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Kissing With Confidence by alyse [Reviews - 14]
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Category: CI5: The New Professionals > Slash
Characters: Chris Keel
Rating: PG-13
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None

Summary: Response to the kissing challenge.





Notes: Self-beta'd. Thanks to Munchie and Ariadne for their encouragement and insights.

~*~

I kiss him. He kisses me. We kiss each other...

I stare at him as he stands there in front of the class, apparently not bothered by what he's saying, what he's writing on the blackboard. I can hear the other kids, my mates, sniggering even if he can't. Even if he doesn't care, I do.

Him. He's a bloke and yet he doesn't seem to care that he's writing 'him'. And I don't care if it is 'cause Karen asked him to write it down, giggling in that annoying way she has. All she cares about is whether or not she can get off with one of those French exchange students that are coming, although I can't figure out why the hell anyone would want to come here. She's a slag. I should know. I've had her, like a lot of my mates. Not all the way, of course. She says she's a 'nice girl' and nice girls don't do that. Yeah, right. Nice girls don't let you put your hands down their knickers. Nice girls don't go down on you as well as she does.

Besides, she's giggling again. She knows that it's funny to make our new substitute French teacher write down about snogging a bloke, even if he doesn't seem to get the joke.

I'm suddenly embarrassed by it all and I stare out of the window so I don't have to look at him making an arse of himself. It's more embarrassing than it should be, 'cause in spite of myself I'm bothered by it. I don't want him making a fool of himself. I don't know what I want. And that makes me angry, even though I don't understand why.

"... with us, Mr Curtis?"

Oh shit, he's noticed I'm not paying attention, and I do what I always do. I cover it up with a sly smile and an 'I don't give a fuck' attitude.

"Oh yes, sir," I say, completely insincerely. See, I paid attention in English too. They're about the only classes that don't suck, maybe 'cause they're the only classes that don't have arseholes for teachers. Except maybe him. I try not to think of his arse. "I was paying complete attention. You were kissing him, right?"

A ripple of laughter runs through the class again, and he sighs, looking at me with disappointment in his eyes. It hurts, and I don't know why but I want to take the words back.

"I see your reputation, Mr Curtis, is well earned." That stings, but I don't show it. He's right, I've got a reputation for not giving a fuck about anything. "See if you can pay attention from now on, will you?"

I grunt and go back to tapping my pencil on my desk, knowing it pisses him off. He sighs again, and turns back to the blackboard, writing something else on it, his voice droning on while his back is to me.

I stop listening again and just stare at him again, making sure I just look bored and hide what I'm really thinking. I'm good at that. I've had lots of practice.

... He kisses me...

~*~

He kisses me. I kiss him. We kiss each other.

And then reality sinks in and I pull back to stare at him, horrified. And he can see it in my eyes.

"Chris..." he starts and then trails off.

"No," I say firmly, or at least trying to say it firmly although I can hear that my voice isn't entirely steady. "I'm not doing this, Tom. For chrissakes, I'm straight. And so are you!" I don't know whether I'm trying to convince him or myself and I don't care.

"Chris -" he starts again.

"No!" I'm getting angry now, and it's not his fault but I'm taking it out on him anyway, even though I hate myself for it. "I'm starting the Academy this fall. You're dating Nancy, for chrissakes!" My voice is rising and I can't stop it. I stop and take a deep breath. "We're just wasted, that's all. Eighteen, horny and wasted. That's all." I give this ragged little laugh, but I can see he's not fooled even if he does smile slightly. His eyes still look hurt and I can't stand that. I look away so I won't have to see the pain in my best friend's eyes.

"We're wasted," I repeat and it sounds weak to my own ears, like if I say it often enough it will become a reason. I stare out over the lights of the city beneath us, ignoring the unopened six-pack lying on the ground beside me. If I drink anything else I might do something I'd really regret. I'm starting Annapolis in the fall and I want to be a pilot more than anything. And they don't take queers in the Navy.

"So what do you think of Nancy's cousin?" I ask aimlessly, trying to get us on to safer footing.

"Teresa?" he asks, sounding a bit startled.

"Yeah."

"She seems nice enough. Nancy likes her."

"She's pretty."

"Yeah."

"I'm thinking of asking her out." I keep my voice firm, letting him know that this is how things are going to be, how there isn't any other option. I can feel him flinch next to me and I ignore it.

