Levon had left his partner back at the house. They'd gone to his place after putting in the rest of their time at work, listening to the Lieutenant try not to complain about their having lost Richards. They hadn't had a chance to tell her exactly how they'd been trapped, and thus how they'd gotten free.

Levon still wasn't convinced Joe meant what he had said about accepting him. Joe seemed to know it, as he'd stubbornly invited himself to Levon's place to continue their talk. Levon had managed to avoid any conversation during the drive, trying to forestall the talk Joe had threatened him with.

When they'd got to his place, he'd asked if Joe minded if he went for a run. He wanted to work off the tension, as well as delay the inevitable. Additionally, however, his earlier brief stint in centaur form had given him the itch to move and he wasn't sure he could stand still long enough for Joe to have any sort of conversation.

He'd expected Joe to push him to talk instead of avoiding it, but his lover had just looked at him for a moment, then nodded. "Go on. I'll be here," he'd said.

So he went. Fooler had joined him, of course, as soon as he'd hit the pasture. They ran for a long time -- nearly half an hour back and forth the tree-barricaded field behind his property -- as Levon tried to lose his fears long enough to head back to the house. Finally he found himself getting tired and knew that if he didn't stop soon he'd be too tired to talk and that wouldn't stop his partner at all. Levon would just be left having the conversation with his brain half-dead.

He whistled for Fooler to join him as he headed back to the barn. She paced him partway, then snorted and ran off again. Levon shook his head and continued back to the barn. She'd come in later when she realised she was missing her dinner. Levon stopped just shy of the corral and changed back so he could cool off in the brisk evening breeze.

Then he saw Joe.

His partner was leaning against the corral fence, obviously waiting for his return. He was staring at Levon with wide eyes and an expression on his face that Levon couldn't easily identify.

Levon didn't move any farther. The breeze went past him; he was still warm from his run and it would have felt wonderful. If he'd been alone. If he'd been anywhere but right here -- Joe staring at him like he'd just seen something indescribable. Slowly Joe straightened and started walking towards him, that same strange expression still in place.

"Joe?" Levon felt himself take a step back. By now his partner would have had hours to think this over and this time, seeing him as a centaur when they weren't in a life-or-death situation, would make it hard for him to dismiss it.

Joe stopped when Levon retreated. "Levon that was... you're..." He shook his head, seemingly unable to find the words he was looking for.

Levon found himself curling a fist, as if ready to defend himself. He knew any actual blows were only be verbal ones.

"Amazing," Joe said.

"What?" Levon froze.

Shaking his head, Joe smiled tentatively. "You. In your hor-- centaur form. I've never seen anything so..." his voice trailed off again and with a start Levon finally identified his expression. Wonder.

"You don't mind?" Levon heard himself asking before he could tell himself it was a dumb thing to say. He shook his head.

"Mind?" Joe repeated, confusion passing over his face. "Levon, what are you talking about? Why the hell would I mind?"

Glancing away, Levon told himself he was reading things into Joe that his partner kept telling and showing him weren't there. "Nevermind."

"I do mind." Hand reached out and grasped his chin, forcing him to look at Joe. "Hey, talk to me already."

Looking at his lover's eyes, Levon forced a whisper. "Was seeing me change that convinced Caroline she couldn't love me anymore."

Understanding flashed in Joe's eyes, compassion and... love? Before Levon had a chance to really react to that he found himself enfolded in his lover's arms. "I'm not Caroline," Joe told him softly, fiercely, holding onto him tightly.

"You keep telling me that," Levon said, letting Joe hold him. Maybe Joe really meant it. Maybe, once Joe had a chance to get used to Levon being this way, things could return to the way the were before he'd found out. Maybe Joe really would love him.

"When you going to start believing it?" Joe pulled back a little and shook him. "I love you. What do I have to say to get that through to you?"

Levon couldn't help but smile, a little. "You might find I can be a little slow sometimes." The smile dimmed, though, and he put his head back on Joe's shoulder. It felt wonderful, being held so close like this.

"Believe me, I noticed." The tone was halfway between teasing and exasperated but the arms wrapped around him merely tightened their embrace.

The warmth from Joe's body, contrasted with the cool wind across his back, made Levon acutely aware of his situation -- standing naked, with a lover who didn't seem to mind. "I love you, too."

"I know," Joe said softly, smiling. Then he kissed him.

