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The girl was slender with a pretty face highlighted by gold hair and wide blue eyes. Actor smiled at her but she returned his smile in only a polite way, sliding passed to stand next to Chief. For a second Actor gave into the other side of his nature, letting his gaze travel down the Indian’s lean form. Smiling, he decided he couldn’t blame the girl. Chief looked very handsome tonight, wearing a loose shelved white shirt that set of his dark skin and black pants that served to show off his slim build.

His appraising look was interrupted by the girl moving away. Actor’s eyes shifted to Chief’s face. While Chief could appear completely emotionless to the rest of the world, the team had quickly learned that his onyx eyes gave away much more than he wanted them to know. What they held now was disappointment, sorrow and loss. The feelings ran so deep that Actor felt a wave of sorrow echo through his own heart. He started toward the other man, drawn by his loneliness.

A hand touched his arm. He looked over at Garrison. “Leave it,” their leader said quietly.

Actor met Garrison’s eyes, unsurprised to find that the whole exchange with Chief had been observed. Taking a slow drag on his pipe, Actor gestured toward the Indian.

“Our youngest con is a bit shy,” he ventured. “I thought perhaps...”

“Leave it,” Garrison ordered more firmly. “There’s more to it than that.”

The tall American walked off with a quick glance toward Chief. Actor smiled slightly. If there was one thing he liked more than a con it was a mystery.


His hand tightened around the small flashlight so hard it trembled. Actor slammed it down on the desk, leaning back and taking a deep breath. He couldn’t recall being so angry, so outraged. That anyone should have been treated so badly was more than he could believe, for it to be a man he had come to care for whipped his rage into a firestorm. At the same time, sorrow brought the slightest touch of tears to his eyes. Folding the file, he sat for a moment, too shocked to do anything.

“Did you find what you wanted?” The lights flashed on at the same time as Garrison’s voice demanded an answer.

Actor came to his feet, too mad to be chastised. He grabbed the file, waved it accusingly at Garrison. “This is barbaric! How could anyone allow this? No one...”

Garrison marched across the cold office and faced Actor. “What do you want me to say? That it’s common knowledge that this is done to prisoners? Especially Indians and Negroes? It’s not, though more people know than would admit to it.”

Actor tossed the file on the table. “America, where everyone is equal,” he said sarcastically.

Garrison leaned on the table, staring down at the file. “Yeah,” he answered with a sigh. “It’s suppose to make violent criminals manageable, cure homosexuality and even stop insanity.”

Actor considered what he knew about Chief, and what he now suspected. “With Chief it would have been the violence and the homosexuality,” he said carefully.

“Bisexuality,” Garrison admitted. He smiled at the conman. “Like some others we know of.” Actor merely raised an eyebrow at him. “It’s all bullshit anyway.”

Garrison rarely swore. In that moment Actor knew that Garrison’s reaction had been the same as his. Some of his anger gave way, or at least retreated, allowing the sympathy to come forward. It also let him see something else about Garrison’s reaction.

Tilting his head to one side, he asked, “Is this why you picked Chief?”

Garrison pulled the chair back to the desk, motioned Actor into the chair on the other side. “Are you asking me if I felt sorry for him?”


“I did,” Garrison said, “but that’s not the only reason I picked him.” Looking up, he said, “Actor, I can’t tell you why I picked each of you. I knew what I needed, certain specialties and literacy. I saw something different in each of you. In Chief, I saw a man looking for something to believe in, something to fight for.”

“Something to live for,” Actor added. At Garrison’s surprise, he explained, “I have noticed the scars on his wrists.”

Garrison paused for a moment, unsure of how much more to say. With a rueful smile, he said, “I suppose if I shut up now you’ll just break into my office again.” He nodded. “Yeah, suicide attempt while he was in Statenville. The big surprise was that they bothered to save him.”

Reaching into the massive desk, Garrison retrieved a bottle of scotch and poured them each a short jigger. Actor sipped his slowly, gaining control of his emotions. The silence between the two of them was strained, not like usual. It was Garrison who finally broke the coldness.

“No one knows any of this. Even the general only knows the basics of each of your histories.”

Actor nodded. “Chief’s secret is safe with me.”

“That isn’t what I need to know.” Garrison’s statement made Actor look up. “Will it make you think less of him?”

Fresh anger flared in Actor’s nerves. He slammed his glass down. “Not to worry, Warden, your team will not be disrupted by this knowledge.”

“I wasn’t worried about the team.” Garrison’s quiet statement cut off Actor’s protest. “I don’t want Chief hurt. I know you’re a fair man Actor, but this is not something most people have to face.”

His reactions flipped again. Actor reached for the glass, finishing the fiery liquid in one gulp. “I respect Chief and nothing will change that.”

Garrison nodded and they finished their drinks in more natural silence. In the back of his mind though Actor started to consider what he could do about Chief’s condition.


He hit hard and was immediately pulled several yards as the strong wind caught his chute. Staggering up, Actor whipped his helmet off at the same time as he grabbed the silk lines. Jumping always made him nervous, and this time had been rougher than most. A strong wind had blown them miles off target. Through sheer luck he had spotted the overgrown field. A few more yards and he would have come down in a thick stand of trees. Rolling the chute, he started scanning the area for the rest of the team. During his descent he had been so busy fighting the lines that he had lost track of them. Only a few yards away, Goniff was fighting his own chute down. In the darkness, Actor counted two more billowing white sheets farther out in the snowy field. Where was the fifth?

Goniff came over, stashing his chute into the undergrowth next to Actor’s. They watched two dark figures jog across the uneven ground. Casino and Garrison joined them. Actor took a deep breath.

“Everyone okay?” Garrison questioned.

“Chiefy?” Goniff asked.

“He was in front of me when we got near the ground,” Casino said. “I lost him when the chute started throwing me around.”

“He didn’t come down near us,” Goniff supplied.

“Damn,” Garrison swore softly. “He must have come down in the trees. Spread out and let’s find him.”

“He’s probably sitting in the dark just waiting for us,” Goniff said with fake optimism.

“Stay within sight of each other,” Garrison ordered, leading the way into the trees.

Goniff and Casino swung to Garrison’s left, leaving Actor to take the right. The trees were thick, old, reaching high to block the thin moonlight. They moved slowly, flashlights swinging from the base of the forest floor high into the bare branches. The only color in the night was the stark white of their breath as they marched silently on.

It seemed like forever but was in reality only a few minutes before Actor’s narrow beam bounced off something metal. Sprinting forward, he scooped up the helmet, eyes and light going to the tree above him.


Chief was hanging limply in his harness at an angle twenty feet above the thick forest floor. Actor’s hand tightened on the helmet, sliding on the blood that spotted it. The others scrambled over to him, following his light up.

“Bloody hell,” Goniff said quietly.

Garrison didn’t waste time cursing. “Goniff, get to the chute straps.”

Without a single word of protest the nimble thief went up the tree, making it look easy. Garrison knelt next to his pack, pulling out a rope and handing it to Casino. “Get out on that branch just above him, Casino. Get this rope over the branch then under his arms. Toss the end to Actor and I. When Goniff cuts the lines we can lower him down.”

“Gotcha,” Casino agreed quickly. He also scrambled up without protest, though with considerable more trouble than Goniff.