"Oh," he says tonelessly.

"Think she would?" I'm twisting the knife now, and I don't really understand why except that there's this need to make it perfectly clear that there's no hope. I'm going to be a pilot come hell or high water, no matter what other plans my best friend has.

He starts pulling tufts of grass out of the ground and throwing them aimlessly in front of us. "I don't see why not," he says. "All the nice girls love a sailor." There's a hint of accusation in his voice and I ignore that too.

"That's what I thought," I say calmly. "Come on. Let's get back. Dad'll be worried about me."

As he trails behind me on the long trek back to the city, I make up my mind. I'm definitely going to ask Teresa out. She's very pretty. And female. And safe.

~*~

I kiss him. He kisses me. We kiss each other.

And then he pulls back and the look on his face is serious and I know straight away something is wrong.

"Carl?" I ask, trying to ignore the sick, sinking feeling in my stomach. "What is it?" I try to keep the fear out of my voice and I think I'd be successful if it was anyone else but him. He knows me too well.

He drops his eyes and sighs, and the sound cuts through me. This is it. This is what I've been dreading. He's bored with me, bored with someone so much younger, from a less than salubrious background. Yeah, I really paid attention in English class. And French. And any other language class I could when I finally realised that I had an affinity for languages and more importantly that it was a way out. I suppose, though, that all of that is merely a glaze. Gold leaf unable to completely cover the base metal underneath. He's taught me a lot, a lot I didn't learn at University and I should be grateful for that. Not just teaching me how to stay alive in this rough and tumble of this life of ours but other things, like how to appreciate the finer things in life, the things that make life worth living. Music, food, wine, theatre. Love. Before him it was just fucking but with him it became something more. So much more. I suppose that it was inevitable that when he took a scared and cocky kid under his wing and made him into a cool, effective agent, keeping him alive in the beginning and opening his eyes to the wonders around him, that same cocky kid's gratitude would turn into something more.

You're an idiot, Curtis. Learn this final lesson he has to teach you and move on.

I make my voice ice. "Tell me."

There's regret in his eyes as he finally answers me in that slightly accented voice of his, the roughness of it being what won me over in the beginning.

"You're being reassigned."

"When?" Still ice and he flinches slightly.

"Tomorrow morning."

Shit. Bastard! He tells me now.

"How long have you known?"

He actually looks away from me. In all of the time I've known him, served under him in both the career and carnal sense, he's never failed to hold my gaze when he's imparted news, good or bad. Not even when he's given me instructions that both of us have understood could lead to my death if there's just the slightest misstep. Until now. Now he can't look me in the eyes and, Christ that hurts.

"A while," he admits. He looks back at me, seeming almost desperate. "Sam, it was need to know..."

"And I didn't," I complete for him when he trails off, his look pleading. I can't find it in me to answer that plea. I'm too busy building up the walls of ice around my heart. I never want to hurt like this again. "Am I allowed to know where I'm going?"

"Bosnia." He's watching me closely, and I don't give him the satisfaction of reacting to it. Bosnia is dangerous, very dangerous. And we both know it.

I merely nod and climb out of bed, starting to get dressed. I'll feel better with my clothes on, more in control of things. I'd feel much better if I didn't still feel the ache where he possessed me, the stinging on my skin left by his passion marks. Jesus, no wonder he was so wild tonight. He knew it was the last time. He just didn't want to share that information with me until he had to. Maybe he thought he wouldn't have got any if he'd told me before we fucked. Maybe he would have been right.

My fingers do up the buttons automatically, smoothing down the cloth so that I look presentable. He watches me the entire time, his face unreadable. To fill the silence I ask him, "Do I get a mission brief?"

His answer is as toneless as my question. "When you arrive. Sam - "

He cuts himself off and I finally look him in the eyes, pausing in the act of pulling my clothes, and therefore my armour back on. "They wanted the best," he finishes quietly.

Is that supposed to make me feel better? They wanted the best, the implication being that I'm the best. Is that supposed to make up for the fact that this is over? The best, most secure thing I've had in my life, in a life defined by insecurity due to the very nature of the job, is now finished? Maybe it is. I don't know and I don't care. At the very best it seems like a sop thrown to soothe my wounded ego. Only it isn't my ego that hurts the most.

Or maybe I still do care, because in spite of myself I find myself asking, "How long?" as though that would make a difference.

