Disclaimers: The Highlander charcters belong to Rysher and Panzer/Davis Productions. The Sentinel characters belong to Pet Fly and Paramount. Intended for adult readers only, please. Written for pleasure, not profit. Contains male/male sex and some rockin' language.

Notes: This little PWP is a birthday present for my pal JaC, who introduced me to both Highlander and The Sentinel. As for the how and why, let's just say the Jim I saw in the interrogation scene in "Murder 101" was downright inspiring. Thanks to my two Melissas -- one for the "ooh-aahs" and one for the "uh-uhs" and to Kady, Kat and Lyrica for fine-tooth combing.

Summary: Two, two, two slashy shows in one. Duncan MacLeod gets the ride of his life when a stranger walks into Joe's bar.

Warnings: None except to note that these two engage in unprotected sex, which is only cool in fanfic, and sometimes not even then. When it's your turn, my friends, make sure somebody wears a condom, okay? And ... so I won't get my fingernails chewed off by the "TrueLove"rs, let's just assume this story is either set pre-Blair and pre-Methos, or it's an AU -- take your pick.

Feedback to: JBonetoo@yahoo.com


The Look [NC-17]

by Bone


He has the look, Duncan thought, eyeing the stranger framed in the doorway of Joe's bar. The look of an Immortal, but with no betraying zing of Presence; not even the hum of a pre-Immortal. No betraying Presence, and no place to hide a sword -- not in that t-shirt, not in those jeans. But he held himself with the alertness of an Immortal, as if he always knew someone could come up from behind.

Still just a shape in the doorway, his shoulders filling most of the opening, the stranger paused, rocking forward on the balls of his feet. Duncan watched him take in the place with one stringent, sweeping glance around the darkened room, over the band in the corner and the customers gathered in groups, past Duncan holding court behind the bar, then returning to hold his gaze.

(Cop. Has to be.)

Only two kinds of people gave unfamiliar settings the kind of attention this man imparted: Immortals and the police. At the measured regard, Duncan's stomach clenched. An unexpected reaction given the fact there was really little the mortal could do to him, at least on a permanent basis. Still, he hadn't survived more than four hundred years by scoffing at his instincts, so he continued to dry the glass in his hand with a casualness he didn't feel, while keeping a close eye on the big man now making his way toward the bar. As he neared the bar, light revealed details the dark had only hinted at. Tall and hard, with an almost military bearing, his face like a piece of carved granite, the stranger radiated intensity -- an almost sexual surge of it.

Within the hard planes of his face lived a pair of bright blue eyes. Eyes without a shred of warmth, at least at the moment. Small lines bracketing them indicated that he did smile on occasion. Duncan wondered how his face changed when that happened, whether his smile would be kind or dangerous, then clamped down on the thought.

(Find out what he wants, and get him out of here. The last thing you need is a walk on the wild side.)

What a night for Joe and Mike to both be gone. His tension increased with each step that brought the stranger closer to the bar, the pressure slipping from his stomach to a destination disconcertingly farther south. It felt like one of those confrontations in a Western -- the black hat sauntering through a saloon's swinging doors to confront the hero. Duncan shook his head to dispel the image.

He couldn't point to one thing about the man that set his radar off-- he was dressed plainly enough, in a gray t-shirt and worn blue jeans. Were it not for the eyes, and the almost too-calm regard the man continued to give him, Duncan probably wouldn't have given him a second thought.

Except to admire him from afar, perhaps.

Seeing a body as carefully tended as his own, on a man of his own height or more, sent jolts of arousal through Duncan. Uninvited, unexpected, but there nonetheless. The man's combination of confidence and caution struck an answering chord inside him, and he gravitated toward the heat the stranger exuded in waves, responding like a needle on a compass pulled heedlessly north. Part of the appeal came from his obvious authority -- Duncan already felt like a captain bending to a general's will. He leaned forward, putting his forearms on the bar, shielding the erection he had no doubt this man's eyes could pick out.

The stranger slid onto a barstool with casual grace, seating himself directly in front of Duncan. Duncan wondered that none of the other patrons could pick up the tension between them. He could already sense a string of awareness binding them together, enveloping them, and he had to take special care to school his features and breathe evenly as he asked, "What can I get for you?"

(Play it cool; careful, careful.)

Whoever he was, he looked to be on a hair-trigger and Duncan didn't want to be the thing that set him off. The stranger broke eye contact, but before Duncan could breathe a sigh of relief, the eyes moved over him, starting at his hair, moving over his face and down his chest, spending an inordinate amount of time staring at the place where his midriff met the wooden bar.

