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Naked in Groups.  Heartfelt thanks to MG for supplying me with tapes and feeding my passion for another wonderful psychotic farmboy..

Up For It

Stockton , California

"Beat it."

The nervous little Jap salesman with the very bad fake mustache didn't go far. A tall good-looking kid with shades and an attitude turned out to be the Terranova he was looking for, and Roger sipped his Bloody Mary and shamelessly eavesdropped. Not that he'd experienced shame in awhile. Still, it was amusing.

"Whatta I need an automatic for? If you can't get 'im with the first three you shouldn't oughta be doin' it!"

Too true. He smothered a chuckle and listened harder. The kid knew his weaponry, at least on the surface. Once Terranova sent the poor slob packing, Roger made his move. Seduction over talk of munitions always warmed his blood. Sure, it was seduction on a superficial level. But there was something about the kid he liked.

He'd probably end up killing him. Usually turned out that way with the ones he liked. The crud he couldn't stand, he usually ended up working for ... the things he did for his country. He crunched his celery with more force than strictly necessary.

Probing questions and a nasty attitude with a thread of humor running through it turned out to be the right way to approach his new stray. The kid carried a newspaper clipping in his pocket as a calling card, and Roger skimmed it. Hired muscle for the Mob back in Jersey. Ooh, tough. He glanced sideways, and up a little. The kid was young but he was built like a brick shit house. Bright deep blue eyes stared back down at him, more depth in them than he'd expect from an enforcer. More humor, too, and more balls. He grinned.

"Wear something dark and rubber-soled shoes. I'll pick you up at eight." Suspicion joined the mix of emotions in the bright eyes. "If you don't show, we'll know you're not up for it."

He hoped the kid's curiosity, or boredom, or whatever, would spur him on. Roger had a feeling it could be fun.

Vinnie, as Terranova turned out to be when he wasn't being formal, rose to the challenge. He asked a hell of a lot of questions, but that was okay. He was young and stupid. He'd get over it or die still asking. Roger deflected them handily and drove out to the airfield. Susie was sending him a present, to keep the boredom from killing him or him from killing somebody out of boredom, Roger wasn't quite sure which. With Sue, it never paid to be sure about anything. Three nearly identical vapid platinum blondes with good tits and better legs awaited them. He glanced over at Vinnie.

"You up for this?"

He didn't need the mumbled 'yeah!' The bulge to the right side of Vinnie's fly was a strong indication of approval. Roger grinned. It was going to be a good night.

The girls were real pros, and Roger'd barely gotten the door to the suite locked before two of them were undressing Vinnie. The kid was laughing and -- god, he hadn't ever been that young -- blushing, eyes wide and grin wider. Didn't stop his dick from waking up and waving, of course. Roger gave him an appreciative glance as the third whore started in on his own shirt buttons. He let her take the lead, more from disinterest than desire, and divided his attention between the soft touch of her hands and surreptitious surveillance of the kid.

Vinnie was good with the women. Practically didn't give them a chance to make him feel good, he was concentrating so much on making them feel good. Regardless of his past and his rep, the kid hadn't spent a lot of time with whores. He treated them too much like real women. Roger stepped out of the last of his clothing and fell back on the bed, rocking the mattress. Space wasn't an issue -- it was a king-sized bed -- but Vinnie gave him a startled look nonetheless. He grinned toothily.

"What, you shy?" The kid opened his mouth to refute it, no doubt, judging by the expression on his face, then one of the hookers went down as far as she could on his dick. The mouth stayed hanging open but the expression changed to as near witless as possible while a brain cell still lived. Roger almost laughed, but he was too busy catching his breath.

The kid was gorgeous.

A flush rose along his chest, highlighting the scattering of black hair. His nipples stood out, and Roger licked his lips, suddenly hungry. The flush continued up his throat and spread into his cheeks, and Roger's gaze followed it. Vinnie's eyes were hot, as hot as the flush under his skin, focused on something in the mid-distance. Not Roger, not the hooker gurgling around his dick. Something far away and mind-bending.

