Sailing Behind

Peter staggered upright, glancing around him at the three bodies of the hoodlums who'd attacked him. The adrenalin masked whatever bruises they'd given him; no doubt he'd discover them all in the morning. He winced in anticipation, but didn't regret for a moment what he'd done. Three guys who would think twice about attacking a single man on a dark street. He headed out of the back street for his car.

He wouldn't call it in, wouldn't have the men arrested for assualt-- not only because they might object to his notion of "sufficient force to subdue" but also because he didn't want to explain it. Better to just leave them moaning, and keep an ear out for signs they were back to their old tricks. Sliding behind the wheel of his latest sports car, Peter tenderly poked at a spot on his cheek. Definitely bruises tomorrow. He put the car in gear and sped away.

*He* was standing there, waiting for him- inside, of course, and though it never failed to irk him he had only to remind himself of the times his father's ability to open doors had saved someone's life and his son's career. Peter decided it wasn't worth mentioning again, and stepped past him, headed for the bathroom.


That tone made Peter turn around. It was the one he liked- no hint of reproach, no hint of 'you wont like this but...' and no hint of 'we are in grave danger'. Simple inquisition. "Yeah?"

"Are you all right?" It was- and it wasn't, as if Caine had just seen the bruises and blood marking his son. "What happened?"

"Nothin', Pop... dad. Just some punks out looking for fun." Peter didn't wait to see if his father would believe him, even if it was sort of true. Mostly true. He saw the furrowing of his father's brow, that said he was about to either figure it out or ask an embarrassing question.

The doorbell saved him, and he went to answer without another glance back. He was surprised to find Kermit standing at the door.

"Kermit! What's up? Don't tell me they found out Zucker wasn't really the guy behind the blackmail." It was the case they'd just wrapped up that morning, finished the paperwork by 2 that afternoon and in reward had gotten the next day off.

"No, not to worry. Zucker's on his way to jail." Kermit walked in, brushing past Peter who belatedly asked him to come inside. Kermit acted as if nothing was wrong, so Peter relaxed. No emergencies down at the station. At least, not yet.

"So what's up?" Peter sounded cheerful, glad to have Kermit there to interrogate so his father could stop interrogating _him_.

"Well I- Oh, hi Kwai Chang. I... I'm not interupting anything?" Kermit turned slowly, looking from Peter to Caine, suddenly subdued.

"Not really." Peter answered, then he looked suspiciously over at his father. "I don't think so. You didn't tell me why you're here."

Caine shrugged. "I thought you might need me here. Those bruises... I thought you might be in some trouble."

Peter refrained from saying any of the things which leapt to mind. Then he smiled. "Nah, I'm fine. For a change, this was just an isolated incident. No demons out for blood, no escaped killers out for revenge. Nothing to worry about," he finished.

"Then I will prepare something for those cuts?"

Peter was struck by the feeling that everything happening here was very normal. A few minor cuts, treated and forgotten, a few minor punks treated and forgotten. "I've got some bandaids in the bathroom, you don't have to stick around." Peter told him, knowing that now that his father knew there was no trouble here there was probably some elsewhere needing his attention.

"It's no trouble." Again his tone held no hint of reproach. Just stating a fact, and Peter found himself nodding.

"Sure, ok. So, Kermit, what brings you here?"

With a ghost of a grin, Kermit answered, "I thought you might be in some trouble." He echoed Caine's words deliberately, elliciting smiles from both Peter and his father. Then Kermit's grin vanished utterly and he spoke, an apology in his voice but not itself spoken. "I saw the fight. Just as you finished, actually. You took off before I could... well I just wanted to make sure you were ok."

For a long moment Peter and Kermit stared at each other, both of them hearing what wasn't said. Kermit left it unsaid, not knowing what he could say in front of Peter's father; Peter kept silent knowing what he didn't want said. He kept himself relaxed, tension would make his father worry and besides, Kermit obviously wasn't going to say anything in front of him. "Yeah, I'm ok. Like I said," he gave Kermit a half smile, letting him know he appreciated Kermit's concern, and his silence.

Kermit nodded, and suddely the tension vanished like it had never been. Kwai Chang came in, with a small bowl of something odd-smelling. It was an odor Peter knew well, and he sat quietly on the edge of the table while his father administered to his slight injuries. Kermit went up to the bathroom and brought down the bandaids, handing them over to Caine. Then he stood back, waiting. Peter chatted about a couple of the cases other cops had been working on, he and Kermit batted around theories and predictions as to their completion.

