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Nothing Short of an Apocalypse

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Light. Piercing, disturbing, shattering.

Vinnie Terranova awoke with a low groan, squinting at it. The light hovered over him, moved from side to side. He was just registering the fact that it was a pen-light when he heard Roger Lococco's dry, crisp voice.

"Wake up, sleeping beauty. We're going to Boston."

Roger dangled the pen-light a little closer. In annoyance, Vinnie reached out and grabbed his wrist, held the light steady.

"What? Now?"

He could barely see Roger behind the glare of the pen-light, but he caught a shadowy movement, a shrug.

"The jet is waiting," Roger said simply.

Vince grumbled but sat up, rubbing his eyes.

"Would you turn that thing off?" he muttered irritably. Roger held the pen-light level, malevolent smirk just visible. With an exasperated sigh, Vinnie switched it off.

"Boston. Why?"

"I forgot to ask," Roger replied, moving away. "Now haul your ass outta bed before Mel tells me to do it for you."

Vinnie climbed out of bed, about to make a sarcastic comment, but Lococco was gone. Stealing away as silently as he'd appeared.

-----

On the jet to Boston, Lococco filled him in, in that way he had of imparting information without being informative. Profitt's Boston drug contact, Markus Gonsalves, owed Mel money. That was the extent of Vince's knowledge when they landed, and his questions were met with that pointed Lococco glare that said, "ask all you want, Buckwheat, you'll get nothing from me." He finally gave up asking as they climbed into the limo from the airport and headed into the city.

It was a cold, miserable, rainy day. Vinnie already felt the oppressive atmosphere of being in a strange place, with a strange man, about to do something he didn't want to do. If Mel sent Roger, it was probable they were meant to kill this Gonsalves. Even at best, if Gonsalves lived and paid up the money, they'd save a multi-million dollar drug operation. Damned if you did, damned if you didn't.

The limo dropped them off in front of a row of brownstones on Back Street. Very quiet, old-money type of luxury, not at all what Vince would have expected from Mel Profitt. Roger dug into his jacket for a key, headed inside.

The Profitt Boston residence was a penthouse which stretched the length of three brownstone houses. They entered from the private elevator into the huge, dominating living room. On one side doors leading off to the other rooms, on the other a wall of windows facing the terrace, commanding a view of the Charles River. Vinnie paused to look at the view, momentarily fascinated by the low, dark clouds rolling in over the harbor. Roger brushed past him, opening a door at random and throwing his black satchel inside.

"That's my room," he announced as if expecting an argument, then disappeared behind another door. Vinnie tore his attention away from the clouds and checked out the penthouse, selecting the bedroom with the terrace view. When he wandered back into the living room, Roger was stretched out on the sofa, leather jacket draped over the armrest, eyes closed.

Vinnie decided this meant it was nap time and was just about to head off for one himself when Roger said, "The cupboard's bare. Go out and dig up some beers or something."

Vinnie crossed his arms over his chest. "Why don't you do it yourself?"

All Roger did was open his eyes, but it was the way he did it. No one else but Lococco could make the simple act of raising one's eyelids into a threatening movement. Vinnie didn't even stay to see the piercing gleam in his eyes. He grabbed his jacket and left the penthouse, muttering under his breath.

He was sure this was Roger's excuse to get him out of the way while he contacted Gonsalves. Or called to get orders from Mel. Like so many other things with Roger, his trust was a contradiction. Never around when you looked for it, there when you least expected it.

Vinnie grumbled at the freezing rain as he stepped outside, then began his search for a grocery store, stopping only to call the Lifeguard and fill him in on the latest developments.

The search for a store took longer than anticipated, the rain didn't let up, and by the time Vince returned to the penthouse it was dark outside, though it wasn't even 6 o'clock yet. The living room was empty. From somewhere deep in the apartment he heard the sound of water running, a shower, and as he peered into a few rooms looking for the kitchen the sound stopped. Still carrying the groceries, Vince elbowed the next door open and stopped cold.

