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… That hopeful, hungry look and even Lewis tried his best to resist the charm and then it was gone and Morse was just Morse and what the hell had that been about?

Later, as they were walking to the car, the pieces fell into place. “There’s a limit to who I can attract.” Morse had whispered in his ear. “Someone really grieving is utterly immune. He wasn’t.”

 

This was to be handled delicately - a working relationship, and a longstanding friendship could be ruined if it wasn’t. Jesus, that beauty. Why had he hidden it for so long?

Songbirds were made for pleasure, they all knew that, but for Morse to want him - and God knew he wanted Morse, and the feeling did not shock him - was a bit of a revelation.

Morse, as he got older, still repressed his beauty daily - when he chose to or needed to use it to ensnare, there was no stopping him - but it was certainly still there.  And Lewis loved to see it; he wanted to see it. Morse was unstoppable when he was at full capacity, no qualms about trapping suspects with what he saw as an advantage in the job, no questions asked of what he did and how he did it, leading them where he wanted them, to get what he needed out of them, be it confessions of murder or malice.

And then shaking it all off as the cell door clanged shut behind them and he was once again just Morse, the resident alcoholic. As the only songbird in the nick, Robbie had determined to learn all he could from his superior. Not a songbird himself, Lewis, however, had his own wiles and ways and Morse taught him to use them well while teaching him to telegraph ‘fuck off’ with a single look.

But how the hell the man had lived quite this long without affection, he didn't know.

They needed affection to live, didn't they? They needed sexual touch to live? About the only thing they were made for was looking good, and being elegantly sensual. Beneath Morse's gruff what’s-the-fucking-point-of-this veneer, if Lewis looked hard enough, he could see the young songbird, elegant but having to work three times as hard to prove himself, to not attract half the damn force, and then the whispers when he was kept-but-not. On a DI’s money? ‘Avin’ a laugh, aintcha?

He still worked hard, still proved himself day in, day out. Those words. Those fucking words. Would they follow him til he died?

Robbie supposed that could’ve been the reason, or one of them, that Morse ended up falling for truly unsuitable people. It was in his nature to be used.

What Morse either did not know or could not see was that if he needed touch, Lewis was willing to give all he had. Family or not. They didn’t need to know. He loved his kids, he loved Valerie – they were his sun, moon and his stars – but this was different.

It wasn’t the fact Morse was a songbird that primarily drew Lewis to the man’s allure, as others were. That was not the first thing he noticed.

It was Morse’s intelligence, his quickness, his scathing wit.

His smile, rarely seen.

His loneliness.

 

“Don’t hide…”

“Wasn’t aware I was, Lewis.”

He’d long since learnt to ignore the scathing tone, look behind the words and find out why. He leans over the sofa, closing the distance.

“No, I…” He cups Morse’s cheek, stroking gently. “I want to see you as ye are.”

“Faded, you mean.” The voice is quiet, bitter, spoke of a lifetime of pain and denial and Christ knew what else. That simple touch, a touch of love and desire, of want and intent and need written through it, and that was enough for Morse’s songbird sensibilities. Those touches had died when Guy did, when Fred had, but the longing stuck about. There was no need to find anyone, and the auctions were beneath him now. There were other ways. 

“Ye are not. It’s only me, and I won’t do anything you don’t want. Promise.” Lewis soothes.

“Promises, promises.” Morse mutters as he looks Lewis dead in the eye; a radiant beautiful man was there, younger, laughter and warmth and need in his grey eyes, shot through with sensuality in his body, how he held himself, his face smooth and smiling. Lewis can’t help a whimper.

Morse’s hands wander happily (this is not in stone, you are not kept, and you are allowed to look), stroking sighs from the man beneath him. Robbie kisses him featherlight.

There had been good times, but they were few and far between, Lewis surmises, as he looks into Morse’s eyes.

“I don't know how I’ve lived this long without…”

“Without…” Lewis’s voice is low, deeper than Morse has ever heard it.

“Without being held. Without… touch, without…” He swallows, the beauty fading a little. “…It’s been a long time since I felt anyone… close to me… like this. You really…?”

The question hangs in the air.

