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It looked just as if Baines had been unlucky in the way she’d fallen, and Max said as much. 

“How long?” Morse stood over the body.

“Difficult to say. Last night, after eight and before one or two in the morning. Lewis says you knew her.”

Morse groans internally, physically stops himself rolling his eyes. “Knew is an exaggeration. Can she be moved?”

“I think so.” Max nods to the body bag guys, and Morse goes over to question Lewis, sorting through a drawer to see if there's anything there for the forensic lads. 

“Anything missing?”

“Don't know yet.” Lewis can't touch Morse, not at work and with everyone around, so he just shoots him a look. One that Morse misses entirely. 

“I'm going upstairs.”

“Franks is up there.”

“So?” Morse asks. “Did you get a statement from the cleaner?”

“Yes.” Lewis bites out tetchily, wearily. Morse turns for the stairs. 

“Well, you got your body, sir.”

Morse looks at him, uncomprehending. “What?”

“Well, you wanted a murder. You should be happy.” Lewis looks at him like he's a terrible person. He is, knows he is, and the difference between he and his beautiful sergeant is that Lewis has morals. 

The hurt of Lewis’s words shows on Morse's face, but Lewis has turned his attention back to his task, and Morse proceeds upstairs. 

Max, sitting a few steps up, says, “What's interesting here is that, nine times out of ten, you'd survive a fall like that. But with the angle of the head and the nature of the surface, she was just unlucky. Poor thing. Pretty girl, too.”

Morse nods, goes past Max. Halfway up, his attention is caught by his friend’s voice tolling like a bell. 

“By the way, I've a bone to pick with you.” Max intones ominously. “What's this I hear about forged letters?” 

Oh, fuck. 

Morse cants his eyes up. “No idea.”

“Stir around, don't you?” Max narrows his eyes, and Morse knows his friend knows. 

Great. Even my oldest friend thinks I'm a terrible person. 

"Alright, Franks." he greets the young sergeant.

"I don't think there's anything in here, sir.” Franks offers, and Morse concurs. 

“Downstairs, there's a bottle of scotch in the cupboard. Pour me a glass, would you? Actually, make it a mug and don't make a fuss.”

“Yes, sir.” Franks disappears downstairs and Morse seats himself at Baines’ writing desk, thinking and going through what's in front of him. Finding a tube shaped thing, he plays with it, wondering what the hell it is, before it emits a high pitched whistle, succeeding in startling him thoroughly. 

“Coffee?” Lewis. Morse puts the documents down and takes the cup, drinking deeply, thankful for the hit of whiskey to get him through. Lewis eyes him, worried. “What next?”

“I don't know.” Morse drops onto the edge of the bed, his back to Lewis. Robbie aches to hold him. 

Lewis swallows. “Sir, I'm sorry about earlier, about saying you wanted… it was out of order.”

Morse looks up at him, his grey eyes full of what Robbie doesn't know: that I deserved it. “No. No, it wasn't.” he sighs. “You had every right.” With that said, he rises. “C’mon. Let's go and find who did it.”

Franks shows up again. “Sir? It's the Chief Superintendent.”

“Here?!” Morse squawks. 

Franks nods. 

“Terrific(!)” Morse groans, preparing himself for questions of the “what the fuck are you doing?” kind. He knows he's in for it to some degree. 

Strange motions the young man standing guard out of the room, to which he obeys. He advances into the room. 

“Morse. Sergeant.” Lewis nods to him. “Well?”

“Deputy head–”

“I know that. And?”

“Looks like she was pushed downstairs last night.” Morse says. 

Strange sighs. “Go make yourself a coffee, Lewis.”

I have one, he’s about to say, but a look from Morse – please don't make this worse – sends him on his way. Leaving Morse to his fate, but not before shooting his superior a look that says “I'll want to know.” With that, he disappears. Morse faces the onslaught. 

“You can be a prat, can't you?” Strange says from the window. 

Morse lowers the mug from his mouth. “I expect so.” Best not to defend the accusation, worse is coming. 

“What's this I hear about forging a letter?” His face is incredulous, and Morse thinks dimly that they've known each other since the very beginning, he should be used to this fuckery by now. Some would call it methods. 

“I forged a letter from the Craven girl.” he admits, and said out loud it sounds absolutely terrible. The right thing to do at the time, maybe, but god. What had he been thinking?

“Brilliant(!)” Strange almost spits, the sarcasm dripping from that one word. Morse keeps eye contact, tries to explain. 

“I was trying to make something happen.”

“Well, something has happened! What about the girl, anything?”

He twitches his shoulder in a shrug, eyes dropping to the floor, knowing he's deserving of the volley going to be launched at him. “No.”

“I tell you not to bother the Craven family. The first thing you do is bother the Craven family.” Strange is barely holding back the anger. “You sit in Oxford, forging letters and boozing, when the girl was last seen in London.”