(He knows. Somehow, he knows he's turning me on.)

Duncan stood up straight, still shielding his lower body from the man's eyes. Already, he needed a little distance. The intensity he had felt even when the man stood thirty feet away became overpowering this close. Sounds faded, the muted ebb and flow of conversation and music around him sliding out of his consciousness. The world narrowed to the hard-eyed man before him, and the little space that remained between them.

How much did that kind of control cost him? Up close, the edges of the stranger seemed that much sharper, his attention that much more focused. He reminded Duncan of a soldier preparing to go into battle; harnessing his power, sloughing away any unnecessary emotion. How strange to find that kind of intensity sitting on a barstool on a Thursday night. Strange and more than a little arousing.

"Can I get you something?" Duncan repeated, pleased when the question came out with an appropriate degree of indifference.

"Beer," the man said shortly, his voice low and raspy. He pointed behind Duncan to the bottles on the bar. "Heineken."

Of course he couldn't have ordered a draft, Duncan thought sourly, taking the inevitable steps away from the bar to get a bottle of beer from the cooler. The man's eyes slipped immediately lower, taking in the rest of Duncan, erection and all. His face changed then, while Duncan watched. The skin over his cheekbones stretched, as if he'd smiled inside, but wouldn't let it out. He raised his chin a little, as if sniffing the air, and settled his hands on his thighs, taking up even more room than he had before.

"Would you like to start a tab?" Duncan set down a coaster, then the opened bottle of beer.

The man nodded, then raised his eyes to Duncan's again as he lifted the bottle to his mouth and took a long pull.

Duncan dropped his eyes to the man's throat, watching it work as he swallowed the beer, and had to turn away. Using the excuse of washing more glasses, Duncan moved down the bar to the sink, tossing clean glassware in the warm soapy water and giving them their second good scrubbing of the evening. When he hazarded a glance back at the cop, his attention seemed riveted on the band, his big hand tapping out a rhythm on the bar.

One hour passed, then two. Customers came and went, the band played its last set and the bell rang for last call around midnight. And all the while, the stranger sat, nursing his beer. Each time Duncan caught the man's eye, the air between them sizzled. A burning ache settled low in his belly; anticipation and caution warring in his body. Awareness built between them like fire, expanding and contracting as Duncan moved behind the bar serving customers; stretching closer, then farther away, then close again, until Duncan could discern the stranger's movements without looking directly at him.

Duncan filled a flurry of last minute orders, acknowledging the man's tap on his beer bottle with a nod. He saved the order for last, knowing as he did so he treaded on dangerous ground. He popped off the cap with a practiced flip and handed the bottle to the man directly, rather than placing it on the bar. How that casual gesture became erotic he wasn't sure, and didn't care to dwell on it.

The stranger took the beer and raised it in a silent salute, but before taking a drink, he said, "You Joe?"

Two hours sitting within ten feet and suddenly he'd decided to talk. Could it be because the place had emptied of all but a straggling few? Could it be because the music had stopped and conversations could be heard without shouting? Voice pitched low and a little husky, he sounded as if he'd been talking too much; as if his throat hurt.

Duncan shook his head. "I'm a friend of Joe's. Just helping out."

The man nodded.

Then, because it seemed rude not to, Duncan wiped his hands on the dishtowel he'd tucked in his waistband as a way of keeping his persistent arousal hidden, and extended a hand to the man. It wasn't the stranger's fault Duncan MacLeod got off on pure male intensity, regardless of circumstance.

"Duncan MacLeod," he said.

"Jim Ellison," the stranger replied, putting a big warm hand inside Duncan's and giving it a firm shake. Not a ball-breaker, Duncan decided. Or at least he didn't feel a need to establish his masculinity with a bone-crushing handshake. Another sign of self-assurance, Duncan thought. Or disregard.

He looked down at their entwined hands. No, not disregard. He could practically feel currents leaping between them from their joined hands. He brought his eyes up to meet Jim's. Heat, where cold had been. Fire replacing ice. Whatever Duncan felt, the not-a-stranger-anymore felt it, too.

All right then, Duncan said to himself. All right. Chemistry like this didn't come along very often. Usually with women, but from time to time a man created that sensual link, and this man already had him so tied up in knots he could hardly remember the proper mix for a vodka martini. He'd had a few one- night stands in his time, but rarely with another man, and never with one so strikingly strong.

