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"You're not my type, you know."

"I know. That's the point."

Joe's mouth mashed against Jim's, but Jim pressed him hard down into the mattress, rolling on top and pinning Joe's arms to the bed. Only then did he grant Joe's demanding need, lowering his mouth close enough for Joe to surge up, such as he could within the iron restraint of Jim's grip, and push their mouths together, parting Jim's lips with his tongue. Jim let him now, because Jim could.

Jim liked to be in control. Joe didn't care as long as he had a quick-and-dirty outlet for the fury-laced energy that fizzed through his body like an electric current. It built up through days of tension and restless nights till, like a primed bomb, he was a tick away from exploding if he didn't find an outlet to discharge all that fizz.

Jim pulled back after a couple of minutes of Joe's aggressive, needy brand of kissing, in which his tongue frantically searched Jim's mouth as though looking for a path to safety he'd lost. Jim pulled his mouth away and looked down into Joe's dilated eyes.

"Bought your ticket to Canada yet, then?"

He coolly noted Joe's flinch, the way his eyes went from boring holes into Jim's to slanting away across the room into the shadows.

"So that's a no."

Joe kept his eyes averted, but his body was still stiff with the taut steel of resistance under Jim's covering body.

"Time's not right yet. Soon. I can't desert Daddy in the middle of this op--"

"Bollocks." Jim let all his derision sound in his voice. "It's been nine months. You could've wrapped things up ages ago. Why won't you just admit it?"

Joe's eyes flicked back to stare straight up into Jim's intent gaze. "Admit what?"

Jim smiled sadly and loosened his right forefinger from his grip around Joe's wrist to stroke it over Joe's palm, just to feel the shiver it elicited. "You know what. You just won't admit it."

Joe tilted his head, not shifting his eyes from Jim's. "It could still happen."

Jim sighed and bent to brush his lips in a whisper of a kiss against Joe's temple. "It won't, mate. Not after all this time. If you were going to do it, you'd've done it months ago. You know that, if you'd just admit it. Everybody knows it. Even Yulia by now, I imagine, waiting out there in Toronto with her son for the man she knows can't bring himself to trust her now."

Alan's grief at Sarah's treason, of her having been a KGB agent from long before they'd ever met--that he'd been her choice for a cover husband, before love had made it real--was still palpable at work, just as Daddy's sense of betrayal about the agent he'd been prepping as his successor, just as even Bobby's more subdued outrage still fed into the same tension that amplified Joe's constant nervy movement. And alongside the rest of them trying to forge new pathways around the massive wall of Sarah's betrayal in their midst was Joe's smaller, more personal barrier of wondering if his trust in Yulia was also misplaced. If he would be able to trust her ever again. If she, too, had been lying to him from the start, as the dying Odin had flat-out said, taunting Joe with the very real fact that he would never be able to know for sure if she had told him the truth or it had all been lies.

Was still lies, now, as she and her son created their new, free life in Canada. She'd known before she left that Joe had been poisoned against her. She likely knew now she'd never see him again and was moving on as best she could into the future.

Only Joe was still stuck in the turbulent between-worlds of not being able to fully trust her, yet not being able to admit he couldn't. Even Alan had accepted the truth and moved on into mourning, knowing he'd never see Sarah again as she lived hidden in isolation, forbidden any visitors for the rest of her life except interrogators if the need arose. Joe focused wholly on the job for as many hours of each day as he could, Daddy's new right-hand guard; he smoked more, ate voraciously when hungry, then forgot about food for long stretches, ditto about sleep.

Until the fizzing, constant tension made him a nervous wreck and he eyed Jim with one of his intense looks and Jim pursed his lips, then nodded.

Jim was permanently assigned to the Fray now--Bobby's doing, apparently--but he hadn't known Sarah long enough or well enough to be devastated by learning the truth of her. He liked Alan; was sorry for the man and his unnerving, palpable grief, though he was still a focused bloody genius with all things audio. Jim shied away from ever thinking about Alan going home to the empty house he'd shared with Sarah, the love of his life.

Love of his life. Funny how the cliches always manage to worm their way in, probably because the silly sayings sometimes had a kernel of truth to them. Jim had thought his wife was the love of his life, but that hadn't lasted more than a decade past their marriage, flatlining in divorce and wrangling over child visitation rights. There'd been that hushed-up thing about Daddy and a Chinese ballerina that'd come to some kind of bad end soon after Jim had first joined the Fray last year, but Daddy's emotions were harder to read than a brick wall's.

Daddy. He still thought it an infantile name, but nothing to be done there. The man had no other known name--at least not known to any of their lot, far as he could tell; even the bleeding Prime Minister called him Daddy--so it was either use Daddy or ostentatiously call him nothing. Jim had got by with nothing for a good long while, but eventually he'd had to refer to the man in an ambiguous situation, so there it was: he'd actually called his boss "Daddy" in front of other adults and only flinched a little, which Joe, of course, had noticed and smirked at him.

Before the grin had disappeared, as all Joe's lighter expressions did these days with devastating speed.

