Title: Cost of Living
Fandom: Law & Order
Pairing: Stone/Logan
Rating: NC-17
Author: Jennifer Lyon
Email: jennyann@worldnet.att.net
URL: http://members.aol.com/XFWRITER/stories.htm
Spoilers: none for any episode; this just generally takes place before Stone
leaves the show at the end of the fourth season.
Archive: Yes to Complete Kingdom and lawdogs archive (if it gets going),
others by request
Summary: A heat-wave causes an explosion of violence on NYC, catching Ben
Stone and Mike Logan right in the middle. (Hurt/comfort alert)


The summer sun burned the pavement into a reflective grill, waves of heat
bouncing from concrete surface to concrete surface, singeing anything - and
anyone - in its path. Benjamin Stone thought longingly of the northern
woods, wishing that he might be able to steal a day or two away this
weekend. But it wouldn't be. Not with his case load...not with the present
case waiting for him now, a frustrating maze of legal traps and potholes, a
disaster in the making.

And yet...Damn it, he didn't want to plea-bargain this bastard. He wanted to
lock him up and throw away the key. But the rules of evidence were against
him, and the defense attorney was crafty. The jury hadn't heard half of what
Ben *knew* and they never would. Not for the first time he wished there was
a way around the law -- the very law he served -- and not for the first
time, he squashed that forbidden desire beneath the iron-clad weight of
fierce personal integrity.

He'd do what he had to do, by the law. Take what he could get and keep a
monster off the streets for as long as he could...


The call of his name shook him out of his sweaty reveries, forcing him to
stop in his tracks on the white marble steps to the courthouse. The sound
still reverberating in his ears, he turned, and drew a deep breath.

Detective Logan was bearing down on him, as only this particular cop could
do, long legged stride swallowing the distance. The bushy dark eyebrows were
drawn tight over his striking gray eyes, and the glare of those orbs nearly
outdid the heavy sun itself. Bracing himself for impact, Ben sighed with
irritation. How the hell did Logan manage to look so cool, so untouched by
the heat? Not even a single strand of his thick, dark hair was out of place.
Ben himself felt like a wet rag, sweat pooling down his neck and back;
slicking the surface of the skin trapped beneath his glasses.

Lowering the file he'd been carrying more for appearance than actual study,
he threw his head backwards, an unconscious, characteristic motion which
allowed better vision, then peered out through steamed lenses as Logan

"What the hell is going on! Grabretti slaughtered three people, and you're
letting him off on man-one?"

Logan's spare height, though barely equal to Ben's own, was magnified by his
rangy, athletic build. Ben felt pressured, and his back straightened in
instinctive response. His voice, rough as the sound of loose gravel to his
own ear, pitched low and intense as he spoke.

"Do you think I *want* to plead this son-of-a-bitch? If I had any other

"Choice? We gave you an ironclad case!"

"Ironclad?" Ben demanded, furious now. "It's a ruin, crumbling around my
ears. None of his previous behavior is admissible, the witnesses are running
scared and the remaining evidence is circumstantial at best..."

"You *know* he did it!" Logan bellowed.

Ben sighed, all his fury melting away. Lifting his glasses off his nose, he
rubbed at the sore, reddened skin.

"Yes, I know... but you and I *knowing* it doesn't constitute acceptible
proof in court."

"Let me testify..."

"To what?"

"He said..."

"Before you read him his rights."

"He knows his *rights*." Logan responded tenaciously. "He..." A sudden
shift took place in his manner. He drooped; expressive hands dropping to his
sides and digging into pockets. His eyes flirted with their surroundings,
then turned, reluctantly, back to the prosecutor.

"Ahh hell....how long?"

"Probably 5-8...depends on the judge."

Their eyes met, and the frustration that pounded in both of their veins
sang in sympathy now. It arced between them like a current of electricity;
then shut off in a shower of sparks. Ben glanced down at his glasses, blood
racing in his temples. Logan stretched his spine upwards, backwards, then
shook himself like a wet dog, somehow managing to remain graceful even as he

Ben studied him for a moment, watching as Logan shut himself back down, tig
htening control, hiding away the passionate anger that had flared so
violently, so quickly. The eyes that met him now were the gentle gray of the
sky after a thunderstorm, world-weary and pained.

"Feel like a drink?" the older man found himself offering, mentally
consigning Judge Kantor to the fiery pit of hell.

"Now that's the best idea you've had all day," Logan replied. Swiftly
closing his hand around Ben's arm, he pulled him away from the looming
courthouse. "There's a pub I know that serves a great Irish ale."

Stone was in full gear now, his entire body poised, blue eyes gleaming
intently as he spoke. His voice was hushed enough to allow only his
companion to hear, rising and falling like waves upon the seashore. Steady,
rhythmic, hypnotic. Mike Logan could have closed his eyes and slept in the
embrace of that sound. It really didn't matter what Stone said, the sound
itself was all that mattered. It thrumbed at his senses, enfolding him in
rich, warm black velvet. He stretched unconsciously, half-shuttering his


The voice ended abruptly, and Mike found himself meeting a quizzical
sapphire stare.
He grinned sheepishly; shrugged his shoulders.

"Sorry, just a little tired. It's been a hell of a week. This heat has
everyone riled up. We've got twice the normal case load."

That brought out a groan of agonized sympathy from the Assistant District

"All of which is going to land on MY desk, right?" he groaned.

Mike couldn't help grinning broadly.

"Fraid so, counselor. All yours...if we ever manage to solve any of it."

"You will." Stone's response was unequivocable.