Jim let go of his hand and Duncan took it back, rubbing it unconsciously on the side of his jeans. His hand tingled, feeling the memory of Jim's skin against it. It took a lot to throw Duncan MacLeod -- he'd seen just about everything in his four centuries, but the primal attraction he felt to the taciturn man in front of him disturbed him, in the best possible way.

(Admit it; you like it that he's a complete stranger.)

The blankness of the slate just increased his interest. A pulse started a staccato beat in his lips. A flush crept up his chest. He tried to hide his reaction but could see by the look on Jim's face that he'd failed miserably.

Jim leaned toward him as if he'd like to vault over the bar and climb right on top of him. "What do I owe you, Duncan?"

Now there was a question. But Duncan only answered mildly, "Seven-fifty."

Jim pushed the stool back and reached into his back pocket for his wallet.

Helplessly, Duncan watched the t-shirt stretch taut across his chest, watched his biceps bunch as Jim dug the wallet out of his pocket and handed him a ten, waving away the change Duncan offered. Glancing down, Duncan saw tight quad muscles strain up against the ragged denim of his blue jeans. Between them a firm bulge strained against a placket worn white in places. When he dragged his gaze back to Jim's, amusement glittered in them.

Caught.

(The bait's well and truly hooked -- reel me in.)

Duncan let some of his own amusement show, revealed the appeal. With his eyes lit warm, Jim went from ordinary good looking to ridiculously attractive. And Duncan still had yet to see the man smile.

To break the spell, Duncan started the mundane close-out duties behind the bar. He called good night to a couple of regulars and handed the band leader the check Joe had left for them. Through it all, Jim sat on his barstool, his long legs braced on either side of him, and watched. Too soon for Duncan's peace of mind, and barely soon enough for his body's demand, they were alone.

Duncan removed the taps off two empty kegs and cleaned them carefully before attaching them to the new kegs lying in wait. As he did so, he said, "I haven't seen you in here before. Are you new to the area?"

Jim swallowed the last of his beer and answered, "Just visiting. I drove up from Cascade this morning." He paused for a minute, then continued, his voice sounding scratchier than ever. "I'm with the police department in Cascade. We're doing a joint investigation with Seacouver PD."

"Sounds like you spent the whole day talking," Duncan said, indicating his throat, wondering what kind of joint investigating the two departments were doing and hoping they weren't looking into a few recent beheadings.

"Interrogating," Jim corrected.

Images flashed through Duncan's mind. Heaven alone knew what he'd have admitted to if Jim Ellison had been the one putting him through the interrogation paces, all those times he ended up on the wrong side of a jail cell. He'd been on the hot seat often enough to know what the atmosphere was like in The Box. Testosterone swelled so thick you could smell it across the room. Posturing, threatening, cajoling, intimidating -- all things he himself had faced at the hands of the police. But this man stood on the other side, turning into whoever he had to be to get answers. As hard as it was to be questioned, surely it was no easier to be the person doing the asking.

He searched for something non-committal to say, but what came out was, "Did you get your man?"

Jim let the double entendre slide by with just a quirk of his lips. "I know good and well the son-of-a-bitch did it. Tomorrow, I'm going to break him."

So it wasn't over, Duncan thought with a shiver. Jim couldn't let go yet. Couldn't release the adrenaline that kept him in fighting form. His intensity, his virtual silence since walking in the bar, and the heat of his self-containment were all signs of a man trying to maintain a face for the game. For all Duncan knew, the real Jim Ellison was nothing like this hard, focused, sexual magnet. For all Duncan knew, the real Jim Ellison joked around with his friends, grinned at the drop of a hat and remembered the 911 operator's birthday. Or maybe he was looking at the real Jim Ellison. The one precious few had the privilege of meeting. A Jim stripped of courtesy and artifice. Stripped to his essential nature.

Stripped.

The last thought nudged Duncan to action. Neither man had tried to pretend coyness. The heat was there, acknowledged. The time had come to act on it.

"Want to give me a hand?" Duncan asked, indicating the empty kegs on the floor.

"Sure," Jim replied, stretching off the stool and coming around the bar. As he got closer, Duncan had to consciously stand his ground. How long had it been since he looked up to someone? Duncan mused. Jim was even bigger close up. Taller than Duncan by about an inch, with a bulkier build. Broader through the middle, with longer legs. A soldier's body, Duncan thought again. And again he let the subversive pull lead him, surrendering caution to succumb before a stronger power.

Jim lifted the keg to his shoulder in an easy stroke and raised his eyebrows at Duncan, as if to say, "What now?"