There was Roger, dripping from his shower, one foot resting on the side of the bathtub, drying himself off with a plush blue towel. Vinnie really couldn't help but watch, admiring Roger's lean grace as he smoothed the towel down his leg. Roger glanced up, not seeming surprised or disturbed by Vinnie's presence, and made some remark about the time while Vinnie allowed himself the luxury of examining Roger's naked body yet again.

His "homophobe" remark at Ernest and Lottie's notwithstanding, Vince had noticed Roger was not particularly shy about his nudity. That first night they met, with the Scandinavian whores... In the playroom on Mel's yacht... In Roger's cavernous loft... And now, here. The cumulative effect being Vince had an unsettling familiarity with Roger's body. Was aware of the smooth slopes of his muscular frame, the pattern of his chest hair, the curvature of his thighs, the size of his dick...

Unsettling, because the more he gazed at Lococco's body, the less intimate his knowledge seemed. Without touching it, without knowing its texture or its warmth, without breathing its scent, without tasting it...

Vinnie shook himself out of his trance, realizing Roger had just asked him something, he had no idea what.

"Huh?"

Roger's stern glare lingered for a moment. "I said, what took you so long? You left over an hour ago."

"I couldn't find anything close," Vince replied truthfully, backing away, suddenly irritated again because he felt like he'd been caught out. "Next time you can get your own beers, Roger. I'm not your houseboy."

Roger started to say something but stopped, lips curving into a slightly unnerving smile. He straightened up to his full height, holding the towel in one hand, letting it dangle in front of him.

"The kitchen's two doors that way," he said smoothly, tilting his head.

Now Vinnie really felt caught out. He walked away quickly, wondering why his desire for Roger had chosen this precise moment to materialize. Why here? Why now? Why couldn't it have remained what it was -- something lurking in the background of his awareness, subtle and harmless. As intangible and transient as Roger himself.

Vinnie was standing in the kitchen, unpacking the groceries, trying to shove all thoughts of sex with Roger Lococco out of his mind when the devil himself appeared, thankfully dressed, and leaned against the door frame.

"Gonsalves is coming over with the money," Roger announced, running his fingers through his wet curls.

Vinnie nodded and allowed himself a relieved sigh. Maybe the job could end quickly and neatly and they could get the hell out of this place. Maybe he wouldn't have to spend a night alone with Roger.

-----

An aging Eurotrash wannabe, Markus Gonsalves was maybe 45, short, skinny, wore his long hair back in a ponytail, and when he smiled he displayed a gold canine tooth. He dressed in Armani, reeked of Polo, and seemed to mistake his repulsiveness for charisma. He arrived at the penthouse with two whores in tight dresses, a leather briefcase and a couple of bottles of tequila. He was ready to party, he told them in curiously accented English. Vinnie could tell from Roger's expression, Roger was not.

Markus and the girls, who giggled and whispered to each other a lot, settled into the sofa without waiting for an invitation. The whore in the red dress opened one of the tequila bottles while Markus set his briefcase down on the coffee table and addressed Roger.

"I brought some gifts for you and your associate. Some tokens of my gratitude."

Roger slid into a chair and eyed the girls. "We're not here for tokens. We're here to collect Mel's money."

Markus raised a hand, tut-tutting. "I've dealt with Mel's men before. They always like to have some tokens. Like to party. You'll get the money," he promised, smiling broadly. "So why not relax first and enjoy yourself?"

Markus opened his briefcase, keeping it close. It was filled with money, but on top of that was a layer of plastic bags. Cocaine. Markus withdrew one and handed it to the whore in the red dress.

"Maybe I don't feel like relaxing," Roger said, reaching for the briefcase. He began flipping through some wads of bills.

Gonsalves laughed unpleasantly. "That's too bad... I thought you and your associate would like some company. Maybe I was wrong, hey? Maybe you two want to be alone, hey?"

Roger narrowed his eyes at him, but Gonsalves was oblivious. He looked up at Vinnie with an ugly smile.

"What do you say? You want some company?"

Vinnie did, and he didn't. He hesitated, looking to Roger for a reply, but Roger's cutting gaze was on Gonsalves. Roger replaced the money and sat back, noncommittal.