Both men fell silent. Contemplative. Mike took another sip of his thick
brown ale. Stone studied the remnants of the clear gin in his glass. Each
stole a quick glance at the other, then bent their heads again. Mike slumped
back into his seat, his fingers drumming lightly on the tabletop; Stone
leaned forward, nibbling at the ear-piece of his glasses. Both were more
than willing to take a moment of quiet before braving the raging furnace

However, the outside world had other ideas. It exploded into the cozy quiet
of the low-lit bar with the abrupt intrusion of a slamming door.

"Hey man, give us some beer!" shouted a rough, yet youthful voice. It was
echoed in kind by three others, and both men's heads jerked up in
instinctive response. Mike's cop-sense was immediately on alert; Stone's
expression was concerned and aware.

The bartender edged closer to the band of brightly-clad youths. Sizing them
up, he shook his head.

"Not without proper ID, guys."

"Here's your ID man," one of the boys yelled, thrusting a gun out from
under his long, ragged teeshirt. The other three laughed unrepentantly,
grinning and bouncing on their heels.

"Flying high..." Mike muttered under his breath, frowning formidably as he
eyed the developing situation. The other patrons were taking notice now, and
a tense hush dropped over the cool environs of the busy bar. Heads swiveled
to watch as the lead boy waved the heavy weapon around wildly.

"Come on man, you heard me...BEER!!"

His three companions took up the cause, chanting over and over again,
The bartender nodded grimly and stepped towards the tap, one hand reaching
for an empty mug, the other slipping downward under the bar. Mike's sharp
eyes caught the motion and he swore vehemently under his breath.

"Oh shit..."

He reached beneath his jacket, fingers closing on the butt of his own gun,
even as he launched himself out of the booth.

"Mike?" Stone's call was swallowed in a sudden explosion of violence.
Everyone seemed to move at once, the bartender lifting the long, thin shape
of a shotgun upwards, the gun-toting youth reacting, screaming obscenities
as he aimed his weapon, Mike's shout of "police - freeze" accompanying the
crash of his legs into an abandoned chair as every occupant of the bar dove
for cover. Mike went down; the shotgun and the handgun blared in
simultaneous rhythm. Both the bartender and another of the boys went down in
a bright splatter of blood.

The remaining two youths pulled out weapons of their own, and the three of
them began firing in random, violent bursts. Lights broke, glass shattered,
wood splintered, people screamed. The boys were laughing now, hysterical as
they fired and fired, not caring who or what they hit.

Mike struggled to recover his balance, but the impact had yanked the gun
from his hand. He reached for it, only to fall again as a black-booted foot
kicked it out of his fingers.

"Hey, look what we got here, a pig on his knees," one of the youths yelled.
The others crowded over, tossing of a couple of more shots over the head of
a man who was ducking desperately out of their way, struggling to protect
the sobbing woman beneath him.

Mike froze, stared up at the crazy-eyed boy standing over him. Words formed
and choked off in his throat as he fought for the right phrasing. But any
attempt to 'cool off' this drug-addled kid was thwarted by another strike of
that boot. It struck Mike in the gut and he doubled over in blazing agony.
When he came up for air, he found himself staring down the black muzzle of
the handgun, and his lungs froze. His heart skipped a beat. His eyes
squeezed shut and the faint memory of a long-forgotten prayer echoed in his
mind. He accepted the fact of his own death, and silently waited for the

The blare of gunshots shook him.

He trembled.

His mind blanked.

His eyes closed.

His teeth ground together in preparation for pain.

But there was none.

His aching lungs demanded air and he gasped for breath. He groaned and
opened his eyes. The three boys were laying out flat on the floor, crimson
stains burgeoning on their chests, the head of one shattered like a
splattered watermelon. The sound of heavy breathing behind him made him
twist his head around. Ben Stone was standing still as marble statue, only
the rough rise and fall of his chest proving that he was alive. Mike's gun
was gripped painfully in white-knuckled hands, held out before him, arms
stiff and locked. His face was a study in shock, the blue eyes dazed and
unfocused, the mouth half-open, the usual focus absent from his expression.
Around him, people were beginning to stir from the floor, from beneath table
and booths, a loud burble of hysterical conversation rising.

Stone didn't respond. He didn't move a muscle.

Mike fought his way to his feet; the muscles in his legs and arms slow to
react. His knees felt like they were made of jelly, his mind was having
trouble with the fact that he was still alive. He should have been dead. And
deservedly so.

Stone had saved his life. And from the look of it, he'd taken at least one
in trade.

Somberly, the detective closed his hands over Stone's, tugging gently on
the gun. Stone took a long moment to respond, then finally his grip relaxed
and he sagged in place. Mike pulled the gun away and holstered it swiftly
before wrapping his arm around the attorney's shoulder.

"Easy counselor. It's all over now." The roar of sirens in the distance
confirmed Mike's pronouncement and Stone managed to nod. Mike guided him
back into their booth, sitting down beside him in a far less easy silence
than they had shared a few short moments before. Together they waited for
the long dance of law enforcement to begin.

The crime scene personnel bustled around him like worker ants clustered
around spilled ice cream. Voices eddied and flowed; the air stank of blood
and sweat. Ben sank deeper into the cushioned booth, his eyes unable to lift
away from the pair of hands folded together on the table before him. It was
hard to connect them with himself; they felt separate. The long, slender
fingers were pale, bleached, as though all the blood had fled from them. But
there should have been more. He'd seen more...

"Ben?" A soft baritone voice sounded above his ear and a gentle hand
settled on his shoulder. He cocked his head sideways, slowly, eyes blinking
in an attempt to bring the face into focus. A smile half-quirked sadly at
his mouth as recognition stirred.

"Mike," he identified quietly.

The other man settled down into the booth beside him.

"You OK?" The question was almost a statement; the tone resigned and
accepting. Of course he wasn't OK. Neither of them were. But they were both
still alive...which was more than you could say for...

