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“Try walking a mile in my shoes,” Horatio bitterly muttered as he stared out the window of the small second floor office. He was getting tired of these one hour weekly therapy sessions he had been forced into attending since his return to duty after the Toller case.

“Alright,” Trip replied as he leaned back in his chair with a hint of smug satisfaction on his face. He could tell the redhead was annoyed with him, and he had discovered by chance when Horatio was annoyed he was more likely to tell the truth than dance around it.

“What?” Horatio snapped wondering if Trip was toying with him or not. Either way it was annoying, and he had more important things to be thinking about. He had caught a case that morning involving a serial rapist and murderer.

“I said alright,” Trip answered. “I will do as you suggested.”

“It wasn’t a suggestion. It was an expression.”

“You’re rather fond of expressions, aren’t you?”

Instead of answering Trip’s question, Horatio looked down at his watch and noted that this current therapy session was at an end. “You can quit digging, Doc.”

“That time, is it?”

“It is.”

“Next week then?”

“You know it,” Horatio softly said as he headed for the door.

“I meant what I said, Horatio,” Trip said as his parting shot.

“I know,” Horatio acknowledged Trip’s reminder and then left.

*&*

Horatio slid into his Hummer with a wistful sigh. Instead of starting it up and heading back to work, he sat there and thought about Trip.

He had found the man attractive from the start and wanted to get to know him better, but Miami was full of stories about patients falling for their doctors. He didn’t want to be another boring cliché, but he couldn’t stop thinking about how Trip would look like spread out on his bed driven wild by desire.

Shaking his head and telling himself to get a grip, Horatio started the Hummer and pulled out into the late afternoon traffic heading back to work to bring another criminal to justice.

*&*

Trip shook his head in bemusement as he looked at the doodles he had drawn instead of the notes he had meant to take. Horatio had that effect on him.

He found himself wondering if he should pass Horatio onto another therapist since he was becoming more inclined to pursue a non-professional relationship with the redhead.

Telling himself to stop thinking with his dick, he closed Horatio’s file and got ready for his next appointment.

*&*

Trip walked into the MDPD Crime Lab a week later in search of his illusive quarry since Horatio hadn’t bothered to call and reschedule their session. He had warned the redhead in their first session that if Horatio failed to show up for a session, he would hunt him down and they would have their session wherever the redhead happened to be at.

He walked up to the reception desk and said once he had the receptionist’s attention, “I’m looking for Lieutenant Caine.”

“I’m sorry, sir. He’s not here right now. He was scheduled to testify in court today,” the receptionist explained.

“I see,” Trip murmured. He would cut Horatio some slack since he knew from personal experience that court appearances could take all day and then some.

“Can I take a message?”

“No,” Trip replied with a warm smile. “I’ll try and catch him at the courthouse.”

“No need to do that, Doc,” Horatio said as he stepped out of the elevator and walked up to the desk to collect his messages.

“You like doing that, don’t you?” Trip accused as he tried to swallow his heart since it had leapt into his throat upon unexpectedly hearing the redhead’s voice behind him.

“It has its uses,” Horatio replied with a thin-lipped smile as he accepted a pile of pink slips from the receptionist.

“Indeed.”

“Something I can do for you?”

“We had an appointment,” Trip reminded Horatio.

“Ahh, yes,” Horatio murmured as he walked away thumbing through his messages.

“Did you forget?” Trip inquired as he hurried to catch up with the redhead before he lost him in the labyrinth of labs and offices.

Horatio walked into his office and tossed his messages onto his desk before turning to lean against it. “That would be wishful thinking on my part, Doc,” he told Trip.

“I don’t see you as the fanciful sort,” Trip remarked as he settled into the lone chair in front of Horatio’s desk.

“Yes, I’ve been told I’m a practical man,” Horatio quipped with a wry chuckle.

“I suppose that is necessary in your chosen profession,” Trip commented while secretly noting that the redhead’s dark suit was probably Armani and not very practical for a CSI, but an indulgence Horatio allowed himself.