The second hooker turned away from Vinnie when Roger flopped down next to her, and her mouth felt good against the side of his neck. He relaxed back against the pillows, one fist curled in the hair of the whore deep-throating him, the other one kneading the sheet restlessly. His eyes stayed on Vinnie, and the kid didn't disappoint. His breathing developed a hitch, and he started a tiny, sub-vocal moan with every exhalation. Roger found it mesmerizing.

Judging the moment perfectly, he waited until Vinnie was on the brink of orgasm, then ran his hand the length of the kid's thigh, knee to hip. Reactions were gut-level when a guy was that close to blowing his load, and once again, Vinnie didn't disappoint. His muscles twitched but he didn't flinch away, and he groaned out loud. Roger chuckled under his breath and dropped his head back against the pillow, allowing himself to come in the hooker's mouth. His fingers curled over Vinnie's thigh and dug in, hard enough to leave bruises, not hard enough to do any real damage. Vinnie's fingers curled over his, not pushing him away, but holding him in place.

Roger caught his wind, unwound his fist from the whore's hair and used it to caress her face. She closed her eyes and nuzzled his palm. Vinnie's fingers left his, and he slid his hand further over, feeling the soft warmth of the skin of the kid's inner thigh, the sharp edge of the hooker's jaw bone as she continued to suck Vinnie's dick, the crisp rough edge of pubic hair. Vinnie rumbled a wordless question.

"You want me to stop?" Roger asked without opening his eyes. The rumble died away.

"Pushy guy," Vinnie muttered, not sounding unhappy. Roger chuckled again, a little nastier this time.

"Just seeing if you're up to the big leagues, Buckwheat." The whore had gotten him hard enough again so she could mount him, and he took a deep breath as she sat down on his dick.

"You're the big leagues, huh?" Vinnie asked sarcastically. Roger opened one eye and saw the kid grinning down at him. "Don't look so big to holy Mary mother of God!" The grin slid sideways as his mouth fell open again, and his body arched as the hooker did something professional to the head of his dick with her tongue. Then he was coming, and Roger watched with interest, undeterred by the woman panting across his lap. Vinnie's thigh jumped under his hand, and Roger pressed his fingers inward, behind the tightened testicles to the perineum. Rubbing hard, he gave Vinnie an extra jolt, adding sparkle to his little death.

It was worth the reach. Vinnie nearly snapped in half, he convulsed so hard. "Fuck!"

"That would be me. You're being sucked. Pay attention, little boy, school's in session and the teacher's got a biiig stick."

Roger nearly laughed again, a little giddy with the smell of sex, the movement of the whore riding him and the feel of Vinnie's body jerking under his hand. Wrapping his free hand around the left thigh of the hooker he was fucking, Roger slowed her rhythm until she was dancing slowly on his lap. His fingers behind Vinnie's balls rubbed in time, gentling him down, helped by the whore who'd finished draining the kid dry and was now cooing at him in Finnish, playing with his dick and generally turning the kid to boiled spaghetti.

Once Vinnie was a boneless heap on the covers, Roger drew his hand away, content to let one of the whores play with Vinnie's relaxed body while he lapped lazily at the second one's pussy and let the third one do her dirtiest at his crotch. She wasn't the best fuck he'd had, but she wasn't the worst, and he enjoyed her efforts. The one sitting on his face eventually slithered over to Vinnie, and Roger let her go, settling against the pillows and rocking away steadily. By the time he came, she'd come -- or faked it well -- twice. He filled the condom, squeezed her tits, and tossed her back over with the other two to play with Gumby Vinnie.