Joe wasn't his type in the sense that he'd never fall in love with Joe and want to shack up with him and make a life together.

Alan would never love again; that seemed obvious. Sarah would never have a chance to love again even were she so inclined. Maybe Daddy wouldn't ever fall in love again, either, having done the unthinkable and trusted where he shouldn't, been fooled by his dancer hiding her husband from him so they could get close to the head of MI5. She'd been assigned to sleep with Daddy for the good of Chinese intelligence just as dispassionately as Daddy occasionally assigned Joe the job of sleeping with some woman for the good of the nation, just as Sarah had been ordered to find a husband for cover for the good of the Soviet Union.

He doubted Joe would ever let himself love anyone again. Other than Daddy, in the sense of dedicated, uncompromising loyalty. Jim wondered if Yulia thought about love, as the months stretched out and Joe never appeared. Or maybe she was simply so relieved to be reunited with her son in a safe place that she'd devote the next several years simply to him. Until all hope of Joe died.

Jim had no desire to love again, but he liked Joe. He liked their sex. He liked defusing the powder-keg tension in Joe's lean, hard body, feel the muscles relax under his hands as they fucked. He liked the way Joe no longer left the bed immediately after the sex to head off somewhere else to sleep, hiding his vulnerability. Joe fell asleep next to him most often these days, a warm familiarity beside him in bed.

Jim made sure to remind Joe regularly, before they let the need and want subsume them, that Joe wasn't his type, which was MI5-type code for we can like each other and we can fuck each other without its being a binding thing, a way of existing together in their fraught new world that Joe needed and Jim wanted.

Love was great, and necessary for humans. He loved his kids more than his life, and he still missed his old dog, who'd died a couple of years ago and left a hole in his life he sometimes thought about filling with a new dog best friend. And Joe loved Daddy. It wasn't much, but it was something. Joe still loved Yulia, too, of course; he just couldn't bring himself to trust her and, far as Jim could see, probably never would.

But he liked Joe. He liked working with him; he liked sleeping with him and the way Joe's body was acutely familiar to him now; all of it familiar: Joe's likes, his wants, his needs, his warm presence. Most important of all: he trusted Joe, and he knew Joe trusted him. No lies between them, no complications or secrets.

Joe liked him, too. Joe had been fizzing with that built-up tension back on their first night, the one when Jim had said, calmly and coolly, "Why don't you come home with me? Or I'll come to yours."

Joe had stared at him, a dark unfathomable questioning gaze, then shrugged with a sardonic twist to his mouth. "Mine."

Jim liked to be in control. Joe didn't care. Jim loosed his hands now and met Joe's ferocious surge up to him with a fierce passion of his own. The sex was fucking good. They liked each other. Joe's hand rested limply on Jim's chest after they were done and Joe'd fallen into a deep sleep, settled for the night. Probably the whole night. He did still sometimes slip out early while Joe was still asleep, but that was happening increasingly less often.

In the morning, they'd get up without speaking, shower, dress, and pause at the door to smile at each other before taking their separate routes to the Fray. Rested and alert, they'd do Daddy's bidding and serve the nation, with no time to dwell on lost loves and betrayal and the fragility of human relations. When the day ended, however late that was, he might get home and find Joe fiddling with things in his lounge. Or, depending on how things went, perhaps he'd go to Joe's flat instead, that blank canvas of a place that reflected none of Joe's tumultuous inner reality.

If they were still fucking in a month or so, he'd remind Joe that he wasn't Jim's type, and Joe would reassure him that that was the point, and they'd fuck like bunnies and like it and like each other; and the rest of the world and its expectations and letdowns could go hang.

"Do you like dogs?"

Joe looked up from the file he was poring over with his usual focused attention. He blinked at Jim. "What?"

"Dogs. I'm thinking of getting one."

Joe stared at him a moment longer like he was an alien, then shrugged. "Get a little one. It can have a bed in the corner." He nodded to the far corner of the Fray's large, glass-fronted meeting room.

Jim looked at the corner, startled. "What, really? I'd never be able to take a dog to the police station."

"This is MI5, mate. Ordinary rules don't apply." Joe gave him a lopsided smile. "As long as it's small and doesn't bark during meetings, Daddy won't even notice it. Wendy'll probably make sure it has water and walks and Alan'll slip it treats." He gave one of his rare laughs that momentarily lit up his whole face. "Bobby will complain, but all the better, yeah?"

They shared a quick grin, then Joe went back to reading the file and Jim stared at the corner, picturing a comfy little bed with a dog curled up in it with a bone to gnaw on, bowls of water and food beside it. He'd take the dog jogging to get it well worn out before they came into work. Joe would like the dog for annoying Bobby. Joe might even, possibly, maybe, become a little fond of it for itself, even if he wouldn't let himself get too attached. Jim would, though; he was bloody ready to have a completely uncomplicated love in his life.

He turned to his own file folder, opened it, and plunged himself into the cold, harsh war of deceit, distrust, and treachery they fought in every day.