“Hmmm...” Horatio hummed. “I thought you were supposed to give me a warning when you started digging.”

“That was me making an observation not mining for information,” Trip countered with an arched eyebrow.

“Touché, Doc.”

“So have you given any thought about me riding along with you?” Trip tossed out figuring Horatio had shoved the idea to a dark corner of his mind.

“No,” Horatio admitted. It had been the last thing on his mind. “Should I have?”

“Yes, since you tossed the idea out there in our last session.”

“You struck a nerve, Doc,” Horatio replied with what he hoped was a shrug of indifference. When it came to Trip, he was far from indifferent.

“I assumed as much, but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t without merit,” Trip pressed. As he listened to what Horatio dealt with in a typical day, he found himself wanting to know more about crime scene investigation.

“Your day job that boring?” Horatio countered.

“I’m just curious as to what a CSI does,” Trip explained his interest in Horatio’s job.

“Glorified garbage collector mostly,” Horatio softly disparaged his chosen profession.

“Well, you’re in a mood,” Trip observed.

“Court does that to a person.”

“It has been known to, but there is something more to yours.”

“Now, you’re digging, Doc.”

“Maybe,” Trip said with a slight smirk. “Maybe not.”

Horatio rolled his eyes. “Why do I put up with you again?”

“Because you have no choice.”

“True,” Horatio agreed. “But if I did, what would your answer be?”

“Now, you’re flirting with me, Lieutenant,” Trip countered not bothering to hide his interest in Horatio.

“And you are avoiding answering the question, Doc.”

“My answer would be something along the lines of somebody has to keep you out of trouble,” Trip replied.

“Yes,” Horatio answered as he walked over and closed the door since he didn’t want anyone to walk in on them and get the wrong impression. “My team will confirm that I am a walking trouble magnet.”

“I guessed as much from just reading your file.”

“Kind of a blue print on how not to be the perfect cop,” Horatio lightly quipped as he returned to leaned against his desk again.

“Perfection is in the eye of the beholder,” Trip countered.

“In many cases that is true,” Horatio conceded. “But, you may want to reserve judgment until you get to know me better.

“You are definitely in a mood.”

“So how many more sessions before we can act on our mutual attraction?” Horatio inquired deflecting the conversation away from why he was in a mood in the first place as Trip put it. He didn’t want to talk about the court case he just testified at.

“Not afraid to get to the point, are you?” Trip countered knowing exactly what Horatio was doing and letting him since he didn’t want to push the man away when he clearly needed help dealing with his feelings when he couldn’t save people from themselves.

“Not when I want something,” Horatio softly confirmed.

“Patience is a virtue.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Well, we are going to have to exercise some control,” Trip quietly advised. “Because we have another five sessions before I can tell Chief Burton that you’ve gotten control over your need to be everybody’s savior.”

“You really know how to put a damper on things, Doc,” Horatio grumbled somewhat good-naturedly.

“You’ll thank me later.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“You are such a pessimist.”

“I prefer realist.”

“You have a comeback for everything,” Trip countered with a wry grin.

“It’s possible.”

Trip shook his head in quiet amusement. He was going to have his hands full if he decided to become involved with Horatio.

“So can we count this session toward the five sessions?” Horatio asked as he walked around his desk and settled into his desk chair.

“Yes.”

“Okay,” Horatio said setting the alarm on his watch for fifteen minutes since that was all the time he could afford to give Trip. “You can start digging any time you want.”

“You are what my momma would call a hot mess,” Trip quipped with a soft chuckle while racking his brain for a probing question.

“I’m going to assume that’s not a good thing.”

“It’s not a bad thing,” Trip was quick to reassure Horatio. “It just means you’re a work in progress.”

“Aren’t we all?”

“Pretty much,” Trip agreed. “So can you tell me why you are in such a pissy mood?”

“Preliminary testimony in the Randy West case,” Horatio replied with a snap in his voice. He didn’t want to think about the man who shot him and then tossed Natalie into the trunk of an old car that he then shoved off a pier.