As the others moved away, Actor saw the fear that lined Garrison’s face, a reflection of his own. He laid a hand on the other man’s arm, met the controlled features.

“He’ll be all right,” Actor promised.

“Yeah,” Garrison breathed, trying to sound confident.

Stray leaves and bark feel down around them as Casino and Goniff struggled to reach the injured man. A rope thudded into the thick carpet of debris. Actor picked up the end, wrapping it firmly around his back, watching Garrison do the same.

“We got him, Warden.” Casino yelled down.

“Goniff, cut the lines,” Garrison ordered up.

Weight hit the end of the rope, pulling both of the taller man forward. Chief swung sideways, dropping a few feet before straightening. Slowly, Actor and Garrison fed the rope through their hands, lowering the slender body to the ground. To the side of his vision, Actor watched Goniff and Casino drop to the base of the ancient tree.

“Grab him, Actor,” Garrison said.

With Garrison steadying the rope, Actor stepped forward. Relief swept through him as he wrapped his arms around the Indian; he could feel the steady raise of Chief’s chest. “He’s alive,” he said quickly, lowering him to the cold ground.

Three lights immediately illuminated the still form. What they revealed did not comfort Actor. Blood flowed in dark rivulets down Chief’s face from a gash that stretched from the corner of his eyebrow back into his dark hair. A pad of bandages appeared in front of him and Actor met Goniff’s concerned look.

“Pass some down here,” Garrison requested of the small thief.

Actor looked down to find Garrison cutting open part of Chief’s pants to reveal a long, nasty rip down his hip to the top of his thigh.

“Should we get him out of those pants?” Casino asked.

“No!” Garrison and Actor snapped together.

The adamant response gained them a confused look. Actor said levelly, “He’s too cold already. Just bandage over the trousers until we can get him somewhere warm.”

No one argued. Since Actor had admitted to having some medical training thanks to several doctor scams, he had become the teams unofficial aid officer. He took the role quite seriously, even going so far as to borrow training manuals from the medics at the base near the mansion. As he ran his hands down the strong chest, he watched Garrison check the man’s legs and hips. They finished their exams at the same time.

“Nothing broken here,” Garrison said in relief.

Actor nodded. “He’s bruised but none seem bad enough to indicate internal injuries.” His optimism faded a little. “Though there is very little I can tell about the head wound until he comes around. We should get him someplace warm.”

Even as he said it Garrison opened a map, studying it under Casino’s flashlight. “We’re miles from our contact point.” He was silent for a long time, carefully controlling his worry behind the need to find somewhere they could help Chief. “Here. We’re not that far from a small fishing village. There should be someplace there we can hide him while Goniff, Casino and I make contact with the partisans.”

No one suggested scrubbing the mission. Garrison might have considered it had Chief been in immediate danger but they couldn’t get out until the small plane came back around to pick them up. So, they would find a place for Chief to rest while the remainder of the group completed their task. A few more tense minutes went by as Actor finished his nursing.

Finally he nodded to Casino. “Let’s try getting him up.”

With them each taking an arm they shifted Chief to a sitting position. A low groan accompanied the move.

“Chief?” Garrison knelt in front of him.

Chief’s head rolled sideways and he attempted to raise his hand. Actor wrapped his hand around the man’s cold fingers, keeping him from touching the wound.

“Chief?” Garrison tried again. The lieutenant took Chief’s smooth chin in his hand, held him still and waited patiently for his eyes to open. “Come on, Chief, I know you’re in there.”

The onyx eyes flashed open, immediately closed with a soft mutter of complaint. “What?”

Goniff smiled. “Sounds like Casino when he’s tied one on.”

“Chief,” Actor said firmly. “Look at me.”

Garrison let Chief’s head turn in his hand. “Who am I?” Actor demanded.

A couple of blinks later, Chief said clearly, “Actor.” He glanced around him, frowning at each of his teammates until he reached Garrison. “Where are we?”

“Italy,” Garrison told him with a gentle smile.

“Oh.” A frown tugged at the handsome face. “How long?”

“Too long,” Casino chimed in.

“He’s right,” Garrison admitted. “We need to move.”

Actor slipped his arm around the Indian’s narrow waist. “Stand up, Chief.”

With Garrison’s additional help he made it up. Chief tried to pull away from the two men holding him, and let out a choked cry as weight hit his injured leg. Actor tightened his hold, wrapping both arms about him.

“You’re hurt,” he explained patiently.

Chief looked down at his leg in surprise. He glanced at Garrison, lost confusion on the strangely innocent face. The silent appeal for help was aimed at Garrison but it was Actor the look effected; his chest tightened with affection.

“Warden?” Chief said slowly. “Where are we?”

Garrison cast a quick worried look at Actor, then said distinctly, “Italy.”

Chief blinked. “I feel strange.”

“Hey, Actor,” Casino asked quietly. “What’s wrong with him?”

“Concussion,” Garrison supplied, having experienced one first hand.

Actor nodded. “We need to get him settled and he’ll have to be watched, keep awake.”

“Why?” Goniff wondered.

“If he were to slip into a coma, he could never wake up,” Actor said grimly.

“Hey,” Casino moved up, took Chief’s arm and slung it over his shoulder. “Ain’t happening, baby. We’ll take good care of our boy.”


There was nothing left of the village. A grim search turned up only bombed out buildings and burned crops. They picked a small, one room cottage that was mostly solid, and had the advantage of being nearly hidden by some thick words. By the time they found refuge, Chief’s questions had become grimly amusing. Each man had patiently answered where they were and how they had gotten there, only to have their friend repeat the same two inquiries only minutes later. As they sat him on what was left of a bed, Actor couldn’t keep the worry from his expression any longer. A hand landed on his arm.

“Is he going to be okay?” Garrison demanded.

Actor glanced up, found all three of the others pressed close around him. Looking at his patient, Actor answered cautiously, “I think so. His eyes are normal.” Their worried looks made him add, “But I’m no doctor. If fluid starts to build pressure around the brain...”

He let the sentence fade into ominous silence. Garrison finished through clenched teeth. “He’ll die.”

“Cor,” Goniff said quietly. “Here then, Warden, maybe we’d better just forget this one, you know, just work on getting Chiefy to a doctor.”

Feeling the tension that entered Garrison’s body, Actor said quietly, “It won’t make any difference. If it’s going to happen, it will be soon. And no local country doctor will have the facilities to help him.”

Casino knelt next to him in front of the dazed man. Chief seemed totally obvious to the meaning of their words. “You saying there ain’t nothing we can do?”

“No,” Actor corrected. “We can him awake, warm and alert while he recovers.”

“All right,” Garrison suddenly spoke up. “Let’s get on it. Goniff, you and Casino see what you can find -- blankets, wood for the fireplace, water, sheets, bandages. Some more clothes. We’ll have to cut him out of the pants.”

The two cons vanished into the night without another word. Garrison hesitated, watching closely as Actor took the crimson soaked bandage off Chief’s head, reaching for another roll of gauze in the kit. Chief blinked like a startled owl at him as he removed the wrap. Behind him, Actor heard Garrison laugh sadly. He turned to find such open caring on the normally controlled face that he realized that he was not the only one who had lost part of his heart to the young Indian. Garrison nodded at him, acknowledging the connection between them.