He doesn't flinch this time and holds my eyes. "In Bosnia, I don't know. But the reassignment is permanent."

I nod once, brief and to the point. It's over. No use crying over spilt milk or broken hearts. It's perfectly obvious that he hasn't fought to keep me with him. The consummate professional to the end, that's him. Another lesson for me to learn.

He told me once not to fall in love with him. He was too old for me, old enough to be my father, old enough not to be relied upon. He told me that I needed someone my own age, someone who would always be there for me. He was right, of course. He usually is. But this time he'd left his advice too late. I'd already fallen in love with him. All that his lecture meant was that I couldn't tell him how I felt.

It wouldn't have made any difference if I had. He was also trying to tell me that. I just didn't want to listen to it.

I finish dressing and move to the door, throwing carelessly over my shoulder, "Goodbye, Dietrich." I don't wait to see if he replies and I don't look back.

It hurts too much.

~*~

I kiss her. She kisses me. We kiss each other.

And oh god, it feels so good to hold her in my arms, knowing that this is forever. I can hardly believe it. I'm holding my wife. My beautiful, smart, funny, adorable and adored wife. This is real, this isn't imagined. This is heaven.

And then all hell breaks loose. I feel her jerk in my arms and her eyes open, staring at me with such pain. There's noise, and yelling, screaming, panic but all I can do is stare into those eyes as the life in them slowly fades.

There's another scream, and this time it's torn from my throat, a scream of denial and pain and grief so vast it's unbearable. I feel a warm wetness running over my hands and I know that it's her life slipping away. I clutch her to me tightly, as though the act of holding her close to me will anchor her to this life even though I know it's futile.

She grows heavy in my arms, so heavy, and we fall to the ground while all around us others are falling too, bullets striking the earth, throwing up puffs of dust into the sultry summer air. I want them to hit me too as I watch her mouth her final words.

"...I love you..."

Another scream is ripped from me as she goes limp, her eyes rolling back in her head and oh god, I want those bullets to take me with her...

~*~

I kiss her. She kisses me. We kiss each other.

A Judas kiss. I'm not surprised when the men rush into the room and she pulls back to stare at me, a triumphant little smile playing around her mouth. I've been expecting this, after all. I don't show that though. It's too early to blow it yet. If I don't look surprised or afraid, don't bluster the way that any young English businessman in this situation might do then I'll give the game away and they might find the small transmitter located in my shoe.

I must play my part well enough to fool them, even though there's a sense of disconnection about the whole scene as far as I'm concerned, because the next thing I know I'm being bundled blindfolded into the boot of a car. I know it's the boot of a car because of the height, the smell of petrol lingering in the parking garage and because something feeling suspiciously like a jack digs into my hip.

I'm right, of course, listening intently as the engine starts and bracing myself against the shell of the car as I'm bounced around. In spite of my best efforts, at one point my head impacts with the boot lid and I'm left with ringing ears and a headache. Something wet trickles down my face but I can't tell whether it's blood or sweat. My hands are tied tightly behind my back, the coarse ropes cutting into my wrists. Another discomfort to tune out as I listen for any clues that might tell me where we are going and try to keep track of the length of time I've been incarcerated in this metal coffin.

I lose track before the car finally rolls to a halt, but it's been several hours and by now I'm battered and rather thirsty. The roads were either very rough or whoever is driving this vehicle is a sadist. It's likely both, knowing what I know about these people. Too many Western businessmen have gone missing, only to turn up dead and mutilated when the ransoms haven't been met instantaneously. You can say one thing about these bastards - they love their work. Which is the main reason MI6 became involved.

Forcing my mind away from what's about to happen, I run through what I do know about my situation. Judging by the time that has elapsed since I was snatched, and the state of the roads we've driven over, we're well out of town, probably ensconced in one of the multitude of poor villages that dot this part of the world. That could mean trouble if my colleagues didn't monitor the signal from my tracker closely. In this kind of terrain, where vehicles are few and far between, tailing another car closely is too dangerous because you will be spotted.

I have to trust them to do their jobs well because if they don't then I'm dead. The thought doesn't concern me as much as it should. Perhaps I've just grown too good at distancing myself from my feelings. I don't have a death wish but I have perfected the art of disassociation. To distract myself from these thoughts I focus again on building up an impression of my environment from sounds and smells.