“I see,” Trip quietly remarked. It was that case in particular that had sent Horatio to him in the first place and it was something they hadn’t begun to address because the redhead became down right hostile whenever the topic came up. “It didn’t go well?”

“I didn’t lunge across the courtroom and try to throttle him, if that is what you are asking?” Horatio quipped sarcastically.

“Nice to know you can restrain yourself,” Trip countered with a hint of sarcasm. “And no, that wasn’t what I was asking.”

“It went as well as can be expected.”

“Meaning?”

“I don’t know,” Horatio admitted.

“But you do know, don’t you?” Trip pushed hoping this was the point where Horatio finally opened up to him.

“I understand why he did what he did because I’m a father and I would do anything for my son, but as a police officer I can’t condone it,” Horatio explained finally putting into words what he had been feeling since he had woken up that morning.

Trip nodded. He understood that feeling all too well since he was a father himself.

“And?”

“And what?”

“How does that make you feel?”

“Tired.”

“Tired of?”

“Just tired, Doc,” Horatio murmured. “Just tired.”

Horatio’s watched started to beep as Trip opened his mouth to ask another probing question, which he then turned into, “This time next week?”

“I think I can pencil you in, Doc,” Horatio teased with a slight smile as he turned off his watch’s alarm.

“You’re still a hot mess, Horatio Caine,” Trip said as he stood up and made to leave Horatio to the rest of his busy day.

“Work in progress, Doc,” Horatio reminded Trip. “And, you have a good rest of the day.”

“You as well,” Trip returned Horatio’s wish and left the redhead’s office.

Horatio leaned back in his chair and contemplated how he could get to know Trip better.

*&*

Days later, Trip walked into the lobby of his office after lunch contemplating his next session with Horatio when he caught sight of him on the television that had been installed in the waiting room. He could tell by the redhead’s closed off expression that he wasn’t happy about being interviewed and was very short with the reporter.

“Do I have any other appointments after Lieutenant Caine?” he inquired of his receptionist, Nina.

“Only one,” Nina replied. “But, I can reschedule for tomorrow since the Lieutenant doesn’t look like a happy camper.”

“You do that,” Trip murmured. “And you can cut out early, if you want.”

“Are you certain?” she asked with a hint of concern in her voice. She didn’t like leaving him alone when he dealt with difficult patients and from what she could tell the redhead was going to be a real pain in the ass.

“It’ll be fine,” Trip quickly reassured her. “I’m the last person he wants to hurt right now.”

“He better not. Lizzie will tear him a new ass.”

“She would at that,” Trip agreed with a soft chuckle. His daughter was fiercely protective of him and he was of her. They were two peas in a pod since the day she was born. “But if it will make you feel better, I can have Malcolm come over and keep an eye on the proceedings.”

“It would,” Nina agreed. “But I have a feeling you don’t want an audience when you finally break through the Lieutenant’s barriers and get him to really talk about the stuff he’s got buried deep inside.”

“It’s time and the only way he’s going to move past the rut he’s in,” Trip explained not happy about being pushed to fix Horatio by the redhead’s boss, which had been implied when Burton had called that morning to check on Horatio’s progress.

“Just be careful.”

“I will,” Trip said and then walked into his office to get ready for the second biggest challenge of his life.

*&*

Horatio walked into the lobby of Trip’s office and was immediately on alert when he didn’t see Nina sitting at her desk working the sudoku puzzle from that morning’s paper like she normally did.

“Doc?” he called out as he reached for his gun. He knew Trip counseled some dangerous people and he hoped like hell that Trip hadn’t become a victim to one of them. “Are you around?”

“You’re not going to need that,” Trip answered as he walked out of his office nodding toward the gun Horatio’s hand was resting on.

“What the hell is going on?” Horatio asked as he removed his hand from his gun.

“I caught your little interview,” Trip said in lieu of answering Horatio’s question before returning to his office.