"The boys?" Ben asked, fearing and needing the answer at once.
Mike was silent for a moment, then he grimaced, staring around him

"One DOA; the other two are touch-and-go. The docs are operating now."
Ben shook his head, then leaned back with a soft sigh.

"Good Lord..."

"Doubt he had much to do with it," Mike broke in.
Ben almost had to laugh. Instead he nodded.

"Yeah. You're right."

Silence again. They both contemplated their hands. Then Mike spoke in a
vibrant whisper, his pitch aimed solely for Ben's ears.

"Thank you. I..." he paused, then repeated himself, firmly, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Ben replied automatically. Not really connecting the
words with the actions. He'd only done what he had to do. No alternative. No
choice. An image burst before his eyes -- that sleek dark head tilted back,
the ugly point of the gun pressed against the fair skin. The snarling, mad
smile of the boy holding the weapon and the tightening of sinew in that
hand. Ben hadn't stopped to think. He hadn't even stopped to feel. He'd
simply *moved* and before he knew what had happened...God. It had all
happened so *fast*.

"What else could I have done?" he asked, more to himself than to his
companion. But the detective answered anyway.

"Nothing." Mike turned and swiftly dropped a warm hand over Ben's chilled
ones. "You did good, Counselor. Don't let yourself think otherwise."

"I'm not sure what I think," Ben answered with wry truthfulness. He won a
low chuckle from Mike.

"You're in shock. We should probably let a doc take a look at you."

"No." Ben was surprised at his own vehemence, but he was certain, of this
at least. "No, I just would like to go home." Another thought struck him and
he paused, finally becoming aware of the beehive of activity surrounding
them. "Or can I? I should give a statement..."

Mike squeezed his hand, then let go, even as he interrupted.

"Nah. Don't worry about it. I gave a full statement already, and you can
give yours in the morning." At Ben's doubtful look, he grinned with abrupt
warmth. "Look, you're a hero around here. More than half the people in the
bar got an eagle's eye view of what went down, and they all think you ought
to get a string of medals."

Ben simply shook his head. Uncomprehending. This just wasn't real. It
couldn't be...He wondered when he'd wake up...

A firm tug on his arm brought his head up.

"Come on, let's get you home." Mike was adamant and Ben was too exhausted
to argue. Eyes wavering closed, his body shaking with cold despite the burst
of heat as they exited the bar, Ben let Mike lead him where he would.

Stone was finally asleep, buried beneath the thick blue quilt, only the
fair top of his head visible on the pillow. Across the bedroom, Mike
stretched his legs out, shifting yet again in his seat. The wooden desk
chair was not built for sleeping in, but there was little chance of that
anyway. Stone might have succumbed to exhaustion, but Mike was himself was
hopelessly wide awake. His eyes felt weary, yet closing them for more than a
few breaths sent shivers up his spine. His back ached, his stomach hurt, his
mind kept circling upon itself. He'd been in tough spots before; that came
with the job. But it had never been this close before. By any rights he
ought to be dead now. Dropping his gun like that...

He groaned and bit at his lower lip. As he'd told Stone, what is done, is
done. Now you just gotta get on with life.

He felt the air pump in his lungs and his heart pulse in his chest. He
flexed the muscles in his arms, rubbed at the drying sweat on the back of
his neck.

He was alive, thank God....thank Ben Stone. Mike's eyes were drawn again to
the slumbering cocoon on the bed, and his body followed. Stepping up out of
the chair, he moved to stand over the sleeping man. Reaching out, he brushed
a forefinger over the soft, close-shorn blond hair. Reassuring himself that
his saviour was all right. There was no response to his touch, other than
the whisper of breath against the pillow. The eyes were shut, the mouth
pursed, half-open. The lines of shock and horror had faded, bringing on an
appearance of youth to the middle-aged features.

Mike studied him for a moment longer, hand outstretched in the air above
Stone's head in silent benediction. He wanted badly to do more for him. But
he had no clue how or where to begin. The drive over had been silent; Stone
had let Mike settle him into bed without question or refusal. Passive. Still
in shock. Not surprisingly.

Sighing, the detective finally forced his hand back to his side and
contemplated the unwelcoming embrace of the wooden chair. Taking a step
towards it, he rubbed at the back of his neck, wondering if the attorney
would mind if Mike borrowed his shower. He didn't want to leave Stone alone,

A low moan from the bed stopped him in his tracks. Turning, he found the
other man stirring in his sleep, twisting over. A slender hand reached out
to clutch at the mattress, fingers clenching and releasing. The eyelids
fluttered, the legs kicked out beneath the tangle of sheets. Another groan
sounded, a whimper that rose suddenly, bitingly, into a howl.

"No! No..no...no...no!"

Mike was by his side in an instant of fluid motion. The edge of the bed
dipped beneath his weight as he sat down and reached out to restrain the

"Stone! Ben! Wake up!" His hands closed on the broad shoulders and drew
them towards him, shaking gently.

"Come on, Ben, wake up!" he urged.

Startled blue eyes flew open and focused hazily on his face.


"Yeah, it's me. You OK?"?

"I..." Ben swallowed hard, then nodded. "I guess so." He stared around him,
obviously trying to refocus on his surroundings. Mike could see memory hit
hard, deep groves forming in the skin around those clear eyes.

"Nightmare?" Mike pronounced. It was more of a statement than a question
and Ben merely nodded, slumping back against the pillow.

Mike grimaced, releasing one hand from its grip on Ben's shoulder, but
keeping the other firmly in place.

"I'm afraid you're in for a number of those."

Another nod, accompanied by a wry twist of the lips.

"I know. Common response, right?" Ben replied.

"Uhn huh." Mike paused, trying to consider his words before he spoke. Not
the usual pattern for the outspoken, blunt detective, but this mattered too
much. Ben mattered too much.

