Title: Debt To Be Paid pt 2
Author/pseudonym: K9
Email address: K9@internetdump.com 
Rating: R
Pairings: Bob/Paul
Fandom: Thief Takers
Status: incomplete
Date: 1st October'99
Archive: Yes
Archive author: Yes
Archive email address: Yes
Series/Sequel: erm.. I suppose it is now.
Category: Romance
Author's website: http://internetdump.com/users/k9

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me and they never will.

Summary: Bob is trying to come to terms with his feelings for Paul.

Notes: As with Pt 1 this is for Listmom Helen, since we're probably the only two people who have any idea what I'm talking about<g>  And yes, eventually...in pt 3... we might get to some sex!

Warnings: Shakespeare it ain't!

A Debt To Be Paid pt 2

By K9

It had only been a couple of days, but Paul was already beginning to feel a little better. He'd been strong enough to stay up and shout at the late night football and the colour had returned to his previously ashen cheeks.

From the corner of his eye, he surreptitiously watched Bob as he fussed around him, giving him his medication on time and making sure he ate properly.  Of course, all of this care could simply have been a misguided sense of guilt manifesting itself as a need to protect, but Paul hoped that it wasn't.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, tucked in behind the common sense and natural self-preservation, lurked the thought that Bob might 'see the light' and find something in Paul...another man...that he'd never found in his now ex-wives and endless stream of girlfriends.

Yes and Paul Valera believed in the tooth fairy too.

"You all right?" Bob asked suddenly.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"You looked like you were a million miles away," the older man smiled gently, "Don't forget that we have to go through your physio, for your shoulder."

"I know, I know," Paul grumbled, "I'm convinced that you've just made all that up, so you can legally inflict pain on me," he said with a wince.

Sure, he was 'devastated' when Bob told him that the hospital physiotherapist had given him a set of exercises for Paul to do that included lying flat on a mat with Bob leaning over him. Resistance exercises Bob had said.

Heaven was Paul's name for it.

"Don't be such a big girl," Bob grinned and motioned to the bedroom, "Come on, let's get it over with."

Paul watched as Bob rolled out the mat. He felt a chill of anticipation as he gingerly lowered himself onto it.

Paul's injury had looked deceptively simple at first, just a shot to the shoulder. But by the time he'd reached hospital, he was wracked with convulsions and he'd officially 'died' for over a minute.  The angle of the bullets' penetration had done far more damage than they thought and he'd bled severely from the internal injuries.

All he actually remembered was waking up in the hospital, feeling like he'd been run over by a lorry and seeing Bob Tate sitting by the bed.  He'd felt his stomach flip and had the insane urge to laugh out loud.  Symptoms which could conceivably be put down to the high levels of oxygen circulating in his system, the painkilling drugs or the shock of being shot.

But, Paul Valera decided that he just meant he was in love with Bob Tate.

Lying flat on his back, his knees bent and Bob looming over him, Paul readied himself for ten minutes of ecstatically wonderful and 'painful' exercise.
Just as they began and Bob pressed gently against Paul, there was a knock at the door.

"Shit!" Bob growled, bouncing up on his feet and storming from the room.

"Shit indeed!" Paul pouted angrily. At that moment he glanced down at himself and the bulge beginning to form in his trousers, "Oh cut that out!" he hissed, adjusting himself.

Swinging open the door, Bob was shocked to see Anna Dryden standing in the doorway.

"Hello Bob, sorry to disturb you, but I need the info on the Reilly case, the Guv said you had it. I know he said that I should wait until you get back, but I really need it now, you don't mind, do you?"

"Er...no," Bob mumbled, "Hang on, I'll get it." Hurrying into the sitting room, he scooped up the file and made his way back to the door. Anna had stepped inside and was walking slowly down the hallway.

"Hope I'm not disturbing you?" she smiled sweetly.

"No," Bob replied. His was manner unusually sharp. At least it was sharp for a man who was a terminal flirt with any woman legal but still young enough to come across.