Finished for round one, Roger slid off the bed, wandered into the bathroom and stood at the toilet. Peeing absently, he glanced over to see so much pale female flesh gathered around his new buddy Vinnie was almost obscured. Considering how big Vinnie was, it was quite an accomplishment. The girls were having a great time, and Roger grinned. The kid was enjoying Sue's present more than Roger was, and he was enjoying the kid enjoying them more than he was enjoying them himself.

Not exactly the way he'd expected the evening to progress, but then, he had a feeling Vinnie Terranova was going to be full of surprises. Hopefully none of them would get either one of them killed. There was something about the kid he liked. Of course, liking somebody had never stopped him from killing them in the past, but still. It'd be a nice change, for a little while at least, to have somebody around who was good, simple fun.

Washing off, he strolled over to the bed and climbed on. Burrowing between a convenient pair of thighs, he stuck his tongue in a shaved pussy and got back to the serious business of combating boredom.

Four hours later, he stared at three blondes and one brunet piled in an exhausted sleep. They looked like a mismatched litter of puppies. He sighed, and the brunet head lifted. Bleary blue eyes blinked at him. "Hey."

"Hey. Now, that's an intelligent conversational gambit if ever I heard one."

"Can't help it, blew my brains out my cock with that last round." Roger snorted appreciatively, and Vinnie grinned at him. "You hungry?"

That earned the kid a speculative look. "What did you have in mind?"

The grin widened. "Pizza!"

Roger watched in disbelief as Vinnie untangled himself from the pack of Kraut hookers and reached for the telephone by the side of the bed. Listening to the list of indigestion-inducing ingredients Vinnie ordered, he couldn't help himself. He rolled off the bed and headed for the alka seltzer.

Pizza with extra cheese, sausage, black olives, mushrooms, peppers and anchovies at two in the morning. Not what he'd expected in the least. But more fun than he'd had in a long time. He hoped he didn't have to kill Vinnie any time soon. He was enjoying himself.


Valdusta Ridge , Tennessee

There were times when Roger honestly thought introducing Vinnie to the Profitts was the stupidest mistake he'd ever made. This moment ranked right up there with the best of them. If Vinnie hadn't decided to quit, Mel wouldn't have offered him the inducement of his own piece of the pie. If Mel hadn't decided to bribe him, Vinnie would never have been sent to Dumbutt, Tennessee, and ordered Roger to go with him. If Roger had never been sent with Vinnie, he never would have been in the position to be ordered to assassinate a couple who could have passed for his own damned grandparents.

This was a nightmare.

Currying horses, breathing in the country air, eating home-made pudding, fried chicken and cornbread muffins, listening to the old woman tease them, even the goddamned first baseman's mitt, all served to make him feel twelve again. Back home on his grandpa's place outside Odessa, listening to his grandma nag him, escaping chores to celebrate summer away from military school with the single-minded devotion only a boy can know. Overlaid on the disorienting memories was Mel's voice, cold as ice and twice as indifferent.

"Scorched earth, Roger. Kill them all."

He didn't remember leaving the dining room. Barely felt it as he rebounded off the door frame and the opposite wall, paid no attention as his feet retreated up the stairs. He was twelve, then thirty eight; innocent, then anything but; a kid, then the killer he was. He would do what he had to do, but God. Every once in awhile, what he had to do hurt like a knife to the gut.

Once in Rusty's room, the lair of the boy-child held hostage to the Profitts' greed now serving as quasi-sanctuary for the Profitts' hitman, Roger stared out through the window and fought to regain control. Breathing steadily, he tightened and released the muscles in his legs, back, shoulders, arms and hands. Hardly aware of the words falling from his mouth, he whispered, "I am afflicted."

It didn't surprise him when Vinnie burst into the room. Flicked the light on, banishing the welcomed darkness. Asked, concerned and a little irritated, "Roger?"

There was very little that Roger could say in return. Nothing to really explain. Vinnie told him that he wouldn't kill the old couple; Roger didn't bother to say that he would. He'd kill Vinnie, if he had to. There was too much at stake. He couldn't walk away now.