Lewis nods, waiting, wanting, the reins in the songbird’s hands.

“We don’t make the first move.” Morse says softly. “We can’t, but you did.”

“You can't, sir? I did? How?” Completely bloody blindsided, incredulous to boot, doesn't know he has that power. Oh, Robbie.

“When you cupped my cheek.” Morse murmurs. “You wanted, and it felt like… almost like love.”

And Lewis understood why there’d been all those years of longing (longing to belong, to be loved – liked at least – all those years it wasn't there and the anger and withdrawal and why the hell should Morse try to be friendly anymore, it just brought pain, no one liked him anyway), and brings Morse into his arms.

Morse chirps, a desperate sound, falling into the familiar hands (no), the familiar touch but different now (he doesn't want this like you do), and allows Lewis to lift him onto his lap (Christ, he's strong. Shouldn't feel so nice).

The chirp this time is deeper, despairing, and Robbie’s heart breaks anew.

“I don’t expect anything. I just want to give you what you need.”

“I need you. Affection. I haven't been fed properly in years; I'm starving…” Morse whispers. His voice unwontedly cracks on the final words.

“Take what you need. I'm here. It's alright.” Lewis tries not to let the hunger seep into his voice; his own pain didn't need an airing – Morse has enough to deal with.

Nuzzling into his neck, Morse soaks up the affection and need thrumming from the younger man. He chirps again, pushing closer into Lewis’s warm, safe touch, the affection rolling off him wrapping around Morse, cocooning him.

Feeding without distraction was always the easiest for him, but there’d always been distractions. Misplaced affection, aborted affection, outright lies… they could not sustain him, never had. He’d withered, sank further into himself and drink when there’d been lies about, and had nearly died many times for want of a kind touch.

But no one knew that.

“Lewis?”

“Hmm?”

Morse looks up, his eyes alight, his full beauty on show; Lewis’s breath stolen as Morse’s grey-blue eyes sparkle like the Mediterranean at sunset. Lewis grips him tightly, pulling him close, breathing deepening and wanting, wanting, wanting…

“This is what I hide. Why I hide it. No one wanted it anyway, too expensive.” Or they just didn't want me.

“I want it.” No, you don't. I'm an expensive burden and I care about no one but myself. I wanted to die, for god’s sake. No one wants me, and they haven't for years.

Morse drops his eyes, curling into himself, fading, convinced Lewis doesn’t mean a single word. The affection thrummed, its tenor changing, deepening. (When has this man ever led you wrong? When has he ever been so cruel?)

That was what had happened in the past - who the hell was he to expect more?

No one, that’s who. Songbirds got what they got, and they put up with it; they couldn’t dissent when Morse was young. The concept of leaving one’s keeper didn't exist - unless they died. Like Guy.

Morse had wanted to die with him. Fred had kept him instead, loved him as he had never known before Guy or since.

Sometimes they got beatings instead if their keeper was particularly vicious. Or the songbirds were particularly headstrong.

He was free now.

He also knew his sergeant wouldn’t have the money if ever he were to be kept again, nor would he be hurt unless he wanted. Songbirds were expensive, and they damn well knew it.

But Morse no longer needed to preen. He did it to keep himself in check; one couldn’t show up to work with a five o’clock shadow, after all. (He knew if he did that he’d get away with it; he had before. Half drunk and unshaven, those were always the best times.)

But he wasn’t trying to attract a mate. Was he?

“Endeavour.” Lewis murmurs. He stroked Morse’s soft cheek, enjoying how the songbird trilled softly, taking joy and life from the contact he’d denied himself for years. “I want it.”

“What did you say?” Those grey-blue eyes shoot open, boring through him.

“I want it. I want you.” Lewis affirms.

“Before that.”

“Endeavour.” Lewis breathes softly into the space between them. The oft hated name sounding like an absolution from Lewis’ beautiful lips. Lips that care. Maybe.

Morse tosses his head (a favourite move, guaranteed to work when he was that young man so long ago), and holds Lewis close - while wondering what he wanted from him. The usual, he supposed.

“Endeavour,” Lewis husks again, “look at me.”

He does, grey eyes glimmering like the sea reflecting a moonlit night.