When he was finished, Caine looked up at his son. He knew Peter and Kermit were waiting for him to leave, to discuss whatever it was they had not been discussing in front of him. He cleaned up his herbs, and with a short nod to them both, bid them goodnight.

Peter had started to ask him to hang around, knowing that was what he'd normally say and wanting to cover for the fact that he really wanted his father to leave. But he knew that was ridiculous, and saw his father to the door. When he was gone- giving him a few minutes to actually be gone and not still somewhere in the building where he might easily return, Peter turned back to Kermit.

"Thanks, Kermit."

"For--?" The other man was confused, the only needed thanks already been given and accepted, even if not aloud.

"For not saying anything in front of my father. I... I mean, about where you saw me."

"I figured I'd let you say it. I didn't know if he knew." Kermit waved it off. "I understand about keeping secrets." He looked directly at Peter; Peter imagined that behind those green shades his eyes were fixed on him, boring into him. "I didn't know if there was anything that shouldn't be said."

Peter didn't say anything, worrying about how he could hide this from Kermit, as he'd hidden it from everyone who knew him. Then he realised, Kermit had already kept his secret. And he trusted Kermit to do it again. "Yeah... I guess there is." Peter wandered further into the living room, and sat down on the couch. Kermit followed, finding a seat on the chair across the room. Peter tried to figure out what to say, how to say it. It suddenly occured to him that he didn't need to say anything. He looked up at Kermit, the question in his face.

Kermit spread his hands. "Like I said, I understand about keeping secrets." He smiled, easily.

Peter stared at him for a moment, taken rather aback by this information. Then he returned the smile. Sometimes he thought that every secret he and Kermit shared only made them better friends. He rarely understood *why* they were friends, but here it was and he was suddenly very glad.

Often when he went down to that particular street he felt like he was going undercover. He was, actually, giving false names or only his first, never saying much about who he was or making up lies. Never talking about anything that was really important to him. And the same held for the station. They knew his name, knew what he did for a living but they didn't know him any better than did those strangers he met down on 32rd.

Except for Kermit. Peter wondered if Kermit felt the same sense of relief; he supposed so, from the way Kermit was now relaxed in the chair, not at all concerned at the way Peter was staring. "So." Peter said. "Now what?" If they didn't have to have to spend the next several minutes explaining and promising not to tell... what did they have to talk about?

Kermit laughed, and Peter was struck by the sound. It wasn't his normal, cynical 'we got 'em' laugh but a clearly delighted one. He had a crazy notion that he might try to make him laugh like that again, sometime. "How about some coffee?"

"Sounds like a good idea." Peter pushed himself off the couch and headed for the kitchen. Kermit followed, and they talked while they made the coffee, about other cops' cases and whther they'd finish before winter. Everything was normal again.

Later Peter realised that normal was actually a rare state for him.

Peter set the coffee mugs on the rack, after having rinsed them clean. Kermit was standing behind him, watching, saying nothing. Peter was aware of... something, as if Kermit was expecting something. Nothing so obvious like an invitation to stay the night- there had never been much sexual tension between them, and if there was ever going to be any there would have been tonight. But Peter hadn't felt anything of that sort, so he didn't suppose he was feeling it now.

He glanced up at Kermit, who was still wearing those green shades which covered much more than his eyes. Peter smiled. "Thanks for coming by, Kermit. Nice to know I'm being worried about." He half-smirked, for those words had been said before, with bitter sarcastic tones when the one worrying was his father. When his father worried it always seemed like there was a judgement attached, one which Peter wasn't convinced his father had the right to make.

But here, with his friend- a friend he'd chosen, who'd chosen him, it was nice. He could accept it freely and not think about all the strings which might be attached.

Kermit started to shrug casually, but then he stopped and turned his head slightly, as if looking away. "Well, I worry a lot."

Peter noticed that he was careful to keep it open, just exactly what it was he worried about. He turned around, leaning against the counter and faced his friend. He knew that Kermit wasn't given to emotional revelations even at the most intense of times, even in the most private of places. As private as he'd even been with him, Peter amended. Tonight was as private as it ever got, and Peter knew that Kermit wasn't going to just say whatever it was he was thinking. Peter also knew he wasn't going to try and force him into saying it. He was about to say something easy and change the subject, when Kermit spoke again.