Then Vinnie was walking out the door, and Roger couldn't let him leave. He heard again the soft words Vinnie'd said the night before, "Anytime you want to talk," and gave into the weakness the only way he could.

"Stay. Just stay. Please."

Vinnie didn't speak. But after he turned out the light, he stayed. He paused beside the bed and reached up, resting his arms against the side of the top bunk before pulling himself up. Roger didn't give himself time to think. He reached over, caught Vinnie's belt buckle and used it for balance as he sat up. Vinnie made a strangled noise, but he didn't say anything, and Roger took that for encouragement as he swiftly lowered the zip on Vinnie's jeans.

Like the good boy he was, Vinnie was wearing undershorts, but thankfully for Roger's purposes they were boxers and posed no obstacle to his efforts. Vinnie started to step back, away from the bunk beds, out of reach, and Roger snaked an arm around his waist to hold him in place. "Stay," he whispered against the body-warm cotton, and Vinnie shivered.

In no time at all, Roger had Vinnie's half-hard dick in his hand, then the head was in his mouth and his fingers were stroking down into the tangle of denim and cotton at Vinnie's groin. There was a garbled sound, quickly cut off, made unintelligible by the barrier of the bed between them. Roger ignored it, concentrating on the response of the flesh along his tongue. Soon enough, Vinnie was fully hard and leaking, and Roger closed his eyes, leaned into the solid warmth of Vinnie's belly, and held on with both arms.

One of Vinnie's hands came down off the top bed and settled against his head, fingers feathering the curls at the nape of Roger's neck. There was no pressure in the grip, nothing but a vague comfort and natural heat. Roger soaked it up, along with the anchor of Vinnie's ass under his hands, Vinnie's dick in his mouth, Vinnie's warmth seeping into all the places Roger felt the frost. The world narrowed to the here and now, the tiny noises Vinnie tried to stifle as he pumped faster, the trembling in Vinnie's thighs against Roger's chest, and Roger was all grown up, as he was supposed to be, not a little kid hiding in the dark afraid of the future.

The future would take care of itself. He would take care of Vinnie, and Vinnie would take care of Mel. At least, that was the plan. As much of a plan as he had, past drinking Vinnie dry and trying to sleep through the nightmare he knew was coming.

Vinnie shook against him, climax making him shaky on his feet, and Roger steadied him, sucking gently until Vinnie was quivering and clean. Then Roger tucked the soft flesh back in the rucked-up boxers, pressed carefully to make sure the material didn't stick and zipped up Vinnie's jeans. Laying his cheek against Vinnie's belly, he closed his eyes and sighed.

"Thanks for staying, Buckwheat."

Vinnie's "My pleasure" sounded heartfelt, confused, and exhausted. Roger patted Vinnie's ass once, unwrapped his arms, and fell back against the mattress. His eyes closed, but he still knew when Vinnie peered down at him. Could almost see through closed lids when Vinnie stared at him, started to say something, changed his mind, then gave up. The bed frame creaked above him as Vinnie climbed up in it.

Another sound from his childhood.

Another memory he didn't want to face.

Another nightmare averted. For now. He pressed the edge of his hand against his balls until the ache stopped, settled his HK13 next to his side and fell asleep.

Stormy Weather

At sea off Victoria Island, British Columbia

Susan was watching the girl. Vinnie was watching Susan. Mel was watching Vinnie. Roger was watching Mel.

Which led to Roger watching Vinnie follow Susan into bed, and took his mind off the fact that by the end of the night, by the time the storm was over, by the time he got off the fucking Hotei and got his damned stomach settled down again, somebody would probably be dead. If Mel didn't kill Eddie over the baseball team, he'd probably kill Jacqueline over hanging on him, or most probably kill Vinnie for doing what he was doing to Susie right at the moment.

Not that Susie was complaining.