“No.” Lewis whispers, shocked by what he sees. “Haven’t ye ever been wanted before?”

“Not like this… only for… when I was younger. Do you want-” The words are choked out, a failing there that Morse never wanted to voice. No one wanted me as I grew older, it was easier to be alone, to hide. Why try? No one wanted this. I took solace in my music and my work and knew I would never be missed.

“It’s not all I want,” Lewis says gently, softly, hesitant should Morse turn tail and order him to leave.

“But you do want-”

“Ah want, sir. Christ, I want.” Lewis’s strong, capable hands roam Morse’s still clothed chest. Morse aches.

Lewis had touched, soft, gentle, and his claim was on him now, and Morse reaches out hesitantly, fully expecting Lewis to pull away. Laying his warm hand on Robbie's cheek, the small gasp of shock that comes from Morse simultaneously makes Lewis smile - what a sound - and breaks his heart - has no one ever let him do that? Aside from two. How long has it been?

"You don't have to ask permission to touch me, y'know." Robbie murmurs, the light in Morse's eyes brightening as he traced the skin.

"I always did before. I do." Morse mutters without thinking.

"What? Is that a..."

"Let's not talk about it? Please?" he pleads. "What I did before shouldn't intrude. Anyway, I really am old enough to know better by now."

"Alright. Shhhh." Lewis relents, filing that 'old enough to know better' comment away for later - he will need to know what the hell Morse means by that - and taking Morse in his arms, letting him touch and feel and be all he wants. Needs. It's clear now that he needs it, no matter what he says.

"Can I?" Morse leans a little closer, hesitancy all over his face. Lewis smiles.

"You don't have to ask." Lewis whispers again. "Of course you can." He pulls Morse closer, letting the older man snuggle as close as he wishes. The gentle lips on his neck are soft, scared perhaps, Lewis realises.

Was he taught to wait? Was he reprimanded, hurt unless he did? I mean, I know they were possessions to the rich, but… this is why he hasn't… He won't. He can't. Unless they want him.

They never did after…

Lewis's heart breaks again; he sweeps Morse into his lap, closer. The terrified squeak says so much.

“No. No, ah’m no’ gonna hurt ye. Couldn’t.” Lewis whispers. “Ah, Endeavour…”

Morse sniffs, mouthing at Lewis's neck again. He bites gently, a little nip, and stills at Lewis's groan.

Please don’t hurt me. I want to make it good, it’s what I'm for, isn’t it? You'd leave if I said I wouldn’t. The others did.

“Yes.” Lewis murmurs. Feeling Morse smile, he dares to run his hand through Morse’s shock of hair, but the whimper makes him cease.

“No?” he asks softly.

“Yes. God, yes.” Morse chokes out, shame dripping from the words. “Might be made for pleasure, but it doesn’t mean I have to like what you’re doing.”

“I'm not them.” Lewis asserts softly, despite not knowing who they were. “You don't have to do anything you don’t want to, or don’t like.” Lewis strokes Morse’s face. “I don't want you as my possession.”

Morse freezes, his eyes darkening as he curls into himself, shame washing over him. I knew it. You never did, and Strange is going to fire me when you go to him tomorrow morning and god, I’ll end my days as squalid as they began.

“I want you as you. If ye wanna be kept, ah’ll keep ye, but it won’t be what yer used to, sir. Ah’ll treat ye well, but never as just a… a thing.” Lewis almost spits the word. “Yer more than tha’ and ye know it.” The voice is quiet, but carries weight, authority. Authority Morse himself has taught him.

Lewis draws Morse’s face gently up so he can touch his lips to his superior’s, deepening the kiss gently until they’re clinging together.

“Please, Lewis. Please.” Morse nuzzles in, almost frantic, need and hunger, want and please just touch me love me don’t turn me away, but Lewis takes his time. He can feel the connection pulling, Morse's need hard and loud and fear in there too. He gentles him softly, stroking him, soothing him until he calms.

He will not hurt the songbird; he can’t, not now he realises that is what others have done through accident or design or boredom. Unless Morse wants it himself, though Lewis shudders to think of it.