"Back to the office." Duncan hoisted his own keg and led the way. They dropped the kegs to the floor inside the office door, and Jim pushed the door closed with his foot, shutting out the empty bar outside.


Duncan turned to face him, his arms quiet at his side, waiting. His insides started to melt, already yielding.

"Do you want to do this?" Jim asked almost in a whisper, advancing on Duncan, prowling up to him, not letting Duncan's gaze leave his.

Duncan nodded.

"I need to hear you say it." Jim stopped within arm's reach, his voice a throaty purr in the enclosed space.

"Yes, I want to do this." Duncan responded to the implied order, his heart tripping in his chest at both the audacity of Jim's assumption, and his own easy acquiescence. Jim needed something; an outlet, a surface to absorb the body blow of pressure he was under. And Duncan was good at giving people what they needed. Especially when it coincided so beautifully with what he wanted. So he agreed, with his voice, and with his body, which he offered to Jim with a small, and very male, smile.

Jim pounced.

He shoved Duncan back against the door, pinning his arms high overhead. Then Jim just stared at him, and Duncan could feel those eyes move over him. The heat from Jim's body leaped between them, and Duncan felt a prickle of sweat in the middle of his back and between his legs. Jim held him with a careful grip, not hurting him, just holding him tight enough that Duncan knew not to move.

The leashed ferocity aroused him terribly. His cock pressed insistently against the unforgiving fabric of his trousers, creating a friction that felt so good it was almost painful. Duncan moved his hips forward, seeking Jim's body, seeking a hard surface to rub against, but Jim held himself away, watching Duncan's hips make shallow thrusts towards his, repeating the motion back to him but not allowing their bodies to touch. The evocative dance made the pressure behind Duncan's eyes burn even hotter. Breathing through his mouth, he leaned forward, setting his teeth on Jim's jaw.

A groan forced its way out of Jim's mouth through clenched teeth, a feral sound of pleasure, a reward for Duncan's surrender. He pushed his jaw towards Duncan, encouraging him to bite. Duncan grabbed his escalating libido with a stern mental warning not to mark the man -- he did, after all, have to go back in The Box tomorrow -- and settled for gnawing lightly on the tight skin just below his ear.

Jim released his arms abruptly and dropped his body onto Duncan's, giving Duncan room to move his mouth down Jim's throat and giving them both good solid surfaces to thrust into. Seizing the opportunity, Duncan wrapped his arms around the bigger man, letting his hands learn the broad planes of Jim's back, the roundness of his ass and the strength of his thighs. Jim leaned back far enough to take Duncan's mouth with his and Duncan felt a hot, bold tongue stab into his mouth, staking a claim without ever saying a word. As still and quiet as he'd been all night, now Jim moved and moaned, as if he'd been freed from a cage by Duncan's touch.

"I'm not ... Jesus," Jim gasped out as Duncan took his ass in both hands and started grinding their groins together. The length of Jim's cock strained against Duncan's hip. Rough and ready, that defined Jim. He made Duncan feel the same way.

"You're not what?" Duncan mouthed into Jim's neck, tasting salt and soap and smoke.

"Prepared. I didn't plan ..." Jim's voice trailed off again as Duncan found a rhythm that suited him. Jim braced his arms on the door and let Duncan writhe up against him, holding firm while Duncan beat an erotic tattoo with his body.

Even now Jim had control, Duncan thought with the part of his brain still capable of rational thought. Even now he could hold his body still and think about protection. The first Duncan couldn't do. The second he had no need for, but he admired Jim's willpower even as he did his best to disarm it.

"Don't need 'em. I'm clean," Duncan said. They could have pleasured each other in any of a dozen ways, but Duncan wanted to be fucked, and Jim wanted to fuck him. They didn't need to say it out loud to make it true.

Jim pulled back and looked at him, his eyes narrowing as he stilled. He turned his head a little to the side, as if listening for something, and Duncan wondered what he was doing, but finally Jim just nodded sharply.

"I am too, but I still need something," Jim murmured into Duncan's ear before attaching his mouth to the lobe and sucking strenuously. Duncan stood it as long as he could without coming, then pushed against Jim's chest, pushing harder when it became apparent Jim didn't feel much like moving.

"Just a minute, Jim, just a minute," Duncan soothed, sliding out from under Jim's arm and going to Joe's desk, rifling through the drawers. He looked up at Jim and felt his gut clench. Jim had one hip cocked, and he had braced himself against the doorway with one hand high up on the jamb. A hectic flush stained his cheeks and his short hair stood on end. He stood with his legs apart, as if anything else would be uncomfortable, and Duncan could see his erection plainly through his jeans. He could also sense Jim holding onto his control by the sheer force of will alone.