Morse hunches in, keeps his eyes on the ground, defeat written on his face. Knowing he deserves the verbal battering because his methods have hurt people. Again. In the back of his mind, the part of his brain dedicated to repressing himself continues to whir quietly. 

“You enter a flat without a warrant!” Strange’s eyebrows shoot skyward; he's more pissed at that than he lets on, thinks Morse for all his ways really should know that's something can't be rode roughshod over. “And now the deputy head’s been bumped off.” He sighs, the hammer about to fall. “It's all a bit of a shambles, really, Morse, isn't it?”

Morse does not look up, hiding the hurt that phrase has caused, the insinuation behind it. 

“D'you know who did it?”

“No.”

“No.” Strange repeats witheringly. “Don't let me hear any more dirt on you, mate. Do I have to ask you to report to my desk every morning and breathe into my face?”

“No, sir.” Meek, defeated, he knows everything his friend has said is true. Maybe I should resign. Maybe they'd be better off if I did. But Lewis. He’s got Valerie, he doesn't need you…

“Who told you about the letter?”

“I'm the Chief Super.” Strange snorts. “If someone asks for whiskey in a coffee mug, I know about it before he's drunk it! It's my job! Go and do yours.”

Morse descends the stairs, morose and thunderous. Knows he deserved that, but it doesn't stop him feeling like shit. “C’mon Lewis.”

“Where?”

“Everywhere.”

He's still thinking about those words at the pub later when Lewis explains what he found. 

“She was pregnant, he did give her the money, and she stopped with him afterwards.”

“Maybe she's still there.”

 

When Morse has had enough, so tired that he can't repress, the tables turn and Lewis orders him to go home. Taking a punt on his sergeant, Morse looks at him, the sorrow showing on his face. And again, Lewis says it. “You should go home, sir.”

He doesn't want to be alone with his thoughts, or his feelings, but what Lewis says, he'll do. He nods as Lewis rises to pay, and goes out to the Jag to wait for him. They slip into the front, and Morse drives Lewis home. 

“Goodnight, sir.” Lewis is halfway out of the passenger seat, looking around him, before he leans back in. “If you need me, I'm here.”

Morse nods, his heart clenching with the slam of the door.

He doesn't remember how he gets home, but he must because the next thing he knows is Mozart’s Für Elise is on the stereo and he has a double whiskey in his hand. He slumps on the sofa, door securely locked and finds he's too miserable to even try and repress. It's only a shimmer. 

And Strange’s words were still there. “Prat. Shambles. Do I have to ask you to report to me…”

Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, always the way, wasn't it, a vicious little voice in his head hisses. Sounded very much like Gwen. You're never bloody good enough, what made you think you would be? He eschews the glass for the bottle, drinking deeply to drown out his brain, on a constant loop of shambles, prat, do your job. And then the look Lewis had shot at him before he went upstairs, as if he thought him all those things… 

Morse didn't notice the tears, or his hand reaching for the phone. Neither the number the fingers dialled, or the connecting tone. And then, a voice, a voice sodden with worry when it hears Morse's cry of, “I'm alone.”

What he really meant was, “come over and hold me til I stop weeping for what I could have been.”, but he trusts that Lewis will hear and understand.

Morse listens to the dial tone for a while, exhausted, convinced that Lewis has abandoned him.

He’s survived before. He’ll survive again, he tells himself firmly. If he’s lived this long…

When the door opens some time later, it's dark and Morse is curled up on the sofa, the house silent but for his sobs. Lewis creeps in, the door locking to, the outside world at bay for the time being. He pulls the curtains to shut the night out and goes over to Morse. “Sir?”

“I thought you had-” He breaks off, sniffing, trying to erase the evidence of tears from his face. 

Lewis sits close, wrapping Morse tight in his arms, allowing the songbird to settle his head into the warmth of Robbie’s neck. 

“What did you think?” he asks softly. “What did you think I'd do?”

Morse sighs, feeling heat flood his face. 

“Now that you're asking me, it sounds so stupid!” He scoffs at himself, muffled as it is in the warmth of Robbie’s skin. 

Robbie strokes his neck gently, lowering his voice. “You can tell me.”

With some songbirds, one had to work hard with them to get them to let their owners in. Like Morse when he was younger, with Guy. Some let their owners in from the first. 

Morse was not now one of those people.

“Yeah, but I don't know what kind of an owner-”

He freezes, still, body hard and unyielding as a block of granite in Robbie's warm arms. 

Lewis continues to stroke Morse's neck, letting him see there is no harm, no fear, he is safe. Robbie isn't going to take whatever knowledge or information Morse gives him and run away with it, or yell it from the rooftops. 

Is he Morse's owner now, after all this time? Will Morse let himself be owned, after all this time?

“I thought you'd abandoned me.” Quiet, plaintive. 