"I've never shot anyone myself, but I've known cops who have. No matter how
necessary it was, they still suffered. Wondering why, how, if there had been
any other way...thing is, sometimes there just isn't. Sometimes, it just has
to be..."

"It just has to be that a kid of what, 17, 18, is lying in a morgue and two
others are in intensive care? It just has to be that I'm the one

"No!" Mike shook his head vehemently. "They were responsible for
themselves. You acted to save lives; you saved my life! Don't forget that."

Ben was silent for a moment, then stretched out a hand to touch Mike's
chest, palm flat.

"Are *you* all right?" he asked.

Mike found himself chuckling.

"I'm alive. It's a bit more than I expected."

The responding smile was dry, forced, but nonetheless real.

"Thank God for small favors."

"Amen." Mike agreed.

They fell silent for another long moment, then Mike shifted away. Standing
up, he retucked the blankets around Ben's shoulder's.

"Come on, back to sleep with you."

Ben settled down, looking softly upwards.

"What about you?"

Mike shrugged.

"I'm fine. Just not sleepy. Too much adrenaline or something. Nearly
getting your head blown off does that to you..."

The color fled from Ben's face, his sleepy eyes dilating. Mike shut off in
mid-sentence, silently castigating himself for his thoughtlessness, but
before he could switch gears enough to apologize, Ben had turned over,
dropping his head over the side of the bed as a serious of wracking heaves
shook his body.

"Oh hell!" Mike muttered, dropping down beside the other man as he
proceeded to empty the contents of his stomach onto the plush cream rug. He
grasped Ben's shoulders again, in another attempt to offer comfort, then
pulled back, belatedly remember that being touched while vomiting was more a
nuisance than a comfort. Pulling back up to his feet, he raced for the

Throwing up was supposed to make you feel better when it was done, but Ben
couldn't speak to the truth of that rumor. His stomach continued to
convulse, dry spasms tearing at his throat. His head felt like someone was
steadily striking it with a blunt instrument and his mouth tasted worse than
the month old chinese food he'd accidentally fished out of his fridge a few
days before. His body was contorted into an painful position, blood rushing
into his head as he leaned over the edge of the bed. A faint murmur in the
back of his mind reminded him that he'd probably never get the stain, or the
smell, out of the rug.

Something cold and cool settled on his forehead, and a strong, warm hand
closed on his shoulder. It eased him upwards and over, and he went with it
limply, unresisting. The bed tilted as a heavy weight came down to his left,
while that same hand moved to support the back of his skull as it placed his
head down on a pillow. The wet cloth drooped down over his eyes, but it was
rescued and put to use, wiping the edges of his mouth and chin.

He closed his eyes and let the other man minister to him, giving way when a
glass was brought to his lips. Taking a few swallows of the cold water, he
finally shook his head, pushing it away.

"Thanks," he whispered.

"No prob," Mike replied. "But how about a bath? You look like you could use

Ben looked up through half-shuttered eyelids and considered refusing. He
was so tired...and yet, the idea had definite merit. He nodded, then groaned
as his brain protested the abrupt motion with a shockwave of pain.

Mike's low chuckle filled Ben's ears. "Let's throw in some aspirin while
we're at it."

"Uhn huh," was the best Ben could do, but it was far better than another

"Lay still," came the authoritative reply. "I'll start the bath. Be right

Mike seemed determined to take him under his wing, and for once Ben was
more than willing to let the other man take charge. As long as he focused on
the moment, on the physical discomfort, on the exhaustion, he didn't have to
think about the cause. About the heavy weight of the gun in his hand and the
agonizingly powerful recoil of the shots as it reverberated up his arm and
through his entire body like a lightening strike. Nor about the tearing
horror of watching three young bodies fall, one's head bursting like a ripe
melon under the onslaught of the bullets.

No, he didn't need to think about that. He would think about something,
anything else...like the way Mike Logan moved across the room, long stride
forceful, yet graceful. So calm, so certain. Seeing him, *this* man down on
his knees, gun to his head -- it had been so bone-jarringly *wrong*. Ben
might not have been able to stand back and watch anyone get murdered in
front of him if he could stop it; but to allow the world to lose Mike
Logan's powerful, charismatic presence? No, oh no, oh no...he couldn't have
borne the thought, much less the reality. And it had been so terribly close.

Another set of shivers shook him, and he snuggled deeper beneath the quilt.
The sound of the water rushing to fill the tub in the distance was soothing,
and he focused on it alone, letting it carry him away.

Ben managed a protest when Mike insisted on cleaning up after him, but the
detective was determined and Ben was in no condition to argue. Mike almost
carried him into the bathroom, his legs deciding to go on strike. His skin
felt clammy, icy, and it took every ounce of strength he had to step into
the weloming hot water.

Still, the bath was a delightful idea and it had been a long, long time
since anyone had taken care of him like this -- actually, he couldn’t
remember a time ever...

He’d been alone for so many years, even before his marriage finally
collapsed. And now he felt even more so alone; so tired; every muscle in
his body ached. He couldn’t distinguish the physical exhaustion from the
mental. It all swam together into one blank, blinding sea of bone-numbing
emptiness. The hot water curled around his body, and he sank down into it
with a deep sigh of anguished relief. Shutting his eyes, he forced away the
interminable memories of this day’s events with the last, tattered remnants
of his will, and flew downward into blessed darkness...


He awoke to bright light, cooling water, and a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Hey sleeping beauty, time to wake up! I’d carry you, but..." Warm
laughter underwrote the deep baritone and Ben turned to it, lifting up
weary, red-streaked eyes towards the source.