Duncan finally upended the middle drawer on the floor and grabbed a tube of hand lotion, holding it up in triumph. "Got it."

At the sight of it, Jim reared his head back, shook himself and came toward Duncan. He reached for Duncan's shirt, pulling the tails out of his trousers and stripping it off him, tossing the shirt casually onto the desk behind Duncan. The look on his face as he took in the bare torso before him made Duncan tremble. Not with fear -- there wasn't anything about Jim that frightened him -- but with spiraling, unraveling hunger.

Jim put his hand out, as if he'd touch Duncan's chest, but his breath came in sudden and harsh, and instead, he took Duncan by the arm and turned him, so he stood with his back to Jim.

"Lean on the desk," Jim whispered, and Duncan complied, heart racing, trying to catch his breath while he still could.

He felt Jim's rugged presence behind him, heard Jim stripping off his own shirt, then the heat of Jim's chest pressed against his back. Hairless, smooth, hot skin blanketed his back, the hard prick of Jim's nipples a welcome focal point in the sliding lethargy he felt. Time stretched and snapped while they stood there, Jim leaning his weight against Duncan's bare back, both of them dragging out the pleasure and anticipation as long as they could before their bodies decreed they do something, something else, something more.

Jim's hands grasping his belt made Duncan moan. His fingers, sliding down the zipper and reaching in to grasp Duncan's swollen cock, made Duncan's knees go weak. Jim pushed Duncan's pants and briefs down his thighs, but didn't try to take them off. The picture this painted for Duncan -- of the two of them in Joe's office, leaning half-naked against the desk where Joe paid his bills -- had him thrusting again, forward into Jim's palm, back against his heavy groin.

"God, Jim, please," Duncan crooned, bracing himself harder against the desk, willing Jim to hurry, not even complaining when the hand left his erection.

The cool slide of lotion between his ass cheeks made Duncan shudder. A coated finger worked its way inside him, not gently, but not rough enough to hurt, either. It felt as firm and focused as the rest of Jim, and the minute Duncan relaxed, another finger joined the first. Duncan leaned over farther, resting his forearms on the desk as he had earlier in the bar, and thrust his ass back towards Jim. It was the position of a supplicant, but Duncan didn't care. All that mattered was having the sharp intensity of Jim inside him, where he could take it in and give it back.

Each long stroke inside him felt like the best lay he'd ever had, like his best time with a woman, only better. As if his willingness to take the rough energy Jim offered freed him to experience pleasure with a wantonness his own control usually didn't allow. Three fingers penetrating made him groan with pain until Jim brushed the pads of his fingers against Duncan's prostate, then three fingers felt just fine. Better than fine. Jim slid his other hand to Duncan's nipples and played there roughly, just the way Duncan wanted. Anything lighter wouldn't even have been enough. How could Jim already know his body so well?

"Are you ready?" Jim grunted, already pulling his hands away, already opening his jeans.

Duncan moaned out a "Yessss" into his forearms, unable to stop his hips from thrusting back, as if he could capture Jim's cock all by himself.

He felt Jim's hand, heavy on his hip, holding him still, then his fingertips holding his cock at the entrance to Duncan's body, then the thick head, covered with slippery lotion, pushing its way in. Jim breathed hard and fast behind him, clutching his hips with both hands as he stretched inside, never pausing but also never forcing. With the exception of the inexorable slide of his cock inside Duncan's body, Jim was once again still. Listening, Duncan thought. Listening to what?

"Oh my God. Christ ... Duncan ... Duncan," Jim panted, and Duncan felt the first small thrust, the first coiling reaction inside Jim's body, the first helpless motion inside his own body. The rhythm took hold without Duncan being aware that he was ready for it. Without conscious design, he thrust back as Jim thrust forward, and then all of Jim was in, every inch, up to the balls, encased tightly inside him.

Duncan groaned, the harsh sound pulled from somewhere deep inside him, and he heard an answer resonate from Jim's chest. Jim stood straight up again, changing the angle of his penetration and now each helpless thrust sent the head of his cock sharply into Duncan's prostate. Chills ran through Duncan's body each time it happened, and his cock, untouched and unaided, started its own bobbing rhythm in the air in front of the desk. Jim pounded him without restraint, without discipline, and Duncan accepted the force, bending to absorb the buffeting blows, taking Jim in, releasing him, then taking him in again, working the muscles inside to drag out Jim's pleasure as long as he could.