Markus snapped the briefcase shut and laughed again, turning to the whore in the green dress and patting her knee, saying something in Portuguese. She stood up, fishing in her purse for something, a cassette, which she plopped into the stereo. A few seconds later the room was filled with fast, pounding Latin American music, and the giggling green-dressed girl was pulling Vince over to dance.

As the red-dressed whore prepared some lines, Vinnie danced with her companion, keeping his attention on Roger, however. Who stalked into the kitchen and returned with a beer. Expression closed and very, very cold.

Whatever Roger's plan, Markus and the girls had come to party and party they did. Dancing and drinking and snorting coke. Roger stayed planted in the chair, only moving to get more beers. Vinnie sat down on the carpet in front of the sofa and shared a bottle of tequila with the whores.

After a while, Vinnie was less aware of how much time had passed and was feeling a nice buzz from the tequila and noise, which was welcome in that it made him less conscious of Roger's presence. Although it was possibly the worst time for such temptations, every time Vinnie looked at Roger he wanted him. Despite Roger's uninviting aura, or maybe because of it.

What was it about Lococco? What was it that made his unapproachability so damned tempting? It was like petting a cat you knew was going to scratch you. All the warning signs were there, no arguing with the inevitable, and yet there was that chance, that million-to-one shot you'd be the exception. And later, when you nursed your wounds, you knew you had no one to blame but yourself.

Vinnie slipped deeper into the spirit of the 'party,' laughing with the girls even though he didn't understand half of what they said and letting the frenzied music seep into his consciousness. He only half-watched Gonsalves, out of the corner of his eye, and didn't immediately notice when Gonsalves started undressing the red-dressed whore and pulling her over to him. His eyes wandered over the sight of Markus grabbing the girl's tits as she settled onto his lap.

He kept watching, it was like some dream or movie or something. The girl moved over Markus rhythmically; he seemed to be fucking her in time with the music. The atmosphere was very heavy, very sensuous, and his lust for Roger, which had been lying not so dormant the entire evening, mixed with it to form a vague, anonymous sexual charge.

The whore in the green dress slid halfway off the sofa, spreading her legs in front of Vince. On impulse he grabbed her thighs and pulled her forward, peeling back her dress. Underneath she wore cheap red lace panties, her bald cunt olive-colored beneath the pattern of roses. He laughed, a sound that somehow seemed to come from far away, and licked over the lacy mound. Licked and tasted the dry material and a hint of the whore's flesh, just as cheap and unsatisfying.

The whore was giggling, Vince was laughing, tongue between her legs. He glanced up, met Roger's eyes. Dark and solemn, but something else besides. A tiny flicker behind the shutters which only made his stare more intense. And then Vinnie knew. This was turning Roger on. Watching him lick this damn whore was making Roger hard... Keeping his eyes locked on Roger's face, he parted his lips and closed his mouth around the whore's cunt.

"Oooh," the whore breathed out, and the sound was so false it jarred him. He paused to look at her, see her pretense of pleasure. Only for a split second but it was long enough. He glanced back just in time to see Roger head for the kitchen.

"Oh baby, you so nice," the whore was saying. "You like my pussy, huh? You wanna go down on me, huh?"

Vince moved away with an apologetic smile, pulling her dress back down. "Um, some other time," he said, getting up to follow Roger. The whore turned to her friend and said something quick and sharp in Portuguese. They both laughed.

Vince felt dizzy by the time he reached the kitchen. The music seemed even louder here, the atmosphere ten times thicker, the scent of the whore's cheap perfume clinging to his breath. He leaned against the door frame to steady himself.

Roger was leaning over the sink, running cold water over his wrists and pressing them to his temples. Vinnie watched for several moments, nothing making sense. Roger looked up, water dripping down his face. They stared at each other, neither saying a word. The music became louder, louder, faster. Blaring horns and crashing syncopation. The air seemed to move in the same Latin rhythm. From the other room they could hear Markus' sexual groaning, the whores' exaggerated shrieks.

Vinnie stood there, uncertain whether to walk away or close the distance between them and pull Roger into the kiss he was dying for. The longer they stood, the more he wanted the latter, the less he felt able to move.

Roger broke the silence.

"Let's get him the hell outta here," he hissed, stalking past Vinnie, into the living room.