“There’s time, all the time you want.” Lewis whispers, kissing Morse’s neck gently, slowly, savouring the feel of the man in his arms.

Morse chirps happily.

Robbie can feel himself hard, needy, wanting, but this is in Morse’s hands, and should the man say no, get out and go home, he will. It’ll be tough, but he will; he’s never been the type of man to push people beyond their limits outside the station.

Morse takes things into his own hands as his roam under Lewis’s shirt, tracing his ribs.

You claimed me by the simple act of touch. I don't know if you know it. But I can touch. I can touch and you’re mine and are you going to keep me? You're calming me, I feel it, but is it just for tonight? What do I have to do?

Lewis shifts slightly, pushing into the touch and leaning back into the sofa, pulling Morse with him; he’s divested of his shirt somewhere, and Morse kisses the hollow of his collarbone.

Lewis moans deep; that’s always been a sweet spot. Morse grins, his full beauty on show, the allure strong and steady, and Lewis looks into stormy grey eyes, and wants nothing more than to take him til he howls.

All he's good for…

His face shines, cheekbones sharp and lips full, eyes radiating heat and desire.

Morse purrs, purrs at the look in Lewis’s eyes - he never thought he’d be the cause of that look ever again as long as he lived - and lays his lips to Lewis’s, the gasp of pleasure lost to his mouth.

The rational bit of Lewis’s brain still working says make sure he doesn’t knock you out, they can, you know and is this the nature of him still or does he actually want me like I want him oh god I want him.

He’s heard stories of knockout kisses - Morse had done that, once, when he was sort of kept and a colleague tried to make a move. By all accounts it was everything Cowley could talk of and laugh about for weeks after, but that was because that little shit got his comeuppance - and of ‘The Flight Crew’, rare songbirds that neither had keepers nor wanted to be kept, and got their affection and nourishment through one night stands, or clubs.

Whether his boss was or was not, did or did not, was hard to tell and would never be asked.

He knew that Morse had been kept when young, had grieved when his keeper had died, had been kept by his own superior at the time so he could live. He assumed that when Thursday had passed, that's when Morse had struck out alone and he had done ever since.

“Sir!” Lewis gasps.

“What, Lewis?” Ah. That was more like it. The bark was, however, softened.

"Are ye wantin' this, or is it… your nature?" He braces for impact.

Morse locks eyes with his younger sergeant, and speaks, his eyes flaring honest desire with every word.

"Nature be damned, Lewis! Had my 'nature', as you call it, have taken over, you'd know, and you wouldn't be able to do a damn thing about it." A finger trails his side, the sneer there in his voice, Lewis writhing into the touch. "But since you are still in possession of your faculties - or are you, I can't always bloody tell - then, it has not. Therefore, I desire you, and it's nothing to do with my nature. Alright?"

Lewis moans, kisses Morse deep, throws every single idea and notion he's ever bloody had about songbirds out the window and just feels, and is.

Morse rubs gently against him, enjoying how Robbie's breathing deepens, the whimpers he releases. His affection is strong, heavy in the air, and he takes solace, strength from it, drinking deep of the love he feels (it's been a long time since it was this strong), chirping deep and low as Lewis writhes beneath him, as he moves down the other man's lean body, kissing down his ribs, and wondering just how far he can go. Just when the hell did I start thinking of other people? I don't have to. I just have to do whatever they ask me to.

He trusts Lewis to stop him if he wants to, the moralistic little sod.

His sod. He hits fabric and stops. Lewis whines. Whines. For me.

"Sirrrr…"

Lewis forces his eyes open, Morse carding his fingers gently, lovingly through his dark hair. "May I?"

"Fuckin’ hell, sir, yes!" He opens his trousers, memory doing all the work, Morse's long, elegant fingers dipping just below the waistband to rub and touch his skin.

Lewis thrusts, needing to touch, needing, needing, needing, and he groans as the hands wander lower.

"Sir… a-are you sure- oh, god!"

"I'm sure." Morse looks up, his eyes a deep, brilliant blue, shot through with burning desire. Lewis moans wordlessly at the strong, firm hold on him; the part of his mind still rational says 'this is his nature, he doesn't actually want you, it's just what he needs.' He ignores it, and concentrates on how Morse is touching him.