"Umm, sorry," he replied. Gripping at the edge of the tub, he tried to
propell himself upwards. The water-slicked porcelein was hard to hold; he
slipped sideways as he tried to get one foot beneath him. His cry of alarm
was arrested when two firm hands took hold of his upper arms and stopped his
fall. Unconsciously -- yet willingly -- he leaned into the offered
strength. Mike’s cotton shirt absorbed the wetness from Ben’s bare skin as
he slumped into Mike’s embrace. Ben’s eyes closed for an elongated moment
as he drank in the closeness, the heat, the comfort of the other man’s body.
This felt so good; even half-twisted, naked, exhausted and emotionally
battered as he was. Just being able to rest his chin on Mike’s shoulder was
a delight; a pleasure that rang through every nerve in his body. How long
had it been since he’d experienced the simple joy of physical contact with
another human being? Far, far too long.

Mike’s grip tightened, and he bent forward, as though he wanted to wrap
himself around Ben like a human towel. Ben sighed softly to himself, a low
throaty expression of satisfaction that he hardly even heard. He felt Mike’
s hair brush against his cheek and the hot flow of his breath warm his neck.
Without thinking, Ben shifted, eyelids drooping, blindly seeking the source
of that heat. His lips made contact with soft dry flesh and the contact was
electric. It surged through every nerve in his body, shocking him awake.
Gasping, he lifted his head, sought for balance, tried to pull away...and
met fiercely solid resistance.

"Easy...easy..." came the low murmur in his ear. Mike drew back, but
continued to hold onto Ben’s arms. Carefully, he guided the older man out
of the bathtub, turning only to reach for a thick towel. Yet, rather than
simply handing it over, he wrapped the heavy cloth around Ben’s chest and
began to rub him dry. Startled, but stricken with a strange, almost
forceful lassitude, Ben gave way to Mike’s deft certainty. The rough caress
of the towel only aggravated the sensitivity of his flesh. His knees began
to melt; he leaned back in closer to Mike, seeking contact as a moth is
drawn to flame. One last, tiny echo in a deep corner of Ben’s mind warned
that this could be leading to trouble, but it was lost in the fiery roar of
need which washed over his senses. Reaching out blindly, he seized hold of
Mike and pulled him the final inches closer until they were pressed
chest-to-chest, groin-to-groin, mouth-to-mouth. Ben could taste the
alcohol-flavored moisture of Mike’s breath, then the distance closed
completely, and he found himself caught up in a kiss that blinded all of his
senses in a sunburst of sensation.

Mike's arms closed around his back like iron bars caging him. He couldn't
have pulled free if he'd wanted to -- and right now he'd have gladly killed
anyone who tried to take him away. He sucked in the taste, the feel, the
smell of Mike like a starving man offered a gourmet meal. He pressed closer,
hips thrusting forward to grind his angry, already swollen cock against the
other man's clothed, hardened groin. Long arms curled down around his back
and sides, the warm, sweet pressure of Mike's hands tightening on his
buttocks and urging him onward.

God, oh God, he was so close. So quickly. His body's demand was urgent,
desperate, overwhelming. Mike's tongue was teasing the top of his mouth and
the scream of those nerves tore down his spine to join the thunderstorm
raging in his groin. He was going to burst...

And suddenly Mike released him. Ben cried out, the sound of his own misery
tearing at his ears. His balance shattered, and he tumbled forward, reaching
out hopelessly for the abruptly absent man before him...and he was caught
and held.

"Ssshhh," came a low, soothing murmur in his ear. Warm kisses rained on his
cheek, his temple, his ear, his throat. Powerful supple arms curled around
him again. "Easy, blue eyes, ...there's a big comfortable bed waiting for us
in the other room."

Ben whimpered, some small element of sanity shouting a warning in response,
but he ignored it. Deliberately. Sanity had nothing to do with anything in
this world. Not any more. Not after...and a cold wave of panic stilled the
surge of desire and made him shiver. But the shiver was answered with a hot,
inviting kiss, Mike's mouth like a furnace of heat on his own. The warmth
spread from his tongue downward, re-stoking the embers of desire into
another wave of flame. He returned the embrace, the kiss, twining his
fingers into the heavy strands of Mike's thick, black-velvet hair,
imprisoning that heat source against him.

Even so, Mike managed to move them. Somehow, he pushed, cajoled, guided
them through the doorway and across the carpet until the back of Ben's knees
crashed up against the edge of the bed. Mike pulled away from the kiss just
long enough to tumble Ben down onto the bed, then he pounced.

Ben sighed as the solid, lean weight of the other man's body came down upon
his own, the sound a low moan of satisfaction coupled to anticipation,
colored by greed. He wrapped his arms around Mike's broad shoulders, hands
splaying out along the wide flex of smooth muscle sheathed in damp linen.
The press of Mike's length covered his own, they were neatly matched for
height, their mouths and feet tangling at once. Ben shifted, wriggled, sank
into the mattress, accomodating Mike's presence upon him, spreading his legs
to allow tighter contact between their swollen groins.

The kiss deepened into an exploration, an investigation, Mike prolonging
the contact until both sets of lungs were screaming for air. He pulled aside
to let them breath and their chests pounded against each other in the source
for sustenance. But Ben was past such concerns, he ignored the burning in
his throat, his mind lost in the wildfire that raged through his belly and
centered in the organ throbbing, trapped in the tight clench between their
bodies. He thrust his hips upwards, demanding, and was rewarded with a hard
thrust downward. They rocked together, rhythmic, arrythmic, a dance step
well know, yet uncertain in its newness.

"Please...please..." Ben's voice was alien to his ears, lost in the
explosion of his heartbeat, the blood beating in his temples.

And again, he was answered with a soft, gentling murmur, barely audible,
but soothing him even as it excited him. The agreement was there, the
understanding, mixed with an unmistakable echo of his own desire pulsing
beneath the velvet baritone. But it was followed by a movement away, and Ben
was immediately crying out another protest, reaching out with hands that
couldn't ever be strong enough to take what he needed, but desperate enough
to try.