Vinnie didn't move, shaking his head to clear away the alcohol haze. He heard a crash, the music came to a screeching halt, some angry words in Portuguese... Finally Roger yelling, "Get the fuck out of here!" Slam.

Still Vinnie remained motionless. What was waiting for him anyway? Roger? Yeah, right. Go back in there and make a pass at Lococco. Get a ball-bearing lobotomy.

The kitchen dimmed as Roger switched off the living room lights. Finally Vince dragged himself from the doorway. The living room was grey and empty, Markus' briefcase lying on the floor. The sliding door to the terrace was open. A chill breeze swept in, smelling of sea salt and pollution. Vince could see the silhouette of Lococco standing by the railing but he didn't join him outside. He felt defeated suddenly, craved bed but didn't think he could make it to the bedroom so he just collapsed on the sofa and closed his eyes, wanting this trip to be over.

He tried to doze but subtle sensations kept disturbing him. The breeze disappeared as the terrace door was closed. Roger was in the room again, he could feel his presence. Roger paced from one end of the room to the other, circled the sofa. He was aware of Roger standing in front of him, and was about to open his eyes and say something wearily irritated when suddenly Roger was right there. Was on him, was pressed against him. Was kissing him, scraping his lips with his teeth, forcing his tongue into his mouth.

Vinnie spared no second for bewilderment or suspicion. He wrapped his arms around Roger, pulled him even closer, opened his mouth for Roger's tongue and feasted on it ravenously. Roger moaned, burying his tongue deeper, rolling it inside Vinnie's mouth as Vinnie sucked on it.

Roger's body pushed against him, hard and demanding, determined to get whatever it needed. Vinnie didn't question, he let Roger decide. Roger guided Vinnie's hands to his ass, slid his own hands under Vinnie's t-shirt.

Roger's passion was so fierce it surprised Vinnie, and only made his own double in intensity. Every touch was accompanied by wanton hunger. Every kiss was harsh and stinging. Roger's stubby fingernails raked over his flesh, Roger's teeth bit him. Outside a thunderstorm was raging, but it was nothing compared to the sexual hurricane battering him in here.

Roger pulled away, slid off the sofa, and headed for his bedroom. For a split second Vince felt icy dread creep into his veins, worried Lococco was changing his mind, worried he himself might come to his senses.

But in the pause the momentum only grew stronger. Vince followed him, leaving his clothes like a trail of bread crumbs across the floor. Whether to find his way into Roger's room or out of it, he didn't know.

Roger was naked in the middle of the bed, sitting up on his knees and, oh god, he was lubricating himself with gel. Vince moaned and climbed onto the bed after him. He moved Roger's hand out of the way, replacing it with his own. Sank his fingers into the narrow tunnel of Roger's ass, spreading the wetness. Roger leaned against him with a sort of sighing groan and whispered, "Fuck me, Vinnie."

Vinnie forced himself to breathe. He withdrew his fingers and turned Roger around, starting to lower him onto his back. In a flash of movement Roger squirmed out of his grasp and rolled onto his stomach.

"I said fuck me, not make love to me," Roger hissed breathlessly.

There was a moment of shock and confusion and dismay -- but only a moment. The forces leading up to this were too powerful to be stopped now... And there was Roger, spread out before him, legs wide, body so goddamned inviting. Nothing short of an apocalypse was going to stop this from happening.

Vince grabbed Roger's hips, began to press slowly into him. Roger thrust back sharply, taking him in full.

"Oh... god..." Vince gasped out, locked in the constricting heat of Roger's ass. An inferno which raged around him, began to move and pull and push on him.

Vince's hands slid over the smooth skin of Roger's hips, curved to his buttocks, parting them with a hard squeeze. Panting heavily, he watched his cock moving, drawing back from Roger's ass, almost leaving. The full, thick length of it ramming in, burying deeper.

Roger's body guided his, he worked to Roger's crazed rhythm, pulling back, pressing forth. Harder and faster, building to a crescendo of moving flesh, solid fire stoking solid fire.