Suddenly there was a groan from the bedroom, "Bob? How long have I got to lie here like this? I'm cramping!" Paul wailed.

Anna's expression instantly registered the shock. Bob's face had begun to flush and he couldn't meet her eyes, "I er...I have a friend staying for a few days, he's just got out of hospital," he mumbled unconvincingly.

"Oh, right," she smiled, "Sorry to disturb you. I'll let you get back to him."  With a last 'knowing' smile, she turned on her heels and walked out of the door.

"If there's anything else you need to know about the Reilly case, give me a ring?" Bob suggested, trying to turn the conversation back to 'business'.

"Yeah, I will," she said with an barely concealed smirk, "See you, Bob."

Closing the door, Bob leaned heavily against it.  "Oh *fuck*," he hissed to himself.

He was trying not to feel angry with Paul, since it wasn't his fault. Wasn't *his* fault that some pig-shit thick, homophobic copper felt like he wanted to drop into a big hole in the ground right now.  After all, this was entirely innocent. Just a mate helping out another mate, just a simple platonic friendship.  So, what if one man was gay and the other straight? Didn't mean that they couldn't be friends? Where was the rule that said you had to have the same sexual orientation as your friends?

But it wasn't that simple and Bob knew that.  In his heart he knew that it wasn't like one of his mates at the station had suddenly come out and they had years of friendship behind them.  Wasn't like he hadn't *used* Paul's homosexuality against him in the beginning, the knowledge of its existence had always been a big part of their relationship.  And then there was the strange 'attraction' he felt for the bloke. That's
what scared him the most.  He'd been hoping that these unexpected emotions would go away once he'd exorcised the feelings of guilt he had about what happened to Paul, but so far they hadn't, they'd just become more intense and confusing.

He was *not* gay.

There, he'd said it.

"Bob!" Paul's voice drifted out of the bedroom and shook him back to reality.

"Yeah, I'm coming," he replied.

Mentally shaking himself, he tried to push away the thoughts that had plagued him for weeks and get on with the task of just being a friend.

"What's up, Bob?" Paul asked as they sat eating dinner together.

"Nothing." Came the terse reply.

"Who was at the door earlier?"

Bob looked up and swallowed, "One of my colleagues from the squad," he explained, "Just came to pick up some paperwork."

"Oh shit! I'm sorry, did they hear me?" Paul bit on his lower lip nervously.

"Yeah. But it doesn't matter, does it?"

"What if they get the wrong idea? About me being here, in your bedroom?"

"Sod 'em."


"Look Paul, you're my guest. I brought you here of my own free will, I wasn't held at gunpoint or coerced in any way. You're here because you're my friend and I want you to stay with me until you're feeling well. If my colleagues at the station don't like it, they can go screw themselves.  Satisfied?"

"Yeah. Thanks," Paul looked away as a lump developed in his throat and his eyes began to sting.

"I did this because I...I like you, and it's not because I have some misplaced feelings of guilt over what happened, okay?"

"Who you trying to convince, Bob? Me or you?" Paul said quietly, stealing a glance at the other man's expression.

"So, that's what you think? That I'm doing this because I feel responsible for you getting hurt?"

"Look me in the eye and tell me that I'm wrong."

"You're wrong," Bob muttered. At the sound of a derisive snort, he looked up into the younger mans eyes, "This is *not* a guilt trip."

"Yeah, okay," Paul shrugged, "Then why, Bob? I mean, it's not that I'm not grateful, because I am, but I won't pretend that I understand *why* you're doing this? I've had lovers who wouldn't have done this much for me."

"Well then that says more about your love life than it does about me, doesn't it?" Bob replied defensively, "I'm *not* gay, if that's what you think."

Paul looked at him and smiled slightly, "I never said you were. Though, I'm probably the only person you know at the moment who believes that, after that little incident earlier."

This time it was Bob who shrugged and returned his attention to the meal.

"Would it bother you a lot if they think you are?"

