closed his fist carefully around the small pile of metal in his 
palm. "Who was this?" he indicated the bones at their feet, just passed 
the cordon.
"Reggie, I think. That was around... its neck."
"And you moved it?!" The automatic question was out before Andy could 
stop it. But Peter looked away.
"Sorry. Just... it was a bit of a surprise, seeing it there. It's 
unique, she made it for him."
"And who was Reggie?"
"My room mate, first year university. Then my housemate for the next 
two years."
Dalziel nodded. Peter's university years were a part of his sergeant's 
life he knew very little about. A part of him had been trying to learn, 
trying to listen more and more over the last year or so.
"When did you last see him?"
"I've been thinking about that. Five years ago more or less." He shook 
his head, blinking back tears that surprised him. "Sorry."
"Don't be daft." Dalziel gave a deep sigh. "Right, let's see if we can 
find out what the hell happened to him, shall we?" He patted his 
sergeant's back reassuringly.

* * *

present day


Andy woke slowly. He was warm and comfortable and although it was dark 
outside and a glance at the clock told him it was 2am he actually felt 
happy. There was a movement next to him and he turned onto his side 
smiling. Peter was facing him, face relaxed in sleep, tousled hair 
beautiful against the white pillow. He'd been through hell and back 
recently. But he looked better, looked more at peace and certainly more 
healthy than he'd been in weeks.

'There's nothing between us!' he'd told Ellie in complete sincerity when 
she'd all but accused him of stealing her husband. But he hadn't been 
entirely truthful with her. A couple of days later he and Peter had a 
flaming row. It had started at the office one afternoon with him 
accusing his inspector of negligence. That might have been a little 
harsh. But after a few minutes they could be heard through the whole 
station. And a couple of minutes after that, Pascoe had declared that 
he was moving out and left the office.

Dalziel had followed his inspector home for a couple of reasons. 
Firstly he'd been sure that he didn't want to stay in the office after 
their outburst, and he definitely hadn't wanted to be around when the 
ACC found out about the spat. Secondly, he hadn't wanted Peter to move 
out. As much as he went on about it and despite his lodger's 
untidiness, he loved having him around.

Peter drove like a manic. Andy drove like a Formula One racing driver. 
They'd reached Dalziel's house together and the row continued.

** flashback**

'You want rid of me then I'll leave.'
'Peter.... Wait.' Inside the house Dalziel slammed the door. 'Listen 
to me.'
'You said your piece, Andy.' He was half way up stairs now, heading for 
the spare room in which he'd been sleeping for the last four weeks. 
'You made yourself very clear.'
'Peter! Just stop, please. Listen to me.' Peter was standing next to 
his bed now, picking scattered clothes up from the floor. 'Sunbeam, I 
don't want you to move out.'
'You could have fooled me!' he answered sharply. 'All you've done is 
get at me, you're on my back about every damn thing. I can't do 
anything right for you like I can't for Ellie.' He grabbed his suitcase 
from the corner. 'I'll get out of your hair then you won't have to 
bother about me.'
'Peter.... Where will you go?'
'Anywhere! Somewhere away from all this, somewhere I can't get hurt again.'
Andy stepped into the room. He was confused. 'I'm not trying to hurt 
you, Petal.'
'Why do you call me that? All these affectionate names you've started 
to save for me. I don't want them! I don't want the pretence of 
affection from you.'
'Pretence? You're losing me, Peter.'
'You don't even like me! I don't know why I love you.'

The silence after their shouting was deafening. Peter's eyes dropped. 
Andy's eyes stared. 'Peter....' He stepped further into the room.
'Look... forget it.... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything.'
'Shouldn't have....' Andy reached out, taking the suitcase from Peter's 
hand and throwing it back into the corner. 'Love....' Peter closely 
resembled a deer caught in car headlights. Andy ran his hand up his 
colleague's arm, anchoring him there. 'Peter, you have no idea....'

**end flashback**

"I love you, Petal," he whispered, not wanting to wake his lover.

Someone else unfortunately had other ideas. The doorbell rang twice 
before blue eyes opened to watch Dalziel swing himself out of bed with 
an exasperated sigh.
"Andy...."
He tied his robe, leaning down to kiss his dazed companion's lips. 
"Sounded like Wieldy's ring," he muttered.
Peter rolled his eyes. But nowadays it didn't bother him so much to be 
woken at obscene hours of the night to be called to work. Because Andy 
was usually being called out too.

Dalziel opened the door schooling a grouchy expression that was mostly 
for show. Wieldy managed to look uncomfortable despite doubtless having 
an incredibly good reason for disturbing the two detectives tonight.
"Don't stand on ceremony, Wieldy." Andy threw open the front door and 
left his sergeant to close it behind him. "What's up, lad?" Sergeant 
Wield followed his boss into the lounge, glancing up the stairs when 
Peter appeared at the top looking more half-awake than Dalziel. Wieldy 
indulged himself for a moment, watching the approaching man. His hair 
was all over the place, his eyes blurred and the blue towelling robe he 
wore picked out the stunning colour of his eyes. Ed shook himself, and 
apologised for the early wake-up call.

"Don't worry about it, Wieldy." Peter bypassed the lounge and padded 
bare-footed into the kitchen to stick the kettle on. Edgar wondered at 
how comfortable and at home Pascoe looked here in his boss' house but 
his musing was interrupted by a gruff voice.
"Are you gonna tell me what you got us out of bed for or are you gonna 
stand there and stare at my lovely inspector all morning?" Wield felt 
the blush. "Cos if you are, I'm goin' back to bed." The sergeant 
glanced at Peter again but he was chuckling to himself as he made the 
drinks. Wield gave up trying to work this out and sat himself down in 
the lounge.

"Two kids found a body about an hour ago. She was in a shallow grave in 
the park. The only clue to her identity was this." He held out his 
hand and dribbled a thin gold chain into his boss' palm. The final 
thing to fall was a pendant made up to two letters, 'R' and 'P'. 
Dalziel sighed deeply.

A couple of minutes later Peter wondered in with three mugs and handed 
one to Wieldy as he dropped down carefully to the sofa close to Andy. 
As Dalziel took the mug Peter saw the gold clutched in his other fist. 
"What's that?"
Knowing it wasn't something that he could keep from Peter, however much 
he'd like to, he opened his hand and watched Peter's expression as he 
saw the pendent for the second time in twelve months. He recapped 
Wield's story. "There was only one, ever, wasn't there, Petal?" he 
asked carefully.
Peter nodded. "But it can't be, can it? Because I've got it."
"Where?"

He almost knew that it wouldn't be there. Peter had a few valuables 
gathered in a small box by his bedside. His wedding ring was inside, 
cufflinks that had belonged to his father, a St. Christopher Ellie had 
given him one Christmas and the pendent they'd found in a shallow grave 
a year ago. Only that wasn't there any longer. He stepped back into 
the lounge. Andy knew too. "Gone?"
"Gone." He nodded, sitting back down. "How?"
"And why."

Not for a moment did they think what they were perhaps meant to think; 
that Peter had anything to do with the girl's death. And both 
detectives knew their boss wouldn't allow anyone else to think it either.
"Better get this place checked for holes," Dalziel muttered. "And you 
and I ought to get some clothes on and get ourselves over to the crime 
scene."


Wieldy watched them take their coffees upstairs. He frowned to himself, 
and the musings came back unbidden. He was sensitive at least to 
Peter's feelings even if not to Dalziel's. The honest, plain and simple 
truth was that up until a couple of weeks ago Pascoe had been miserable, 
depressive, snappy and not very pleasant to be around. He'd ridden the 
rollercoaster of separation, despair, hope and now the certainty of 
divorce. He was losing his beloved daughter and Edgar had been able to 
understand if not help.