I'm dragged into a small room out of the sun. Sounds are muffled, indicating it's size, and it's cooler and smells slightly musty. A cellar? A room that's not aired?

My blindfold is ripped off, and I blink in the dim light before my vision clears and I stare back into her face. The smile that is playing around her mouth is cruel and there is a spark of anticipation in her dark eyes. That clues me into what's going to happen before I feel the blow to my kidneys. I ride the pain out, not giving her the satisfaction of making a sound.

She's disappointed by that, and leans in close to me, telling me in a low, sultry whisper just what's going to happen to me. It's a litany of intended pain and degradation but I hide my reaction to that too. Perhaps that was a mistake because she abruptly loses patience with me and then the beating starts in earnest.

When they've finished, and I'm curled up tightly in a ball on the floor, gasping in agony as each tortured breath grinds my broken ribs together, she leans in again, that same light of enjoyment in her eyes. I muster up the strength to smile at her, and her head jerks back, the light dimming to be replaced with confusion.

It doesn't take long for it to sink in, not when the sound of gunfire echoes through the air and the door blasts inwards, dark shapes pouring through the gap. MI6 to the rescue. Better late than never.

I smile at her again. After the pain she's subjected me to I'm almost looking forward to watching her die.

~*~

I kiss him. He kisses me. We kiss each other.

I owe him. When the dark pit beckoned, when all I wanted to do was lie down and die so that I could be with my Teresa, Tom was there to drag me back from the edge, to coax me through the dark times and when that didn't work he kicked my butt into gear.

I owe him. He still wants me, has done since we were teenagers and now I have a chance to give him what he wants.

I owe him and so I kiss him and let him kiss me. Other than that it's emptiness.

~*~

I kiss him. He kisses me. We kiss each other.

This is the last time and we both know it although neither of us mentions it. Tomorrow I leave for England, for a training camp in the middle of Suffolk of all places where I'll be put through an induction that will hopefully lead to a position within CI5.

I need a challenge, something to take my mind off the empty and arid nature of these last few years. Something that will give me a cause to believe in, to stop the slow destruction of my soul. I've stopped believing in things and that, more than anything else, has contributed to my ruthless reputation - Cold-hearted Curtis. One ruthless son of a bitch.

There is an element of truth in this, as there is in most things but as with most things it's not the whole truth. No one but me knows the whole truth. Not even this man, who probably knows me now better than anyone has for a long time. Even he only sees what I let him see. I just let him see more than anyone else but I still only reveal a small part of who I am.

Cold-hearted Curtis.

He knows I'm leaving even though he doesn't know where I'm going. And it hurts him, making me feel like a bastard for leading him on, letting him hope that this could be the 'forever' he was looking for. I was never less than honest with him but I suppose that's never enough. Part of me, after all, hoped for the same thing too once, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.

I wonder if this is how Carl felt when he broke my heart so comprehensively that it's yet to mend. Please god, don't let me do the same thing to Mike. He, at least, deserves better.

I kiss him as though the act of kissing him will take the pain away. As though I can really kiss it all better when I know I can't.

"I love you," he mutters in between kisses. I pull him closer to me and wish that I could lie to him, give him that much at least but I can't. I don't have much integrity left but I do have too much left for that.

"I know," I whisper in his ear, for once letting the pain show through in my voice too. And it does hurt because I do care for him. Just not enough. I kiss him again, and wish that I could get rid of this emptiness inside, wish that he was enough to fill it.

But he's not. Nothing is.

~*~

I kiss her. She kisses me. We kiss each other.

I know what's coming next and yet I'm still helpless to prevent it. I find myself carrying out the same motions over and over again even though part of me is screaming at me to listen, to do something, to stop it this time.

But I don't. I kiss her. She dies in my arms. I wake up, yelling.

Only this time I'm not alone.

"Hey," comes a soft English voice. "You all right?"

I rub the sleep out of my eyes and look up into a pair of concerned green ones. My new partner, for once letting something other than icy indifference show. Shit, I must look bad if it has Curtis looking concerned.

"Dreaming," I say curtly.

He doesn't look convinced. "That wasn't dreaming. That was punishment." There's concern in his voice too, and I duck my head away so I won't have to listen to him, see the look in his eyes. I don't want him thinking I'm more of a liability than he already does. His words in Tom Perry's hospital room still sting a little. I know I have a rep for being reckless, but his idea that I'll end up in a body bag, as though he bought the rep hook, line and sinker, acted like a short, sharp reality check. So did the idea that it wouldn't bother him too much. He has a rep for being a cold-hearted bastard, and I bought that too. Right up until I sat on a car bomb and found that he refused to leave me.