"It's just... you're the best friend I've got, and I don't want anything to happen to you." Kermit's voice dropped, his face still averted. "I don't have so many friends that I can afford to lose any."

Peter stepped forward, and placed a hand on Kermit's arm. He gave a light squeeze, and left his hand there. "I'm not going anywhere, Kermit. I may take a lot of risks, but I almost never take on something I can't handle."

Slowly Kermit turned his head, until the green plastic lenses where facing Peter. For a moment neither of them said anything, Peter still with his sincere and ernest expression, Kermit's totally expressionless. Then the corner of Kermit's mouth twitched. It twitched again, and suddenly Kermit was laughing again. It was the one Peter had enjoyed, earlier, and this time it was no surprise. Peter grinned.

"Almost never?" Kermit repeated, still laughing.

"Well... mostly never. I've survived so far, haven't I?"

Kermit sobered quickly, and nodded. Peter grimaced, and tried to lighten things again. Kermit spoke before he could. "I just wish..." He cut himself off, and Peter felt the tension under the hand which still lay on Kermit's arm.

Peter felt the moment when Kermit would have pulled away and left, revelations and truth gone for who knew how long, who knew when they'd find themselves here again. Peter didn't have so many friends that he could afford to lose this.... He held on to Kermit's arm and stepped forward, looking into those glasses and trying to see the eyes behind them, calling forth from memory the colour, the shape, the way they could sometimes hold a gaze forever. "What do you wish?"

"I just wish you'd take care of yourself a little better. Play things a little safer."

The answer didn't surprise him at all. He'd heard that sentiment from many, and was used to it. What surprised him was the wistful way Kermit said it, the way his green-locked gaze seemed to be fixed on him, the way the tension under his hand seemed to be growing. He was confused, not at all sure what Kermit was thinking.

He tried to brush it away as he always did when someone cautioned him. "I'll be fine." The casual confidence was softened, however, by a tightening in his throat so that it came out as more of a whisper.

"Peter..." Kermit stopped, and removed his arm out from Peter's grip; Peter let him, for he was making no move away from him. Instead Kermit reached up and removed his glasses, and looked at Peter.

Peter wondered how it was that you were supposed to be able to read another's emotional state from the expression in their eyes. He stared, confused, but not about to do or say something which would change this before he could understand. He relaxed, suddenly, when he realised that whatever Kermit was trying to say, or trying not to say, it was much more difficult for the other man to speak than it was for him to wait to hear it. He placed his hand on Kermit's arm, again, to let him know... whatever it was a touch would let him know.

"Peter, I just..." Kermit had obviously tried to get himself under control, his voice had taken on his normal tone, but it died away quickly and he was left staring uncertainly. He tried again, his voice a forced whisper. "It's just that..." He looked away, and Peter wondered if maybe he hadn't been wrong, earlier.

Carefully he asked, "Why is it so important to you that I'm all right?" It was a leading question and he knew it, but he had to do something to make this easier. Even if he was wrong about his friend's reasons, even if he wasn't.

Kermit turned and looked at him again, this time a curious, measuring gaze that Peter recognised. Kermit didn't say anything, however, and Peter wondered if he'd pushed too far and now his friend was pulling away again behind his masks. His question surprised Peter. "You know, don't you?" He didn't sound nearly as upset as those words ought to have indicated.

"I'd rather hear you say it," Peter heard himself saying, wondering briefly what part of his mind had figured out what was going on and if it was going to tell the rest of him.

Kermit froze for only an instant, then he shook his head slowly. Not now, Peter interpreted the gesture to mean, and knew that now silence was ok because someday his friend would tell him. He felt as if everything had suddenly been settled, as if something momentous had been said, and now he could let his friend go without worrying that he'd lost his chance at something, even if he didn't know what that was. He started to grin, time to let the subject be changed without fear of covering up, when he was stopped rather abruptly.

Kermit had gripped his arms lightly, and leaned forward. Kissed him.

His only thought was that things didn't seem normal anymore.

Fortunately Peter regained his senses before any unintentioned messages could be sent by his lack of response; his arms moved up and held Kermit close, holding him tightly as if one had just returned home from the wars- the intensity of the need to hold him tight overwhelmed him and he could only hang on. He felt Kermit press into him, and knew the intensity came from him as well- perhaps even more, for he was the one who had been faced with the possibility of losing it all before it had ever been gained.