But Dalziel in his own odd way had done more for his inspector than 
perhaps he realised. He'd moved him in, badgered him to keep him 
feeling, if it was only pain that he felt. He'd forced him to face 
first his responsibilities, which he must have worked out frightened 
Peter to death, and then his life. But the final push had been 
inadvertent. Peter had had to kill a man to save Andy's life. And he'd 
done it without thinking, without flinching and without second-guessing 
afterwards. It had ended his marriage finally and totally. But what 
had it begun?

Wield sat back in his chair, closing his eyes and wishing he could just 
sleep. He'd been on his way out, finally, at midnight tonight when he'd 
been called to the crime scene by Detective-Inspector Franks. He'd 
already missed three dates this week. He wasn't sure if Jase would 
continue accepting his very real excuses and heartfelt apologies.


"Sunbeam," Andy poked his head around the door of the spare room, "you 
all right?"
Peter nodded. Like Dalziel, he'd pulled on jeans and a jumper. A warm 
autumn day it might have been, but at two in the morning it was cold. 
Andy grabbed him for a quick hug.

Until they'd started this, Peter had only caught glimpses of Andy's 
capability for tenderness and compassion. The phone call he'd had from 
Dalziel after his friends had been murdered in Thornton Lacey. The 
gentle treatment after his near drowning at the gypsy camp. The 
understanding of his hang-ups since Ellie had left.

Being loved by Andy Dalziel was to be wrapped in a cocoon of affection 
and desire. It was also to be reassured that no matter what, this was 
one relationship that wouldn't dissolve beneath him, that wouldn't be 
torn from him. Never again would he be asked to choose between his 
career and his heart, between Andy and his lover, because now they were 
one and the same.

Andy dropped a quick kiss to Peter's lips as he released him. "Let's go 
see what a mess the underlings have made of the crime scene," he 
murmured, "then I can get you back into bed."
Peter grinned and followed his boss downstairs. They had to wake Wieldy 
who'd fallen asleep in the five minutes he'd been alone.

*

Five hours later they found themselves back at the station. Andy got 
ten coffees from the machine and found a tray. He ridded himself of 
five cups putting them in front of Peter as he slept in Dalziel's spare 
office chair, head on his arms where they were crossed on his desk. He 
risked a gentle touch to his inspector's hair before sitting down behind 
the desk and starting in on his own five caffeine hits. Wieldy came in 
fifteen minutes later. Dalziel had sent him home when he and Peter had 
headed off for the crime scene. He looked rested, showered and as neat 
and tidy as ever.

"Everything all right, Sirs?"
Dalziel looked up, exhausted. "We're knackered, Wieldy." It would have 
helped if they'd gone to bed four hours before being woken and slept. 
But they hadn't. And he'd only had an hours' kip before Wieldy had rung 
the doorbell in the early hours. Peter didn't move. "Close the door. 
Have a coffee."
Sergeant Wield did as he was told, pulling one of the less comfortable 
chairs up to the desk, reaching out and taking one of the plastic cups 
from in front of Peter. "Do we know who she is yet?"
"Pauline Greenham." Dalziel gave the name as if Wieldy should remember. 
The look on his face showed he didn't.
"A year ago, Mike Aston here dug up seven bodies on a village green."
Wieldy nodded his recall. "Where we found the pendent."
"Right. It was around the neck of a man whose identity was confirmed as 
Reggie Glenayre. The 'P' stood for Pauline."
Now he was on track. "Pauline being the woman found tonight." He 
sipped the drink that the machine's owners liked to call coffee. "So... 
someone killed Reggie six years ago and buried the body along with 
another five bodies of students who were in Reggie's year at university. 
Has that same person now murdered another of those students, a woman 
who happens to have been close to one of the original victims?"
"Good question. I've often said I liked the way your mind works, 
Wieldy." There was a definite 'but' at the end of the sentence. 
Sergeant Wield was always open to changes in the basis of his 
conclusions. You had to be with Dalziel in charge.

When the boss didn't continue, he pushed slightly. "There's something 
more?"
"I would say there was." Andy spoke carefully, gaze settled on his 
resting inspector. "I think our mysterious killer has murdered the 
wrong person. Last year we had to shelve the case. No connection 
between the victims except for same university years - and there were 
hundreds of people in Peter's year. No theories. Dead ends one and 
all. This time we have a connection, and someone burgled my house to 
make that connection obvious."
This was new. "Someone did steal that pendent then?"
Dalziel nodded, picking up a third coffee. "They went over the house 
earlier. The kitchen window had been forced. Neat job. They'd even 
varnished the outside of the window frame so that I wouldn't notice."
"They wanted to connect Pauline's body to Reggie's, so we'd know. 
Perhaps that's the connection we missed."
"Perhaps." He looked again at Peter. "Perhaps we need to take a step 
back before we go forward. That pendent for start, and what the 'P' 
actually stands for."
Pascoe lifted his head then, no surprise on his face, just a weariness 
of his boss always being right. "It stands for 'Peter'."

They all sat back, and the inspector looked from his boss to his 
sergeant. "It's not what you think." Wieldy surprised them both then 
by getting up to leave. Peter sighed and motioned for him to sit back 
down. "I said, it's not what you think." He picked up one of the 
cooling coffees. "Reggie and I were room mates and house mates. 
Pauline was a friend. But Reggie was gay. He admitted a crush on me at 
the end of the first term. He never made a move on me the whole time 
but by the time he graduated he said he'd fallen for me heavily, he was 
in love with me. Pauline... she gave him that pendent, she was an art 
student and had made it for him. She said if anyone asked he could say 
it was P for Pauline."
"As you told us while perverting the course of justice." But there was 
no anger or accusation in Dalziel's voice.
Peter hoped it was just his professionalism he was concerned about. 
"I'd have said something if it started to make a difference."

But Wieldy was frowning. "Why didn't you say something before?"
Peter shrugged, a year on he really wasn't sure. "Didn't want the 
rumours, I guess." He looked guiltily at Wieldy who nodded his 
understanding.
"I don't see what spin this puts on anything."
Dalziel downed his fifth cup. "Apart from Peter having to watch his 
back a little more carefully. You might be a potential victim, Sunbeam. 
I don't want to find your body under some leaves in the park."
"I can look after myself."
"I know, I know. Just watch yourself until we find out who's knocking 
off your fellow graduates and why." He looked at his watch. "Right, 
let's find out what Pauline Greenham's been doing with her life since 
university shall we?"

*

It turned into a very long day. Around ten that night Peter invited 
Wieldy down to The Black Bull for a break. Jase was long gone, and 
Wield could never turn Pascoe down not just because he always bought the 
first round. "Where's the Big man?" Edgar inquired as Peter put the 
pint down in front of him. The pub was unusually quiet for this time of 
night, even midweek.

"Caught up with the ACC. He said he'd join us here if he got away 
before closing time. Hope so, or I'm walking home."
They sat in a companionable silence for a while, each drinking the first 
pint quickly. Thirsty work, thinking. Peter got the second round in 
too. And by then Wieldy thought he might have just plucked up the 
courage to put voice to the question he'd been wondering about for a few 
days now, but that had been driving him mad since this morning.

"Peter, can I ask you a personal question?"
The familiarity and the covert tone told Pascoe exactly what he was 
about to be asked. He'd been waiting for the sergeant to ask it all 
day. He smiled. "Yes."
Wieldy wasn't sure if that was the answer to the asked or unasked 
question, so he ploughed on. "You and the boss...."
"Yes." Peter's eyes were twinkling.
"I mean... I know you moved in because of Ellie leaving and all. And I 
know you and her are getting divorced now...."
"Wieldy, the answer's yes, just between you and me."
Ed sat quietly for a moment, and then grinned. "I'm happy for you, for 
both of you."
Peter nodded. "Me too. Just... I don't want you to think that I'm 
sleeping my way to the top."
Ed shook his head, frowning. "I'd never think that, Peter. You're a 
good detective. One of the best. Besides, if you were sleeping your 
way to the top I'd have recommended the ACC rather than Andy Dalziel."
Peter chuckled. "Definitely. It wasn't a choice unfortunately. I just 
fell... hard."
Wieldy nudged him. "Stop it! You're making me feel all warm and gooey!"