If I'm not careful it'll be Curtis ending up in a body bag and it will be my fault. Again. The thought bothers me more than I want to admit.

While I'm trying to get hold of the shattered remnants of my self-control, the aftermath of the dream leaving me shaky and sweaty as always, he moves back to give me room, the mask of indifference coming down although not before I see the concern, once again, in his eyes. The contrast of it intrigues me, and I'm not one to let a mystery lie unsolved. He starts talking about the case, offering suggestions and I'm grateful for the distance that gives me, for the understanding he shows in not pushing me any further or faster than I want to go.

I force myself to concentrate on what he's saying, trying to leave the horrific memories of my wedding day behind. I could be stuck with worse partners, I suppose.

~*~

I kiss him.

His forehead is cold beneath my lips. "I'm sorry," I whisper, knowing that he can't hear me. I don't believe in the afterlife. I don't really believe in anything, except maybe my partner.

Carl believed in me and I let him down. He trusted me to find him and keep him safe and I couldn't even do that for him. I loved him once and now it's my fault he's dead, lying in this coffin for people to pay their respects to, and oh god, it hurts. I suppose that when you love someone you never really stop.

I can't cry though. Not now. I cried half the night, once we had taken Kensal and his lot down and the case was over. I'm empty. Drained. Drained of life, drained of love. Drained of hope.

Chris, thankfully, didn't say anything about my red eyes when he picked me up this morning. I wasn't expecting him but he turned up anyway like a bad penny, dressed, as always, in black. If I was feeling more myself I'd make some crack about it being convenient for funerals but I can't care enough at the moment even to put the act on. It just hurts too bloody much.

He said nothing much, just told me he'd drive me to the chapel so I could say goodbye and asking me if I minded if he came to the funeral with me. Minded? I was so bloody grateful I couldn't put it into words. He knew anyway though. Sometimes I think he knows me better than I do myself.

I stare down into Carl's grey face, knowing that this is the last time I'll ever see him and thankful, at least, that the mortician was skilled enough to hide the bruises Kensal's torture left on his face. You wouldn't know they were there unless you knew to look. Unfortunately I know. Those, at least, aren't my fault but the fact that he's dead is.

"I'm sorry," I whisper again, because after all there isn't anything else left to say.

Someone else comes in, and I move away, give them room to say their own goodbyes. I've said all I can do. Chris falls into step with me as I leave the small chapel, saying nothing. I'm grateful for his presence anyway, quiet and supportive. I wonder what he's thinking, whether he's realised that Carl and I were more than just friends, whether the kiss he's just witnessed shocked him. And then his hand reaches up to my shoulder and squeezes just once, reassuring and supportive and I'm grateful for that unspoken understanding too.

There are much worse partners to have than the man walking solemnly next to me. I'm bloody lucky.

~*~

I kiss him. He kisses me. We kiss each other.

I slide my hands into his hair and pull him closer. It feels soft underneath my fingertips, like raw silk. His mouth opens up underneath mine and lets me in and he tastes so good. I swirl my tongue around, exploring every inch of that delectable mouth, imprinting it on my memory and still unable to grasp that this is real. I've been waiting for this for what seems like forever.

It's been worth the wait. This is heaven and I feel all of those empty places inside fill up with the scent and feel and taste of him.

I pull back and stare into his remarkable eyes, so open and guileless now, no jokes, no barriers and knowing that the love I see there is reflected in my own eyes, also now unguarded. We've hidden behind different masks, he and I, the joker and the iceman, but there are no secrets between us anymore. There is no need for them. I know him and he knows me. We trust each other. We love each other and that is all that is needed. Knowing that, feeling that, I say his name at the same time as he says mine, both of them a soft exhalation of need.

"Sam."

"Chris."

Our lips touch again, caressing and caring, soft and sweet. Once more I slide my tongue past his lips, drinking in the taste of him, feeling every inch of his body pressed tight against mine. There's desire there, arousal and love intermingled, but most of all there's a feeling of rightness about this, a feeling of safety, like everything is going to be all right from now on as long as he's with me. A wonderful, warming, thrilling feeling.

It's like coming home.

The End






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