“I would never do that, sir. Ever. Even only-” Now Robbie stops; perhaps he has also gone too far, said something he doesn't mean. No, he means it. He knows he does. “Even only as your sergeant, sir, I wouldn't abandon you, for all us wantin’ to kill each other.”

He drops a soft kiss on Morse's thick white hair. Morse looks up, his eyes red-rimmed and stinging, catching Robbie's warm blue eyes, the love within deep like twin infinity pools. 

“And as… as my owner?” he chokes out, tears thick in the question. He still holds the fear that he might be beaten for simply voicing the word; in the mists of time, it happened. 

He was young, but that was not an excuse. He was young, but that didn't mean he should have suffered. Wrong place. Wrong time. He should never have gone alone. 

 

The White Swallow, Oxford, 1964

 

Hit by a wall of sound and smoke as he opens the door, Morse wonders for the twentieth time in an hour exactly what the hell he’s doing here. To make enquiries, to try and catch the arsehole drugging and raping innocent men. Innocent songbirds. That's why. Look sharp, Morse. 

There was nothing talked about, but Cowley knew. On the grapevine, of course. In this job one could not be picky about one's morals or sensibilities; it brought you high with the people who didn't deserve it, and low with the people that did. In between, the Cowley crowd mixed with pimps and whores and vagabonds, seeing everything they should and a lot of things they shouldn't. 

Morse steps in, praying he hasn't been tailed, that no one saw him. His excuse wouldn't wash. 

And he's curious. He's felt… stirrings for some he works with, though he'd never act on them. That doesn't mean they aren't there, and as he advances through the dark smokiness, looking for a particular group of men, his interest piques at the smiles and nods he receives. 

Either they've seen me before, or they actually like me.  Nah. But. Can they see me? No. No. That'd never happen. 

“Phillipson!” Morse greets the skanky bastard like an old friend, hating himself for every word.“What are you having?”

“Gin and tonic.”

Morse shoves his way to the bar, doesn't know who gropes him, orders a G and T and a Scotch for himself. Best to fit in and that, questions would be asked if you're not drinking. Bringing them back, he idly enquiries who the others are. He knows, of course - big time drug pushers, and if Morse nails them tonight, alone, it'll be a hell of a coup for him. 

Thursday and Bright might roar and the rest of Cowley might want to pull a Julius Caesar on him, but it'd prove he could do it, that he should be let loose, because look at the results! 

Turning his mind back to what's being said, he tunes in. 

“… and I woz wit dis burd, righ, and she wan’ed summa i’, so I gis her i’.”

“She dead, Ricky?”

Ricky shrugs. “I don't cut no shit in my drugs, they pure, man. I cut it myself last night.”

Hardly, Morse snorts inwardly. Not if there's been three deaths from the drugs already, and that's before we knew. She's dead.

“Wha’ bou’ you, Morse, you gotta burd?” A man he didn't know, big and muscly. 

“No. No time, too busy with the job, really.” he lies easily, sipping the scotch and wondering once more what the fuck he was doing. 

“Wha’ you do?” the man enquired. The others leaned forward. 

“I'm a writer.”

“Really? What d'you write?”

“Erotic fiction and the like, mostly for the International Times - under a pseudonym, of course. I daren't go anywhere else.” His cheeks flamed and he hoped they'd mean it for embarrassment at being so open. 

“Oh! I've read your stuff, you're really good.”

“Thank you.” He takes the compliment gracefully, knowing that anyone writing for a gay publication could never use their real name - maybe they didn't use a name at all - and he'd never be found out in that little lie. 

A few nodded sympathetically at Morse's supposed plight, The White Swallow being a gay bar and whatnot. 

“Yeah,” Ricky lowered his voice. “I woz talkin’ about the girls? Yeah, there ain't no girls. Not really. I jus’ bring ’em home every now ‘n’ then to stop the family jabberin’ on. Well, I woz wit one last night and there woz drugs but no sex. I don't go in for that.”

But you do go in for drugging and hurting innocent men, clearly. Your description is well known to every bloody station in the county.  

Morse wrinkles his nose. “It depends. Find a good looking man…”

“Let him own ya!” The group cheer, understanding Morse's unspoken words, clapping him on the back. He laughs along with them, things getting easier by the moment. 

The big guy, whose name he later discovers is Simon, offers to buy him another drink. 

He remembers nothing but pain after that. 

Cold, really cold, air on his arse, he must be pressed against a wall. His trousers and pants are at his ankles and the echo tells him he must be in a bathroom. Oh, god. What the hell was in that Scotch? One sip, why didn't he…

“Look at him, the little queer is loving it.” 

Morse whimpers, scrabbles frantically for purchase on the cold tile wall, and all he feels is pain everywhere. 

His hair is grabbed, his head pulled back, he can't breathe.

“Scream and I'll slit yer throat, songbird fag!”

A crack, blood running down him, and darkness. 