When Dalziel arrived just in time to get in a round before last orders, 
he found his two favourite subordinates grinning at one another and 
swapping amusing comments.
"Why are you two looking like Cheshire cats?"
"Only if you'll tell us why you're so grumpy all of a sudden." Peter 
sipped his third pint, eyes dancing over the rim of the glass.
"Rebecca was having a rant." He didn't miss his two subordinates share 
a glance. There had been rumours rife around the station from the first 
time he and the Assistant Chief Constable had met. He was glad in a way 
because it meant everyone had overlooked Peter moving in with him even 
if it had been completely innocent at the time. Peter, though, knew 
better when it came to 'Rebecca'. "All right, knock it off. She's not 
my type."
"We know." The comment was made from behind Wieldy's pint, but 
Dalziel's stare could penetrate mere glass. He glanced at Peter who was 
looking guilty as hell and realised what they'd been grinning about when 
he'd walked in.
"You told him?" He was surprised rather than angry. Still, despite 
everything, he wasn't sure why Peter was with him.
Peter shrugged. "He guessed."

Pascoe's smile curving his lips and lighting his eyes was doing terrible 
things to Dalziel's libido. Wieldy was watching them, and he found 
himself thinking about Jase. He left the last pint untouched and the 
second half-finished to excuse himself. "I'll see you both in the morning."
Dalziel dragged his mind back to the present long enough to quip, "Not 
too early this time, Wieldy." And then his attention returned to his 
young lover.
"He won't tell anyone," Peter reassured his boss.
"I know he won't. I'm just... I didn't think you'd want anyone to know."

The smile vanished from Peter's face. "Why not?"
"Sunbeam... I'm older than you, more worn out than you, a great deal 
uglier than you...." He couldn't continue because Peter's hand was now 
clamped over his mouth.
"Shut up and listen." He whispered, "I'm with you because I love you, 
Andy. To me you're an intelligent man, kind, generous, great company 
and a mind-blowing lover. If you weren't a Superintendent and I wasn't 
an Inspector working my way up through the ranks I'd be shouting it from 
the rooftops."
It was all Andy could do not to grab him and kiss him there in the pub.

*

He managed to keep his hands to himself until they got home. Peter 
leaned back against the wall of the entrance hall, taking Dalziel's 
hands into his own and pulling him forward until their mouths met in an 
open kiss. The light on the answer machine was flashing and they had to 
listen to it before taking this upstairs.

"Peter, it's me.... Listen, I've been thinking and... I miss you, Love. 
I'll coming up to see my mother and I was hoping we could meet. It's 
not too late, Pete. We could make a go of it down here. I think I 
might even be able to put up with you being in the force if I knew you'd 
be coming home eventually... at the moment.... I miss you so much. I'm 
sorry... look, I'll call tomorrow and maybe we could meet for a drink 
somewhere."

The tape started to rewind itself as Peter continued to stare at the 
machine. He was aware that Andy's hands had fallen from him and his 
lover was heading for the kitchen. He muttered to himself under his 
breath. "Shit." He followed Dalziel through from the light of the hall 
into the darkness of the kitchen. "Andy...." He could see the big 
man's silhouette against the back window where he leaned against the 
sink. "Nothing's gonna change, Andy. Not now." Peter stepped around 
the table, placing himself in front of Dalziel.
"She wants you back."
"I don't know what she wants. But I don't want to go to London. I 
didn't then and I don't now."
"She said, Peter, she'd be happy if you stayed in the force."
"No, she wouldn't be!" He was angry with her for messing him around, 
for putting them through this tonight. "A month at most and then she'd 
realise that everything was the same as it had been when we were up 
here. I don't want to work for the Met. I don't want to leave 
Yorkshire and Andy, I don't want to leave you."
He reached for his lover, and was gathered up roughly, almost 
desperately, into strong arms. He returned the embrace with relief. 
"It's over between Ellie and I. I accepted that. It wasn't easy and it 
hurt like hell but you got me over it. I've started again, Andy. 
You're more of my life now than you ever were and I refuse to give that up."

The emotion in his outburst didn't surprise Dalziel; Peter had always 
been one for impassioned speeches once he got going. But the words 
brought tears to his eyes. He hugged his lover tighter. "Can we go to 
bed?"

They undressed in silence and moved into one another's arms with ease. 
For a long time they just stood together, holding one another skin to 
skin. And then Andy's head turned in the crook of Peter's neck and his 
lips started to play against his skin. Peter moaned softly, fingers 
spreading on Andy's skin, one hand moving up to cradle the back of his 
neck while the other halted at the base of his spine.

"Andy...." The breathy whisper brought Dalziel's mouth around to cover 
Pascoe's. He twisted his fingers in soft blond hair as his tongue 
played slowly and sensuously in the warm mouth of his lover.

The first time they'd done this they'd both been as nervous as hell yet 
desperate enough to take it as far as they'd dared. Until Peter, 
Dalziel had never imagined himself wanting a man in his bed. When he'd 
first laid eyes on Sergeant Pascoe across a courtroom, he was amused at 
the mess the man was making of being a witness. But that whole mess 
with Tankie Trotter had convinced him there was more to Peter than a 
smart-ass graduate in a cheap suit.

Yet it hadn't been until later, a few months after they'd started to 
work together, that other feelings had started to come to the fore.

Peter was guiding him to the bed, kneeling on the duvet, pulling Andy to 
sit with him. "Tell me something," he was saying, "tell me when you 
first got a hard-on because of me."
Andy smiled, and then chuckled. This was something truly incredible 
about he and Peter; they laughed in the bedroom. They joked together, 
in warmth peppered with desire. He'd only ever known it once before, 
while Peter had been away on his honeymoon. Had that really been the 
reason for his madness at Lake House? Peter wiped the thoughts from his 
mind with a deep kiss as he knelt up above Andy.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Lake House."
Peter's eyebrows wiggled. "I can't have you thinking about someone else 
while you're with me, Andy," he murmured, amused. "And you haven't 
answered my question."

Dalziel drew his hands down over Peter's muscular thighs, thumbs 
pressing in a gentle massage. "The first erection I ever had over 
you...." He had to think back. He knew, without having to consider, 
the moment Peter had wound his way into his heart. He knew also the 
moment he'd realised he loved his sergeant, when he'd heard Peter and 
Ellie had discovered three of their friends dead in their country house. 
Superintendent Backhouse had telephoned him to confirm Peter's story 
and he'd spoken to Peter, doing all the talking because he'd not wanted 
to hear the pain in his cheery sergeant's voice. He found that his 
first sexual thought of Peter hadn't been long coming after that. "When 
we were investigating those burglaries and that bloke who urinated in 
that old woman's kettle."
"The machinater."
"Aye. Remember we went over to the Bull and I bought you a pint, told 
you I was sorry about your friend Colin. Then Wieldy turned up looking 
all pleased wi' himself cause he'd found out our man had diabetes."
"I remember."
Andy gazed up into the dark blue eyes watching him with heat and need. 
"Wieldy came around and sat down next to you. Close to you. And 
suddenly I was as hard as a miner's pickaxe. You turned to look at him 
and your profile, just so suddenly innocent and vulnerable yet as 
tempting as a whore in a monastery." Peter might have blushed, but the 
lighting was low in here. "What about you? Didn't ever I would guess, 
until I put my hand down your trousers that first time." Andy was 
smiling, but Peter's expression remained heated.
"No, before that." Dalziel looked surprised and sceptical at once. 
"During the time of that business with Kassell and the sting you lot 
were setting up at Haycroft Grange and hadn't bothered telling me about. 
One night, after I'd spoken to you on the phone and you'd warned me 
off, I dreamt about you. I woke up with a raging erection and as I 
alleviated it, I thought about you, thought about having you watching 
me, making sure I was doing it right."