“Take care of him,” Garrison said as he left to join the search.


A quick half-hour later turned up a load of firewood, several dirty blankets, a fairly clean sheet for bandages and plenty of water. Garrison built the fire up, making sure there was no smoke from the dry wood. Casino cut the sheet into large squares then washed them out and hung them over the fireplace. Goniff and Actor stayed near Chief, answering his more lucid questions and asking their own to keep him awake. Finally, there was nothing more to do except clean the leg wound.

Glancing up at Garrison, Actor gestured minutely toward the door. “All right,” Garrison said sharply. “There’s nothing else we can do here. Let’s get on with it.”

“But Warden,” Goniff started. “Actor may need...”

“We’ll be fine,” Actor assured him.

“The sooner we get on with this, the sooner we’re back to meet the pick up plane,” Garrison reminded them.

Reluctantly, the other two nodded. Goniff laid a hand on Chief’s arm, said lightly, “Just like you, mate to get the easy part of the caper.”

Casino patted the man’s shoulder. Gesturing toward Actor, he said, “Don’t buy anything he might be trying to sell just now, Chief.”

They moved into the dark, cold night. Garrison looked back once from the door, giving Actor a quick single nod of understanding.

Once they were gone, Actor turned to the task of Chief’s leg. Knowing better than to surprise the man, he said quietly, “Chief, we have to get your pants off.”

There was no reaction, so Actor reached for the zipper. A cold hand griped his wrist. “No,” Chief said shakily.

“Chief, we have...”

The fingers around his wrist tightened. “No.”

Ignoring the near pain, Actor ordered, “Chief, look at me.”

His tone reached through Chief’s panic and daze. The dark eyes met his. In a level, calm tone, Actor said, “Chief, I know about what was done to you.”

A myriad of emotions flashed lightning quick over Chief’s face; outrage, sorrow, anger. Finally, his hand fell away from Actor’s wrist. “How?” Then in a tone that spoke of old betrayals, he growled, “Garrison.”

“No,” Actor corrected firmly. He lay his hand lightly on top of Chief’s. With an attempted smile, he said, “Come now, you must have known I’d read everyone’s file.”

Chief closed his eyes and turned away, teeth holding tight to his bottom lip. The hand under Actor’s shook very slightly. Daring the man’s deadly blade, Actor reached up and cupped Chief’s smooth chin. He tilted his head down to meet the misery and mist in the dark eyes.

“It’s the concussion,” Actor explained patiently. “A blow like that, it can disrupt your emotions as well as your memory.”

Chief resumed staring at the wall. Actor started to reach for the zipper, then thought better of it. “Chief, give me one of your knives. You won’t have to move as much that way.”

“No,” Chief said softly. “Need ‘em later.”

It took Actor a moment to realize he was referring to the pants, not the knife. He wanted to argue, but knew that nothing he could say would change Chief’s mind. He removed the calf-high boots, then as impersonally and gently as possible he eased the blood soaked material off Chief’s hips, ignoring the choked moan. Minutes later the boxers also fell away. Actor held back a very gentlemanly curse, the wound was much worse than he had thought. It stretched from the top of Chief’s hip down and around his thigh. It was obvious he had hit a branch, pieces of dirt, bark and leaves were evident in the jagged rip. The only good news Actor could see was that it wasn’t deep. If kept clean and open it was possible it wouldn’t infect quickly in the cold weather.

He looked up again, hating what he was about to ask. “Chief, can you stand? I need to wash this well and I will only soak the bed if you stay here.”

Without a word or glance, Chief dropped one hand to cover his groin while trying to push off the rickety bed with the other. Actor had been so concerned with the wound that he’d forgotten what Chief was distressed over. He flinched, refusing to look any where but the bloody gasp. As Chief made it to his feet, Actor grabbed a blanket, putting an edge in each of Chief’s hands. Chief immediately covered everything except his injured hip. Actor rose and helped Chief ease back against the wall.

“If it gets too bad,” he advised, “tell me. The last thing we need is you falling on me.”

Chief still wouldn’t look at him. But he nodded.

The next fifteen minutes was hell for both of them. Actor used four of the five canteens to clean the wound, almost all the gauze and twice had to stop as Chief started to slide down the rough white washed wall. The deathgrip on the blanket never wavered. Finally, it was over and Actor straightened stiffly.

“Easy now,” he instructed. “Back down with you.”

Once Chief was horizontal, Actor finished his nursing, saturating the wound with the sulfa from the kit then laying the clean cotton strips over it, not binding it, just covering it. When they had to move he would bind it, for now he decided to let it drain without restriction.

“Done,” he announced with fake cheerfulness. “Not as bad as it looked.”

That gained him a frown of sarcastic disbelief. He patted Chief’s shoulder, ignoring the tensing as he did. “How’s the headache?”

There was no answer. “Chief, you can’t go forever without talking to me.” Patiently, he repeated, “How’s the head?”

“Worse,” Chief answer reluctantly.

Actor glanced at his watch. “It’s been an hour. I think it would be safe for you to sleep. In fact, I think it would do you good.”

Chief shifted, trying to get comfortable. His hand slipped as the blanket caught beneath him. Without thinking, Actor’s glanced down, took a sharp breath. Chief jerked, tried to grab the blanket and jarred his hip. He barely stifled a cry of pain. Actor moved instantly, grabbing Chief’s trembling hand as he groped for the blanket's edge.

“Stop, Chief!” He ordered firmly.

Once again his tone caught the man, brought his attention up. Loosening the hard grip he had around Chief’s wrist, Actor said, “You have nothing to be ashamed with me.”

Chief jerked his hand free of Actor’s hold but he stopped trying to grab the blanket. “Leave me alone,” he said hoarsely.

Actor heard the real threat in Chief’s uneven voice. Even confused and injured, the man was dangerous. Maybe even more so, Actor admitted; he would be slow to understand and fast to react. But the conman also knew if he were going to help it would have to start here.

“No,” he answered Chief’s plea. “You’ve been too long alone.”

The knife was at his throat before he heard the snick of its release, the sharp metal pressed just under his chin. Chief’s eyes, hard and cold, dared him to move. Actor remained still, letting his concern and friendship show in his eyes. The knife never wavered, but gradually the hardness faded from Chief’s obsidian gaze, replaced by confusion.

Reaching up, Actor gently wrapped his long fingers around Chief’s narrow wrist and lowered the deadly blade away from his throat. With his eyes still locked with Chief’s, Actor leaned forward and kissed him. It was a light, gently brushing of lips, an invitation and a promise. Chief was absolutely still. Actor pulled back, not put off by Chief’s lack of response. Chief was staring at him, eyes wide and impossibly dark. When Actor gave into temptation and reached for his cheek, Chief drew back. Actor didn’t press, merely smiled.

“Why’d you do that?” Chief demanded softly.

“To let you know that I care and will be here if you need me, if you want me.”

Chief looked down at the blanket. “Why? I’m not...”

Actor put a finger to the man’s full lips, stopping him. “Whatever you were about to say, is not true.”

Chief asked, “How do you know?”

“Because you were about to say something stupid, such as how you’re not a real man, or not whole or some such bullshit,” Actor explained.