Roger cried out, a small, breathy sound, as his body thundered around Vince's. Roger's climax shaking him, choking him. Vince groaned and sank his teeth into Roger's shoulder. Shuddering, he came, his cock pulsing deep into the molten core of its confinement.

It was all aftershocks then, echoes of motion and a warm haze permeating the air around and within him.

Roger released him and collapsed into the bed with a muffled "Unnph." Vinnie stretched out beside him, absently gliding a hand down the sweat-slick slope of Roger's back.

Gradually the fragments of awareness reordered themselves. Outside it was still storming. Vinnie listened to the distant sound of thunder, listened to it punctuate Roger's heavy breathing. And for some reason he decided he never wanted that storm to end, already wondering what peace, and the morning, would bring.

He shifted, kissed the bite mark on Roger's shoulder.

"Hey Roger," he whispered. "You mind if I just stay here tonight?"

But Roger was already asleep, motionless and untroubled.

-----

Vince was jolted out of sleep by a pressure on his throat. Roger's hand wrapped around his neck. Roger leaned in, his eyes dark and lethal, as Vince tried to focus.

"Don't tell Mel," Roger said, voice low and laced with threat. Sleep-fogged, Vinnie tried to murmur something in protest but Roger silenced him with a quick, tantalizing kiss.

"Or Susan," Roger added with a cold smirk, letting him go and slipping away.

And Vinnie, still half-asleep, couldn't decide if that had been a warning, a plea, or a dream, so he settled on the least disturbing option and drifted back into unconsciousness.

-----

When Vince woke up again, he was alone, his abandoned clothes left in a heap on the foot of the bed. A Lococco commentary he decided to ignore for the moment. Throwing on his jeans he wandered into the living room to find Roger in the chair, hunched over Gonsalves' briefcase.

"Fuck," Roger muttered, slamming the briefcase shut. "Fuck fuck fuck fuck!"

Then Roger seemed to sense his presence and sat back, looked up at him, scowling. "There's only 500 grand here. That's not even a third of what Gonsalves owes Mel."

Vince glanced at the briefcase, back at Roger, whose expression was intense and forbidding. As real as if he had actually spoken the words, Roger's look said it all: I would have known this last night if I had counted the money. I would have counted the money if I hadn't been screwing around with you. The silent accusation hung in the air between them, seemed to sever whatever remnants of closeness were left over from the night before.

Vinnie felt that chill breeze from last evening and instinctively looked over to the terrace. The storm had stopped, though the rain was still drizzling down from a stark grey overcast sky.

He sat down on the sofa. "We'll go after Gonsalves."

Roger laughed, sharp and bitter. "Vinnie, that cocksucker is halfway back to Lisbon by now, if he's smart." He gave the briefcase a desultory kick with the heel of his boot.

Then there was silence, because there was too much to think about, and words weren't going to help. After a while Vinnie stood up.

"I'm going to get more beer." He started to walk away, paused by Roger's chair. "It'll be all right. We'll get the money. We'll think of something." Then he laid a hand on Roger's shoulder, meant to be reassuring. Roger shrugged off his touch.

-----

On the way to the store Vince stopped at a pay phone to call the Lifeguard. Only one way out of this: get Gonsalves. And the only way he could think of getting Gonsalves was to find out what the OCB had pulled up on him. He didn't even try to fool himself that he was only doing this for the OCB -- he admitted that a more immediate motivation was to get back on Roger's good side, whatever that meant, however briefly. Okay, so last night was probably never going to happen again, but even setting aside the lust, he was haunted by that cold, prohibiting stare of Roger's, that damning look.

The Lifeguard greeted him with highlights of Gonsalves' illustrious career in drug trafficking and filled him in on everything the Boston PD knew about his habits. It was a long shot but if Gonsalves hadn't fled the country, they had a pretty good idea where he'd go for safety. Vinnie digested all this information, working on how to present it to Roger. Forming a plan. Not much of one, but he had to do something.

-----

Roger apparently hadn't moved in his absence. He sat in the chair, shifting his glare from the briefcase to Vinnie as Vinnie walked in.

Vince settled on the sofa and dropped the six-pack to the floor.

"I've been thinking," he began.

"Then don't," Roger cut in.