He was pushed down again, quieted with another scorching kiss, a hot tongue
probing the depths of his mouth. He groaned into it, sharing his breath,
offering all he had if only...

"Slow down, love..." And this time Ben's desire-fogged eyes settled on a
more welcome motion, following Mike's deft, slender hands as he undid the
buttons of his shirt. That was definitely more like it.

He moved suddenly. Mike fell over to his side with a gulp of surprise, Ben
curling up over him. Mike's hands reached for his shoulders, tensing
uncertaintly on the curve of his upper arm, even as Ben tore at the
offending material. The buttons ripped free with a small expenditure of
force, Ben stripped it aside, Mike flowing with him now, accepting with a
short, sharp bark of amusement. That sound washed over Ben, left behind in
the primal joy of the open flesh bared to his hunger. He lowered his hands
and mouth, smoothing them over the fair expanse of skin, dusted with dark
hair, the ribs peeking out beneath the silken covering with each rise of

He kissed, licked, nibbled, stroked, feeling each tremour of response
reverberate in his own body. Mike's hands reached out to frame his face,
slide through his short hair, curl around the base of his neck -- guiding,
consorting, accepting, encouraging... leading him downward until he was
ready to tackle the belt and fastenings of Mike's pants.

In the end, there is little erotic about fumbling to remove anyone's pants
and socks, and yet...the mutual tumble was an eager element of foreplay,
anticipation illuminating each moment with an electric charge, and when the
goal was reached, bare skin open to bare skin, they fell together into a
close embrace, limbs entwined. Laying there for a heartbeat and then
another, Ben fed on the warmth of the body sealed to his. Blindly questing,
he turned his head for a kiss, and was rewarded again. Hot, wet, moist,
demanding...he was going to be bruised in the morning, and all he could do
was seek for more. More.

Another powerful thrust of hips, rocking together, and Ben was near to
exploding again. The cry he let go into Mike's throat, was answered with a
low groan and then another strategic withdrawal. Again Ben protested, again
Mike soothed - guiding with sure hands and a surprisingly gently touch. But
Ben didn't want gentle, he wanted hard. He needed everything Mike could
give, and he wordlessly offered/demanded, clutching at Mike with desperate

"Shhh....do you have anything..." Mike's low voice trailed off, and Ben
could hardly focus on the meaning. Then it struck and a lightning bolt of
anticipation nearly shattered him.

"Drawer..." he pointed wildly, then twisted himself over on the bed,
pulling a pillow up under his chest to balance himself as his pulse raced,
somehow, even faster. 'Please hurry, please...' echoed in his mind. He never
knew if he said it aloud. The sound matched the beat of his heart as he felt
Mike's rapid motion to his side.

His cock burned, his groin ached, he pushed downward into the crumpled
sheets, and moaned with the pleasure it provided. Arching downward again, he
clutched at the mattress with fingers turned white. Just a little
more...white hot pulsing need...just a little...

"Hey, blue eyes, wait for me..." a deep voice sounded in his ear, and a
quick turn in that direction earned him another brutal kiss. He pressed
himself upwards, backwards, and again he was rewarded with warm pressure. He
sank downwards, and strong hands caught and held him still.

"Easy...easy...leave this to me..." came the instruction, and Ben yielded
gratefully. Joyfully. Ready to accept, and waiting for the touch, which,
when it came, was even more exquisite than he could have dreamed.

Mike kissed him first, then moved to trail warm nibbling bites down his
spine, inch by inch. Those warm hands closed on his hips, and shifted him,
exposing him, as the mouth settled down between his buttocks. He groaned,
the hands following the devilish tongue. He was parted, kissed, licked, then
stroked....wet tongue, dry fingers, tongue again, and then slicked fingers.
One, then two gently, agonizingly slowly, probing. Opening him up, teasing
the tight muscles into release, trying to ready him carefully...

Ben didn't want careful. He didn't want gentle. He simply *wanted* - now.

He moaned the demand, pushed upwards, and was again slowed by a hot
lingering kiss on the back of his spine. Those damned fingers twisted in him
again, teasing and he screamed aloud this time, the expletive rough on his

That brought a response, a heavy settling of weight across his back and the
frustrating loss of those fingers. But they settled on his hips, closing
tightly, holding him, and he understood without a word.

"Yes," he moaned, and was finally, at long last, given what he needed.

The thrust was hard, and for a moment it seemed as though it would split
him asunder. He sobbed into the pillow, muscles tensing and releasing, his
breath catching in his lungs. Pain and pleasure mixed into one long whine of
sensation. His mind fell into a red sea, blinded...God it hurt, and God he
needed *more*!

Another strong push, and then the pressure stilled. He had never felt so
filled with another's presence before, even in previous acts of sex with
other men. He'd done this before, but it had never felt so complete. Mike's
arms curled around his chest, his mouth continued its dance on Ben's neck,
suckling the sensitive skin. His hands moved across Ben's abdomen, downward,
skimming, then closing on his swollen cock. Just the touch was enough,
ecstasy exploded, drowning the pain, the muscles released, and Ben shifted,
wriggled, signalling he was ready.

Mike responded instantly, withdrawing, then thrusting downward again, his
hands forming a cradle for Ben to fall into beneath the force of his motion.
Caught between the burn above and within and below, Ben slid into an endless
instant of sensation. Nothing mattered but the next thrust of the heavy
presence inside him; he felt consumed, subsumed, drawn so deeply into Mike's
being that they moved, breathed, pulsed as one being. They rocked together,
slow and fast, Mike setting the pace, Ben ever urging onward, faster,
harder, more...