"Not really. They think I'm every other kind of twisted bastard, why should 'gay' matter?"

His face darkening, Paul laid down his fork, "Is that what you think I am, Bob? 'twisted'?" he said angrily.

"No! I didn't say that," the older man sighed heavily, "At least I didn't *mean* that."

"You seem to have a really hard time with how you feel about me, don't you?"  Paul said with a slightly cruel smile, "It confuses the hell out of you, that you can think about a queer as a human being."

"Hey, you're the one stereotyping around here. I never mentioned having a problem with your sexuality. You're the one who keeps throwing it in my face."

"Because you're trying to pretend it doesn't matter!"

"It *doesn't*" Bob insisted.

"Yes it does! I'm attracted to you and you know that. You used that to entrap me in the first place. All of that is water under the bridge now, but the fact remains that I still have sexual feelings for you and it kills you to think that you can like me *despite* knowing that."

Bob grabbed his almost empty plate and leaped to his feet, "You talk some fucking bullshit sometimes," he snapped.

"Then tell me that the thought of me wanking off with the image of you in my mind doesn't bother you?" Paul goaded.

"Oh for Christ's sake!" the older man hissed.

"Oh come on, Bob. Don't tell me that it's never entered your mind?"

"I don't give a shit what you fantasise about when you're entertaining your right hand, it's none of my business."

"So it's okay if I yell out your name tonight when I come?" Suddenly Paul was in Bob's face, daring the older man, verbally pushing at him.

"What do you want from me?" Bob yelled, "A declaration of undying devotion?"

"No, just honesty for a change. Instead of all these fucking *lies*."

"I haven't lied to you!"

Paul choked out a sneering laugh, "You've never done anything *but* lie to me, yet you expect me to be grateful?"

"I don't *expect* you to be *anything*," Bob growled, pushing past Paul, trying to escape the stinging words that he knew were only too true.

Suddenly, Paul became strangely quiet. Bob turned around, the hairs on the back of his neck had begun to prickle and he'd developed a *bad* feeling. As his gaze fell on the younger man, he saw Paul fold like a playing card stack, hitting the floor with a thud.

"Paul!" he yelled, closing the space between them and grabbing the slumped figure in his arms.

Convulsions hit soon after, Paul jerked and gasped for air. Bob frantically punched 999 and demanded an ambulance.  Cradling the distressed man, he tried to soothe away the rigidity in Paul's limbs and prevent him from hurting himself. Visions of Paul dying in his arms flitted through his mind as he swore at the emergency services and their lack of speed, despite the fact that only seconds had passed.

Sitting in the ambulance, holding onto Paul's hand tightly, while the crew monitored the oxygen and heart machines, Bob made a decision. If Paul came through this, he'd try to work it out with the younger man once and for all, even if it meant admitting that he, a totally heterosexual man, had...'feelings' for another man.  Now, all he needed was the chance to say all of this to the only person it mattered to.

Thankfully, after forty-eight hours in the hospital, Paul was released back into Bob Tate's care.  His relapse had been explained as an imbalance in the medications prescribed by the hospital, and since they had warned that the first few days of treatment were a 'try it and see' period, the argument had been written off
as a coincidence. Though the doctor had suggested that when Paul returned home, he have a couple of days of bed rest and even then, he should take things easy until the new drugs were firmly settled in his system.

Bob had been slightly pissed off by the sneering attitude of the junior doctor who had attended Paul when he was first admitted still convulsing.  Comments about 'lovers tiffs' being bad for patients in recovery had brought out the policeman in Bob. He'd made a point of explaining that he could be reached at the Flying Squad H.Q most days, but that he'd taken some days off to take care for his sick mate after he was shot in a police operation.

That had shut the arrogant little bastard up.

Paul had been quiet since he'd come around, just apologising for being a lot of trouble, before closing his eyes and drifting back off to sleep.