Peter pulled away, breaking the kiss, and saw Kermit's confusion. There was no danger of it turning to hurt, for Peter kept his arms tight where they were, leaning his head back only enough to see Kermit's face. He wanted to say something to let Kermit know he was glad, appreciated the concern, was thrilled at the discovery, one of those things you find yourself saying to reassure a newly discovered lover.

"You're not going to lose me."

Kermit stared in what might have been shock; Peter felt himself rather shocked as well. The words said more than he thought he'd intended, certainly they were more than anything either of them had been lead to expect. True, they were friends, but never the kind who had spent hours sharing and revealing and showing each other their souls. How then, had he come to make this declaration? Peter took a deep breath, intent on explaining that it wasn't exactly what he meant, when he saw Kermit's face, and read the expression there.

It was, not quite, disbelief. Peter accepted that, knowing it was justified. So instead of explaining away, he expanded. "You're not going to lose me if I can do anything to stop it. I can't promise to stop taking chances- I can't promise to stop taking bad risks. But I can say... that if that kiss meant what I think it meant... I'm going to have a very good reason to come home at night. Even when I come home alone, I'll have good reason. Kermit... I dont know how this will sound but, I'd be very happy to love you."

Kermit said nothing for several seconds. Then he grinned, half mocking. "All that from one kiss, huh? I must be better at this than I thought."

Peter shook his head, and brushed his fingers down the side of Kermit's face. "I don't think that you loving me is something I can pass up. I get the feeling," Peter paused to try and find the right words to say this, although his subconscious had been doing a fairly good job on its own, so far, "that being loved by you is something much too precious to chance losing."

He could tell, by the lost, shocked silence that perhaps Kermit wasn't used to hearing this kind of sincere declaration. Peter suspected he might not believe it, but right now that didn't matter. Solving it didn't matter, Peter told himself quickly. He leaned forward and kissed Kermit again, opening his mouth and tasting the mouth that opened against his.

This time Kermit was the one who broke away, but he moved forward, resting his head against Peter's shoulder. Peter heard, clearly, Kermit's next words as they were spoken firmly and decisively. "I love you, Peter."

Peter turned his head, tucked down so he could reach Kermit's face, and moved in to kiss the spot of skin available, right below his left ear. Before he did, he answered. "I think I might love you, too, Kermit."

He placed the kiss and felt Kermit hug him, and he smiled. He would need some time, he knew, before he could say for certain that he loved him. Not much time, he suspected, but time nonetheless and he owed his best friend only the truth. Besides, it wouldn't keep him from enjoying this new secret of theirs, to share. In the same tone that earlier Kermit had used to suggest coffee, Peter asked, "Hey, you wanna go to bed?"

Kermit's body shook slightly, twice, and Peter grinned. He was definitely enjoying making his friend laugh.

Peter held onto Kermit's hand as they headed up the short staircase to his bedroom; holding on so that Kermit would know he was welcome, this was real... in case he couldn't read it all from Peter's face. But Kermit showed no hesitation and let Peter lead him, smiling with only a shade of the usual, nearly flippant, grin Kermit used to grace his compatriots with. Peter wasn't entirely sure what to make of it.

But he returned the smile anyway, and when they reached the bedroom he stopped, and faced Kermit. He loosened Kermit's tie, easily working the knot loose and pulling it free. Hands moved to jacket lapels, pushing the suit jacket off Kermit's shoulders and down, letting it fall to the floor. Peter kept his eyes on his hands, on his work, removing clothing from a silently waiting partner.

He hesitated though, when he had the shirt buttons all undone but shirt not yet removed. He looked up at Kermit, and found that same pacific smile watching him. Peter leaned forward quickly, kissed him; Kermit held him and let himself be kissed, letting Peter ask for and receive the permission he'd needed repeated. Assured, Peter swiftly removed Kermit's shirt and let himself indulge in looking, for a moment, at the bared skin. His hands splayed across Kermit's chest, he could feel the warmth, the beating of his heart, the rise and fall of his breath.

He placed a impassionate kiss in the center of his lover's chest, then stood still and let Kermit strip him as well. The man's hands were nimble, unfastening and opening clothing with a speed likened to opening engaged files. Peter felt gooseflesh rise where Kermit's hands brushed him and wanted to grab him, hold him close and take him. He stilled himself, waiting until he was naked, and could take an equally naked partner to bed. Soon Kermit had him completely stripped, then he stepped back and removed his own trousers and underwear-- Peter noted that they were not, as popular rumour had it, green or covered in frogs. Kermit must have seen his glance and grin, for he smirked and said, "They're in the wash."