Behind him, he could hear a steady rumbling deep in Jim's chest, moans trapped and bubbling to the surface without his permission. The rocking rhythm lost its gait as Jim's control splintered, and he braced himself against the desk, letting Jim's body slam into his without resistance. Inside, he felt opened, altered, as if Jim's cock had let loose something primitive inside him. He gave in, gave up, abandoned himself, letting the rough thrusts lift him to his toes, letting his spirit absorb the exhilaration of complete capitulation while his body did its best to consume everything Jim had to offer. How taking could feel so much like giving, he didn't know.

A particularly brutal thrust put Duncan over the edge, his cock jerking in the air, spouting semen in streams onto the desk and the floor. Immediately, Jim shook behind him, his own shout rising into the air, his hands gripping Duncan punishingly as he thrust hard inside and held there. Duncan could feel the swelling inside him, feel the heated rush of come forcing its way deep, feel Jim's cock spasm in the stretched confines of his body.

Duncan's cock twitched in envy, wanting its own snug sheath but settling for the brush of air instead. Rolling contractions spun through his body, startled aftershocks as Jim continued to thrust slowly inside him, allowing Duncan to milk the pleasure; riding the impaler until his knees gave out beneath him.

When it was over, neither man could stand. Duncan sank to the floor, pulling Jim with him, still connected, tangled in their clothes, dripping with sweat, hearts pounding out of synch with each other, almost audible. In the sweet stillness, Jim pressed his mouth to the back of Duncan's neck, licking up the sweat until Duncan groaned and turned his head to be kissed.

Jim put a gentling hand on Duncan's hip and whispered, "Coming out."

Duncan consciously relaxed so withdrawing didn't hurt either of them. Jim turned him onto his back and leaned over him, sliding a hand down to Duncan's crotch and cradling his spent cock. It twitched sleepily under his palm. Jim rubbed the head of Duncan's cock with his thumb, semen slicking his path. Duncan dropped his head back and sighed.

Jim leaned over and took the softening cock in his mouth, lingering to lick beneath the foreskin, dipping in to taste the slit and Duncan's hips pushed upward instinctively. Jim released him with one last, long lick and dropped onto his back beside him. Duncan let the blood reorient itself in his body, let his breathing even out and his pulse slow, still tingling in all the right places.

Duncan moved first, reaching down a negligent hand to tug his briefs and trousers back into position. Jim sat up, watching him zip and button up, watching his hands as they worked the clasp on his belt. Jim heaved himself up in one steady motion, bringing his dangling jeans with him as he did so, zipping up casually, unselfconsciously reaching in to rearrange himself once he had his jeans back on.

Jim offered him a hand and pulled him up effortlessly. Duncan leaned forward, putting his forehead on Jim's chest, and Jim slid a hand down the back of his neck, holding him against his body for a minute before pulling away.

"Can I give you a ride somewhere?" Duncan asked as he pulled his shirt over his head, tucking it carelessly back in his trousers.

Jim's answer came muffled through his own shirt. "No, thanks. I walked. Wasn't sure how much I'd drink." When his head reappeared from the trap of his t-shirt, he added, "I guess getting drunk wasn't what I needed."

Duncan accepted the unspoken compliment with a nod. "No hangover, either," he pointed out. The sharp edginess that had shrouded Jim all evening had dissipated somewhat, leaving only the focus and intensity behind. He still had his game face on, but he had control. Duncan almost felt sorry for the poor man who'd have to face Jim in the morning. He'd never know what hit him.

"Nail the bastard tomorrow," Duncan heard himself say, and a wide-open grin split Jim's face, broadening the narrow planes of his cheeks, crinkling his eyes. A breathtaking sight, that smile.

"That's what I'm good at," Jim said, and Duncan found himself grinning back, enjoying the play on words, and the connection he felt, no matter how brief.

"Yes, I can believe that," Duncan said with a leer and Jim laughed.

They walked out together, and Jim waited while Duncan locked the bar. Duncan put his hand out again, and Jim shook it, the grip as warm and firm as Duncan remembered. Without saying anything else, Jim squeezed Duncan's hand one more time and turned into the night.

Duncan watched him walk away, his steps ringing out on the sidewalk in a don't-fuck-with-me stride.

(Fuck me. But don't fuck *with* me.)

Words to live by, he decided as he started towards his car, hearing his footsteps echo Jim's on the pavement.

The end.