Actor swore so rarely that it actually gained him a smile, followed by a look of guilt that proved his summation had been correct. This time he did brush Chief’s cheek very lightly. “I’ve watched you throw yourself between a German sniper and Garrison. I’ve seen you carry Goniff nearly three miles on your back after he was hit. You’ve walked into a Nazi prison beside to me to get one of the others out. Tell me those aren’t the actions of a man?”

Chief was silent a moment, then softly said, “You can be brave because you don’t care about living.”

The comment hit Actor like a punch. He drew back, studying the Indian closely, thinking back to what he had seen on missions, when one of the others were in danger. He rose off the dirt floor and sat on the flimsy bed near Chief’s drawn up knees.

“No,” he said with complete certainty. “I know when I am being conned, Chief. You don’t want to die. You just don’t want us to know you care. And more importantly, you don’t want to admit that the care is returned.”

There was no answer. A chill went down Actor’s back and he realized the fire was dying down. Sliding off the bed, he stood over Chief. “Now is not the time.”

Before turning to feed the fire, he once more knelt, very gently, stroking through the dark hair. “Sleep now. I’ll be here. We will all be here.”

Chief started to say something but the injuries and headache were dragging him under. Just before he gave himself to the darkness, he again tried to grab the blanket. Actor stopped him, knowing what he was thinking.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get you dressed before the others come back.”


Actor frowned, not liking what he had to do. Chief had been sleeping soundly for nearly four hours. The others would be back within the hour if everything had gone according to plan. Actor snorted at that thought. Nothing ever seemed to go according to plan. Still, he had made a promise to Chief and he would need him awake to get dressed.

“Chief?” He shook the man’s shoulder gently, ready to get out of the way if the blade came up on instinct.

But Chief remained completely still, only his eyes opening at Actor’s insistence. He wanted in silence for the conman to explain his actions.

Actor smiled in apology. “The others will be back soon.” Holding up the last canteen, he said, “And you need to take some water. You lost some blood with that leg.” Chief frowned at the thought of moving, prompting Actor to ask, “How do you feel?”

The man was pale but his eyes were clear and both wounds had stopped bleeding. Chief seemed to consider the question. “Better,” he said vaguely.

With a shake of his head, Actor insisted, “A little more detail please, Chief. Still dizzy? Headache? Can you walk?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes,” Chief said hotly. His tone more than anything proved that he was feeling better.

Actor had no doubt that the first two were still true but he wasn’t so sure about Chief walking anywhere. He let it pass. Raising his large frame off the dirt floor with difficulty, Actor stretched.

“You been there all along?” Chief asked.

Actor nodded. “Yes, except to fed the fire.”

“Could have sat on the bed,” Chief said. “There’s room.”

“I didn’t want to wake you.” Chief shifted slowly. Seeing the stiffness that had set on the lean body, Actor did sit on the bed. “Lean on me. Try to keep your hip straight.”

It took an awkward bit of maneuvering but eventually Chief had his shoulder propped against Actor’s. Actor handed him the canteen, watched in approval as he almost drained it. Chief handed the canteen back. Actor stood to retrieve the damaged pants.

“You know why they did it?” Chief asked suddenly.

There was never a doubt as it what “it” was. Actor turned. “Current thinking is it makes a person less violent, more manageable.”

Not looking up, Chief nodded slightly. “On paper, it worked.”

The statement and the mere fact that Chief were talking about it surprised Actor. He grabbed at the chance to get the man to talk, unconcerned over the sudden departure from character. He sat down, near Chief’s shoulder. “I don’t understand.”

“Was in a lot of fights in stir,” Chief explained. “Most thought I was an easy target for fucking. Last one was a guard. Nearly killed him.”

“And after,” Actor picked up, “you weren’t in as many fights?”

“No challenge in breaking a gelding,” Chief said quietly.

Even as he flinched away from the term, Actor understood the reasoning. Rape was used for revenge and control, having very little to do with physical attraction. After being castrated Chief would have been considered no threat, not worth anyone’s notice. The cons in power would have left him alone; the guards would have considered it suitable revenge and leave the man to live with his shame. Actor remained silent, for one of the few times in his life not knowing what to say, not even noticing as his hand stroked lightly down Chief’s arm.


“Never fucked a eunuch before, huh, Actor?” Chief asked coldly.

His icy tone and question puzzled Actor for a moment. An instant later, anger rippled through him as he understood what Chief was asking. He moved, knelt on the hard ground and grabbed Chief’s chin, violently twisted his face up so that the dark eyes were forced to met him.

“Is that what you think?” Actor demanded. “Do you believe, after all we have been through that I only want to use you? I only want to see if I can get a rise out of you? Turn on the...gelding...” he spat out the word.

He stood up, turning toward the door. “We need more wood.”

“Wait,” Chief said softly.

Actor froze but didn’t turn. Some of the anger, he knew was aimed at himself. He had been curious. Part of him, the part that took pride in his charm and sensuality, had been challenged by Chief. He sighed, sat down near Chief’s feet.

“Yes,” he admitted with a frown. “When I first found out, that was part of my reaction.” He once again met those intriguing eyes. “But that reaction faded quickly. I want to help. I even went so far as to go to the base and check in a medical reference about it.”

“You looked it up?” Chief asked with a slight touch of amusement.

The odd reaction brought a smile to Actor as well. “Of course, how else...”

“Actor,” Chief cut him off. “I know you want to help. I’m just not sure you can.”

At that moment, Actor would have given the world to take the man into his arms and prove him wrong. But a bombed out French house on a cold winter night was neither the time or place. There was also the time ticking away from them. He lay a hand on Chief’s leg.

“I will argue that point, my friend, when we are home.” Seeing the fear still deep in Chief’s expression, he added, “And when you are ready.”

“For now, we have best get you dressed,” he said. “If everything went according to plan, the other’s will be back soon.”

Echoing Actor’s earlier thoughts, Chief said, “When does anything go according to plan?”


Chief stirred, mumbling in his sleep. Getting him dressed had proven to be a trial for both of them. Chief had been silent throughout the ordeal, but he had drifted back to sleep as soon as he had stretched back down. Actor reached out gently and touched the bandage over Chief’s eye. Thankfully, neither wound had started bleeding.

“Someone’s coming,” Chief’s voice cut through the still night.

Actor was on his feet instantly, knowing Chief would have heard them, even in his sleep. “The team?” He questioned.

“Heavy car,” Chief said, trying to sit up.

Moving to the window, Actor spotted the headlights just coming up the narrow road. There was no doubt the car was headed for the house. Frowning, Actor turned, and looked around the small single room. There was no place to hide. They had two options, neither very appealing -- fight or run. There was no way Chief was running and he wouldn’t be able to carry him very far.

“How many?” Chief demanded.

“Staff car,” Actor said. “Five or less. They must have found your chute in the tree.”

Chief made it to a sitting position. “Get outside,” he said firmly.

Actor whirled around. “What?”

“I’ll let them take me,” Chief said through clenched teeth.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Actor protested.

Smiling at his outrage, Chief said, “Only as far as the car. Then we hit them.”

Actor saw the logic in the plan as clearly as he saw the danger. “And what’s to keep them from shooting you as you lie?” He demanded.