“Asshole is lucky I didn’t have him arrested for contaminating a crime scene,” Horatio muttered as he followed Trip into his office. “He’s worse than Erica Kane.”

“He’s not my favorite reporter,” Trip agreed. “Would you please close the door?”

“Doc?” Horatio softly inquired as he closed the door and leaned against it. Trip was being too serious and it bothered him, but wouldn’t have been able to explain why if asked. “What are you up to?”

“It’s time we get down to brass tacks.”

“Meaning?”

“If we do give into our mutual attraction to one another then I want to know that I won’t be just another one night stand,” Trip matter-of-factly explained as he settled into his desk chair. “And, I want to know all about your demons so when they decide to rear their ugly heads I’ll be ready for them.”

Horatio nodded. “I don’t use people to scratch an itch. I’ve got toys for that.”

Trip felt a thrill of desire run up his spine at the thought of watching Horatio pleasure himself with a toy. “Hmmm..,” he simply said hoping he didn’t give away what he was feeling.

“That turns you on, doesn’t it?”

“Does the idea of that turning me on turn you on?” Trip countered knowing they were treading the fine line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

“We’re heading into dangerous territory, Doc,” Horatio cautioned Trip.

“So answer my question and we can move on to safer topics.”

“The answer is yes,” Horatio replied as he pushed off the office door and settled into the chair on the right hand side of Trip’s desk. “But my question is what brought this on?”

“Chief Burton.”

“He wants you to fix me or step aside and let somebody else try, doesn’t he?”

Trip nodded.

“Fucking asshole,” Horatio muttered in disgusted annoyance.

“That is something we can agree on,” Trip quietly said. He had taken an instant dislike of Burton the moment he had met the man.

“He’s more of a political ass kisser than cop these days,” Horatio quietly remarked.

“You’re not the first person to tell me that.”

“I probably won’t be the last.”

“Probably not,” Trip agreed.

“So hypothetically speaking, who would you turn me over to?” Horatio inquired as he forced himself to remain calm because he wasn’t certain he wanted to hear Trip’s answer or not.

“Hypothetically speaking, Dr. Malcolm Reed,” Trip replied in a calm, firm tone hoping it would reassure Horatio. “He has experience treating first responders who suffer from PTSD.”

Horatio quietly regarded Trip before asking, “Do I have this?” He knew he did. His childhood had been one traumatic experience after another.

“Yes, along with a well developed savior complex.”

“Ah, yes, my need to always try to save people from themselves,” Horatio murmured.

“Why is that, do you suppose?” Trip quietly countered.

Horatio thought about saying, “Somebody has to do it,” but he knew that would be a cop out and an insult to all the progress he and Trip had made. “Because somebody had to protect my mother from the consequences her selfless sacrifices caused our family.”

“So what you are saying is that your mother is responsible for why you are the way you are?”

“It’s not that simple, Doc,” Horatio snapped annoyed once again with Trip. “And you damn well know it.”

“I do,” Trip quietly acknowledged. “I’m happy to hear you do as well.”

“Are you trying to bait me into loosing my temper?”

“Why would I do something like that?” Trip honestly inquired.

“Because you like seeing me unhinged,” Horatio softly replied thinking he had a handle on Trip.

“You do answer my questions more honestly when you are annoyed,” Trip observed.

“So do most police suspects,” Horatio softly countered. “But, I’m not a suspect and I’m just as likely to tell you to go get fucked and walk out.”

Trip nodded. “You haven’t yet.”

“Yet is the key word in that statement.”

Trip smiled. “Yes it is.”

“Asshole,” Horatio muttered before crossing his arms over his chest and slumping deep into his seat like a petulant child.

Trip chuckled. He found the way Horatio was sitting very amusing. “I’ve been called worse.”

“I don’t care.”

“You really do,” Trip retorted. “And there in lies your problem.”

“I didn’t have a problem until somebody decided that trying to murder me and a member of my team was easier than doing the right thing,” Horatio found himself stung into retorting because he was getting tired of the conversation.