He knows what he’s doing, and Lewis doesn’t want to know how that is, how many he’s touched before or how or why.

He just knows he is his for as long as Morse may want him.

Morse’s strong hand tightens. Lewis nearly screeches, and Morse laughs, a sweet, clear thing, a laugh of delight.

“Yeah,” Lewis croaks, “you've still got it in you. You know that.”

“It's been ages since I heard anyone say that. Gave them pleasure like this.”

Lewis has not forgotten what he intends to do, and only wants to hear that chirp once more. “Tell me.” he croaks. “What it was like.”

“To be kept for pleasure and only that? Quite nice, but it always depended on the keeper you had…” Morse trails off to nip Robbie’s throat. “Mine were wonderful to me, I couldn’t complain. Some weren't, they were kept as things. That never ended well. Fred, for all he was kind, never let me on his lap, when…” When we were together like this, Lewis finished mentally. “Thought it not normal. I was content, but not Mrs Thursday.”

Lewis shifted under Morse, watching his eyes close in pleasure. “That good?”

“Mmm.” Morse sighs, nibbling at Robbie’s neck. The feel of gentle hands on his back making him want.

Relaxing fully into Lewis’s touch, Morse gave up trying to repress, no longer afraid, and let his beauty shine full through, heedless of what would happen.

Robbie groans. “Endeavour. Jesus Christ. You know what I'm gonna do, aren't ye?”

“There's a reason I did that, Lewis. I need you.”

“I know. I know. Shhh. Soon.” Lewis soothes. His hands roam over Morse, enjoying the shivering and moaning man in his lap.

“Please, Robbie, please.” Morse whispers, nuzzling frantically into his neck. “Please.”

Robbie winds his hand through Morse’s hair, pulling slightly. The groan says enough.

“Ye sure, sir?” A rasp from above him, Morse looks up, and Robbie knows he's gone. He's so beautiful, it can't be helped.

Lewis picks up Morse easily, taking him to his room and laying him gently on the bed. He rolls off the bed and strips in record time (he wants) while Lewis rifles in the drawer for protection.

As Morse eases back onto the bed, he shakes his head. He can feel the pull, Lewis raising his eyes to meet Morse’s hungry ones.

Morse lets the connection pull with need, drawing Lewis in.

“You’re so handsome, sir.” The rasp was back, and Morse pushes forward into Lewis, chirping again, kissing his chest, down, down, down, and Lewis moans deeply as Morse wraps his mouth around him, swallowing him down.

Morse huffs a laugh from the back of his throat, Lewis yelping. Glad to see that still works.

Morse hums, brings Lewis to the edge, and cruelly stops. When he looks up, wiping his mouth, Lewis finds he cannot be angry at the beautiful man before him, that devilish smile peeking out.

Who could be angry at that smile?

Lewis groans. Morse grins.

“Fuck.”

“Must you be so vulgar?” Morse smiles, none of the usual sneer and bite to him.

“Fuck.” Lewis sighs, a little shocked. Morse slides up his body, snagging a drink from the bedside table and rinsing his mouth before he kisses Lewis as if he's made of glass.

“Would you?”

Lewis snarls softly, pushing Morse onto his back, lubing his fingers. “This a good answer?”

A chirp, deep and resounding. Yes. Yes. Please. Lewis takes a moment to look at the beautiful songbird spread waiting for him, thinks about what he’s going to do. He should ask Morse if he’s sure, but can’t think beyond the haze, his brain yelling take take take.

Morse twitches a smile at him, and Lewis pushes his fingers in; Morse arches, moaning deeply, needing more and Lewis slams his body down, pushes his fingers further, ripping moans from his beautiful songbird as he goes.

“That’s it,” he whispers, “feel me…” He pushes a little deeper, twisting, stretching, and Morse rumbles another chirp - deeper this time, sensual, full of longing.

Another finger, more lube - hazy with want, but he still doesn’t want to hurt him (they’re made for rough treatment) - and Morse whines.

Lewis eases the fingers in, and out. In, out, in, out, until Morse writhes beneath him.

Enough.