Vince ignored him and continued, "I had some Boston contacts when I worked for Steelgrave. They'd probably know Gonsalves, how to find him." He opened a beer, watching Roger carefully.

Roger was silent, thinking. His eyes moved to Vinnie, guarded and suspicious.

"Oh yeah?" he asked slowly.

Vinnie nodded.

"Boston contacts, huh?"

Vinnie nodded again, taking a sip from the beer bottle. Roger stared at him.

After a while Roger said, "You have a lot of contacts, Buckwheat."

Vinnie shrugged it off. "Yeah, well, Steelgrave was involved in a lot of action. And you never know when contacts are gonna be useful. Now you wanna try to find this asshole Markus or not? 'Cause you don't want to, that's fine, but then you're the one who can tell Mel you didn't get his money back."

He took a long drink of beer, calming the build-up of anger which was rising inside. Knowing it was only partially due to Roger's suspicious nature, much more to do with Roger's distance.

Roger looked at the briefcase, tapped it with his fingers. "Okay, we'll try these contacts of yours. But anything goes wrong, you're paying Profitt back out of your own money, comprende?"

Vinnie nodded, smiled confidently. "Good, because I went ahead and called them while I was out. When Gonsalves needs to disappear, he hangs out at a strip joint in Charlestown owned by his buddy Joe Pereira."

Roger flashed him a look, fierce, furious. Then it faded, and his lips curled in a smile.

"You are one hell of a piece of work, Terranova," he laughed. "One hell of a piece of work."

-----

The strip club was seedier than most, and the ceaseless rain only served to intensify its dark, depressing appearance. Vince and Roger arrived just as it opened for evening business, Vince striding in, Roger hanging back. An underage Latina chick was gyrating on stage for the three customers in the front row. No sign of Gonsalves.

Vince approached the bar, trying to make small talk, casually introduce the topic of Markus Gonsalves, but the bartender was either too poor at English, or too good at turning a blind eye. He had nothing to say. Vince glanced at Roger, who stood by the door, stance alert and ready. Roger glanced back, an "I don't know either" look.

The stage act ended and Vince hesitated, unsure whether it was worthwhile to stay and wait, or if it was worth the risk to tear the place apart. Then several things happened in succession. The next act came on, and it was the red-dressed whore from last night. She recognized Vince as he recognized her and ran off the stage. He ran after her, pushing past a fat bouncer and a couple of shocked, half-naked strippers to get backstage.

He caught up with her, grabbing her arm. She shrieked in Portuguese and a door opened. Markus Gonsalves bolted towards the back door. Vinnie threw the girl aside, sprinting after him.

But Markus had stopped just outside the door, his hands raised. Five feet in front of him stood Roger, gun drawn.

No one moved, no one said a word. They stood there in the rain, each waiting for someone else to make the decision. Cautiously, Vinnie stepped forward, shutting the back door behind him. If they were lucky Gonsalves' friends would decide he wasn't worth rescuing, but Vinnie wasn't about to count on luck.

Working swiftly, he frisked Gonsalves, took his gun and wallet and pocketed them. Gonsalves watched Roger.

"What are you going to do now? I don't have your money," Gonsalves said, practically gloating about it.

"I'm going to put a hole through your head," Roger replied. "May not get the money, but it'll make me feel better."

Markus laughed humorlessly. On edge now. "We can work something out," he offered. "I do a lot of business. Worth a lot of money. Work with me, work with Profitt. And you decide how much to tell him."

Roger's eyes flicked to Vinnie for a second. "Do you believe this guy? He thinks I'd work for him?" He glared at Gonsalves again. "You've been inhaling too much of your own merchandise."

Roger took a step closer, Vinnie instinctively edged away from Gonsalves. Roger was about to waste the guy, his stance and expression were unmistakable.

"Roger, wait. Listen."

Without taking his eyes off Markus, Roger said, "He's a player, Vinnie. A target."

"No. Listen," Vinnie repeated. "Sirens. Cops."

Roger hesitated. "Damn!" he muttered, slowly lowering his gun. "We'll have to leave this piece of shit here. Let's go."

"Wait a sec." But Roger was already gone, disappearing down the alley.