Bob admitted to himself that he was worried. All of this had started out as just taking care of a mate for a few days until he was feeling stronger, but it had suddenly turned into a Mills and Boon romance, complete with denials and death bed confessions. Well, not quite, but it had begun to feel that way.

He still wasn't sure where the hell this relationship was going, in fact, he was still partly denying that there *was* a 'relationship'. Yet, he knew that denying it didn't remove its existence, it was about time he did a bit of soul searching and tried get some things straight in his own head before he approached the subject with Paul.

The younger man had been back 'home' for several days. Long, quiet, closed off days with no real conversation, just 'Yes, Bob' 'No, Bob' answers.

Paul sat on the sofa, blankly watching the news on TV, his eyes glassy and unfocussed, his mind obviously somewhere else, other than on the newest fighting in the Baltic States or the increase in the price of petrol.

Bob strolled in and handed him a bottle. Another bottle grasped in his hand, he sat down beside Paul and took a swig.

"Coke?" Paul grimaced suddenly, "How come you get beer and I get coke?"

Bob smiled, that was the first relaxed, non-essential statement Paul had made in days. "You're still on medication, no alcohol," he explained.

The younger man pulled a face, "Christ," he grimaced at the dark liquid in the bottle before taking another tentative sip.

Bob took a deep breath and decided to go for it, "Paul, we need to talk," he said quietly.

"What about?"



"Yeah," Bob shifted uneasily, "I've spent a lifetime denying things. That I was a lousy husband, a crap boyfriend, at times even a shit lover. I'm selfish, arrogant and I don't like to admit that I can ever be wrong."

"You just sound like a typical het bloke to me," Paul mumbled.

"Yeah, well, maybe so. Anyway, when we met, I discovered to my abject horror that I liked you. I knew you were gay, knew you were a criminal and yet I still liked you. I'd never even spoken to a gay man for any other reason than to arrest him, before. It was all pretty much virgin territory to me.  And I won't pretend that it didn't scare the shit out of me. I mean, if I liked you and you were gay, what did that make me?"

"Human?" Paul suggested suddenly turning to face the older man, "Contrary to popular belief, you can't *catch* homosexuality, Bob. Anything you felt was just plain you, not some contagious deviance that rubbed off when you pretended to be my boyfriend."

"I know that," Bob pleaded, "But it was still sort of frightening for a straight bloke to feel like this about another man."

"Feel like what?"

"Attracted, comfortable, protective. I don't know, try just damned confused," Bob ran his hand through his hair and closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on what it was he needed to say.

Paul frowned, "What are you trying to tell me, Bob? That you're about to come out and I should expect a new, improved 'pink' Bob Tate?"

"I'm *trying* to tell that I love you and you're making it fucking difficult!" Bob said suddenly.

Paul's mouth fell open and his breathing became so shallow that he almost seemed to freeze in mid breath.

"Oh God, please don't have another attack. I really don't want to explain this one to that jumped up little shit at the hospital," Bob pleaded. He reached out his hand and rested it on Paul's shoulder, "You okay?" he asked.

With a nod of the head, the younger man looked away, as if checking that he was still awake and that this was, in fact, not some bizarre alternative universe.  "So...what does this mean?" he whispered.

"I don't know, mate. I really hadn't thought beyond saying those words," Bob smiled weakly.

"You mean it though?" Paul asked.

Bob nodded and slipped his hand behind Paul's neck, slowly pulling him over to rest against his chest.
With a degree of nervousness, Paul slid his arms around Bob's waist and let his head rest against the bigger man's shoulder.

"I'm sorry about the argument," Bob whispered, "The one that made you ill again. I never wanted that to happen.

"You didn't, it was the medication."

"Yeah, but I didn't exactly help, did I? Some 'carer' I'm turning out to be," Bob smiled and rested his chin on Paul's head lightly, "I'm so sorry, mate."

"It's okay, forget it," the younger man looked up and grinned, "So, do you think you're ready to kiss me or am *I* going to be the one needing to get the emergency services this time?"