Andy would have laughed had it not been for the fact his cock had 
started to ache painfully at the image Peter's words brought to mind. 
Roughly he pulled his lover's mouth down to his own, the kiss savage and 
affection in one sensual, sexual mix. He wrapped his fist around 
Peter's erection, but a hand took a hold of his wrist and stopped him. 
Peter pulled back from the kiss and gazed at his lover, his expression set.
"Andy, I want more...."
Andy smiled, a little bemused. "More? Petal, you're living in my 
house, sleeping in my bed. You have my heart and soul. You're even a 
named driver on the car insurance! What more can I give you?"
But Peter looked at him unblinking. "Make love to me."
"No." Dalziel shook his head, his answer out before he could think yet 
he'd put an awful lot of thought into the decision a long time before 
the request had been made.
"Why not? You said you loved me...."
"And you know that's true."
"I want you." Peter's soft voice grew quiet as he lowered his mouth to 
his lover's ear. "I want you inside me. I want to feel like you're a 
part of me physically as you are in every other way. I've always been 
yours, Andy. I know you want to claim me, take the control you've 
wanted from me since the start. Take it." He emphasised the last two 
words, with his tone and with his teeth, biting down so very gently on 
Andy's earlobe.

Before that plea, his mind had been set in concrete. But Peter's words 
had melted him like butter. How could he ever refuse this man anything?
"Peter... I can't hurt you."
"I'm not asking you to hurt me." Leaning back, turning with graceful 
agility, Peter opened the drawer in the table beside the bed and took 
out a small bottle. Andy's eyes went wide.
"How long have you been planning this, Petal?"
Peter grinned, coming back into Andy's arms, the bottle hanging from his 
fingers. "Not long. I knew you wouldn't bring it up, so I had to."
Dalziel swallowed. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yes. Absolutely. Come on, Andy. Don't you miss it? Sinking into a 
warm, welcoming body, being a part of the person you're with."
He missed it, yes. He was only human after all. But he'd never 
imagined it would be a part of what he and Peter would share. Now here 
it was being offered to him freely. "Christ, Peter...." He took the 
bottle from his lover's fingers and holding it, he realised he wasn't 
overly sure what he was supposed to do.

His hesitation brought Peter's arms around his neck and lips down to 
Andy's once more. "I've never known you so pensive," he chuckled softly.
"I've never been here before, Sunbeam."
"You think I have? But how hard can it be?" Taking the bottle back, he 
unscrewed the lid and dribbled some of the viscous liquid to his palm. 
Reaching between them he took Andy's cock into his hand and started to 
rub, up and down, coating it until Dalziel imagined the friction alone 
would bring him to orgasm. He didn't want that now. He wanted to carry 
this through. With all the self-control he could muster, he stilled 
Peter's glorious hand. Leaning forward, he kissed his young lover at 
first tentatively, then more decidedly, tongue dancing across his lips 
and into his mouth. At the same time, he took the bottle from Peter's 
hand, poured some into one palm and handed it back. He coated his 
fingers and reached between them.

Stroking back from behind Peter's balls, Andy let his fingertips tease 
the tight, virginal opening to his lover's gorgeous body. Peter moaned 
roughly into his mouth yet Andy maintained the kiss, aware of Peter 
somehow putting the lid back on the bottle and dropping it to the bed. 
He teased for a while, then gathering a little more courage he pressed 
the tip of his index finger against his lover's anus. Peter's groan 
upped in pitch as he opened around the fingertip. Andy pushed further 
inside, and suddenly Peter was thinking he might just have asked for too 
much too soon. But he wasn't going to back out now. All he could feel 
was Andy's finger inside him, twisting minutely, touching something 
within him that made him want to scream. Instead he whimpered into his 
lover's mouth, begging in that sound for more. When it wasn't given, 
Peter took matters into his own hand.

Breaking the kiss, he pushed Andy back, straddling him, manoeuvring them 
both until the head of Andy's thick cock was where his finger had been. 
Peter took a deep breath and relaxed. He was dimly aware that they 
might be doing this too fast, but he was never one for thinking his 
actions through. Holding Andy's cock in place, he lowered himself onto 
it. Once the slick tip breached him his own weight took him down onto 
the shaft. His yell of pain mingled with the other man's cry of ecstasy.

Peter stilled, pulling in breath after breath, reassuring himself that 
all this was normal. "Jesus Christ, Andy...."
Dalziel reached out, one hand on his lover's folded leg, the other on 
his softening cock. Slowly, drawing out every stroke, he caressed 
Peter's erection back. Hard once again, Peter had relaxed enough and he 
rose up, rectal muscles squeezing along Andy's entire length, forcing a 
bewildered, strangled cry from him; more pleasure than he'd ever felt, 
more intensely than he'd ever felt it.

Peter shifted himself back and eased down again. The head of Andy's 
cock scraped over his prostate and his deep groan touched Dalziel. The 
expression of pain crumpling his lover's features had become a look of 
pleasure akin to what Andy imagined was on his own face. Peter had been 
right, more than right, they should have done this long ago. He found 
the other's hand clawed into the bedclothes and covered it with his own 
as he continued as rhythmic a stroking of Peter's cock as his exploding 
brain could manage.

He wouldn't last long. He didn't know how any man could with such an 
intensity of pressure on his aching erection. Peter lifted himself once 
more and dropped, with a little more ease, all the way down until his 
buttocks were flush with Andy's thighs. Dalziel came hard, suddenly, 
his orgasm spiralling out from his balls through to the tips of his 
fingers. A tremor drove through his entire body as he bathed Peter's 
insides with his semen.

Peter felt Andy's cock pulsing inside him, felt the sudden heat of the 
orgasm and the shaking of his lover's body. The grip of the hand 
wrapped around his cock tightened convulsively and without warning he 
was coming, semen fountaining through Andy's closed fist onto his 
stomach and chest. The resulting clenching of his muscles forced a 
second wave of pleasure through his lover and Andy cried out at this 
unexpected bonus.

Dalziel dropped back against the bed, every muscle in his body turned to 
jelly. Peter collapsed exhausted on top of him, moaning as a last 
fission of pain struck him when Andy's softening cock popped out of his 
body. He shivered once and then Andy's arms were around him, holding 
him as Andy loved to, like he was the most precious thing in the world.

For a long while neither spoke. What was there to say after that? 
Large hands stroked soothingly over Peter's back to his buttocks. He'd 
be sore, than was for sure. But he'd done his homework in this as he 
did in everything and a few minutes later he peeled himself from Andy's 
body and took himself off to the bathroom.

Andy shifted around until his head hit the pillows and dragged the duvet 
up over himself. Lying on his side he waited until Peter came back into 
the bedroom and switched off the light before crawling into bed. He 
wriggled back until he hit Andy's chest and settled there, the other's 
arm curled over him.

Dalziel dropped a kiss to the damp blond hair. "You all right, Sunbeam?"
"Yeah." There was no hint of anything but exhausted satisfaction in 
Peter's voice. Andy was relieved. What they'd just done had been more 
intense than anything he could remember sharing with another person 
before. It didn't seem to be the time to bring up the message on the 
answering machine, but he did it anyway.
"What are you going to do about Ellie?"
There was a smile in Peter's voice when he answered, as if he knew Andy 
was going to ask exactly that. "I'll guess I'll meet her, but nothing 
she'll say'll change my mind." Peter squeezed the hands holding him. 
Turning onto his back in Andy's arms he smiled as lips caressed his 
collarbone.
"It's your life, lad. You have to do whatever makes you happy."
"My point exactly. What we just did made me very happy." He grinned in 
the darkness, hoping his lover felt the same suffusing warmth as he did. 
He ran his fingers blindly through Andy's fine, ruffled hair. "Now 
stop worrying and go to sleep."
"Yes, Sir." Dalziel settled down, arm wrapped proprietarily over 
Peter's stomach.
Pascoe smiled into the darkness. "'Sir', now I could get used to that."