“They’re looking for us,” Chief said without doubt. “They’ll want me alive.”

Outside the car’s engine died. Actor once more glanced between the door and his friend. He patted Chief’s arm once and went through the back window without a word. Seconds later he heard a German voice order Chief to put down his gun. Long minutes passed as Actor waited for the gunshot he almost felt he would hear. More voices, this time in poor English, ordering Chief to his feet.

Actor moved quietly around to the side of the house and settled into the shadows. The door slammed open and Chief was shoved roughly out to the ground in front of the car. He lay still, mouth a thin line as he fought the renewed pain. There were two soldiers with the car, one next to the passenger door and the driver, two with Chief. Chief had surrendered his gun, but Actor knew he kept his knives well hidden.. Chief would know when he was in position to use the deadly blades. Actor would have to let the Indian make the first move

The two Germans moved forward, reaching for their helpless captive. Chief moved. With a surge he took the first man, sinking his knife deep into the man’s chest. As Chief’s arm came up, Actor shot the other man. In rapid succession he shot the man standing near the car but the driver jumped out, taking cover behind the vehicle before Actor could finish it.

Cursing under his breath, Actor ducked back into the cover. Chief was in the open. The soldier was not blind, before Actor could move, the man leaped forward and grabbed Chief, wrapping an arm around his throat. The German leveled his pistol at Chief’s head and shouted to Actor in German. Even had Actor not spoken the language the threat would have been clear. Swallowing, Actor raised his hands and stepped out of the shadows.

Bending Actor lay his gun on the frost covered ground. The soldier hit Chief hard just under the bandage that encircled his head and Chief sagged sideways into the dirt. The German stood, glanced between the two captives, obviously trying to decide which to kill and which to keep. His gun came up toward Actor -- and he arched back, grunting in shock. He fell forward, dead without ever knowing what had hit him. Chief’s last knife was buried in his back.

Chief was propped on both hands, partially lying on his side, breathing hard, fighting to stay conscious. Both wounds were bleeding again. Grabbing his gun, Actor moved to his companion, kneeling next to him.

“Too close,” Chief said shakily.

Easing him over on to his back, Actor wrapped him in his arms. Chief blinked furiously, trying to stay conscious against the pain and dizziness. He was shaking, though Actor didn’t know if it were from the cold or reaction to the fight.

“Easy,” Actor whispered, wiping the blood away from Chief’s eyes. “I’ve got you.”

“The others,” Chief gasped. “Have to warn them.”

The same idea had occurred to Actor. But he shook his head. “We can’t go blindly searching for them. The Germans would have come here first if they had found your chute. They may not even know about the others.”

Chief grabbed the arm wrapped around his chest. “Can’t risk it.”

“They are due back...”

“Someone coming,” Chief said suddenly, trying to straighten.

Actor’s pistol came up as he pulled Chief closer, offering himself as protection against whoever was coming.

“Actor,” Garrison’s deep voice sounded out of the darkness.

He couldn’t remember being happier to hear that voice. Chief sagged back in relief. The others emerged from the shadowed woods, quickly checking the dead Germans. Garrison knelt across from Actor, looking down at Chief. The injured man offered him a weak smile.

The lieutenant squeezed his shoulder. “How you feeling?”

“Was better before they showed,” Chief said dryly, gesturing toward the dead soldiers.

“Hey, baby,” Casino chided from just behind Garrison. “Look at it this way, least now we get to ride back to the landing field.”

Chief managed a quick smile before his eyes closed and he sank into Actor’s hold. Garrison exchanged a quick look of concern with Actor. Actor nodded assurance that the worst was over. Chief would be fine.


Actor heard Chief come in behind him, which would have been unusual, except that his limp and cane gave him away. Chief went across the room without comment and sat down at the chess board. It was his usual haunt when left behind on a mission, as if thinking of the game would insure Garrison’s return to finish his play. None of them liked being left behind, though it was often a matter of more men than were needed. Too many could be as dangerous as too few. This time it was Chief’s leg. Actor had been at first puzzled over his own exclusion until he’d realized that, at least for the moment, he had become Chief’s unofficial guardian.

It suited him. Despite Chief’s silence over the passed three weeks, Actor still held hope that they would talk more. His hope was fading steadily though as he came to realize that most of Chief’s openness had been caused by the concussion. A slight sound brought his attention back to the present. He barely controlled a jump as he looked up to find Chief directly in front of him.

“Million miles away,” Chief said with quiet amusement.

Chief sat down next to him. Actor met the beautiful black eyes, and knew that something was going to happen, that his hope was about to be answered.

Chief’s gaze never wavered. “You really want to fuck me?”

“No,” Actor said firmly. Before Chief could misunderstand he raised a hand and stroked through the dark hair. “I want to make love with you.”

A blush, which Actor found delightful, darkened Chief’s face and he glanced at the rug for a minute. “I ain’t been with anyone in a while,” he said levelly.

Thinking about what Chief had said before, Actor asked, “Were you a willing partner the last time?”

“Yeah,” Chief said. “Some of the other cons were willing to pay for it rather than fight for it.” Softly, he added, “Didn’t have much pride left afterward.”

The dark eyes watched him closely and Actor realized that Chief was waiting to see if he were shocked by the admission. He was shocked, not at the prostitution, but at the fact that Chief had allowed another human being that close. The shock faded; Chief, he knew, could bury things so deep it were as if they had never touched him.

That thought brought another, even more telling question -- had Chief ever had a pleasant sexual experience? Did he know what it was like when there was sharing and not just taking? Had there been anyone who had treated him with care? He remembered a reaction once...

“Chief, who was Christine?” He asked bluntly.

Straightening, Chief stared at the opposite wall, not even bothering to ask how Actor knew the name. “After the... surgery, I was paroled to see if it worked. I met Christine. We dated... until...”

Actor took a sharp breath. “Until she found out?”

“No,” Chief corrected. “Until she started talking about marriage and.... children. I ran then.” Sorrow touched Chief’s face. “Tried to go back. But it was too late.”

With the sudden leap of logic that sometimes helped him on his cons, Actor surmised, “She’s the reason you disappeared in New York.”

Again, Chief didn’t bother to ask how Actor knew. He nodded, then almost smiled. “She said for me to quit running, go back and face life.” The dark eyes met Actor’s. “I did. Felt better for it too.”

Actor returned his smile. “It was good advice.”

Even as he said it though Actor saw that even then there had been no joy, no real relief to the loneliness. Suddenly Actor’s idea of showing Chief a pleasant time became something more important. He shied away from the idea -- not wanting the responsibility, not wanting to involve his life with that of the young Indian’s. The light in Chief’s eyes held him and he knew it was too late; they were already bound, had been since that moment when they knew they would offer their lives for each other.

His seeming hesitancy while all of these thoughts flashed though his mind caused Chief’s expression to fall. He started to stand. Actor grabbed his hand, pulled him down to explain and decided that words would not say what he needed. Pulling Chief into a tight embrace, he claimed his mouth in a hard kiss. Actor’s tongue skimmed over Chief’s full lips, begging a response. For a moment, Chief was stiff, then he sighed and his lips parted to welcome Actor’s tongue. Actor wanted to take, wanted to make Chief his but he controlled his impulse, sucking Chief’s tongue into his mouth, showing Chief that there was no leading or claiming.