 

White, beeping, light. He groans at the intrusion, his throat feeling like he swallowed a chainsaw. He remembers to repress at the last minute, the rest of him feeling… oh fuck. I was unconscious. I couldn't. Oh, no. All of them. Urgh. Jesus. 

“Morse. Good to have you back. We caught them. One of them planted the drugs on you to try and make out you were the corrupt one, and we've got them now. They confessed to the drugs only because we found them on you. And to… hurting you. You were examined. They're all going down for a long, long time, I'll see to it.” A warm voice washing over him, his owner and protector.

Morse closes his eyes as Thursday’s large, warm hand strokes his forehead. We got them. You’re alright. 

 

“I'd never abandon ye then, either!” Lewis growls, holding Morse tighter, the Geordie lilt pulling him from memory. “I'd love you and keep you as well as I could.”

He supposed privately that when he'd laid his claim to Morse all those weeks ago, touched his skin and held him and kissed him and calmed him, that was when he'd began to ‘own’ him – although he hadn't known it at the time. 

“I shouldn't let it get to me so much.” Morse whispers. 

“Strange bollocked you, didn't he?” Lewis whispers back. 

“Yes. I deserved it, but it–”

Lewis cradles him, hoping Morse knows he's safe and can say anything. It's not like Lewis is going to go and kick off at Strange (and if he did, it'd be “why hello P45, didn't see ya there” and a holiday to Pitcairn)… 

“Yeah?”

“It hurt, Robbie.” Morse's voice breaks, and he sobs unwillingly. “It hurt. It shouldn't, but it did.”

“Sshhhh, shhh, shhhh. It's alright. I'm here, you're safe. It's alright to hurt.” Robbie strokes Morse's cheek. “You don't have to be strong with me.”

“I'm used to it, really. They take what they want and-”

“No. Not any more.” Lewis asserts, kissing Morse's neck gently. “I won't let them. Yer mine. No one will hurt you.”

“What?” Morse meets his eyes, grey watching blue. 

“You're mine, Endeavour. Mine.” Lewis in possessive mood was something Morse had always liked. 

“Say it again… Robbie. Please?”

“Mine.” Robbie growled hotly, softly in Morse's ear, the shudder of surrender a jolt of surprise to Lewis. 

There were still things to learn about songbirds, he mused, especially this one. 

“Please,” Morse sighs. “I miss it. Sometimes.”

“I’ll not be strict, you know that. Might shout at you when yer bein’ an arse, but that’s standard, isn’t it?”

Morse chirps in soft acknowledgement of the fact, and nuzzles Robbie's neck gently; they both know that will happen before long. But now it doesn't matter. 

Morse nuzzles more, practically climbing up Robbie’s body. He laughs softly at the sensation. 

“You're mine.” Lewis whispers as he runs a hand down his back, and Morse groans at the touch. Lewis rises, hefting Morse's weight in his arms so he can carry him easier. “And ah’m gan show ye…”

Morse gasps and clings, whimpering into Lewis's neck. 

“Soon, hinny, soon…” he soothes. Robbie strips one-handed as he goes, his shirt lost to Morse’s hall, and Morse sighs deeply at the heat of Robbie’s chest, his ear immediately resting over Robbie’s heart. 

“Ye like that, then?” Robbie grins, laying the songbird onto the bed as gently as he can. Morse continues to seek the heat. “Soon. Where–?”

“In the top drawer.”

Looking and finding, Robbie throws lube and condoms onto the bed. There's things in there he doesn't even want to think about yet. 

“On your knees.” The new authority slips easily into his voice; to his shock, he’s obeyed.

Morse's whimper of want is like fire on Robbie’s skin. He smiles, leaning down to kiss. 

“Who’s a pretty birdie, then?’ Robbie jokes. 

The strength of the glare could fucking melt steel. “OK, OK, I’m sorry, love.” Robbie caresses the soft cheek, the Aegean blue and storm grey of Morse's eyes softening as he leans into the touch. He kisses Robbie’s warm palm in forgiveness. 

It's the first time anyone's ever thought to call him that, and it's actually funny. But he won't show that to Lewis in case he gets ideas. 

“Take your shirt off.” Robbie commands. Not even a command, the way he says it. 

Morse's hands go to work, his eyes fixed on Robbie. He tosses it aside, and waits. Robbie sees a restrained sensuality, the broadness of Morse's shoulders, the length of his spine and the cant of his mouth, elegance and sophistication in his face. He cants his eyes in such a way that it goes straight to Robbie’s cock; his songbird laying on black silk sheets, waiting for him, reflected in a full length mirror… that's where he should be. He stores the idea in a distant part of his mind. 

“Good boy.” Robbie growls. “Now the rest of you. Up.”

Morse rises as he's told to, and soon matches Robbie for nakedness. Robbie opens his arms, not missing the flare in Morse's eyes when he was called good. 