*

When Peter took an early lunch two days later to meet Ellie, nothing had 
broken on the case and they seemed no nearer to finding Pauline 
Greenham's killer as they had been to finding Reggie's a year ago.

After the embarrassment of their last meeting on neutral ground, in a 
restaurant of Ellie's choice, when she'd delivered her ultimatum and 
left, Peter had insisted on a quiet pub in a small village just outside 
Wetherton. There at least they could have a row in relative peace.

He had to admit Ellie looked good. It only served to reassure him that 
she didn't need him. Perhaps if she'd looked terrible his heartstrings 
might have been easier to tug at. As it was, his first question was 
about his daughter.
"I bought you some photos." She handed him a small collection taken 
over the last couple of weeks. They were just of Rosie, just for him 
and he was grateful.
"I'd like to see her." Ellie nodded. They'd agreed to let her settle 
in London for a month before Peter saw their little girl. After that he 
would have open access to her, weekends, holidays and whenever he wanted 
to visit.
"She misses you."
"I miss her."

This time at least they had drinks and sandwiches. He asked her about 
her new job and listened. She asked him about his job and got agitated 
when he said he was still happy doing it. But she relented enough to 
ask finally,
"So... could you get a transfer to the Met?"
He looked at her for a few seconds. "No, Ellie."
"You mean the Fat Controller wouldn't approve it."
"I mean, I don't want it. I belong here, this is my home."
"No it isn't." She shook her head. "You weren't born here, you haven't 
lived here all your life. Your home is in Lincolnshire and you belong 
with Rosie and I."
This claim on his life angered him, but he managed to keep his emotions 
in check. "I don't want to work in London."
"Why? Same job, same rank, better pay. What would be different?"

She was baiting him and he knew it. He decided he wasn't going to rise 
to it. "I don't know whether you've noticed, Ellie, but the city's not 
quite the same as Wetherton. London isn't Yorkshire and the Met isn't 
the nick. It takes a certain type of copper to work in London and 
that's not me."
"It could be."
"No, it couldn't."
"What's he said, Peter? That you couldn't hack it? That you're too 
sensitive?"
It didn't take a genius to figure out who 'he' was supposed to be. But 
his anger melted suddenly. Andy might have thought it, but he'd never 
said it. Peter knew it might well have been true but that wasn't the 
reason he didn't want to leave Wetherton and he felt safe in that knowledge.

She sat watching him, wondering when he'd ask why it always came down to 
Andrew Dalziel. Why was he always the bad guy? Why was he the one she 
blamed for the break up of their marriage? The questions never came. 
Instead he smiled at her, shaking his head. "He'd be right, wouldn't he?"
She stopped to change tactics. And while she started to think about 
Plan B, she really looked at him. "Have you lost weight?"
He shrugged. "A little."
"You look... better." He did. His hair shone, eyes sparkled and his 
contentment was starting to show through. Not wanting to think what 
that might mean, she smiled unguardedly and reached up to touch his 
hair. He allowed the contact, sitting still. Until she moved to kiss 
him. Then he turned his head away.
"No, Ellie."

His action genuinely surprised her. She was still his wife after all. 
All that gone between them had been emotions, heartbreak, pain and 
blame. But as two animalistic human beings she believed that the 
physical attraction would remain as it had throughout their history 
together. She was obviously wrong. "Peter?"
"Sorry, Ellie." He shook his head. "I accepted it when you left. I 
cried for me, for losing Rosie, and finally I accepted that too because 
I had to."
"We hurt one another, Peter." Her tone acknowledged her part of the 
guilt but in her eyes as in his he was equally as responsible.
"I know. Let's not go through it all over again."

When he got back into the office, Andy was gone. But Wieldy gave him a 
note that Dalziel had left for his inspector. "Like being back at 
school, passing notes like this," the sergeant murmured as he wiggled 
his eyebrows. Peter sighed dramatically, taking the note from Wield's 
fingers.

'Forget to tell you about the CC's bash tonight, 'White Hart Hotel' in 
town. See you there, Sunbeam, got business to take care of. A.'

He muttered something to himself and looked up. "Are you going to this 
thing tonight with the CC?"
Wield nodded. "Is that what it's about?"
"Aye. He forget to mention it before of course." He looked down at his 
suit. It'd do.
"I'll give you a lift if you want. Save you and the Super having two 
cars there. Yours'll be all right in the car park over night."

*

Andy got home just before six. The CC's annual drinks night had been 
something that had completely slipped his mind before this morning when 
the ACC had called him into her office to yell at him regarding a 
certain detective lying about evidence found.

He had time to shower, change and make himself look gorgeous for his 
daft inspector. He went into the lounge to pour himself a scotch and 
hesitated. Since he and Peter had started their mad affair he'd been 
drinking less, eating better and had even tried to give up smoking. 
Sometimes he thought he was growing soft; Peter's influence rubbing off 
on him as his had obviously affected his subordinate.

He moved from the lounge to the kitchen, filling the kettle and 
switching it on as the doorbell rang. Padding back down the hall he 
opened the front door.
"Ellie." Only a tiny part of him was surprised to see her. "Come in, 
Love."
"Thanks." She followed him in and closed the door behind her, glancing 
into the lounge as they passed. There was a small pile of books by the 
armchair, the top one laid open. She smiled to herself, recognising her 
husband's passed time. "I hope I'm not disturbing...?"
"No, just having a cuppa. It's the CC's annual bash tonight, thought 
I'd make myself look the part."

She pulled a chair from under the table and sat down, hands spread on 
the light pine top. "Is he in?" She was pretty certain she knew the 
answer but wanted to be sure.
"Nay, lass, he's working as he should be." Dalziel wished he'd hung 
around long enough at the station to catch Peter after he'd come back 
from his lunch with his wife. But the truth was he'd been nervous about 
what news his inspector would have for him and he couldn't face hearing 
that news at work. Best they have that conversation at home.

But here was Ellie. The question was had she come to gloat or had she 
come for his help. He couldn't believe how frightened he was about 
finding out.
"I met him for lunch," she told him uselessly. "Did he say?"
"Aye, he got your message last night when we got home."
She read the measured tone of his voice and interpreted it wrongly. "I 
know you think I abandoned him...."
"I don't think anything of the sort." He fetched two mugs from the 
cupboard.
"I thought if I gave a little...." She shrugged. "He seems to think he 
wouldn't make it in the Met."
Andy felt like cheering. But the triumph didn't last long. His gaze 
settled on Ellie and he sighed to himself. He loved them both in his 
own way. He'd been at their wedding, was Godfather to their daughter, 
had prayed for them when Rosie had been in a coma suffering from 
meningitis and grieved with them when their friends had been murdered. 
He was a close friend of the family. 'I didn't mean to steal your 
husband.' He looked away, suddenly as guilty as he'd ever felt.

"...so I have a favour to ask," Ellie was continuing.
Andy poured the hot water. "Ask away, lass."
"Speak to him for me? Make him see sense? I know you could push 
through a transfer."
Andy put one mug in front of her and sat down opposite. "Ellie... how 
long do you think he'd survive in the Met?" He kept his voice quiet, 
his tone coaxing.
She sat back. "So I was right, you do think he's too soft."
It brought a smile to Dalziel's face and he wondered how Peter had 
reacted to that accusation. "He's not cut out for the Met, lass, and 
you know it. If he doesn't want to go all the transfers in the world 
won't move him."

She shook her head, sipping at her tea. "What is it with you and him, 
Andy? From the start you've had this odd obsession with him."
Wrapping his hands around his own mug he regarded her. "The first time 
I really met him we were being held at gun point by a madman who was 
playing me for an army private and him for an officer. Peter didn't 
know what the hell he'd got himself into. He was scared to death, Love, 
but he held himself together, carried himself brilliantly and ended up 
taking a bullet for it. I sat by his hospital bed, held his hand, and 
promised him I'd give him a chance." He took a drink. "It's not 
obsession, it's pride. I pushed him his whole career, but I won't push 
him out of Wetherton, Ellie. I owe him more than that."