With a slightly uncomfortable sigh, Bob leaned in and touched his lips to Paul's. Somehow, he'd expected it to be.... unpleasant, masculine, rough. But Paul's lips were soft, just like any woman's, and dazzlingly sweet. It came as something of a shock when Bob found himself becoming wrapped up in the kiss, feeling real passion and need, feeling aroused. The familiar stirring in his groin seemed to shock him back to reality.

"Christ!" he gasped.

"No, just me," Paul laughed at the older man's expression, "What's the matter, Bob? Discovered that you like it? And it's just turned all your macho heterosexual emotions upside down and shook them out!"

With a frown, Bob answered, "Yes. It's...scary."

"Bob, it doesn't mean you're automatically 'gay', it doesn't work like that.  Unfortunately, it's never *quite* that simple. Just because you can get turned on by me, doesn't mean you're going to walk into the Flying Squad and want to rip the trousers off all those big, butch coppers you work with."

"Then what the hell *does* it mean?"

Paul smiled and touched Bob's face gently, "It means we're not the lost cause I thought we were."

"I don't know how far I can go with this," the older man admitted, "I'm not sure if I have...you know...a limit."

"Oh, you mean sex?"


"Want to go try?" Paul grinned mischievously.


"It's okay, you can top. I know how you macho police types like to be in control. You can bring your handcuffs if you want?"

"Paul," Bob pleaded, "I don't know if I can *give* you what you need. Can't you understand that?"

Looking up at him Paul sighed, "Then I'll take what you can give."

"You still don't get it, do you? You'll want me to have sex with you.  Christ, you'll want me to bugger you and I don't know if I can *do* that to you," the older man said slightly angrily, climbing to his feet and beginning to pace.

"You wouldn't be doing it *to* me, Bob. You'd be doing it *with* me. And if you can't, then we can live without that kind of sex in the relationship."

Bob gave a sharp, unamused laugh, "How many times have I said that to a woman? 'Darlin', the sex isn't important'. It was a crock of shit then and it *still* is now. So, when I go out and see some bit of skirt that I want to shaft, it won't bother you? Bollocks!"

"I didn't say that," Paul growled, "I just said that *I* was willing to make sacrifices to be with you. But, I can see that you don't see it that way.  You just said you loved me, do you know what that means, Bob? Really?"

The irate policeman stopped in his tracks and looked at his companion. No, he didn't really understand what that meant. All of his relationships had been based on sex. The chase...got to *have* her. The moment of triumph...I *got* her. The 'oh shit what do I do now?'...divorce, relationship crumbles, gets slapped in the face.  In truth, 'love' never really entered into the equation, except as a means to get into her knickers.  What a sad, fucked up individual he was.

"I'm sorry, Paul. I just don't want to hurt you," he mumbled.

"And you think kissing me and telling me you love me, then treating me like some fucking queer *isn't* hurting me? Go screw yourself, Bob Tate, I don't need this. I'll leave in the morning, get out from under your feet," Paul stormed as he bounced from the sofa and swept into the bedroom, slamming the door.

Burying his head in his hands and cursing every deity he knew, Bob Tate tried desperately to think of something he could do to make amends. Once again, he'd royally screwed up.

After a few minutes, he knocked lightly on the door of the bedroom, "Paul?  Come on, we need to talk this through. You *knew* it wasn't going to be a piece of cake from the beginning. Please?"

Bob stood there for what felt like an eternity.  Suddenly the door creaked open, "Bob Tate," Paul sighed, "You are turning me into a fucking drama queen."

Both men smiled and wandered back into the sitting room.

"Look, I promise I'll try to...be what you want, if we can take it slow and not rush into anything?" Bob said slowly.

Paul nodded, "Fine. I won't expect you to wrestle me to the floor and fuck me into next week by tomorrow then," he sighed, "Slow, we take everything one step at a time. Anything you don't like, we don't do, okay?"

"Okay. Oh and Paul?"


"One thing I won't do. I am *never* going fucking shopping with you *ever* again."

End second bit!

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