“But that wasn’t the first time that has happened, is it?”

“No,” Horatio answered not wanting to think about Speed and how he had died because of a stupid mechanical error. “I thought we were trying to determine when I became a guardian angel.”

“Actually, I’m trying to get you to admit that you developed your little complex as a way of keeping you from being alone in the world.”

“Bullshit!” Horatio growled. “I’m quite fine with being by myself. In fact, there are times when I crave a bit of solitude. Like right now.”

“There is a difference between solitude and loneliness.”

“There you go simplifying things again, Doc.”

“Admit it, Horatio,” Trip said with a soft sigh. “You are afraid that at the end of the day that everything and everyone that you hold dear will be stripped away from you and you will have to go on alone.”

“If I do, can we end this torture session?”

“You’re not enjoying yourself?”

“God, you are fucking annoying,” Horatio griped. “And to think I thought you were cute.”

“I am cute,” Trip simply retorted.

Horatio closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath to calm himself before he said something that he would ultimately regret. He slowly let out the breath and opened his eyes. “Whatever, Doc.”

Trip watched Horatio center himself and knew once again he had gotten close to getting Horatio to crack. He needed Horatio to breakdown so he could rebuild him into a safer version of everybody’s knight in shining armor. “I think we can call it a day,” he said standing to stretch the kinks out of his back. “Come by tomorrow around the same time.”

“Alright,” Horatio quietly agreed even though he was still annoyed with Trip. “But answer me something?”

“Shoot.”

“Do you think breaking me down and rebuilding me is the best solution to my problem?”

“You got me,” Trip replied with a slight shrug. Horatio was a very shrewd man and that also added to his problems. “So what do you think the best solution is?”

“There are some things that are best left alone,” Horatio remarked. “If we don’t pick at the scabs that keep my past locked away, the safer it will be for both of us.”

“You can’t hide from your demons forever, Horatio,” Trip cautioned knowing that it was falling on deaf ears.

“I know,” Horatio sighed as he headed toward the office door. “But, I doubt I will be ready to face them head on anytime soon.”

“I can’t say that admission is a step in the right direction,” Trip said sagely. “But it is better than nothing.”

Horatio shrugged. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Doc.”

“Alright,” Trip agreed. “Do be careful in the mean time.”

“Always,” Horatio quipped with a sly grin before leaving.

Trip shook his head and went about shutting down his office for the day.

*&*

“Good afternoon, Nina,” Horatio greeted Trip’s receptionist as he strolled into the foyer of Trip’s practice casually dressed in a royal blue linen shirt, faded jeans and scuffed up cowboy boots.

“Good afternoon, Lieutenant Caine,” Nina replied in kind hiding her surprise at his casual attire behind an impressive poker face. “You may go right in. Doctor Tucker is waiting for you.”

Horatio nodded and walked into Trip’s office with, “Afternoon, Doc.”

“Horatio,” Trip greeted the redhead with a warm smile. “Slumming today, are we?”

“Took the day off,” Horatio simply answered as he strolled over to the window to watch the clouds float by in the pristine blue sky.

“Without being forced to,” Trip murmured taking in Horatio’s casual state of dress. “Interesting.”

“I’m certain it is,” Horatio countered. “But, there are times when I do step back from being Miami’s Guardian Angel.”

“I see,” Trip said secretly wondering if Horatio had purposely dressed the way he did to tempt Trip into ravishing him.

Horatio turned from the window and asked, “Do you like what you see?”

“You know I do,” Trip answered.

“Good.”

“What are you up to?”

“Nothing.”

“Liar.”

Horatio shrugged. He didn’t care if Trip didn’t believe him, because honestly he wasn’t up to anything. He hadn’t had it in him to go to work, so he took the day off.

“Horatio?”

“Yes?”

“Are you thinking about running away?”

“It has crossed my mind a time or two, but I’m too responsible to give into that desire,” Horatio replied as he leaned against the wall next to the window with his legs crossed at the ankles.