She nodded, perhaps finally understanding a little of what bound her 
husband and this man together. "Just... just talk to him for me, Andy, 
please?"

*

Dalziel stepped into the hotel lounge and looked around. Peter and 
Wieldy were at the bar, sharing a joke, ordering pints on the Wetherton 
constabulary. Andy made his way through the small crowd and dropped his 
hand to Peter's shoulder. "Make mine a double, Sunbeam."
Peter turned a smile on him that was worth its weight in gold. "What 
kept you?"
"Some of us have been working," he lied easily, taking his inspector's 
untouched pint from his fingers and grinning before supping the ale. 
"By God, I needed that."

He might have promised Ellie that he would talk to Peter regarding a 
possible transfer, but there was a time and a place and now, here was 
neither. Finally leaving his subordinates to their joke-swapping he 
approached the Chief Constable, feeling that three pints inside him and 
a fresh one in his hand was defence enough against any cocky remarks the 
puffed-up idiot might make. At the same time Peter and Wieldy finally 
dragged themselves from the bar, Pascoe heading off to talk to Novello 
who was standing looking lost in one corner of the room. Edgar circled 
around the CC and Dalziel, but was stopped in his tracks by the 
inimitable red-headed Constable Seymour.

Dalziel clinked his pint glass to the CC's whiskey tumbler. "An 
excellent party, as usual, Sir," Andy told his superior with gentle 
sarcasm.
"Thank you, Andy." The large voice was already slurred. "You've been 
doing well, you know." He winked. "Some good results this year, 
Superintendent. We like results."
"Yes, Sir." He hid his sigh in his ale.
"You've got a good team, Andy," the CC was continuing, and Dalziel 
thought he caught another wink. He glanced at the door and saw his ACC 
join the party. He wondered briefly if Rebecca had any idea how 
fetching she looked in a simple white shirt and black trousers. His 
libido started to pay attention to just how good until he watched her 
pass Peter and greet him, hand grasping his arm for a moment as she 
laughed at something he'd said. Peter was definitely on form tonight, 
Andy felt with a mixture of pride and suspicion. He'd expected his 
sensitive inspector to be depressed by his wife's visit, had even 
imagined that Pascoe might not turn up here tonight at all. But he was 
happy, smiling and joking. He frowned to himself, wondering. And then 
Peter glanced over at him, and smiled that smile that made his whole 
body sit up and pay attention.

Andy groaned quietly and returned to his pint and to the CC. But to his 
surprise and slight horror, Chief Constable was also looking over at Pascoe.
"I'll tell you, Andy," he murmured softly, "if you're not giving that 
lad a decent fuck, I'd certainly like to."
Dalziel could barely believe what he'd heard. He lowered his pint, 
staring at his superior who was still grinning lecherously at Peter. 
Wieldy, who'd been the only other person in the bar to hear the comment, 
stood agog at hearing such a vulgar statement from a man he'd always 
admired.

Had Peter been only what their colleagues believed him to be, Dalziel's 
'golden boy', then Andy might have let it go for the sake of his career. 
But that wasn't the case.

Andy and Wieldy might have been the only witnesses to cause, but almost 
everyone in the bar saw effect. In one graceful movement, Dalziel had 
thrown his pint over the Chief Constable, soaking his face and hair in 
real ale. Luckily he didn't compound the incident by following up with 
an insult. He put his now empty glass down onto the nearest table and 
walked out of the lounge.

There were several reactions. A few people furthest away from the 
epicentre of the storm chuckled in amazement. A couple of Dalziel's own 
team turned to one another and simply raised their eyebrows, worried 
that anything more might constitute insubordination in someone's book. 
The ACC acted quickly to fetch a towel from the bar to dry off her boss. 
Wieldy bided his time and when he eventually got the CC alone, some 
minutes later, he simply told him, "You might owe Mr Dalziel an apology, 
Sir." He disappeared into the crowd before the CC could put a name to 
his face. But the man knew now that someone else had heard the utterly 
unprofessional comment he'd made under the influence of drink.

Peter, who hadn't quite been able to believe his own eyes as he'd 
watched his boss throw an almost full pint over the Chief Constable, 
handed his drink to Novello and went out after Dalziel.
"What the hell was that in aid of, Andy?" he challenged, finding the big 
man just before he left the hotel's deserted reception area.
Dalziel turned, ready to swing for the next man who tried to be witty. 
Seeing Peter, his anger evaporated. He let himself drop back to lean 
against the wall. Hands dug deep into his pockets he eyed his inspector 
with undisguised affection. "He... said something he shouldn't have."

Pascoe's eyes went wide. "You just threw your career away because of 
something he said?!"
Dalziel sighed dramatically. "I hardly think throwing a drink over the 
CC is grounds for dismissal, Sunbeam. Suspension without pay for a year 
or so...."
But Peter wasn't going to let this go. "Andy, for God's sake.... What 
the hell did he say?"
He hesitated. But the only reason he could think of not to repeat it 
was his own, daft reoccurring need to protect his student. And that 
had never stopped him before.
"He looked over at you and said, and I quote, 'if you're not giving that 
lad a decent fuck, I'd certainly like to'."

He'd leant over time that while he might do things without thinking, 
Pascoe had the rare ability to act without his brain ever getting 
involved. Peter turned on his heel the moment Andy finished and headed 
back toward the lounge without a thought regarding what he was going to 
do once he got there. But Dalziel was ready. He reached out and caught 
his inspector's arm.
"Leave it, Petal. I've already defended your honour."
Peter's changing expression suggested he might have done more than throw 
his drink over the CC. "He can't say things like that!"
"One senior officer to another.... He's of the Old School, Peter, you 
know that. Things like that are permitted between gentlemen." This 
strange reassurance didn't help matters. "Let's get out of here."

Still not happy, Peter followed Dalziel anyway. Because there really 
wasn't any point in doing anything else. If anything was read into 
their joint disappearance it would be at worst that Dalziel's 
high-flying graduate was showing loyalty toward his boss, at best that 
Pascoe had been ordered to take the Superintendent home. None would 
have guessed that as they neared Andy's new Rover, Peter wrapped his arm 
around his boss' waist and slipped a hand into his trouser pocket. 
Dalziel's eyes widened and he squeaked as skilful fingers rubbed over 
his waking cock through the material of his trousers before hooking his 
car keys.


They drove for a mile or so in silence, Andy considering what a mess he 
might have made to his career. Away from the hotel his imagination was 
starting to work on what might be happening at the scene of the crime. 
The CC certainly wouldn't have repeated his comment to anyone else in 
that room, he was positive about that. He would have either denied all 
knowledge of what had set the explosive Superintendent off or made 
something up. He'd have to get in early in the morning and see Rebecca, 
clear up his own story. He wondered vaguely if anyone else had heard 
the slur on his and Peter's character.

Andy finally decided to think about something else. "Ellie came by this 
evening," he told his colleague. Later, he'd admit to having given that 
statement even less consideration that he'd given his action at the 
hotel before carrying it out.
Peter glanced across at him, not sure he could take much more of today. 
"What did she want?"
"She wanted me to sort you out a transfer to the Met and failing that 
she asked me to talk to you, see if I could talk you into moving."
"I don't believe it."

The tone of Peter's voice should have been a warning. If he hadn't had 
the three pints, Dalziel might have caught onto it. But he simply said, 
"She still loves you, Petal."
Surprising himself with his control, Peter checked the rear-view mirror, 
indicated, pulled the car carefully over to the kerb and killed the engine.
"How many times are we going to go through this, Andy?"
He heard the measured tone then. "Peter... this is your family. 
Perhaps... perhaps you should give the Met a chance, a secondment...." 
But he was already talking to himself. Peter had taken off his 
seatbelt, opened the car door and gotten out. He didn't even slam it 
behind him, just closed it with a quiet click and walked away from the 
car. Andy dropped his head back to the headrest and blinked the tears 
from his eyes.

He sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the rain start to drizzle 
on to the windscreen. Finally, he reached over the steering wheel and 
cupped the car keys in his palm where they hung from the ignition. 
Swearing softly to himself, acknowledging what a daft prat he could 
sometimes be, he shifted his bulk over to the driver's seat. The Rugby 
club was just around the corner and he decided he'd go there before 
going home. He didn't dare think about whether or not he'd find himself 
living alone again.

Jacko was sitting at the bar when Andy slouched in. It was fairly empty 
otherwise. "What the 'ell's eatin' you?" It was his usual welcome.
Dalziel frowned and caught Sid's eye behind the bar. "Whiskey. 
Double." He shuffled up onto the barstool next to Jacko.
"Where's the Missus?"
Dalziel fixed him with a hard stare, but it soon softened. "We had a row."
Jacko chuckled. "Oh dear."
"That's not the worst of it. I threw a pint over the Chief Constable at 
his annual drinkies night."
The other man's eyes widened, and Sid's expression was also a picture of 
surprise as he put the drink down in front of his new customer. When 
Dalziel tried to pay for the whiskey, Sid held up his hand, "Nay, on the 
house, Andy. You sound like you need it." He wondered off, obviously 
amused.
"Quite a night you've had," Jacko agreed, grinning from one ear to the 
other as he sipped his beer.
"Umm." Dalziel threw back half his whiskey.
"Were you serious about...?" he titled his toward the door.

Andy sighed to himself. He'd never actually told Jacko about he and 
Peter, never actually told anyone, but for some reason the man just 
seemed to have jumped to the right conclusion. He thought about it, but 
as long as he didn't confirm nor deny Jacko's suspicions they seemed all 
right just assuming one knew where the other was coming from. "His 
wife's back in town," he told his friend sketchily.
"Ah."
"She wants him down in London with her. She came to see me this 
evening, asked me if I could help talk him into it."
"Bugger, Andy, you have had a bad night."
"Aye. On the way back from the chucking ale over the head of Wetherton 
Constabulary I went for the try and told him I thought she might be 
right, he should transfer to the Met."
Jacko chuckled again, obviously glad of this free entertainment on an 
otherwise quiet night. "Why didn't you just tell him to piss off out 
yer house? Less painful for both of you."
"Yeah, yeah." Dalziel threw down the rest of his whiskey and as he put 
the empty glass down he caught Sid's attention. "Same again, Squire. 
And call me a taxi would ya?"

The house was quieter than it had ever seemed. Andy paid the taxi 
driver a decent tip, surprising them both, and let himself in. 
Switching on the hall light didn't do much to diffuse the dark. He took 
a deep breath. Peter belonged here now. When Andy's wife had left him, 
the place had felt empty for years. But he'd remained in the house 
anyway. He had a terrible sinking feeling that if Peter were to leave 
he wouldn't be able to stay any longer.

Pulling himself together he hung up his coat, padded through to the 
lounge, poured himself a large scotch and went to settle down at the 
kitchen table. One of Peter's many books lay open, text down on the 
pine, and he picked it up, reading the top paragraph of the page.

'As they waited at the coat check, Philip watched Rob close his eyes 
once, twice, open them, turn, and say, "If it's not too late for you, 
would you like to come back with me to my room for some tea or apple 
juice or something?"
Why had Philip made him go through that?'

Frowning, he turned the book over in his hands, reading the cover. 'The 
Lost Language of Cranes' by David Leavitt. Peter had what could only be 
described as an eclectic taste in reading material. There were a couple 
of Mulan Kundara books scattered around the lounge, one 'Tales of the 
City', a few odd historical novels.... Andy shook his head, bemused by 
his own emotions and he wondered if he'd ever loved his wife with this 
terrifying intensity.

The rain started to come down hard against the kitchen window. He hoped 
Peter wasn't out in it, but he knew in his heart that he would be. His 
inspector liked to walk, apparently did a lot of it. It was time to 
think, Peter had told him once, time to be alone, away from everything 
so that all you're left with is yourself and you have to take notice. 
It wasn't good to lose touch with yourself, the amateur psychologist had 
spouted one evening over dinner, burying your mind in work was just a 
way of hiding from what was really the problem, a way of running without 
ever getting anywhere. Dalziel remembered making some bad quip about 
Peter obviously not practising what he preached. His colleague had 
treated that comment with the contempt it had deserved.
"Where are ya, Sunbeam?"

*

Peter took the tumbler of whiskey out into the beer garden. It was 
spitting with rain and he found himself alone outside. He chose a 
picnic table with an umbrella shading it from the elements. It was 
chilly, but hardly freezing. He didn't want to be inside a smoky, noisy 
pub. He wanted to think, to make sure that in his own mind he had his 
priorities straight.

Once upon a time, twice upon a time in fact, he'd loved Ellie 
desperately. His daughter was and would always remain the single most 
important person in his whole life. But did he still belong with them? 
They couldn't make it work up here, not even for Rosie's sake, so what 
made Ellie think they could make it work in London? Especially now that 
his soul at least belonged to someone else. Had it always? Was that 
what Ellie had meant when she'd told Andy that he was the problem with 
their marriage?

When he thought about seeing Rosie only at weekends and during the 
school holidays he felt a stabbing in his heart. But had he spent that 
much more time with her when he'd lived with them? Suddenly he felt his 
balance sliding from under him. He swiped at the tears he imagined were 
clouding his eyes. But it was just drops of rain blowing in under the 
umbrella.

He turned his thoughts to himself, to the career he'd worked so hard 
for. Transfer to the Met was a frightening thought. And that even for 
a moment Andy imagined he'd be able to go... that hurt. It stung him 
when he wouldn't have thought it could. He was fooling himself.

For a long time he hadn't been aware of his changing feelings toward his 
boss. At the start he'd liked him, respected him as a good copper, a 
fine detective mind trapped inside an overweight, medically threatening 
body. But then he'd married Ellie. And Andy had started to treat him 
as a friend over and above their professional master/servant 
relationship. He'd been promoted and Rosie had been born. Ellie had 
asked Andy to be Godfather. They'd made him a part of the family that 
day and they'd easily grown closer and closer.

Then everything had changed.

Andy had been shot in the immediate aftermath of the hostage situation 
at The British Grenadier Inn. Peter had gone straight to the hospital 
and finally been allowed to see him a couple of hours after he'd come 
out of the operating theatre. Dalziel had been unconscious, asleep 
under the anaesthetic. And for an hour or more Peter had sat silently, 
holding his boss' hand as Andy had held his on the two occasions he'd 
ended up hospitalised in the line of duty. Eventually he'd dropped a 
kiss to Andy's forehead, whispered a prayer and left. The next time 
he'd seen him was when Andy'd dropped into the passenger seat of his car 
and asked why three months had passed without so much as a phone call. 
Ellie'd called. Sent a card. She hadn't said a word, just that Peter 
was snowed under playing at Chief Inspector.

He remembered the night in the Black Bull, after the lunchtime when he'd 
suggested he could kip on Andy's legendary comfy sofa.

**flashback**

'So where are you staying, Petal?'
'B&B in town.'
'That must be costin' ya.' Peter shrugged. What choice he had got? 
'Come on, Sunbeam, let's go grab yer stuff and move you in to my spare 
room.'
He was so grateful that the only way he could express himself was to 
spring for a bottle of single malt at the off licence on their way home.

**end flashback**

Home.

He threw back the amber liquid and left the empty glass on the table.