"You really have--?" Peter looked at him, distracted for a second from his intentions for the moment they were both sans clothes. By Kermit's mischevious grin he knew he'd never find out the truth without... well, without further exploration. In other words, he'd have to wait and see if sometime Kermit removed his pants to reveal green, froggy shorts. Something to look forward to. Then he was thinking of other things, as Kermit was holding him close again and kissing him; this time skin pressed on skin and the gooseflesh was on them both.

Warm hands rubbed Peter's back, and he pushed himself against Kermit's body, feeling the rigid cock pressing against his own. He rubbed, and heard a soft moan from his lover. Carefully he stepped backwards, pulling Kermit with him, searching with his legs for the edge of the mattress. When he touched it, he stopped and let Kermit guide them both to it, laying down with Kermit's weight on top of him. Suddenly the patience which had held him til now vanished, and he grabbed Kermit, kissing him, needing and wanting him right now, wanting to touch and taste and hold all at once.

Kermit met him, moving with a same fierce need, or at least answering Peter's as he tried to devour his friend with hands and mouth. Peter didn't notice the taste of his skin, or the feel of his body, but moved frantically touching him everywhere until he found himself being pushed down, and he followed willingly. Kermit rolled onto his back and Peter moved with him, scooting down as he covered Kermit's body with his lips. When he came to Kermit's erection he didn't pause, swallowing the head and then moving down the shaft, licking and pressing his lips against the skin. He barely heard Kermit's moans, and noticed only dimly the way he writhed as he put one arm over his lover's legs to keep himself oriented on the cock. He nuzzled the testicles, taking each briefly in his mouth before moving on, to the inner thigh.

"No!" Kermit's gasp stopped him, and he came back to his senses. He looked up, grinning, to see Kermit straining, pushing himself towards him again.

"Oh, did you not want me to touch you there?" He put a finger on the spot he'd just kissed, high in Kermit's left leg.

"Peter..." Kermit ground his teeth, and wrapped his legs around Peter's torso, trying to pull him upwards just a bit.

Peter thought about teasing him some more, but decided not to-- Kermit had a way of keeping very close track of those from whom he needed to exact revenge. As he moved back, to take the head in his mouth again, Kermit relaxed and fell back onto the mattress. He kept his legs wrapped around Peter, though, and Peter found it oddly comforting to be held so as he pleasured him. He put his tongue and lips to good work, using all the things he'd discovered would make a man scream; it appeared to be working on Kermit as well.

As Kermit began bucking, Peter moved away and brought his hand up and used his fist to bring Kermit to orgasm. He listened to Kermit's yells, slightly fascinated at this only time he'd ever seen Kermit lose control enough to cry out so loudly, so long. When the orgasm began to fade and Kermit relaxed with only shaking trembles, Peter leaned over and kissed him on the hip.

Kermit lay still for a moment, then raised his head and smiled at him.

"I thought you were trained to resist torture."

Kermit laughed. "I am. But everyone has his limits."

Peter leered at the expression on Kermit's face. "Oh really? I bet--" he got no further as suddenly he was laying on his back, underneath Kermit. Kermit kissed him, and he felt a hand between his legs. He whimpered, and Kermit glanced at him.

"Don't worry... I wont be gentle." The mischevious smile flashed again and then Peter saw only the inside of his skull. One hand was moving rapidly up and down his cock, not exactly gently, as the other hand roamed about his torso, pressing and squeezing. His nipples were pinched, thighs kneaded roughly, and his body was moving quickly with the same violent rhythm. His dug his hands into the sheets, curling his fingers into the cotten and trying desperately not to scream.

But he couldn't hang on, and he found himself thrusting into Kermit's hand, buttocks bouncing on the mattress and legs pushing him back upwards as if trying to force the pressure on his cock to move faster, harder. Suddenly that pressure was there, as if Kermit had closed his fist tightly, and Peter came with a shout much louder and longer than the one he'd elicited. At the moment he didn't care, as he lost himself in the explosion.

When he opened his eyes Kermit was sitting on his legs, watching him. He smiled. "Ok, officer, I'll tell you what you want to know."