In fact, she looked like she was enjoying it more than the Kraut whores had. Roger sighed. He wasn't quite sure why he kept flinging himself into the metaphorical breach to keep Vinnie from getting himself offed, but he did. And he would. He glanced over at Mel, who had no idea he was being observed, being too busy doing his own observing.

Mel was getting twitchy.

Roger didn't think Mel would blow Vinnie away while Vinnie was balls-deep in Sue. But it might happen. Mel was insane; anything could happen and probably would. Segmenting all the possibilities in the corner of his mind that would continue to chew away at them while his body was doing other things, Roger slipped around to the side door of the stateroom and made his grand entrance. Mel no doubt noticed. Vinnie had his hands full and his busy little butt to the door, so he didn't notice. Susan had her eyes closed and her mouth hanging open. She didn't notice, either.

Stripping off quickly, he let the visual feast for the senses that was Vinnie fucking Susie do what it did so well. By the time he toed his rubber-soled shoes off and shucked his trousers, he was waving like a flag on the Fourth of July.

It was one of the more efficient, if temporary, cures for seasickness going.

Wasn't the first time he'd been naked on the yacht. Only the second time he'd been naked in the stateroom, the first being an otherwise unremarkable cruise near the beginning of his tenure in the current operation when he'd ended up the meat in a Mel/Susan sandwich. Not that it had been completely unpleasant. But he preferred at least a small measure of sanity in his sex partners, and since he couldn't provide much, and neither of them could provide any, it hadn't been a match with any prospects for longevity. There were times when he almost wished he did snort the nose candy. It might have made it easier when Mel started crying.

Shaking off the memories, concentrating on the present, Roger made damned sure that all the touching he did was to Vinnie. This would be the literal breach he was flinging himself into. No way did he want to present Mel with another target, but he found himself compelled to cover his buddy's back, so he would.

Skimming his hands over the kid's ass, following the curve with his fingertips as the muscles flexed, he grinned. Cover in so many meanings of the word.

Susie's eyes were open and staring at him, but she wasn't seeing anything but stars. Vinnie knew what to do with that dick of his. Roger leaned close, not interfering with the rhythm they set while placing his mouth directly against Vinnie's ear.

"Mel's watching and he ain't happy, Buckwheat. I've got your six. Take it like a man and we just might survive this storm." Roger licked the sweaty skin below Vinnie's ear, closing his teeth on the side of his neck, hard enough to leave a mark without quite drawing blood.

Vinnie moaned. "Susan." She whimpered in response. "Roger."

Same exact phrasing. Roger stifled a grin in the bend where Vinnie's neck met his shoulder. Damn, the kid was good. Sue's eyes focused on him, but before she could ask the question that was starting to form on her face, Vinnie rolled his hips, and any words she might have said were swallowed up in a groan that sounded like it originated at her toes.

Taking his cue, Roger trailed kisses the length of Vinnie's spine, starting at the top and ending at the tailbone. Brushing the thick hair away from the nape, he spent some time nuzzling, then nipped and kissed the muscles moving under the skin as Vinnie never missed a stroke into Susan. By the time Roger got to the muscular ass one hand had never left, Sue was climaxing. Vinnie did that little hip roll again and that really got her going.

Got Roger going pretty well, too. He used her calves, wrapped around the back of Vinnie's knees, as handles to spread Vinnie's thighs further apart and give himself some working room. The change in angle shoved her a couple inches further up the pillows and pushed Vinnie further into her, and she muttered, "Yes! Oh, god. Oh, god."

The only thing that kept Roger from getting in trouble with a smart-ass response was that he had his tongue up Vinnie's ass. Otherwise it would have all been over much sooner than was healthy for any of them.

Vinnie appreciated the tongue, and the fingers that followed, if his enthusiastic groans and wriggling were any indication. Roger loosened him up enough to not take the skin off either his dick or Vinnie's ass, then planted his hands to either side of the mass of bodies beneath him and worked himself in.