Somewhere in the midst of the fiery kiss, Actor’s natural romantic tendencies came to the fore. He broke the kiss, smiling at Chief. It seemed absurd but he suddenly felt like he was about to bed a virgin. That thought made him smile even more, because, he decided, in all things important, that was exactly what Chief was. He knew about sex; he didn’t know about loving.

Coming to his feet, Actor pulled Chief up with him. Wrapping the smaller man in a tight hold he let all his desire fill the probing kiss. Chief’s arms came around his back, holding him hard, trying to meld them together. They broke the kiss together, trying to breathe. Chief smiled at him, a smile that barely touched his lips but lit his eyes.

“You should do that more often,” Actor said honestly, tracing the full mouth with his fingers. “You are very handsome.”

The endearing blush appeared again. He put his arm around the Indian’s shoulders and started them toward the stairs, letting his soon-to-be-lover lean on him instead of the cane. Garrison had taken the master bedroom but there were two slightly smaller bedrooms reserved for guests. Actor opened the door to one and felt Chief tense.

Turning toward him he said, “This is your decision, Chief. You owe me nothing.”

Chief shook his head. Looking slightly guilty, he asked, “What if the Warden finds out?”

Actor laughed, running the back of his hand along Chief’s cheek and down his throat. “I think the Warden expects this.”

“What?” Chief’s mouth dropped open.

It was wonderful response and Actor swooped in to kiss him. “He knows I read your file. He knows I care about you. He knows about my, shall we say, appreciation of beauty in any form.” Slyly he added, “And he was the one who left us here alone.”

Chief looked thoughtful for a moment, then still staring far away, he said, “Sounds like something the Warden would think do.”

Actor watched the black eyes glitter with affection. He thought back to a similar light, edged with worry, that he had seen on Garrison’s face in the cold French night.

“You love him,” Actor stated suddenly.

Chief flinched as if hit. Actor realized they had both carefully avoided using that deadly word. They would offer their lives for each other, would show each other care and joy in the bedroom but the type of love Actor now saw in Chief’s eyes for his warden would last beyond death without having to share a single night's passion. Actor smiled at the erotic image of the tall blonde and Chief.

Answering his statement, Chief said honestly, “Warden’s the first person to ever treat me like a human being, like an equal.”

Actor’s own care for Chief overrode his lust for the slender body. “Then perhaps you are in the room with the wrong man,” he said gently.

“No,” Chief said firmly. “You’re the one I want.”

It was completely honest but Actor heard the unsaid, knew Chief considered himself unworthy of approaching Garrison, was still ashamed of what had been done to him, was too afraid of offending him. Still, Actor filed away the looks he’d seen in dissimilar eyes. Smiling, he moved in for another kiss. When they eased apart, Chief turned and started to unbutton his shirt, Actor reached around his waist and stilled his fingers. He kissed slowly, lightly along the back of Chief’s neck, teasing his lips through the Cimmerian hair. Chief turned, taking Actor in a hot kiss, tongue pushing in with hesitant aggression. Actor smiled, his hands deftly undoing the top two buttons on Chief’s loose blue shirt. Chief tried to copy the move but Actor stepped away.

“Relax,” he urged. “Let me.”

Protest flashed into Chief’s expression but Actor ignored it. He continued down the shirt, each button falling open to admit a soft kiss to the exposed skin. Kneeling, he reached the top of the tight black pants but instead of tugging the shirt free he merely continued his path until pants and shirt were both open. His hands roved up, under the rough cotton, brushed lightly over Chief’s nipples. He was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath. Standing, he pushed the shirt off Chief’s shoulders, kissing along the narrow collarbones while dropping the garment to the hardwood floor.

His hands slid down Chief’s sides, stopping as he encountered a long scar just under the man’s right bottom rib. The touch brought unbidden, unpleasant memories. Chief had been the first of them wounded. It had been their sixth mission. Everything had gone very well; they had been on their way out. Chief had suddenly yelled Garrison’s name, then there was a single shot that had seemed louder than the barrage that followed. Actor had dove behind a tree, returning fire even as Casino threw a grenade that killed the two Italian soldiers trying to stop them. Coming to his feet Actor had turned to find Chief cradled in Garrison’s arms, both of them covered in blood.

“Actor?” Chief query called him back to the present.

“This,” Actor explained, rubbing the scar. “Made us realize what we had gotten into.”

Chief snorted. “Yeah, seeing someone get shot would make you worry.”

“Not that. You weren’t aware of it, you were too busy trying to bleed to death, but we were all frantic, terrified that you would die. Goniff was near tears. Casino held your hand...”

“Casino?” Chief asked in amazement.

Actor nodded, then quietly added, “I’ve never seen the Warden look so scared.

He was hurting. It brought home the fact that we had become a team -- and, more unexpectedly, friends.”

After a minute Chief conceded, “Yeah, guess that surprised all of us.”

Turning away from the somber thoughts, Actor started to reach for Chief’s pants and stopped. Chief’s hip was still healing and he didn’t want to do anything to aggravate it. He hugged Chief, rubbing hard along the smooth back.

“I would love to finish slowly unwrapping such a handsome package,” Actor said smoothly, “but I don’t want to hurt your hip. Perhaps...”

“You won’t,” Chief assured him. With a seductive smile, he added, “I’ve never been unwrapped before.”

Still a little hesitant, Actor managed to smile. “Well, then let us continue.”

With a gentle push he put Chief on the edge of the bed, easing him back to lie flat as he kissed along his chest. Sliding down the heavy brocade cover to the floor, he knelt at Chief’s feet. Chief rose up on his elbows, watching with hot eyes. Smiling up at him, Actor tugged off Chief’s boots. Kneading hard against the solid muscles, he worked his way up to Chief’s thighs, careful to avoid the sensitive inside. His hands drifted over Chief’s narrow hips and reached for the top of his pants and shorts. Laying a line of kisses lightly along the top of the dark pants, he very slowly eased them down.

For a second, Chief tensed, his hand dropping toward Actor’s. Actor caught it, held it firmly in both of his. A dozen phrases of assurance came to him but he knew that there were times when silences said what was really needed. So, he held Chief’s gaze, letting his desire reach the other man. Finally, Chief withdrew his hand, laying flat on the ancient featherbed.

Carefully, Actor maneuvered the pants away from the injured hip. Once that was done he tugged them down. He was careful to avoid Chief’s groin. He leaned back and studied his new lover in open admiration. Chief was smooth muscled, part due to heritage, part due to the lower testosterone. Actor’s hand moved up to tease the small nipples, the dark skin was soft to his touch, callused around where the ever present knife sheath went. Actor kissed down the long legs to the narrow ankles, then back up, along the inside of Chief’s legs. He stopped just above the knees and heard a slight sound of protest from Chief. Coming off the floor, Actor started to lie beside Chief, but a strong hand on his stomach stopped him.

“When do I get a look?” Chief questioned innocently.

Actor straightened. Modesty had never been a consideration for him. He took great pride in his appearance, it was part of his career, part of what he could play as a good conman. And he knew he looked better than he had in years. Prison inactivity took its toll, both mentally and physically. They had learned early that to survive in their new roles as commandos they had to stay in shape. Catching the obsidian gaze of his lover, he slowly undressed.