“So if you aren’t up to something, then why did you take the day off?”

“I didn’t feel like going into work today,” Horatio simply explained. “And, it’s been awhile since I took a day for myself, so that’s what I did.”

“So what did you do with your impromptu day off?”

“You and your twenty questions,” Horatio snarked. “Anyone ever tell you that you are nosy as fuck?”

“Frequently,” Trip replied with a soft chuckle. “But, are you going to answer the question?”

“I slept in, went for a long swim, had a leisurely breakfast, worked on my car,” Horatio answered.

“Sounds like you had a productive day,” Trip observed.

“And thought about asking you out to dinner,” Horatio added hoping to get some reaction from Trip.

“Did you now?” Trip quietly inquired while doing his best to contain the thrill of desire that swept through him at the mere thought of Horatio thinking about asking him out to dinner.

“So do you want to go out to dinner with me?” Horatio asked ignoring Trip’s question.

“I would love to, but we still have two sessions to go before we can do that and not cause problems for ourselves,” Trip answered trying to let Horatio down easily.

“It would be two colleagues grabbing a bite to eat not lovers eloping to parts unknown,” Horatio argued knowing it was in vain since Trip was a man of integrity.

“Have you always had a vivid imagination?”

“Yes,” Horatio replied. “And, don’t change the subject.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” Trip countered.

“Because I would rather deal with the elephant in the room than focus on something that can’t be fixed,” Horatio explained.

“Can’t be fixed or you don’t want to fix it?”

“You should know the answer to that.”

“I do, and if that is the answer then I need to quit wasting my precious time on a stubborn fool,” Trip muttered in exasperation.

“Do you take me for a fool?”

“Yes,” Trip curtly replied.

“Fuck you,” Horatio tossed back.

“Not in this lifetime,” was Trip’s immediate and bitter response.

“Have it your way, Doc,” Horatio said with a derisive shake of his head. He pushed off the wall and walked out of the office.

*&*

Trip leaned back in his chair torn between being a responsible adult and waiting for his next appointment or going after Horatio and setting the redhead straight once and for all.

“You need to go after him,” broke into his troubled thoughts causing him to look up and see Nina standing in the doorway of his office.

“Why should I?”

“Because he stopped being a patient weeks ago,” Nina replied. “And, he’s outside pacing back and forth trying to work up the courage to come back in here and apologize.”

Trip softly sighed in resignation. “You’re right,” he agreed. Horatio had stopped being his patient after their session at the crime lab. “But, all I want to do right now is smack him, not forgive him.”

“I have a feeling you may have to take a number in regards to that.”

“Probably so, since he’s such a charming rascal,” Trip sarcastically quipped.

Nina nodded her head in silent agreement.

Trip pushed back from his desk and stood up. He grabbed his suit jacket off the back of his chair. “Wish me good luck.”

“Go get him, tiger,” Nina said in lieu of the good wish.

*&*

“You’ll wear a hole in the sidewalk if you keep that up,” Trip comment from the doorway of the office building his practice was located in causing Horatio to stop in his tracks.

“Why do you care?”

“I don’t really,” Trip softly drawled. “I was looking for an ice breaker and it had the desired effect of literally stopping you in your tracks.”

“Asshole,” Horatio muttered as he crossed in front of Trip to settle on an older model motorcycle parked at the curb.

“I think we established that as a fact yesterday,” Trip remarked tongue firmly in cheek.

“What do you want?”

“If that invitation to dinner is still available, I’d like to go,” Trip answered as he pushed away from the office building and stepped closer to Horatio.

“Why the sudden change of heart?” Horatio asked skeptically. “I thought being seen with a patient outside of a therapy session would impugn your professional integrity.”

Instead of answering Horatio, Trip slid his hand behind Horatio’s neck and pulled him into a kiss that promised many things, but slow wasn’t one of them.

Horatio allowed the kiss for a few seconds and then pushed Trip away. “Why?”