Christ on a crutch. He'd had no damned idea. No idea at all that Vinnie was a virgin. Not that it should've surprised him. Sicilian hitmen didn't usually go around taking it up the ass unless they were in jail, but jeez, Vinnie'd been in jail. From the feel of the vise tightening around his dick and threatening to squeeze it off, that had been the last time Vinnie'd been fucked.

Guess his intel reports about Steelgrave had been a mite exaggerated. Either that, or they got their hitters switched.

Nonetheless, Vinnie did take it like a man, and Susan was now screaming yes instead of muttering it, so something must have worked. Roger pumped away, catching and keeping their rhythm so that he went into Vinnie as Vinnie pulled out of Sue, then Sue caught Vinnie on the rebound. Holding off coming was a severe test of will power, but thinking of Mel lurking in the shadows was enough to make damned sure he put on a good show.

A mental image painted itself in his brain for an instant; what they must look like from Mel's point of view. Roger's freckled ass rammed up to Vinnie's bulk, Susan's skinny legs wrapped around both of them now, her toes running up and down Roger's flanks, her thighs spread as wide as they'd go to fit Vinnie in. Meatball sandwich on sourdough, Roger thought, smothering a maniacal chuckle before it could be born.

Then Vinnie was coming, and he was milking Roger's dick better than he'd ever managed on ol' Bessie's teats, and Roger did a little modified dance of his own as he buried his mouth against Vinnie's shoulder and howled. God. Nearly lost the top of his head when he came that time.

It took reserves of strength built over decades to keep him conscious and in control long enough to pull out of Vinnie and not flop over on top of him. He hadn't gone to all the trouble of fucking Vinnie to save him from Mel just to suffocate Susan and have Mel kill them both for it. Roger slid off to the right, body shaking with the aftermath of coming, and wrapped his left hand around Vinnie's torso, shifting the larger body along with his own so that Vinnie ended up lying on the huge bed between Roger and Susan.

After all, if Susie decided to be jealous, at least she'd have to climb over Vinnie before she could chew Roger's throat out. The delay would give him a chance to escape.

The thought appeared to provoke the action, as Susan suddenly pulled herself halfway atop Vinnie and peered down at Roger. To his carefully-hidden relief, her eyes were sparkling, and she looked as well-fucked as Roger felt.

"Hi, Roger," she purred. Leaning over, perilously close to sliding off Vinnie and landing on top of him, she laid a nice, long, wet kiss on Roger's mouth. He took it and enjoyed it, and didn't trust it an inch, much like everything that came from the Profitts. When she was finished with him, she took Vinnie's mouth the same way, then slid back the way she'd come to sprawl against the satin sheets.

Vinnie dropped a kiss on her temple, and she sighed happily. Then he turned to Roger. "Hi, Roger," he growled. That sound made Roger shiver in a way Susan's purr never could.

Roger kissed him before Vinnie could say anything stupid. Vinnie's kiss made Susan's look like a benediction from a nun. It was the first time Vinnie had kissed him, and it was wild. Strong soft lips and stronger tongue invading him, turning him upside down and totally on. From very far away he heard Susan giggling. When Vinnie finally let him breathe again, and he could get his eyes to focus, he saw Mel staring at them from the shadowed doorway.

He was smiling. At Roger. Roger swallowed. His stomach lurched.

"Oh, hell," he ground out. Vinnie looked concerned.

"Whassa matter, Rog?"


He barely made it to the head before he threw up what little he'd eaten for dinner. The seas were kicking up. Resting his head against the cool marble, he felt someone walk up beside him. A wet cloth draped over his forehead. A big hand wiped his face, and he gave a lopsided grin. Vinnie.

Well, at least his precipitous exit had broken up the little stateroom love fest before Mel got out his gun. He waved off Vinnie's offer of help and staggered over to put on his clothes. Mel and Sue were already gone. The shower came on and Roger, busy brushing his teeth, glanced up at the shadow of Vinnie's body reflected in the mirror over the sink.