Vinnie held Markus with one hand, fished in his pocket with the other. He drew out some nylon cord, tied Markus' hands behind his back, and then to the drain pipe running down the wall of the building. He pulled out a bag of coke, culled from Gonsalves' briefcase, and slipped it into Gonsalves' jacket, gracing him with a smile. He threw Gonsalves' gun and wallet onto the pavement and left him for the cops. The conveniently arriving cops who'd been tipped off by the OCB.

Not much of a plan, and it still didn't give them the money.

Still didn't give him Roger.

-----

Roger hadn't waited around for him, so Vinnie made his own way back to the Profitt penthouse, and found it empty. A feeling of exhaustion overcame him so he collapsed on the sofa and slept, waking hours later, groggy, at some disturbance. A breeze.

He sat up. The door to the terrace was slid back and Roger was standing outside, in the rain, in the dark, looking over the railing. Vince went over to the door and stood there, watching him silently.

After a minute or so Roger said without turning around, "Cops get Gonsalves?"

Vinnie took a step outside. "Yeah."

He saw Roger nod to that.

"Did you talk to Mel?" Vinnie asked.

Roger turned around, but it was too dark to read his expression. "Yeah." He gave a little shrug. "He's already off on another witchhunt, someone else he wants wasted. He's sending the jet, should be here by tomorrow morning."

Vince wanted to see him better, wanted to be able to gauge his mood, wanted to say something, anything, to stop the past two days from being a total disaster.

"Roger..."

"Yeah?"

What could he say? Without knowing what motivated Roger to do anything he did, what could he offer? No words could bridge the distance, no words that were not lies. Nothing changed who Roger was, who he was.

"I'm going to bed," he said, an announcement of defeat. Giving up on trying to close the distance after all. He walked back into the apartment, wiping the rain from his face.

-----

Vinnie lay in bed, waiting for sleep. Listening to the rain outside, trying not to listen to the silence inside. He'd heard Roger come back in over an hour ago, heard him pacing even before catching a glimpse of moving shadow through the slightly open door. The pacing stopped. Silence. God, he wished he were asleep.

He wasn't even close to sleep when he felt the air change, heard the softest of sounds, quiet breathing. He opened his eyes, saw in the imperfect darkness a darker shape move towards him. Roger slid over the bed and settled on top of him in one swift, graceful motion.

Folding his arms around Roger's back to pull him close, Vince was startled to feel his nakedness. His skin so warm, heated by deep, secret fires.

Roger kissed him, a slow, sensuous kiss, stirring his hunger, inviting it to surface. Piercing the chill of his loneliness with desperate heat until it melted, became a physical need. Beyond fears, beyond uncertainties, beyond lies.

Roger lured his tongue into his mouth and held it captive there, suckling and teasing it. Vince sank a hand into Roger's wild, rain-damp curls, pressing him closer to deepen the kiss.

Roger moved against him with controlled urgency. Keeping his desire in check, stringing out the build-up of lust. His warmth seeped into Vince, penetrated him, filled him, as his hands explored the planes and curves of Vince's body through the bed sheet. Still kissing him, one long, breathless kiss after another, and molding his body to Vince's searching hands.

Drawn into the spell of Roger's desire, Vince grew hard, hunger acquiring a desperation matched by Roger's own. Vince kicked the bedsheet aside, stripped out of his underwear, and pulled Roger to him with low moan, shivering from the contact as their flesh met, ignited.

Roger's fingers traveled over his chest, nails flicking through the fine hairs, scraping over his hardened nipples. Vince shook with want, running his hands down the length of Roger's back, rubbing his ass. Roger pressed his cock against Vince's, echoing its deep throb, licked by the same flames. Vince circled his fingertips around Roger's anus, exploring the tender, surrounding flesh.

Roger sat up, straddling him. His eyes locked to Vince's, he lifted Vince's hand to his mouth, closed his lips around two fingers, licking wetly, drenching them. With a snaking curl of his tongue Roger freed them and led Vince's hand back to his ass. Vince plunged his fingers inside, felt the smooth inner skin greased with gel as his fingers circled. Vince's breath caught, escaped in a tiny gasp.