*

Andy's head snapped up at the sound of a key rattling in the front door 
lock. He lowered the book with his glass as the door opened then closed 
and heavy footsteps made their way across the wooden floor of the hall. 
Peter appeared in the doorway, a little bedraggled, but none the worse 
for wear. Before Andy could get his apology in, the other man asked, 
"Do you love me?"
Dalziel nodded without hesitation. "Aye, Sunbeam, very much."
"In that case, promise me, Andy, you won't make me take a transfer."

The Superintendent felt his heart being pulled at; turned inside out. 
He put glass and book down and got to his feet. When he was sure Peter 
wouldn't run, he went to his lover and gathered him into a fierce hug. 
It was returned with similar force, Peter burying his face into Andy's 
neck, just holding on.
"I don't want to go to London. I don't want to leave Wetherton. And I 
don't. Want. To leave. You. Have you got that?"
Andy almost laughed with relief. "Clear as a summer stream, lad."
"Good." Peter pulled back and initiated a long, deep kiss. "Don't 
forget it."

They might have taken it further then, found out how wonderful making up 
could be. If the doorbell hadn't disturbed them. Andy sighed. "Christ 
Almightly."
Peter went out into the hall. "No chance of any sleep anytime soon...." 
He opened the door and scowled meaningfully at the sergeant standing 
there.
"Wieldy, this is becoming a habit," Dalziel told him from the kitchen 
doorway.
"Sorry, Sir." At Peter's invitation he stepped in from the beating rain.
"If this is about tonight...."
But the sergeant was shaking his head, smiling now. "Not at all, Sir. 
I wouldn't worry about that if I was you. I think the worst you should 
expect in the morning is an embarrassed apology from the CC." His 
expression gave away nothing, but Andy's face broke into a relieved smile.
"You heard what he said."
"Certainly Sir, and I made sure he knew he was overheard."

Striding forward, Dalziel patted Sergeant Wield heartily on the 
shoulder. "Well done, Wieldy. You might just have saved my neck. And 
in return I won't tear a strip from you for interrupting yet another 
blissful night."
It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to read the gradually fading tension 
between the two lovers. Whatever had been said, everything looked 
sorted now. Wieldy privately wondered what a full-blown row between 
these two would sound like. He found he never wanted to know.
"So is there a reason for this nocturnal visit or do you just fancy one 
of us?" Dalziel was certainly back to himself.
"Another body, Sir," they were told smoothly and regretfully. "Dumped 
by the side of the A1 at Marten."

*

The rain, now falling steadily, could be seen in the powerful police 
spotlights that picked out the cordons in the dark of the night. The 
body had already been covered by the time Wieldy drove Pascoe and 
Dalziel out to the site. Andy's first stop was beside the pathologist 
just removing his gloves. He didn't need to ask.
"White male, early thirties. I would say he'd been hit by a car but I'd 
like to do a full autopsy before staking my reputation on it."
Dalziel nodded. "Right. Any ID?"
"None, I'm afraid."
"Peter might be able to ID him for you." It was Wieldy's voice as he 
stepped around them and approached the area where the body lay. To the 
left of them, crouched down with his back to the scene, Pascoe was 
throwing up what little he'd eaten this evening.

Dalziel was joined by a pale Inspector Pascoe some minutes later. He'd 
taken a good look at the deceased and understood why the pathologist had 
speculated upon a hit and run. "You all right, Sunbeam?"
"Sorry."
"Don't be. Proves you're still human." He patted his inspector on the 
arm. "You recognised him?"
"Aye. Mark Casey. He shared a house with Reggie and me." He shook his 
head. "What's happenin', Andy?"
"I don't know. But you're gonna have to watch yerself." He let out a 
long sigh, turning to Wield. "Right, I want witnesses, interviews, the 
usual stuff. Do what you can tonight, carry on in the morning. 
Meanwhile, Peter's goin'a tell me all about his university days, which 
he's been dying to do for years."

*

Andy put the mug of hot chocolate into Peter's waiting hands. He was 
curled into the corner of the sofa, the arms of his cream jumper pulled 
down over his wrists. "Thanks."
Dalziel carefully stroked his fingers over Peter's before he settled 
into the other corner, sipping his own drink. "Can I tell you 
something?" The other man smiled and nodded, blue eyes shining in the 
soft lamplight. "When we were in Frank's pub - before you fucked up and 
got yourself taken hostage - hearing your voice outside... it was like a 
lifeline. I thought with you outside...."
"I messed that up, didn't I?"
"Peter... none of it was your fault. What I meant was... having you 
around, knowing you're close by, it makes all the difference in the 
world." Andy glanced up. "Bet you never thought you'd hear all that 
sloppy nonsense from me, did ya?"
Peter chuckled. "I like it," he murmured very quietly. "Andy... when 
you were shot...."
"I heard your cry, Petal. I don't think I'll ever forget it."
Pascoe hesitated, but he said, "I blew your cover that afternoon, didn't 
I? That comment about your phrase, 'shut your mouth, give your backside 
a chance'. I could have got you killed."
Dalziel reached out, wrapped his hands around Peter's wrist. "Don't, 
Sunbeam, it's been over a long time. Worse I got from your slip was a 
punch in the stomach. I got a lot worse from Reynolds' cockup. That 
whole thing was a mess. Including, no, especially, you getting yourself 
used as a human shield and joining us in hell. Couldn't believe it when 
I saw ya lying on the floor of the bar, his gun in yer face."

Peter couldn't think of any way to follow that and decided to lighten 
the mood. "Are you finally gonna let me tell you about my university 
times then?"
Dalziel smiled expressively. "Captive audience."
"Something else I never thought I'd hear from you." Peter drank his hot 
chocolate. "But I don't know what you want to hear. Nothing... 
suspicious happened, nothing out of the ordinary. We were students."
Andy frowned. "What does that mean?"
"No responsibility, no worries passed getting your exams, doin' yer 
homework."
"Someone's knocking your lot off, Sunbeam. There must be a reason for 
that."
He sighed. Glancing at the clock above the fireplace he followed it up 
with a groan. Gone two am. "You think a hit and run's too much of a 
coincidence."
"Peter, they're your friends. Did you know Pauline Greenham and Mark 
Casey were up in this neck of the woods?"
"I haven't kept in touch. Ellie and I... we stayed in contact 
obviously, and Timo, Rose, Colin and Carlo...." He faded off, 
remembering the four close friends who'd been murdered, whose blooded 
corpses he and Ellie had discovered that terrible morning.
Andy reached across, touched his lover's hand. "We can do this 
tomorrow, Sunbeam."

Shaking his head, Peter put his mug down onto the carpet and shifted 
around into the crook of Andy's arm, stretching his legs out over the 
sofa. Andy too ridded himself of his mug and moved to make room, also 
bringing his legs up. Holding Peter snugly, he rested his cheek on top 
of his head.
"I've lost too many friends," Pascoe murmured. "Lost so much...."
"Come on, lad," Andy's tone remained gentle. "Life goes on. We all 
lose people. That's the way of it. There'll always be survivors left 
alone to grieve. You have to remember the good times, the laughter and 
the smiles."
Peter snucked down into the embrace, pillowing his head against Andy's 
shoulder. He felt big fingers combed through his hair and smiled 
contentedly. He let his eyes close. "There was a reunion, about a year 
ago. Ellie and I went. Pauline told us she thought Reggie was abroad 
somewhere."
"Was Mark there too?"
"Aye. He were happy enough, just got a new job in the city."
"Then what was he doin' up here?"
"No idea...."

Andy slipped into quiet thought for a while, trying to put three and 
three together. "Is there anyone else we should be warning?" he asked 
finally. There was no answer. Looking down he realised Peter had 
fallen asleep. His breathing had evened out and his head was heavy 
against Andy. Dalziel sighed ruefully. They'd both regret this in the 
morning.

Dropping his head back into the corner of the sofa Andy found his 
lover's hand where it rested on his stomach. He covered it with his own 
and closed his eyes. Before he followed Peter into sleep, he swore 
silently that whatever was happening, he would do his damdest to keep 
his inspector safe.

* * * end part one * * *


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