One more crisis averted.

One more revelation.

One more thing to try to forget, if he was going to get his job done and get out of this fiasco with his life.

Three hours and four alka seltzer later, Roger stood frozen in place as Mel put bullets in a lamp, a vase of flowers, and the bar before putting the muzzle of his .38 against Vinnie's belly. Roger knew why the kid hadn't pushed Jacqueline off the yacht. He had his rules; told Roger so in Tennessee, and whacking a harmless piece of ass just because Mel ordered him to broke those rules.

Roger held his breath as Mel told Vinnie that he was tired and was going to bed. Pulled the gun away from Vinnie's gut and walked away. Roger watched him go, then looked over at Susan who was looking at Vinnie with tears in her eyes.

Crisis barely averted. And he wasn't sure if he'd made it better or worse, because the only reason Mel hadn't spread Vinnie's intestines all over the teak bar of the Hotei was because it would have broken his sister's heart.

It couldn't go on much longer. None of them could.

Man Enough to Serve

Vancouver , British Columbia

Layers upon layers upon layers. Roger grinned toothily at the thought of Herb Ketcher giving himself heart failure then trying to bluff his way out of it. Grinned harder at the strange little squeaking noise Aldo had given going over the roof, not to mention the satisfying splat he'd made when he'd landed on the pavement several stories below.

Wondered what goodies Herb would bring him in the next plain brown envelope.

The rhythmic creak of the weight machine behind him drew his attention back to the kid. Vinnie was recovering well from the bullets Aldo had put in him. One thing to be said for Sicilians. Strong as oxen. Vinnie stared straight ahead at nothing, hair curling around his ears and across his forehead from the sweat. Sweat that was dripping slowly down his chest, making his thin cotton shirt practically transparent. Roger swallowed.

Mel was with Susan. Susan was playing penitent during the daytime and sneaking in to fuck Vinnie at night. It was two in the afternoon. Roger, and Vinnie, were free until seven.

There was more than one road back to health. His grin slid back in place.

"What's with the teeth again, Roger?" Vinnie was panting lightly. So it wasn't nothing he was staring at, after all. It was Roger.

"The better to eat you with, my dear," he teased, tossing aside his newspaper and stalking over to the weight bench. Vinnie eased the weights back in place and stared at him suspiciously.

"You're that hungry you should call out for pizza."

"Why call out," Roger asked whimsically, straddling the bench, face to face with him, "when you can eat in?"

Vinnie smirked at him. Roger leaned forward and ate the smirk. It tasted good. Like salt and clean water and slightly of coffee. Vinnie's tongue felt as good as the kiss tasted. Roger unwound his hand from where it had gotten tangled in the thick hair at the crown of Vinnie's head, and dropped it down to the bulge growing fast under the thin material of the sweat pants.

"Got a nice hot Italian sausage right here," he muttered against Vinnie's mouth. A sputter of laughter answered him. "What, you think I don't like sausage?"

Before Vinnie could stop cracking up and find a comeback, Roger scooted back and lay on his belly along the bench. Put him perfectly in line to snap the string on Vinnie's sweatpants and peel them down far enough to pull the jock strap out of the way. Roger swallowed him in one gulp, and laughter turned into a yelp in the space of a heartbeat.

Big hands buried themselves in his curls, urging him on, not that he needed any encouragement. He rubbed himself against the bench, enjoying the feel of the firm leather padded seat against his hardening dick as he hummed and sucked and swallowed around Vinnie's bulk. Vinnie was right on the edge with a foot over the side when Roger got mean. One sharp rap to the balls and imminent explosion was cut off at the pass.

"Ow! What the hell was that for?"

Roger pulled his mouth off Vinnie's dick and grinned smugly up at him. "You're cute when you whine. Now shut up and fuck me." The kid was even cuter when he made like a landed fish, mouth gaping open and eyes popping halfway out of his head. Roger reached into his jacket pocket, grabbed a tube of cream and plopped it into Vinnie's hand.