Kermit's grin was triumphant, and he moved forward and kissed him. It was long and slow, the gentleness startling neither of them. Peter hugged his friend close, and thought quickly if there was anything he had to do before slipping off to sleep. Door locked, phone on, lights on but who cared, gun in its drawer and lover on his chest. Everything was perfect. He kissed Kermit on the forehead, and snuggled in.

Kermit hesitated only briefly, then followed suit.

The sun was very, very bright. He pulled sunglasses from a shirt pocket and slipped them on; it helped but only slightly. Perhaps if he'd had more sleep last night the sun wouldn't pierce his eyes so sharply. Well, nothing for that now-- and thinking back he knew it was worth it. Granted he'd anticipated spending the day inside, working at the precinct. But he'd been a cop long enough to know something always could, and usually would, happen to disrupt the smallest of plans.

He glanced to his left and saw his lover leaning casually against a car, waiting. Green shades hid his gaze, but Peter knew he'd met his glance when the impassive face smirked briefly. He turned his attention back to the bank. Did people really rob banks anymore?

Uniformed officers and flashing lights told him that yes, at least for today they did. Sighing, he wondered if maybe they couldn't move into the information age just a little bit quicker-- theives could break into financial accounts and steal it all without bothering with the ski masks and shotguns, calling in cops from their- indoor, work. Captain Simms interupted his musings as she stepped up beside him.

"We're lucky this time. Only three hostages, and two bank robbers. Maybe we can end this one quickly and get back to work."

He grinned at her. "We are at work, Captain. Didn't anyone tell you?"

She glared at him before smiling, and Peter wondered if he wasn't the only one who'd been hoping for a quiet day at the station. "Luckily their demands are small."

"You think we're dealing with professionals?" Peter knew that only those who hadn't expected to bluff their way out of a hostage situation gave flashy demands; pros usually kept their demands light- all the better chance to actually get them.

"It certainly looks that--" she broke off as movement at the front of the bank caught her attention. Peter turned to watch, hand flashing for his gun without a moment for thought. He kept it down, not wanting to startle the man at the door. He was holding a pistol to a very nervous woman's head.

"What in the--?" Such an action was not expected from the professional criminals they'd just been anticipating. Peter followed his Captain towards the bank, as she headed for Lieutenant Rosters from the hostage negotiation team. He held a bullhorn tightly, waiting for the man to make his intentions clear.

Peter didn't have to scan the area to know a dozen rifles were trained on the man, or that Kermit had come closer as well, staying off to Peter's right. They waited for something to happen.

"I want you cops to leave!" The man's voice shattered the tension. Nobody moved, and Rosters raised his bullhorn, asked the man to lay down his weapon. As expected, the man simply yelled again, keeping his pistol trained on the woman's temple. "I said I want you to leave! Or the woman dies!"

Rosters turned to Simms. "I have men in postion... they can take him out but I can't guarantee he won't kill the woman anyway." Muscle spasms even after a bullet shot to the head could trigger the man's pistol.


"Unfortunately the best one I have is to have everyone leave... well, mostly everyone. If he sees the uniformed officers leaving, he might relax, or get distracted enough that we can get her away from him."

"Do you think we can get anyone close enough to him? Grab the hostage?" They spoke quickly, hoping to get through the conversation before the man with the gun got impatient.

"Doubtful," Rosters knew Simms understood that before she'd asked. "But maybe, if he points it away from her even for a second... my snipers can take him out."

"How many will you leave in position?"

"All of them. This guy can't see them, he won't know they're not leaving."

Simms nodded. "Let's do it."

Rosters spoke through the horn again. "All right... we're sending the police away. Just remain calm." While he spoke, Simms used her radio to inform the uniformed officers to back away, and leave the area. They began doing so, conspicuously. Rosters warned his snipers to remain on guard, ready to fire as soon as the man's pistol was clear of the woman.

Peter watched the man at the bank's door. He was watching the cops leave, looking over at each patrol car that moved away, glancing about at the individual cops who backed out of the area. Peter noticed how he didn't seem to be looking at the plainclothes officers who remained behind. He kept his pistol out of sight beside his leg.

Suddenly the bank robber stiffened, and began to yell. "I said all the--" he waved his gun towards Rosters. At that moment the rifles fired, and he was thrown back against the bank's doors. Blood splattered across the gold plated facings and the woman, predictably, began to scream. Peter ran forward as did several other policemen, to find that indeed the man was dead. One cop took the freed hostage away, while the others lined up by the doors.