“I'll treat you well, you know that. Ah know songbirds are made for pleasure and ye can handle rough treatment, but ah divvin’ wanna hurt ya, nee…” he murmurs into Morse's ear, his voice low and sultry. “Unless that's what ye want, love.”

Morse's heart skips a beat as he sinks into Robbie’s arms, letting himself be kissed slowly and methodically to within an inch of his life. Robbie crawls backward to kick the quilt down and wrap it over them, rolling Morse underneath him into a cocoon of heat and want. 

Morse moans. “Robbie… ahhh…” Morse's hips cant to rub against his; their groans are in tandem, a hint of musicality to Morse's. Robbie strokes a hand through his hair. “Tell me what you want.”

Morse clings. 

“I want to hear it.” I want to hear you begging me, he does not say. There's time enough for that. 

“Hold me. Be gentle with me. Make me yours. Please.” 

“Ah’m gan wreck ye while ah dee, Endeavour.” Robbie whispers in his ear, his hands running riot over the beautiful body under him. Morse writhes, though whether from his hands or his voice he cannot tell. He'll find out soon enough if Morse takes to the idea he has. 

“Robbie, Robbie, Robbie, ohhh…”

“That's it, my darling. Good boy. Feels good, yeah?” Morse bucks as Robbie kisses down his chest, licks his nipples gently, moves down, down, down, licking a wide stripe across his stomach – he squirms, a little ticklish – and avoids his dripping cock completely. 

Morse whimpers. Robbie laughs softly, nuzzling his thighs, nearly getting kicked in the head for his pains. He just laughs harder, his breath on Morse's spread thighs making him crazy. “So, this works?”

Morse tries to kick him, laughing; Robbie takes his ankle gently and traces his mouth over it. He is not into feet, but this feels right to do. And he has other places to focus on.

Morse shivers, and Robbie takes his time tracing kisses up Morse's ankle. He kisses up to his groin, nuzzling again as his hands stroke Morse’s hips.

The purr from above is a good sound, and Robbie takes Morse into his mouth for a moment, sucking gently. He doesn’t know how rough Morse can take - or maybe even likes - and he doesn’t want to hurt him. For all he knows and that Morse has taught him, one can't necessarily believe what one hears about songbirds. Even when you do have one as your boss. 

A tug has him looking up, and he lets go to kiss Morse’s neck, the tender spot he knows can turn him into a mess.

And so it is. “Endeavour,” Robbie whispers, “oh, Endeavour, you're so good for me.”

A long, low moan, desire underpinning everything. Robbie’s heart thumps at the sound, and he whispers again, kissing up to Morse's ear. “So good…”

Morse's hands travel down Robbie’s back as he moans wantonly. If Lewis keeps doing that…

“I'm not.” he whispers, tears lingering on the edge of his voice. “I'm not. I'm not worth it.”

“Don't say that, sir.” Robbie whispers tenderly. “You are. You are. I wouldn't have stayed if I didn't think you weren't.” 

Morse tenses and relaxes, the weight of Robbie settling between his legs as the younger man kisses his tears away. “S’good.’

Robbie’s hands wander to his wrists. There's a split second before they tighten, both gasping. 

“Yes!” Morse looks shocked at his own sob, thrusting against Robbie, head snapping back in delight. 

“Time enough fer alla tha’, my Endeavour.” Robbie whispers, licking a stripe up the songbird’s throat. “Time enough, my love.” The moan rumbles through Robbie’s lips before he pulls away, reaching for the lube. 

Morse shivers with want underneath him, panting with anticipation.  Robbie locks eye contact, watching him tremble with need as he slowly slicks his fingers. What, in the name of god, am I doing? asks the halfway rational part of his mind. 

It asks into the void.

Petting Morse with his free hand, he touches him, encouraging his legs to spread so he can reach, and with a little pressure and a shocked “oh!”, Robbie’s first finger is in. 

“You alright?” 

“More. Please, sir, more!” Gasped, hoarse. 

You're his owner now, get used to it outside work. Robbie just groans, kissing Morse deep as he pushes another two fingers in, gently working him open. He doesn't know how long it's been since Morse has been to bed with someone, but since songbirds are one-owner type people, he'd put it down to before Inspector Thursday passed. And that was a long few years since. 

“Robbie…” His grey eyes are like the sky when thunder is just about to roll in, and Robbie pulls his fingers out. “I trust you.”

Robbie swallows a burst of emotion, kissing Morse deeply as he pushes inside. 

“Sirrrrrrr…” The word almost ends on a trill, the taste of the word nice, and Morse's eyes fall closed. 

“Fuck!” Robbie gasps, feeling Morse loosen around him, get used to him, and he slips into the tight, hot heat. The tears are still rolling, and Robbie thumbs them away. “Don't cry. I'm here.”

Morse whimpers, holding Robbie tight. “It shouldn't hurt. Not now.”

It's low but still heard, and Robbie stops. 