Morse whimpers needily, eyes shut as he wraps his legs around Robbie’s waist, and Lewis eases deep inside.

“Look at me.”

Morse whines.

“Endeavour Morse, look at me!”

Those haunting, vulnerable eyes snap open, locking onto Robbie’s as he settles inside the man beneath him.

“Christ, pl-ohhhh!” The plea cuts sharply as Robbie pulls out, slamming back in, listening to the groan ripped from Morse’s throat.

“Please what?”

Morse just moans, a deep, trilling moan that mixes a chirp in it, and Robbie is gone; holding Morse close, he thrusts deep, and hearing Morse scream (for him for him only him), he thrusts deeper still and Morse scratching his back he feels wet could be sweat could be blood Morse bites his nails and he snarls deeper deeper deeper biting Morse’s neck and pulling him closer scratching him in return his marks are on him his touch is on him his smell is on him he smells so good sweating needy sliding against Robbie’s chest hands in his hair and tracing down his neck Morse whimpering and moaning as Robbie takes him he’ll make love to him later if he wants but now now now he needs and so does Morse he knows.

“When was the last time you felt like this, Endeavour? Hmm? Tell me!”

“Long time ago! Ohhh, god! Robbie! Jesus, Robbie!”

Hands sliding up Morse’s sweat wet back, Robbie pulls Morse onto his lap. Morse lays his head immediately on his shoulder, panting with need. Pushing down as Robbie thrusts gives him a sensation he’s never felt before, one he finds he rather likes, and can do nothing but whimper as the sensations flood him and Lewis (Robbie) spears deep and all Morse can do is throw back his head as the pleasure hits him like a train and he howls, shaking himself apart as he comes all over Robbie’s stomach, contracting tight around his cock as Robbie pumps hotly within him. Stroking Morse’s cheek as he comes, whispering his name - “Endeavour, ye look so… so good. So… tight. God.” Robbie holds tighter, trying not to blush that he’s saying these things, and Morse nuzzles into his hand. Robbie smiles. “The way you do that, so warm and trusting of me, Christ.”

You know I wouldn’t trust anyone else, Morse tries to say with a look. Robbie looks good post-sex, and Morse finds he likes it - his eyes are bright, skin wet and lips full.

But that shouldn’t have happened. Lewis can’t want him; the man has a family, for god’s sake! Why did he do that? Jesus, Morse, really? Are you that desperate for touch you’ll take a married man with no heed to the consequences?! Well, yes. I just have. Jesus, what are we going to do?

Lewis gently lifts Morse from him, soothing him as he squeaks, and goes to dispose of the condom. When he returns with a warm, wet cloth, Morse is curled up tightly, the duvet wrapped around him.

“Endeavour,” Robbie whispers, curling into the older man. “come here.” He gently rubs the songbird and himself clean, pitching the cloth onto the floor.

“We shouldn’t have done that. You have a family. And I’m your superior!” Morse fretted.

“Endeavour! Shush.”

Morse quietens, his eyes wide, and Robbie smiles. “No one need know.”

“What?” Morse squawks.

“You didn’t let me finish.” Robbie kisses Morse’s shoulder, the tang of sweat and sex heavy in the air. “Unless we want them to. And when I go home, Valerie will be able to tell, and I’ll explain, and we’ll talk it out. Simple as that.” He kisses Morse’s chest. Morse continues to stare wide-eyed at him.

“Robbie?” Morse whispers hoarsely.

“Mmm?” Robbie licks gently at his chest, another sensation Morse discovers he enjoys. He enjoys being held close again, too, being loved, cared for.

“I-” His hand finds itself on Robbie’s neck and he brings the younger man up to face him. “I’m glad you’re mine.” he whispers, choking with the emotion, knowing his sergeant, his beautiful, loyal, sometimes-not-so-quick-but-to-hell-with-that sergeant will understand.

The taste of Robbie’s lips on his own, Robbie kissing away his tears means he understands everything and more. Endeavour falls asleep curled in the arms of someone who loves him, his nose buried in their neck, his first proper sleep in years, fed on all the affection and love he could get, and Robbie lies half awake, stroking Morse’s soft cheek, remembering how he called for him in the darkness and how he was held, in turn.