“It took Nina pointing out to me that we stopped being patient/doctor weeks ago and that it would be alright to act on my attraction to you.”

“I’m tempted to tell you too little too late, Doc.”

“But you won’t.”

“I won’t?”

“No.”

“Why is that?”

“You want this as much as I do,” Trip explained. “In fact, you need it.”

“Do I?”

“Yes,” Trip firmly stated. He wanted to deal with Horatio’s skepticism by kissing him until he had no breath left to ask questions he already had answers to. “Yes, you do. Now, stop being as ass about it.”

“Make me,” Horatio retorted still miffed with Trip.

Trip smiled, and then he leaned forward to whisper, “You asked for it,” against Horatio’s lips before pulling him into another searing kiss.

*&*

“So what are we going to do about Burton?” Horatio asked between bites of his cheeseburger.

They were sitting on the balcony of Horatio’s beachside condo enjoying cheeseburgers and fries from Horatio’s favorite burger joint.

“I already took care of him,” Trip replied with a sly grin before stealing a fry off of Horatio’s plate.

“You did?”

“Yes,” Trip said stealing another fry. “And, I was going to tell you as much, but you decided to start pushing buttons as soon as you walked in my office today.”

“How did you take care of him?” Horatio inquired ignoring the fact Trip was calling him on his earlier bad behavior. He pushed his plate toward Trip so he could finish off the fries instead of stealing them one at a time like some lovesick teenager.

“I signed off on your release stating you are in a relationship with someone who has convinced you not to take so many unnecessary risks when it comes to your job,” Trip explained between fries.

“How did you get him to swallow that line of bullshit?”

“Were you born so skeptical or is it an occupational hazard of your job?”

“Both,” Horatio replied with a grin he knew Trip would find infuriating in the weeks and months to come. “Now answer the question, Doc.”

“Blackmail,” Trip simply said and took a sip of beer to hide his shit eating grin.

“Blackmail?”

“He has a few skeletons in his closet he doesn’t want to see the light of day, and accepting my assessment of your mental health will keep them locked away until one of you retires.”

“Oh, you’re good,” Horatio remarked with a huff of amusement.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” Trip said returning the compliment. “Now answer me something?”

“What?”

“Did you deliberately wear those clothes to entice me into pouncing you?”

“Maybe.”

“I bet you’re going commando too.”

Horatio’s answer was a wicked chuckle.

*&*

Horatio stretched and snuggled up to Trip. He loathed to admit Trip had been right about him needing a good old fashioned fucking.

“Told you so,” Trip murmured not bothering to wait for Horatio to admit he was right or not. He brushed a stray lock of Horatio’s hair away from his forehead and placed a soft kiss there.

“Asshole,” Horatio muttered sleepily.

“Takes one to know one,” Trip retorted unfazed by the insult.

“Whatever, Doc,” Horatio mumbled before yawning and snuggling closer to Trip resting his head on Trip’s chest.

“Just go to sleep, Horatio,” Trip told the redhead as he continued to gently stroke Horatio’s back. “I got the watch.”

Horatio let the last of his guard down, yawned again and allowed himself to fall asleep safe in the knowledge he wouldn’t wake up alone.

*&*

Horatio woke later and found himself alone. He had a moment of panic thinking Trip had changed his mind about staying, but then he heard the shower running in the master bathroom.

He rolled out of bed and strolled into the bathroom. He slipped into the shower and wrapped his arms around Trip’s waist pulling him out of the spray of hot water. “You look good wet,” he declared before licking a drop of water off of Trip’s neck.

“Hello, sleepy head,” Trip greeted him not bothering to hide the shiver of desire Horatio’s licking of his neck had elicited from him. He loved to have sex in the shower and he had a feeling Horatio did to, if he was to judge by the bottle of lube stashed between the bottles of shampoo and body wash. “You up for round two?”

“Are you?”

Trip caught hold of one of Horatio’s hands and placed it on his reawakened cock. “What do you think?”