“Not you,” Morse sighs. 

“The words?” Robbie guesses, burying himself deeper. Morse inhales shakily, says nothing. Robbie strokes his cheek, the tear tracks on his face. 

“It brought up old memories.”

“Let me take them away, yeah? It's only me and you now, darlin’. No one else. Ah’ll nee let anyone hurt ye. Gan hoy 'em in the Cherwell if they dee.” Robbie soothes, kissing his cheeks, and finally his lips. “Yer safe wi’ me, Endeavour. Yer safe, my good boy.” He murmurs it into his ear as he thrusts, stroking Morse's face while his other arm holds him close. Morse sighs, his eyes shining clear and bright all the love he holds for Robbie as their lips meet and Robbie’s gentle yet frantic, deep kisses tell him of a need returned, a love burning like fire. 

Morse clings to Robbie, fire racing through his veins as his lover holds him tight, protecting him from anything that could hurt him. 

Robbie grunts into Morse's ear, panting, whispering words Morse cannot understand, that beautiful accent washing over him, stoking the fire in his blood (he can never tell him how much it turns him on, he'd never get through another work day again), and he groans as Robbie marks him, deep inside, holds him close and moans in that voice so full of authority and desire, moans that he feels so tight, so good, that he needs him and would do anything for him, “Endeavour, my love…” and Morse is owned and held within his sergeant’s embrace, and the demons have fled into the night. 

They'll be back with the daylight, but with Robbie at his side, Morse can beat them. 

Sweat and sex permeate the room, and a sated Robbie Lewis pulls his DCI closer, pulling the hair out of his eyes using Morse's shoulder as leverage, running his hands through Morse's and tugging gently. His songbird is relaxed and pliant beneath him, wrapped in a cocoon of heat and love, of fire and flame running through their blood. 

“Robbie?” Whispered into the darkness of the room.

“Yes, sir?”

Morse shivers. “Mmm… shouldn't I be calling you that?” he says quietly, enjoying the new thrill running through his heavy limbs. 

“Mmm,” Robbie rolls off him and gathers him into his side once he is comfortable, “not at work, sweetheart. Feels good?”

Morse thrills. “Yes. Oh, yes.”

“Mmm,” Robbie moves, wriggles down beneath the quilt, and Morse almost howls at the unexpectedness. 

“Holy fuck, Robbie!” he cries to the ceiling, hands drifting downward to touch that beautiful face. Not to guide, just to hold, to tangle his fingers in the soft hair and Robbie purrs, his hands wandering up to Morse's hips, touching and rubbing gently. 

“Robbie!” Morse warns, the word a breath. Robbie, hard and dripping, groans deep in the back of his throat and sucks harder, his hands wandering to Morse's arse, and Morse bucks forward, inadvertently choking Lewis. The steady stream of warm air tells Morse he's breathing through his nose – and he's swallowing. 

Jesus Christ in heaven, Robbie! and Morse groans at the thought as he drags Robbie up.

“Why?” The grey eyes dart everywhere, asking. 

“Because ye deserve pleasure, s’why.” Robbie rumbles, picking up the mug on the bedside table. 

“No, that's-”

Robbie swallows the gulp of whiskey down and kisses Morse deep and gentle and careful. “You deserve everythin’ ah can give ye.”

Morse cants his hips up. “I can give you something.” he purrs, feeling the old sensuality returning, the how returning, the tricks he had showing themselves. He knows he doesn't need them here, but he also knows he might. 

Old habits, as they say, die hard. 

Robbie groans, burying his head in Morse's smooth neck, rubbing against him. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” he murmurs as Morse rumbles beneath him, and somehow he manages to make the noise sound erotic. 

Robbie neither knows nor cares how - he needs, now. 

Morse rolls them over, watching Robbie stretch beneath him, need and want and lust all in his beautiful eyes, and lets his beauty out to play again, safe in the knowledge that Robbie wants him for him, and not just this. 

Robbie whimpers as Morse hits full force, cramming him deep inside (as he used to, old memories of the desperation and need rising), joining Morse in a howl as he rips him apart. He sits up as well as he can, dragging Morse to his chest and holding him there. He's deep inside him, impaling Morse so beautifully, the trill is almost missed. 

He looks into Morse's storm grey eyes, panting, moaning, fucking harder and deeper, as deep as he can go and even further still, and Morse's eyes pull him in until their lips are together and who's whimpering?

Morse groans, breaking the kiss and tossing his head and Robbie pulls him back to his mouth, hot and needy, the thrill of owning coursing through him. 

It's different, heady. 

“Pet. Ah, my pet…” he moans, stroking Morse's smooth cheek. Morse's hips piston at the word, and Robbie howls as he comes hard again inside Morse's ever tight arse, panting and snarling as he guides his songbird to climax, Morse almost weeping with the force of it, the love he feels, that he is never sure is reciprocated. 