All thoughts vanished as Joe's mouth touched his. Levon opened his mouth slightly, and felt Joe respond accordingly. He grabbed onto the sleeves of his lover's jacket, hanging on as the embrace lengthened. Lack of oxygen finally forced their mouths apart. Joe smiled as he looked at Levon, one hand coming up to caress his cheek. "You've got to be freezing."

"I'm fine," Levon managed, brain still on 'spin'. He wanted Joe to kiss him again. Leaning forward, he placed his lips on his lover's mouth. Joe responded just as ardently as he had the first time, the hand on Levon's cheek, sliding away to bury itself in his hair, the other stroking down his back to squeeze his buttocks and pull him even closer.

Shivering at the touches, Levon let himself move with Joe, pressing himself hard against his lover. 'Hard' was the right term for it, too. He wasn't the only one. He could feel Joe through the layers of his lover's clothes, pushing back against him. All the while the kiss continued, mouths and tongues dueling as it grew more and more passionate.

His brain suddenly switched on long enough to send one message -- Joe was still dressed, and that needed to change. Without letting go of his lover's mouth for too long, Levon searched for shirt buttons. Joe murmured his approval, letting go of Levon just long enough to shed his jacket but never breaking off the kiss. As his partner threw the jacket to the ground Levon got the buttons undone, and began pulling the shirt free. Splaying his hands on Joe's chest, he stared. Wondering where he should go first, what to touch, where to kiss.

The decision was taken out of his hands when Joe's hands began caressing Levon's chest, fingers almost casually brushing against his nipples, at the same time as Joe's mouth fastened itself to the side of Levon's neck, diligently working on leaving a mark.

Letting his hands slide down to rest at Joe's waist, Levon concentrated for a moment on maintaining his balance. A second later he'd had enough of standing motionless and leaned in to begin his own set of marks on Joe's shoulder. Joe stiffened slightly as Levon hit a particularly sensitive spot, nipping a bit harder at his neck in response.

Levon wrapped his arms around Joe, slipping his hands underneath the open shirt and spreading his fingers across Joe's back. His body was warm, it felt so good to touch. He wanted more of it. His lover's mind seemed to be following the same train of thought because his hands were roving ever farther, dipping down across Levon's stomach and lower.

Shaking, he had to fight for balance again. Pulling back slightly he took a moment to look at Joe. He was still wearing too many clothes. Levon quickly pulled the shirt off, letting it fall to the ground. Then he unzipped Joe's pants, smiling when he heard a sharp gasp from his lover. Standing perfectly still, Joe watched with blue eyes full of lust and love as his lover slowly and deliberately made short work of his pants. While kneeling, Levon removed Joe's shoes and socks, standing only when his lover was as naked as he. Levon returned the smile.

Joe reached out and pulled Levon into his arms again, gasping at the feeling of skin to skin contact. Levon wanted to rub himself all over his lover, wanted to feel everything, everywhere. It was as if his skin had become the only way he could connect with his lover and he needed all he could get.

Seeming to somehow sense the direction Levon's thoughts were taking, Joe did his best to get even closer to his lover, wrapping himself around the other man as tightly as possible, hands never for a moment stilling as he caressed up and down Levon's back and over his shoulders and arms, anywhere they could reach. Taking a moment to check the ground, Levon saw they'd managed to drop Joe's clothes in a near perfect arrangement. He nudged Joe, pulling him down towards the ground as he continued to lick and bite Joe's neck.

Joe followed Levon down willingly, then manoeuvred so that Levon was lying on his back and he was covering his lover's body with his own. Sliding his hands down Levon's arms, he twined their fingers together, even as he leaned in and caught Levon's mouth in a deep kiss. Holding on, Levon let his lover take him. The weight of his body provided a warmth that was not solely physical -- the emotional weight of protection, of attraction, of something else he couldn't name -- all pressed in on him until he had to do something to let it out.

Wrapping his leg around Joe's, Levon pulled himself against his lover as hard as he could. Joe groaned aloud as Levon's motion forced their erections to slide against each other. His grip on Levon's hands tightened as he thrust back, not breaking the kiss off for a second.

Pushing again, Levon heard another groan -- his, this time -- and began thrusting against his lover. Pulling with his leg and pushing against the ground his got a hard, fast rhythm.

It didn't last long after that. Joe broke off the kiss and buried his face in Levon's neck as he neared his climax, letting out a primal howl as he came, his body shuddering. The sound in Levon's ear echoed the sensations in his body; his lover's orgasm pressing their bodies together, pushing him closer to his own release. Digging his fingers into his lover's back Levon tried to hold himself impossibly closer as he came.