Only when he had finished did Chief’s gaze break away and sweep slowly down Actor’s body. Before Actor could say anything, Chief sat up, pulled him close and started kissing slowly across his chest, tongue playing wetly around each nipple. It was surprising and intensely erotic. Tangling his hands in Chief’s thick hair, Actor pressed closer to the assault, fire swelling his cock.

The hunger in Chief’s moves, the desperate need for contact, reached through Actor’s growing lust.

Carefully, he eased away from Chief. Chief looked up, eyes bright with desire. Actor ran his fingers lightly over the full mouth, thinking about what Chief had said about not have been with anyone. The unit had been together almost a year -- it would have been before that. He had learned a lot from his reading at the nearby university’s medical library. A diminished sex drive was one obvious effect of castration. But, as with Chief, if the procedure occurred after puberty then the drive was still there, as was the ability to get an erection. Was it long denied lust that controlled Chief now or was it something even more basic, a desire for unquestioned acceptance and unbought companionship? The tenderness that kept taking Actor by surprise swept though him and he lifted Chief under the elbows, bringing him up to a loving kiss.

This time when he lay them back into the bed, he stretched out next to Chief, one leg protectively over Chief’s two. He lowered his head, traced playfully around each nipple, never touching the nub. Chief arched toward him. Actor leaned back and boldly turned his attention to Chief’s groin, brushing over it. Chief tensed.

Without acknowledging Chief’s reaction, Actor looked down to where his hand was circling. He was thankful that his first reaction had been hidden during the hours of nursing on their mission gone wrong. It had been horror at the mutilation. Now, as he let his hand card through the short curls around Chief’s cock, he tried to judge with a more critic eye. Chief was small, another effect of the procedure, but not exceptional so, long but slim. There was a little fold of loose skin to each side of his cock, any scars long since covered with black hair.

“Not much to look at,” Chief said, breaking in to his thoughts. Chief’s hand forced itself between their two bodies, slipped lightly over Actor’s erect cock. “Not like you.”

Actor moaned at Chief’s touch, acknowledging his growing lust. But he kept up his slow stroking and study. Lightly, he said, “Everything to look at. It is, after all, new to me.”

The absence of balls gave Actor the impression of a boy, an effect enhanced by Chief’s narrow hips and hairless chest. He suddenly suspected that the cons who had paid were probably not interested in Chief simply because he were male or a willing fuck. Shaken by that image, he drew back a little and heard Chief take a sharp breath.

The hand on his cock stilled. “Actor... if you’ve changed you mind...”

Actor looked up into Chief’s deep eyes. “You’re beautiful,” he said honestly. He took Chief’s limp cock in his hand, squeezed lightly.

Chief snorted in disbelief. The disappointment had faded from his eyes though and his hand tightened around Actor’s large shaft. Actor watched the normally controlled face, saw the years melt away as the man relaxed, giving his trust to the conman. In those few minutes when Chief had first kissed him Actor had seen the passion and fire the Indian was capable of and he wanted very much to fan the carefully controlled heat into a wildfire Chief would not forget. His fingers tightened around the base of Chief’s cock but he withdrew any other contact.

“Would you like to know what I discovered in my readings?” He asked. His tone was soft, fluid, turning the statement into a seduction rather than a lecture. “It said that castrated males were harder to arouse and would take longer to achieve an orgasm.” Looking up, he smiled. “I took that as a challenge.”

The smile earned him a similar response from Chief. Actor stopped talking then, for the more useful purpose of kissing Chief, tongue sliding deep into Chief’s mouth. He was rewarded with a shaky breath. And the cock in his hand swelled the tiniest bit. He tugged gently on it, fingers playing around the head, dipping down to stroke along the smooth, tight skin that rested under the cock and stretched back to the tight entrance to his body. Breaking the hot kiss, he slid down the bed, kissing along the dark body until he could lick around the slowly filling cock, through the tight curls. Chief moaned again, arching toward him. Actor slid his fingers around the slim shaft, kissed lightly along the under side.

“Stop,” Chief panted.

Actor looked up, confused by the order, afraid there had been something in the surgery that would cause Chief discomfort. But there was only burning need on the man’s flushed face.

Leaving his hand where it was, he said playfully, “Oh? Why?”

“Want to touch you,” Chief pleaded.

After a great pretense of thinking it over, Actor shook his head. “Not yet. I have other plans for tonight.”

Without waiting for a reply, he took Chief in his mouth, tongue swirling around the slowly hardening cock, pressing under the flared head. With both hands he kneaded the junction of thigh and groin. Chief groaned, arching up, his hands tightening on Actor’s shoulders, begging for more. Actor began a slow rhythm up and down, enjoying the feel of the long cock as it lay on his tongue, the feel of it swelling under his gentle sucking. The effect on his own body was immediate, his shaft tightening to almost painful. Actor began to suck with more force.

“Damn...” Chief panted.

Actor stopped, easing off and kissing his way lower, down to the small entrance to Chief’s body. He flicked his tongue over it; Chief gasped, coming off the bed. Actor felt the ridged muscle open to his erotic play. Chief moaned, hands pulling at him now.

Flipping gracefully around, Actor threw his knees over Chief’s shoulders, putting his cock in front of Chief’s mouth. He took Chief’s shaft again, sucking. Chief’s response was prefect. A hot mouth slid slowly up Actor’s shaft, the sheer pleasure making him pause in his attention to Chief. He sighed, giving himself to the feel of wet velvet and tight heat. Chief was good; he started sucking, one hand tightening around the base of Actor’s shaft, other rolling his balls. Actor lowered himself slowly, amazed as Chief took his considerable length in, until his cock hit the back of Chief’s throat.

For a moment Actor considered letting go, considered letting it finish with them in this position, but he wanted more. He wanted to see Chief, wanted to watch that intense face and smoldering eyes as the man came. Slowing his thrusts, he let them drift a little higher. The shaft in his mouth filled, the vein standing out. Actor eased off; sliding out of Chief’s talented mouth, he flipped back over.

Chief was breathing hard, eyes wide in need. Actor leaned down and kissed him quickly, his hand going over the man to yank open the nightstand. With surprisingly shaky hands he squeezed a generous amount of the lubricate into his hand.

A soft chuckle made him look down into Chief’s flushed expression. “How long’s that been here?” Chief asked.

Seeing he was caught, Actor confessed with a frown, “I have managed a few liaisons here in the past few months.”

He thought for an instant that his statement might disturb Chief but the man only smiled and shook his head. “You’re good. I didn’t even know.”

Putting on one of his best arrogant looks, Actor said, “I have dallied in some of the finest palaces and houses in Europe and never been caught.”

Chief started to say something else, but Actor reached down and with a slow, sensual touch, coated Chief’s cock with the slippery jell.

“What are you....” Chief started.

Actor wrapped himself around the Indian and rolled over, putting Chief on top. He spread his legs, arching up in open invitation. Chief’s breath caught. He stared down into Actor’s eyes, checking to see if he were really being given the right. Actor smiled, pulling the man down for another kiss.

“I want you, Chief,” Actor said firmly. He knew there was a time for pillow talk and a time for truth. In a husky voice, he said, “I want you. Let me feel you as you come. Let me see you.”