Robbie kisses away the tears once more. “My pet,” he whispers. 

“I'm not, don't say I am.” Morse tries to rumble, but he's sated, doesn't have the energy, and anyway, he knows damn well Lewis isn't making him such. 

“It’s a term of endearment we use back yem, pet, for people we love.”

Morse looks up, startled. “You... you love me? But why, Lewis?”

Robbie waits, breathes, has to get this right. Morse's songbird instincts would never forgive him - hell, the man himself would never - if he screwed this up. 

“Because ye need me,” Robbie whispers, his knuckles stroking Morse's smooth, tear tracked cheek. “You need love and care, and I can care for you. You've been hurt - but you trust me, and ah won't be hurtin’ ye.” He nuzzles Morse's neck, soft inside him, sweating and trembling but neither move; they are warm in each other's arms, and Morse does not want to leave this beacon of safety. 

He whimpers softly, trills sadly. 

“I want to care for you, to come home to you here occasionally, to give you the love, the touch you need. Endeavour, please, let me show you what love is. Ah’ll nee betray ye, hinny. Never.” Licking the white expanse of neck, Robbie waits for his words to sink in. 

Morse whimpers, the love heard in those words battling with those in his head. 

Why are you alive? They didn't love you then, they didn't even like you! How could such an honest creature as Lewis actually love you? You don't have any redeeming qualities, always too quick off the mark, so much so that sometimes you miss it entirely. You hate everyone. Why would he love you? No one else ever did. Not even Susan. Why would Lewis love you? You're not worthy of him, not even worthy enough to be touched by him. It's pity. You're sad and you're alone and you're nothing but an alcoholic and he pities you. Why didn't you do it all those years ago?

“I'm not worthy of your love, Robbie. I was barely worthy of Guy all those years ago, and certainly not of Fred’s; he only took me in because he didn't want to lose the best officer he'd ever had.”

Robbie looks him in the eye. “Did he ever say that?”

“No, he never needed to.”

“Sometimes,” Robbie says, “you can hear things that aren't there.”

Morse just sighs. Robbie holds him tight, trying to cocoon him in warmth and love. 

“Guy loved ye. Inspector Thursday loved you. They wouldn't have owned you if they didn't. Look at me.”

Morse does. 

“They wouldn't have.” Fred Thursday had always sounded like a principled man to Robbie. Even if he did batter the truth out of the people that deserved it. “And I love ye.” Robbie asserts firmly, stroking that soft, tear-and-sweat-damp cheek. “I love you.”

Leaning his forehead against Morse's, he looks deep into his grey eyes, whispering it, trying to imprint it on the songbird. “I love you.” Morse strokes him gently, and they are suspended, breathing together and lost in time. Shuddering against Robbie, he tries to speak, finds he cannot. 

“Endeavour.” Robbie breathes. 

Morse chirps, sighs at the way Lewis says his name, pushes in tight to his body. 

“Endeavour, my sweet songbird.” Robbie whispers, hands running rampant over Morse's pliant body, savouring the feel of his warm skin, the sweat lingering, the way Morse inhales sharply as Robbie touches his neck, his stomach, soft touches and movements and breaths. 

Salt slick sweat on his fingers, he touches Morse's lips, trembling with pleasure at the way they're licked, Morse repressing his allure a little - but not entirely - so Robbie can listen. 

“Make love to me.” Morse sighs. “Please.” He clears his throat, remembering where he is. “Sir. Would you?”

Robbie kisses his neck. “Since you ask so nicely.” Groaning as he pulls out, rolling off and tying the condom, he drops it in the bin beside the bed, holding his lover’s eyes. 

Morse shakes his head and Robbie swallows, laying Morse down. Morse flares to the full, smiling. 

Robbie kisses him like no one else will ever satisfy, like Morse is what he needs to live - perhaps he is, in a way - deep and fiery, full of need and promise, the kiss only the start of things, the way Morse goes pliant once more ripping a moan out of Robbie he never knew he was capable of. 

Morse rumbles softly. 

“Quiet.” Robbie whispers, trailing his tongue down from Morse's ear. 

The songbird subsides, tries not to wriggle at the contact. Salt and sweat, such a sweet taste. Robbie bites his neck gently, the sharp gasp pleasurable. 

On down to his throat, more kisses, down to the chest where Morse's hair tickles but Robbie ignores that, sucking on his nipples til he squeaks. 

Robbie laps up more sweat, feeling Morse tremble, his panting a little louder. On down, and Robbie nuzzles his way across Morse's slightly untoned stomach - Robbie will show him off some day - licking at the ticklish bit, rejoicing in the feeling of Morse squirming and giggling, his hands on Robbie’s sweat wet back. 

The musk heavy, Robbie breathes in, moaning softly. “Morse. My Morse.”

“Yes, sir?” A breathy question. 

“Hmmm, good boy.” he rumbles, playing his fingers up and down. 