Peter shoved the door open and saw Kermit make the first entry. He felt his gut tighten as a brief wish that Kermit was away and out of harm's way made itself known; then he was making his own entry and wasn't thinking about anything else. He saw the bank's lobby, quiet and still. Carefully he stepped forward, holding his pistol ready, aware of the other cops entering the building and slowing sweeping through the room.

No motion other than the cops; everything inside the bank seemed sharp and clear, colours and smells heightened by the rush of adrenalin. He moved towards an office, the door stood open and from his angle he could detect nothing moving inside. He crept up to the wall, and listened. Hearing nothing he moved quickly; the room was empty. He gave it a quick second look before moving on.

He caught another glimpse of Kermit, dealing with an office on the other side of the lobby. For a second he stood still, watching to see... when Kermit stepped out of the empty office Peter smiled and moved on. He'd noticed Kermit had seen him, and knew his lover would chastise him later for poorly timed concern. Didn't matter, he'd discovered he could be very good at distracting Kermit when he tried.

As he approached the next office he heard Dennison call out that he'd found the hostages. Tied up behind the tellers' windows, they were apparently unharmed. Another cop went to help him with them, while the rest continued their search. The other bank robber was still unaccounted for.

Kermit found him crouched by the safe, headphones on as he worked intently on detecting the safe's combination. His gun was laying on the carpet nearby but his hands were on his tools; a frustrated, confused look was on his face and it was obvious, to someone like Kermit, why. The electronic lock on the bank's safe made no noise.

When Peter walked up he saw Kermit standing over the last bank robber, both staring intently at the safe's locking mechanism. Peter gave Kermit a 'what the hell' look as Kermit glanced at him. Kermit smiled and waved him to silence. With a grin, Peter walked carefully up and stood behind the robber, next to Kermit.

Kermit reached over and tapped the guy on the shoulder, and asked if he needed any help.

Peter rubbed his eyes, then took another long look. Nope, still there. Sighing, he leaned back in his chair and picked up his pencil. He'd been hoping the report would magically fill itself out if he just waited long enough, and wished hard enough. What was the point of having mystical training if you couldn't use it to get yourself out of paperwork?

Hands fell on his shoulders and he glanced up. Kermit smiled at him-- the normal, friendly, only-half-a-smile appropriate for standing in the middle of the squadroom. Peter wasn't convinced they had anyone fooled, but it helped to keep up appearances. Or keep down appearances, depending on which appearances one was worried about. "Almost through?"

"Are you kidding? Half an hour ago my hard drive went haywire, and I had to spend fifteen minutes looking for a papercopy of the report form... another five to find a pencil sharpener, and three minutes spent hoping the report would suddenly disappear."

Kermit laughed. "You could have just asked me to fix your hard drive."

Peter leaned closer, dropping his voice. "I was gonna wait til later." Keeping up appearances didn't extend to not teasing his lover in public.

Shaking his head, Kermit pulled a chair over and began tapping at Peter's keyboard. Peter watched him for a moment, then looked back at the report he was halfway through filling out. With a glance over at Kermit, gauging his progress, he tossed the pencil back onto TJ's desk. As proficient as he was with computers, he had no idea what Kermit was doing to his now, nor how long it would take to fix the darn thing. But he was willing to wait; he let one hand drop onto his knee, then stealthily crept it closer to Kermit's.

Half an inch away from making contact Kermit looked over at him. "There, you're back in. And I wouldn't..." Peter pulled his hand back at the threat.

"Thanks, Kermit."

"Anytime, my friend, anytime." Kermit walked away, and Peter turned his attention back to his work, back to that silly report. At least he knew what the answers were to the first ten questions were. As he typed, though, he thought about going home and what he might do once he got there. He smiled, realising that it was perhaps a good thing that his desk faced away from Kermit's office.

Tensing his shoulders as much as he could, he held them tightly in place then let them drop. It helped marginally; what he really needed was to go home and have a hot shower and a hot meal... maybe a hot boyfriend. He stood up and glanced around the squad room. Kermit had already left, so he grabbed his coat and headed out.

"Hey, Peter, you going to join us at Chandlers?"

He looked over at Kelly. "Not tonight, I just wanna go home and grab a meal."

Kelly walked closer, and said casually, "You know, Peter, you should come to Chandlers sometime... people are beginning to worry about you. Spending too much time at home lately."

Peter just grinned at her, knowing she was just teasing him because she *didn't* currently have a boyfriend. He knew better than to say so, though, and left with a vague comment that he might, sometime, be social again if he felt the need.