Afterwards Joe slumped bonelessly on top of Levon, seemingly concentrating on getting his breath back, until a sudden breeze made him shiver. "Maybe we should... take this party inside cowboy," he panted.

Levon didn't answer, still taken aback by what they'd just done. He left his arms wrapped around Joe, when his lover started to move away. "Joe?"

Joe paused looking down at Levon's dazed expression. He grinned and leaned back down for a quick kiss. "Levon, I love you but I'm freezing my butt off here. Can we continue this inside?"

Levon nodded, still staring at his lover. Absently he waited until Joe moved to his knees, then his feet. He held out his hand when Joe reached down, and let his partner help him stand.

Gathering up his discarded clothes Joe headed for the front door of the house, not looking to see if Levon was following him. The sight of Joe, naked, walking nonchalantly across his yard was what did it. Jolted into action, Levon hurried to follow.

It really had happened. They had just...

His brain worked in fits and spurts as he headed for the house. Once inside, Joe headed for the bathroom to clean up. Levon followed, stopping in the doorway to the bathroom, still staring at Joe in disbelief. Joe wiped himself off with a damp cloth, handing another to Levon. "That'll do for now," he asserted. "Showers later."

"Did that just happen?" Levon asked. Joe was acting like nothing had happened at all -- nothing strange. Nothing unusual. Nothing extraordinary.

"If it didn't, we have a couple of vivid imaginations." Joe grinned.

Another step closer, and Levon could almost feel him again. He wanted to reach out and hang on. "You saw me change." He couldn't quite accept it yet.

"A couple of times now," Joe agreed. Reaching out, he took the cloth back from Levon and wiped him off himself, his movements tender and loving.

Standing still while his lover tended to him, Levon stared. Joe kept looking at him, touching him, as if everything were... as if everything were they way they'd been yesterday. When Joe was done, he handed Levon his robe, and pulled on his own. "Hungry?" he asked.

"No." Levon held the robe in front of him, trying to decide if Joe even understood what had happened. "You meant it, didn't you?" He asked, quietly.

Suddenly serious, Joe nodded solemnly. "Yeah, I did." He reached out and caressed Levon's cheek. "When you going to start believing me?"

Levon pulled on the lapels of Joe's robe, hauling him in for a kiss. When he let his lover go, he couldn't look him in the eye. "Joe, she wouldn't even touch me after she knew..." Maybe it wasn't fair to keep comparing Joe to Caroline. But what she had done still hurt. Made him too afraid of it happening again.

A hand gently cupped his chin, urging him to look up. "I'll keep telling you until you believe me -- this doesn't change anything between us. I love you, same as I did yesterday, same as I will tomorrow."

"Why?" He couldn't stop the question, didn't even know he needed to ask it. He started to apologise for asking, take the word back because as he stood there, one hand touching him gently on the face, he felt like maybe, as long as Joe was touching him, he could believe.

Joe shook his head, smiling. "Don't know why. I just do. Why do you love me?"

Levon suddenly grinned. "Can't be your laid-back, easy-going personality."

Joe chuckled. "Not like you, huh, Lundy?"

Pulling Joe to him again, Levon gave him a kiss. He realised he couldn't answer Joe's question -- so how could Joe answer his?

"You okay now?" Joe asked softly, when the kiss ended.

"Better." He answered honestly.

"Good." Joe paused and Levon distinctly heard his stomach rumble. "Well, you may not want anything to eat but I'm hungry enough to eat a horse!" Levon flushed. Joe looked at him and then seemed to all at once realize what he'd said. Grinning he leaned in and whispered. "Or at least have one for dessert."

Brain shutting down again as his body woke up, Levon decided a verbal response wasn't necessary. He pinned Joe against a wall and attacked his lover's mouth with his own. Somewhere at his feet, his robe lay tangled. When his mouth was released, Joe chuckled, looking affectionately at his partner. "Guess I'm having dessert first."

Levon tugged on the robe his lover was still wearing, aiming them both towards the bed. He gave Joe a push, hanging onto the robe as his lover fell. Joe let out a soft 'oof' as Levon fell on him, then gasped as he attacked Joe's neck. "You really live up to that strong, silent type stereotype you know that?"

Levon stopped long enough to look at his lover. With a gentle kiss on Joe's cheek he whispered, "Thank you."

Joe's expression softened and he leaned up and kissed Levon gently. "You're welcome, Levon," he said softly. "You're welcome."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

"Can I have you now or did you wanna talk some more?" A groan was his only answer. Levon grinned.

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