Withdrawing his fingers, Vince locked his hands to Roger's hips, guiding him over his cock, stiff and swollen with need. Roger's legs tightened around him, holding him in an iron grip as Roger lowered to meet him, to take him inside with one fast downward push.

Roger's satisfied groan echoed his own as he pressed into him. Panting, Vince stayed embedded deep inside Roger's tight heat. He ran his hands over Roger's thighs and hips, gently begging for his movement.

Roger began slowly, rocking against him, subtle writhing. Vince's cock burned as it stroked deep inside, feeling the walls of muscle relax, contract, around it. Vince's hips rose and fell, matching the steady, lulling motion of Roger's body. Drawing back to be held tight, thrusting deep to be engulfed. Again and again, each move sending pulses of rippling flames throughout his body.

As the pleasure intensified, Roger's moves became harder, wilder, more demanding. His hips crashed against Vince's, meeting Vince's thrusts with equal force. Pounding against him, choking Vince's cock inside his firm, hot body. Riding him in a frenzied, primeval rhythm, his moans of delight falling all around Vince, colliding with Vince's own.

Vince's body bucked, shuddering, as he reached the pinnacle of ecstasy, bursting forth in thick release. Still flying in the haze of delirium, he grabbed Roger's straining, dripping cock and squeezed tightly. Roger shook all around him, arching back as he came, his cock emptying in fast, hot jets.

Then everything was formless because everything was sensation. Waves of ecstatic energy pulsing through the miasma of orgasm.

Gradually form and substance and existence returned. Vince felt his body move, his hands release Roger's cock, move to his ass, tenderly caressing. Made a small sound of regret as his spent cock slipped from Roger's body. Vince inhaled deeply, slowing his breath. Roger still sat astride him, breathing heavily, his legs still tightly clenched around him, pools of seminal ooze dripping between their bodies. It was starting to feel uncomfortable, but Vince was damned if he was going to shatter the moment in any way. So he lay there, watching Roger, softly massaging Roger's ass, waiting.

Roger's gaze lifted from him, moved to some point beyond the bed.

"I am so sick of this goddamned rain," Roger whispered with a quiet sigh, sliding off of him.

Although it was something that made no sense, in that moment it made every sense. Vince somehow understood, and accepted. It was probably the closest Lococco could get to a phrase of endearment. The words themselves meant nothing; the voice that shared them he valued.

Roger started to leave the bed but Vinnie laid a hand on his arm.

"Stay," he whispered.

Roger didn't reply, didn't nod, and he didn't leave. He settled on his stomach next to Vinnie, not protesting when Vinnie shifted a little closer and draped an arm around him. Not quite trusting he'd stay, Vinnie wanted to watch him fall asleep, but he drifted into oblivion too soon.

-----

Light. Dull and grey, steady. The unwelcome daylight. Vinnie tried to blink it away, gave up, shedding the lingering touches of sleep. He didn't have to look around to know he was alone in the bed; the comfortable weight of Roger beside him was gone.

He listened for a moment, hearing the rain outside -- did it never stop? -- and the ominous silence inside. Wherever Roger was, he wasn't close.

Close. Close and Roger were two concepts that didn't match. That never met. He'd known that all along. He'd known that sleeping with Roger was not going to make him any more accessible, any more open.

Despite getting a taste of the fire which was buried inside Roger's psyche, on the surface Roger was, and always would be, a chill breeze.

Vinnie got up and started preparing to face the day, their return to Vancouver, Mel and Susan. He froze in mid-motion when he sensed Roger's presence, looked over to see Roger standing in the doorway, dressed and ready to go, satchel in hand.

"The limo's waiting, sleeping beauty," Roger said, voice just as dry and lazy as ever.

Vinnie nodded. Something kicked inside him and impulsively he grabbed Roger's wrist.

"Roger..."

Roger silenced him with a look. A quick flash of anger, regret, confusion, and fear. But something else besides. Something vulnerable and soft and elusively promising. Not much to go on, nothing, in fact, but it was there. He had seen it. He knew it existed.

Vinnie let go.

Roger walked away. "Hurry up," he called from the living room.

Vinnie finished dressing.

(the end)