Chief’s breathing went up another notch. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered.

Touched by concern in the face of driving lust, Actor flicked his thumb over one hard nipple. “You won’t.”

Accepting his experience, Chief nodded. Actor watched him reached down and take his cock in one hand while steadying himself with the other. Hard flesh nudged against Actor’s ass, barely pressing in. A twinge of pain hit and he gasped. Chief stopped. Actor took two slow breaths, relaxing, opening himself to Chief’s invasion. He pushed back, partially impaling himself on Chief’s cock. Chief threw his head back, groaning. Chief came forward, shoving Actor nearly up onto his shoulders as his cock sank deep into Actor’s willing body. Actor groaned with the combination of pleasure and pain. He lifted up, taking Chief all the way in, savoring the feel of the long cock sliding deep inside him.

Chief gave into the lust that Actor could see in his dark face, drove hard, filling him. The light in Actor’s nerves brightened, started to burn with a deeper fire. But he fought it away, wanting very much to watch Chief, wanting to see the passion he had ignited. Chief’s head was down, dark hair falling around his face, sweat shining along his high cheeks, skin catching the gold light from the single lamp.

“Come on, Chief,” Actor urged. “Take me, hard.”

Chief moaned, gasping. He looked down at Actor, eyes glittering with fire, bottom lip held tight between prefect white teeth. Actor started moving, meeting each thrust. The pounding sound of joined bodies filled the room, gave voice the a passion that had stopped all need of talking. Chief’s driving rhythm became erratic. Actor held on, kept watching the incredible man that shared his body. Chief was whimpering with the need for fulfillment, trying to find that prefect moment. Actor’s long arms came around and kneaded his ass, feeling the muscles clench and drive. With one hand he pressed his fingers down hard at the base of Chief’s spine, at the same time he shoved a single finger into Chief, digging. Chief’s head went back, muscles locking as he shoved hard into Actor’s body, crying out his completion.

Actor watched, transfixed as orgasm took Chief. Chief’s eyes closed, his mouth tightening, the pleasure so intense it was almost pain. The sight was thrilling in its sensuality. Actor’s legs tightened around the slender waist, held them together. He closed his eyes, pressed down against the hard cock buried within and let himself go, let the sweet perfection fill his veins with light and cool mist, felt the warm fluid spread between their bodies.

Actor held him that way for a long time, revealing in the feel of their joined bodies, letting them drift back to earth, enjoying the slow spiral down almost as much as he had the hot flight up. Chief’s cock slipped from his body and he heard the man sigh against his neck.

After a minute, Chief pushed up on trembling arms. Actor’s dark lover was drenched with sweat, eyes dazed with pleasure, handsome face colored with passion. The sight was almost enough to make him hard again. Actor tipped them sideways, kissing lightly along Chief’s lips.

“Prefect,” Actor whispered. He stroked along Chief’s temple, just above the almost healed cut. Chief’s stare was far away. Actor frowned. “Chief?” He asked lamely, words for once deserting him.

The liquid eyes met his. Actor took a sharp breath at what he saw there. He was looking at Chief’s heart -- without walls, without pretense, without protection; a rare gift that he knew very few had ever seen. He was swept away with the offering, with the feeling that swelled in his chest. There was no denying the warmth, no more cons to disguise it -- he loved the man. Even as he acknowledged it, he sighed sadly. He knew himself, knew he was not the forever kind. But for now, he would be what the man needed, would teach him love and sharing.

“Thank you,” Chief said quietly.

For a moment Actor didn’t know what he was being thanked for. Had Chief seen his heart as well? Flippant answers to cover what he might have shown came to mind but finally he only kissed Chief gently and said, “You’re more than welcome.”

Actor moved, laying back and resting Chief’s head on his shoulder. Lassitude claimed him and he started drifting toward restful sleep. At the edge of his consciousness he heard Chief gasp softly. He was instantly awake.

“What?” Then he saw the streaks of crimson on the bedcover; the trails of blood leading to Chief’s hip. “Damn.”

Before Chief could say anything Actor came to his feet and climbed out of bed. He reached back for his friend. “Come along, we need to tend that.”

Chief stood but he wasn’t concerned. “It’ll be...”

With a completely unexpected move, Actor bent, tugged hard on Chief’s hand and quite effectively got the younger man over his shoulder. He started toward the main bath.

“Actor!” Chief protested.

Actor knew Chief could easily get free, and fully expected him to. What he didn’t expect was for Chief to start laughing. He nearly staggered in surprise. Chief laughed more frequently now, but it was still a rare and, in his opinion, wonderful sound. Kicking open the door, he set Chief down on the wooden toilet seat. Chief was still laughing, the usually controlled features alive with joy and mischief. Actor joined him.

As he knelt to clean the slightly bleeding wound, though his laughter stilled. The trace of blood on his hands brought home the reality of what he was opening himself for. If it had hurt to watch a friend get shot -- what would it be now that they were lovers?

A hand brushed through his hair and he looked up. Chief smiled softly at him. With the same kind of insight that he displayed so often with Garrison, he said, “Whatever happens, for as long as we have, it will be worth it.”

Knowing that was the ultimate description of their lives, Actor let the passion in his next kiss serve as his agreement.


Actor glanced across at Garrison, wondering if he were going to do anything about the fight escalating behind them. Garrison studiously continued to read through the report spread out on the table. Sighing, Actor tried to return to his own reading. Garrison’s policy toward their occasional squabbles had been to not interfere unless it came to blows and broken furniture. With Chief and Casino, it was hard to say how it would end. Frequently, Casino would run out of anger before Chief ran out of stoicism, and the New Yorker would merely storm off in a huff. Twenty minutes later Casino would be back asking Chief to play darts, no sign of his previous anger present.

“You ain’t got the balls, Indian!” Casino growled.

Garrison was on his feet before Actor. Even Goniff moved toward the two combatants. The last time Casino had used those words, Chief had drawn on him. Only Garrison’s snapped order had made him put the blade away, though the end result had been both he and Casino supporting several serious bruises for several days.

Chief was moving around the table, face tight with fury. Casino, remembering his earlier mistake, actually took a step back. Garrison and Goniff grabbed Casino while Actor grabbed Chief.

“Casino!” Garrison barked. He and Goniff drug Casino to the relative safety of the hall, slamming the door.

Actor wrapped Chief in a full hold. For an instant he thought Chief would fight him loose, every muscle was tense and he was breathing hard. He jerked away from Actor then stopped and met eyes. Actor’s absolute amazement, Chief very, very slowly smiled.

“Well,” Chief said dryly, “I guess, he’s right.”

Actor’s mouth dropped open at the statement. The reaction made Chief actually laugh. Gradually, Actor saw the humor and returned the smile, though with a little disbelief still obvious. “You have a sick sense of humor,” he commented.

Looking suddenly thoughtful, Chief said quietly, “I ain’t never joked about it before.” He looked up at Actor and let the soft smile lift his mouth. “Think that’s a good sign?.”

Actor took him in a light hold. “Well, it will be easier on your face and the furniture.”

“Wanna tell ‘em they can come back in now?” Chief asked, moving closer.

Actor leaned in for a kiss. “Later.”