Stopping only long enough to put the top down, he quickly jumped into his car and drove away.

When he reached his front door he stopped; the smell of garlic was unmistakeable. For a brief moment he panicked, wondering if Kermit's cooking dinner was something they'd planned- and if so, if he was supposed to have brought anything. It couldn't be helped now, though, so he unlocked his door and headed inside.

As he shut and secured the door behind him, he opened his mouth to call out.

"You forgot the wine, didn't you?" Kermit's voice came at him from the kitchen.

Shaking his head, Petter muttered, "He's as bad as my father sometimes, I swear..." He went to the kitchen to find Kermit standing there, shirt sleeves rolled up and sunglasses off. He stopped-- this was some *serious* cooking! "Uh... did you ask me to get some wine?" He gave his lover his best innocent who, me? look.

Kermit's glare told him it wasn't going to work. "You expect me to serve my best scampi without wine?" He turned his glare back to the bread he was slicing.

"Well, don't I have something here?" Peter headed for his wine rack-- a spot in his kitchen where he kept his wine bottles which Kermit had refused to call anything except the wine mortuary.

"You have *got* to be kidding."

"You know, if I'd known how picky you were about your gourmet meals I don't think I would have seduced you." Peter picked a tomatoe out of the salad and munched.

"As I recall," Kermit walked over and shooed him out of the way, reaching behind him to find more utensils Peter wasn't sure he owned, "_you_ didn't seduce anybody." He interupted his preparations long enough to give Peter a kiss; Peter noticed it tasted of garlic and butter.

"Been at it already, have you?" Leaning against the cabinet, Peter was willing to ignore the whole wine/seduction thing since it looked like he was going to be wrong for both counts.

"A good chef always tastes his meals as he works."

"Yeah? What does a great chef do?"

Kermit grinned suddenly. "Hires out."

Peter got himself out of trouble by setting the table with his best dishes, up to and including the lit candles set all around the room. As the meal was made ready he helped carry bowls and platters to the table; the smell was making him crazy to sit down and dig in. He waited, though, until everything was ready and Kermit was standing, empty-handed, beside his chair.

"You sure you haven't forgotten anything? Once I sit down I'm not getting up again til the food's all gone."

Kermit nodded. "I'm sure... I think."

"Good enough." Peter decided he'd waited long enough to satisfy his hunger; he took Kermit in his arms and gave him a kiss, tasting again the garlic, butter, and very cheap red wine he'd found under a layer of dust.

Kermit held him for a moment, then broke the kiss. "I thought you were hungry."

"I am... I just wanted to taste the dessert first." Peter smiled at the look that comment brought into Kermit's eyes-- he stil couldn't put words to it, but he knew they didn't shine that way for anyone else.

"Sit down, before it gets cold." Kermit's voice was soft, and for once Peter forwent the crude joke he could have made.

"It smells wonderful." He sat down, and put the cloth napkin over his lap. He picked up his wine glass, and held it out to Kermit for a toast.

"I'm not making a toast with this stuff." Kermit waved him away, intent on his salad.

Laughing, Peter sipped his wine and then turned his attention to the food as well.

After a moment Kermit looked over at him. "I love you, too."

Peter only smiled.

Their lovemaking was slow, each taking the time to savour kisses and carresses, spending long moments simply looking at the man each held in his arms. Peter leaned forward once to lick at a nipple, as he teased with his tongue he located a spot he hadn't discovered before. Kermit's reaction was swift, his entire body taunt and trembling. Peter took his time carressing that same spot with his tongue, memorising it's location, before moving on.

Some moments later he knew Kermit had started breathing again when he whispered, "Do that again...."

They continued their delections, up to and beyond the orgasms. Lying together, hands moving slowing over heated skin, they remained silent, listening to hearts beat slower and slower. Peter finally closed his eyes, content to sleep after what had become a perfect day.

He felt Kermit's hand still stroking his back, and smiled at the memory of his offer to purr, the first time Kermit had continued the strokes long after either was able to continue any sexual activity. Now, he expected it, taking great pleasure in the moments when he felt Kermit loving him. As he drifted off to sleep, he partly woke up, expecting something to interupt-- the phone, a knock on the door. When he heard only the sounds of his lover lying still, he settled in again and went to sleep.

The note that he found on his door the next day said "Peter... *when* are you two coming over for dinner?"