The world imploded. His body exploded, convulsed, his mind soared and then
plummeted. Mike's cry of release echoed his own, twined with it, sank with
it. The pulse of their bodies emptied nearly at once, then gave way to a
satiated exhaustion so deep it drew them both into a dreamless darkness.
Mike barely managed to pull free and turn over onto his side, drawing Ben
close with arms unwilling to let go. Ben barely managed to turn and tuck his
head into the warmth of Mike's chest, sighing softly as he sought Mike's

Together, they slept.

Waking was slow and sensual. Mike stretched, enjoying the feel of silken
sheets against his bare flesh. Savoring the warmth emanating from the body
pressed close against his side. Eyes half-shut, still heavy with sleep, he
curled in tighter, nuzzling the firm, salty skin as it stretched taut over
muscle and bone. Flickering memories of so-sweet pleasure followed the
taste. He let his eyes close again, and licked at the curve of a neck.
Tasted the pulse, drew one hand down a long, flat chest, over the soft curve
of the abdomen, down to curve against a sleepy mound of flesh quiescent amid
a bush of curls. Male and strong and warm and alive...

And memory strengthened, fastened hold on his mind, and stayed him with
sudden shock.

"My God..." he whispered, pulling himself up on his side to stare with
wide-open gray eyes at the man still sleeping soundly beside him.


The remainder of the previous day's events hit and Mike shuddered. His eyes
squeezed shut, then opened clearly. His heart skipped a beat, then fell back
into a steady rhythm. He concentrated on that for a moment, willing himself
to savor it. Not a difficult task. The very feel of his own lungs pumping
air was a pleasure of itself. So he let himself wallow in it -- for a while.
Until the very real pull of the presence of the other man re-demanded his

He allowed himself a smile. For the sex had been really really good --
beyond good. Exquisite. Outstanding. Mike chuckled at himself, bathed in the
warm tingle of satisfaction that still filled his every pore. Pure male
appreciation...and yet.

Ben Stone. Mike frowned through his laughter, and his eyes focused intently
on the other man's slumbering form. A man full of surprises. Oh, not the
need that had surged through them both the night before. Mike was familiar
enough with the sexual hunger that rose out of adrenalin and fear. He'd
spent that same emotion on girlfriends and boyfriends, strangers picked up
from bars, anyone he could find who would let him release the fired up fury
in his blood created by living on the edge of danger a little too often. The
streets were hard and rough, even for a cop who'd never had occasion to
actually shoot at someone before. But he'd pointed that gun before, running
down dark alleys after murderous targets. Maybe he couldn't quite share
Ben's shock at the death he'd caused the day before, but he understood the

Sex confirmed life. Maybe it just simply made you feel good. Or perhaps it
merely dissipated the pent-up energy. Regardless, it was a common enough

But he'd never expected the extent of that need. Or the openness of the
demand. Or the ease of Ben's surrender. Or the experience that stole in
around the edges of the firestorm. His eyes fell upon the squished tube of
lubricant laying on the edge of the mattress and a maelstrom of questions
fired in his investigator's mind. An old cliche ran circles around the edge
of his mind, 'still waters run deep,' and he couldn't find a truer example
than the man resting against his side.

So much passion hidden beneath the staid exterior -- Mike never would have
expected, in a million years, that the upright, integrity-bound executive
assistant district attorney would have such a familiarity with the play of
male-male sex. But the body that had offered itself to him -- no, the man,
heart, soul and body -- who had offered himself, had known what he was
doing. Not in a jaded, or promiscuous fashion, but with simple assurance and
understanding of his own, and of Mike's, needs.

Hidden depths, indeed, and Mike ruefully had to admit to himself that he
was well-captured. He never could forgo a mystery, and Ben Stone was a deep,
shadowed well that he wanted to plumb to the fullest extent. He almost
laughed aloud at his own, obviously sexual imagery, but subsumed the sound
into a physical touch. In the end, Mike was rarely satisfied with words or
long, rambling digressions into his own motivations -- he expressed himself
physically, preferred action to thought, and despite some very serious
uncertainties as to Ben's response, he needed to know if this could be what
he thought it might.

So he followed the caress of his fingers with a kiss to Ben's cheek.
Lowering himself against the other man's back, he gently stirred him awake
with stroking hands and soft whispers of his name. Ben responded slowly, but
finally, turned and opened a pair of hazy, sleep-reddened blue eyes.

"Mike?" he questioned, seeking his own memories as Mike had done earlier,
and the other man tensed in shared agony as the recall struck. Ben quivered,
the sky-colored eyes squeezing shut, and Mike drew him close. The protective
instincts were never far from the surface in Mike Logan, and he answered
them now, cradling Ben's solid, yet shivering form, in his arms.

"It's OK, shhh," he whispered, waiting for the shock to recede. It did,
faster now than the night before, and he let go readily, though reluctantly,
allowing their eyes to meet.

Ben frowned, obviously seeking words. He bit at his lip, and the gesture
made Mike's groin tighten, the quiescent desire spark again. It couldn't be
helped, a stray thought whined, even as he bent swiftly, almost savagely, to
claim those tempting lips.

The kiss shook him, as did the immediate response from the man in his arms.
There was more power there now, more focus in the arms that clenched around
him and the legs that tangled with his own. Mike wasn't really sure if he
missed the open surrender of the night before or preferred the ready passion
of the man who took his own back, his tongue dueling for possession of
Mike's mouth.

And in the end it didn't matter. The kiss left them both breathless, yet
wide-eyed with unanswered questions. This time, however, Ben was ready to
speak, though his voice was slow, raw, throaty in its uncertainty.

"Mike, I...last night." Ben broke off, smiling wryly. "I'm not usually at
such a loss for words." He met Mike's gaze, emotion raw in his eyes. "Thank
you. I don't think I'd have made it through without you."