“I think I’m a very lucky guy,” Horatio whispered into Trip’s ear before taking the lobe between his teeth and nibbling it while slowly stroking Trip’s weeping cock.

Trip softly swore under his breath and pushed back against Horatio rubbing himself against Horatio’s hard cock.

Taking the hint, Horatio stopped his teasing and grabbed the lube. He squirted some on his fingers, put the bottle back and then slipped his fingers inside of Trip. He quickly and expertly prepped the blonde since he couldn’t wait to have that tight heat wrapped around his aching cock.

He slowly slid inside Trip with a groan he muffled against Trip’s shoulder.

“Don’t go easy on me,” Trip demanded as squeezed Horatio’s cock causing the redhead to growl and to slam him up against the wall directly under the spray of hot water. He was in seventh heaven.

Horatio pulled all the way out and then slammed in again setting a fast and furious pace he knew would have Trip walking funny and unable to sit.

Trip braced himself against the wall and enjoyed the hard fucking Horatio was giving him. He came all over the wall with a groan when Horatio wrapped his hand around his cock and stroked it a few times.

A few more thrusts from Horatio and the redhead was coming hard inside of Trip with a muttered, “Fuck yeah.”

Trip agreed, but he had to tease Horatio with, “Romantic sap.”

“Bite me,” Horatio retorted as he slipped out of Trip. He then grabbed the body wash and poured some into his hand. He put the bottle back and then rubbed his hands together. He then started to run them all over Trip’s body looking for the blonde’s hot spots.

Trip moaned and found himself surprised that he was getting aroused once again. Horatio was going to be the death of him.

“Easy, Doc,” Horatio whispered into Trip’s ear as he helped him rinse off. “Just go with the flow. You’ll get your turn to play later.”

“Jesus,” Trip softly groaned as he turned to face Horatio. “That was bad. You’ve gotta work on your pick up lines.”

“Why?” Horatio countered in a smug tone as he reached around Trip and turned off the water since it was turning cooler than he liked. “I thought you were a sure thing.”

“That wasn’t a smart thing to say on a first date,” Trip retorted and pushed Horatio away from him so he could get out of the shower and dry off.

Horatio let Trip leave knowing he had stuck his foot in his mouth once again.

*&*

“You’re right,” Horatio admitted causing Trip to look up from examining his toes. He had gotten as far as the bed before he stopped kicking himself for letting Horatio push his buttons again because the redhead was afraid to let anyone get close to him. “It was a stupid thing to say. I’m sorry.”

“Why did you say it then?” Trip asked not actively acknowledging Horatio’s apology.

“Heat of the moment,” Horatio replied knowing it was a lame answer.

“I don’t buy that.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Horatio agreed.

“So where does that leave us?”

“Horny and frustrated.”

“It’s amazing that you make it past first base with logic like that,” Trip muttered in amused exasperation.

“I’ve got a very talented tongue.”

“Yes, you do,” Trip agreed pushing the image of Horatio giving him a blow job from his mind. “But, let’s be serious for a moment shall we.”

“Alright,” Horatio concurred as he settled on the bed next to Trip. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a committed relationship, so I’m rusty and prone to making mistakes.”

“That makes two of us,” Trip admitted. It had been two years since he had been with Jonathan Archer, and he had been reluctant to let anyone replace him in his affections.

“We are quite the pair, aren’t we?” Horatio remarked pushing down his desire to question Trip about his love life.

“Yes, we are,” Trip said with a hint of chagrin in his voice. Life with Horatio was going to be very interesting to say the least. “So what do we do now?”

“Restart this date by getting dressed and going for a walk along the beach,” Horatio suggested even though he would rather go back to ravishing Trip in the shower.

“That sounds like a good plan, but first we have some unfinished business to take care of.”

“Oh?”

Trip stood up. He caught hold of Horatio’s hand and pulled him to his feet. He leaned in and brushed a quick kiss against Horatio’s lips before pulling away and heading back into the bathroom.

Horatio took Trip’s subtle hint and followed him into the bathroom.