Morse whines. 

“Almost, my love. Almost. I know.”

Robbie lubes his fingers, stretches gently, slowly, until four fingers are almost in and Morse kicks with need, and Robbie relents, replacing his fingers with himself. 

“Ohhhhhh… ohhhhhhhhhh, Sir, ohhhhhhhh…” 

“That good?” Robbie whispers, almost choking with emotion that this so private songbird is letting him in, giving himself to Robbie, of all people, baring himself to him, and he pushes deep, laying on Morse fully, impaling him, trapping him, wrapping around him, and Morse sobs with need and fear that this cannot last. “Sir! Oh, please!”

“Shhh, my Endeavour. My darling Endeavour, such a good boy. I'm here, I'm nee gan anywhere, wi’ ye forever…” Robbie croons softly into his ear, his entire body pressed down against Morse, thrusting slowly as he listens to Morse beg for him. 

“Oh, god, please! Please, I- Robbie! Sir!” he gasps. “Harder!”

Robbie kisses the white neck beneath him, biting gently as he thrusts deep inside, impaling Morse; he keens with need, and Robbie groans to hear it. Morse whines, deep, needy, whimpering. “More…”

Robbie pistons his hips deep and stays there, loving how his Endeavour cries out with passion, overwhelmed with love and care. 

“Uhhhh… sir… uhhhhhh…” Grey eyes wide, Robbie runs his hands down the beautiful body beneath him, holding eye contact and revelling in the fact that this beautiful songbird is his, he will let himself be his. Robbie thinks vaguely that he must register Morse tomorrow when he gets a second at work. 

“Mine,” Robbie growls with every deep, short thrust, “mine. Whose are ye?”

Endeavour gasps, grey eyes dark with pleasure and love. 

“Say it.”

“Sir… Robbie… yourrrrrsssssssssss…” Morse is dripping with sweat, still beautiful and panting under Robbie desperately. 

“Who d’ye belong to?” Robbie snarls, thrusting impossibly deeper, holding Morse down. 

“You, sir, I'm yours! I belong to you!” Morse cries out. 

“You do. Yer mine, Endeavour. No one is ever gan hurt ye ‘gain. Ah won't let them.”

 Robbie pushes deep inside his superior, his songbird, sighing, pulling out only slightly and pushing deep again, and Morse grunts. 

Robbie keeps thrusting, faster, harder, moaning softly into Morse's ear, “You're beautiful, so needy under me, hmm? This is what you always wanted. To be held and loved, owned like this, used because it's all you're good for, isn't it?”

Morse whines with desperate need, clinging to Robbie as Robbie clings to him, sweat sharp in his nostrils. Morse’s chest heaves, wet with sweat and sticking to Robbie’s own. 

“Please, Sir! Please!” Morse writhes under Robbie, crying out to be loved. 

“You know it, don't ye? It was why Thursday took you in,” Robbie breathes, “because you're beautiful, and he didn't want anyone else to have you, did he?”

Morse's nails dig deep into Robbie’s shoulderblades. “No, sir.”

“No,” Robbie growls, “no. He took you in because you were priceless and only he could fuck you like you needed. Ye know it!”

Morse gasps as Robbie’s full weight lies on him, protecting him, saving him, cementing his words in Morse's ears - Thursday’s gone and I am here, I'll keep you, I'll love you, I'll leave you howling with need on the floor…

Morse, trapped under Robbie and letting his weight and need take over, rubs against him, listening to him pant as they give themselves up to sensation and Morse gives himself up to the idea of being loved and cared for, the knowledge that he has that in his arms, above him, on him, Robbie whispering in his ear that he loves him, and the cry that rends the night’s silence is one of surrender to love, to the need for release, to the sheer need to rid himself of the pain all those words had caused, and Endeavour lies wet and warm and loved in his sergeant’s arms. 

“You smell so good.” Lewis whispers, holding him close. 

“Robbie,” Morse moans, “oh, Robbie, what have I done to you?”

“Shhhh,” the younger man sighs, stroking his songbird gently, calming him, “nothing I don't want, Endeavour.”

Morse thrills anew at the worn-with-exertion-breathless way Robbie says his given name, pushing himself further under Robbie’s body, the emotional comfort he gives. “You, uh…”

Robbie tucks him further in, murmuring. “Take all the comfort you need.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Wha’?”

“That I… made you do this, that I gave in to the pain so readily.”

“Nothin’ ta be sorry for. I'll hold ye, comfort ye when ye need it. I will not discard you after one night. Ye know tha’.”

Did he, though? His life had taught him to prepare for the worst and expect disaster. 

“Yer thinkin’.” A soft admonition.

“I am, Robbie.”

An eye giving him a smile and a gimlet look. 

“Sir.” Morse amends. 

“About?” Robbie tucks Morse under him a little, wanting to protect him through the night. 

“Ah… I'll tell you in the morning.”