"I certainly wouldn't without you," Mike reminded him ruefully. He leaned
back, drawing Ben with him until Ben was laying across Mike's chest, staring
down into his face. "So I figure I still owe you. And last night was as much
for me as for you."

Ben paused, then spoke with a pinch of surprise.

"I never would have expected you to..."

"To be interested in sex with a guy?" Mike completed. He grinned widely. "I
wouldn't have expected it of you."

Ben returned the grin, though it never quite reached his shadowed eyes.

"I'm not quite the holy-roller people think I am."

"I figured that much out," Mike replied, amused.

Ben managed a rough chuckle, before dropping into a grimace.

"But I'm afraid that we're probably making a big mistake. Last night...we
both needed it. But we shouldn't let it happen again. Our jobs..."

He had had to say it, but Mike certainly didn't want to hear it. Even so...

"Yeh, I know. It could be a big mess," he had to answer.

Yet, neither man made a move to separate their bodies or release the clasp
of their embrace.

They lay still, bodies pressed together, Ben's head resting on Mike's
breast.Then Ben broke the silence.

"Problem is...I really want it to happen again."

"Yeh?" Mike replied, shifting in turn as Ben settled over onto his side.
They stared at each other for a moment, then Mike realized Ben was waiting
for a response from him.

"Me too," he offered, suddenly feeling strangely shy. He shouldn't; hell,
they'd already had pretty heavy sex. And he owed this man his life. But now,
perhaps because of that very fact, this meant more than just a quick,
necessary tumble between the sheets. Now, they seemed to be talking of
something that might just be a good bit more...and that made Mike extremely

For the split second before Ben broke into his characteristically sweet,
shy smile, white teeth gleaming, blue eyes sparkling, and Mike felt the
center of his body melt, and flow, and harden.

"Hell with it," he muttered under his breath -- in the split second before
he took possession of that smile.

"I'd like to stop at the hospital on the way to the precinct," Ben
announced over the gurgle of the coffeemaker. He looked back over his
shoulder at Mike, who was sprawled on a stool, elbows resting on the counter
connecting the kitchen to the living room. His head lifted, weary gray eyes
coming into sharp focus, nose lifting to the wind, reminding Ben of a
doberman picking up a foreign scent. Long, sleek, dark, dangerous...and full
attention planted firmly on Ben himself.

"I'm not sure that's a good idea," the detective said quietly. Those long
legs shifted gracefully, muscles flexing beneath the dark suit and borrowed
white shirt as he came to his feet. Ben gave up on watching the brown liquid
bubble, and turned to meet Mike in mid-stride.

"I want to..." Ben's own certainty cut off abruptly on him. He grimaced,
meeting Mike's gaze. "I have to see if the other two are all right. Make
sure they're getting proper medical care. Or at least...I don't know..." his
hands flew through the air, trying to form shapes out of empty space. "I
ought to do *something*," he finally insisted, trying to communicate the
emotions he couldn't even name, trying to reach across the small gulf
between them, trying to get Mike to understand.

"I know," Mike offered gently. He reached out to take hold of Ben's right
hand, encasing it between both of his. "But there isn't anything you can do.
Going there now...I think it's a mistake. Give it some time. Give yourself
some time."
Ben couldn't pull his hand away, but his eyes darted away.

"I'm responsible. I should be there. Explain to their families how...I
didn't have a choice. Oh God!" He cried out. He didn't know what he should
do. Nothing in his life, nothing in all his legal training and experience,
had prepared him for this. Never once had he ever considered the possibility
that *he* might be responsibility for the death of another human being, for
putting two others in the hospital. "I've got to..."

"No!" Mike tugged on his hand, forcing Ben's eyes back onto his intent

"No," he repeated. "You are not responsible. You didn't make them start
shooting at innocent people. You didn't put a gun to my head. You saved our
lives." His voice faltered, then reformed, low and emotive, almost a growl.

"You saved my life."

Ben found himself trapped, drawn irresistably closer. He stepped over the
inches separating them until their hands were clasped tightly between their

"I couldn't let you die." The fervor in his own voice shook him, and a
spike of self-preservation, fear, made him yank back. "I couldn't have let
anyone die like that!" he cried out, trying to ignore the knowledge that
whatever he might or might not have done for someone else, *this* he had
done for Mike Logan, and Mike Logan alone.

But it must have broken through in his voice, or perhaps, he simply wasn't
as good at hiding his feelings as he thought. Or, more likely, Mike was far
more sensitive and intuitive than Ben had realized before. Regardless, Mike
refused to let Ben go. He reached out and embraced Ben, even as Ben was
turning away.

Those powerful arms closed around him, like velvet-encased steel, drawing
him back up against Mike's chest. His eyes squeezed shut, the temptation to
let himself drown in the other man's strength nearly overwhelming. But he
forced himself to remain stiff, to deny himself the comfort this time. He
had killed a boy, surely he deserved to suffer...

"Stop it! Damnit Stone, enough!" Mike's voice was a fierce growl in his
ear. He
held him tightly, refusing to let go, insisting with the sheer force of his
presence. Ben held himself still; held himself away; until he simply
couldn't anymore and he slumped back into Mike's arms, half-turning to bury
his face in the curve of Mike's neck.

"We'll get through this," Mike whispered, now softly stroking the length of
Ben's spine. "I promise. It'll be ok." Ben wasn't so sure, but the sweet
security of Mike's embrace was seductive. He wanted to believe Mike's
promise. And he couldn't escape the simple joy that Mike was still alive to
be here to make that promise. The cost of his life had been high, but Ben
couldn't imagine not paying it. So he'd learn to live with it. For Mike's
sake, if not his own.