Standing, he swiftly shucked his jeans. Vinnie made a move as if to get up and Roger pushed him back down with one hand to his shoulder.

"Remember what the doctor said. No sudden movement or undue exertion."

"If you're asking me to fuck ya and don't expect me to exert myself I think it's gonna be a short encounter," Vinnie told him dryly. Roger looked appraisingly at the large, sloppy wet, straining red dick waving at him.

"Nah, I wouldn't call it short." Vinnie glared. Roger shrugged. "Okay, if you want to be self-deprecating ..."

Vinnie was still rolling his eyes when Roger closed his fingers around the tube and squirted a palmful of cream into his hand. Vinnie looked at the cream, looked at Roger, looked back at the cream. Roger sighed.

"Amateurs," he grumbled. Scooping the cream from Vinnie's hand, he reached behind himself and worked it into his ass. Vinnie's eyes were bulging again, and his mouth was opening and closing, though no words were coming out. Roger would have grinned, but he was too busy clenching his jaw to keep the moans inside. It had been awhile, and his fingers felt pretty damned good.

Then Vinnie surprised him by leaning forward and taking Roger's dick in his hand. It was Roger's turn to yelp. Vinnie licked the head of his dick like it was an ice cream cone on a hot day, and the yelp trembled damned close to a whimper. Determined not to allow that to happen, ever, Roger nearly bit the end of his tongue off stifling the rest of the noise threatening to explode.

Who'd've thought Vinnie Terranova was such a talented cocksucker?

Regardless of how good it felt, or more likely because of it, Roger reached a hand out to push Vinnie's head back before it was all over. Then he stopped and used the other hand. Somehow he didn't think the kid would appreciate used hand cream in his hair, considering what it had been used for. With his clean hand, Roger ran his fingers over Vinnie's forehead, along his temple, down his cheek to the corner of his mouth, slick and stretched with Roger's dick moving in it.

"Jesus Christ," Roger breathed. Vinnie glared at him. "No offense," he shrugged. "But back off a bit, Buckwheat, before I go off like a firecracker and make the rest of the night's festivities moot." The glare intensified. "For me, anyway." Roger gave him his sweetest smile. The glare softened and Vinnie finally let go of his dick. The flesh made an audible popping noise as it left Vinnie's mouth.

"How is this s'posed to work?" Vinnie gestured at Roger, facing him, the narrow bench between his thighs, the sweatpants barely clearing his butt, material caught below his balls.

"Better show than tell," Roger told him. Then he reached down and wiped his greasy hand on Vinnie's sweaty shirt.


Roger swallowed the word in an open-mouthed kiss. Licking Vinnie's lower lip as he broke away he said, "Gotta be washed anyway." Then he rested both hands on Vinnie's shoulders and stepped over his legs so that he was straddling Vinnie's lap along with the bench. Holding Vinnie's eyes with his own he very slowly sat down. "Hold 'er steady," he warned. Vinnie snaked a hand beneath Roger's thigh and grabbed the base of his own dick, holding it still. Roger inched his way down onto it.

When he was settled, Vinnie's balls resting against his ass cheeks, Roger slid one hand to the back of Vinnie's head and pulled his head back far enough to kiss him. Tongue roaming through Vinnie's mouth, he took his weight on the balls of his feet and raised and lowered his body over Vinnie's.

It felt incredible. The mouth, and the dick, and the thighs brushing his, and the arms wrapped around his back, and the chest rubbing against his, and the pressure of Vinnie's belly against his own dick. Been a long time since he'd let anybody do this to him. Wasn't sure why he was letting Vinnie now, except it seemed he needed it. And he needed it from Vinnie.

Roaming from that talented mouth, Roger lick-traced the bones in Vinnie's face, down his jaw to his throat, along the side of his neck to explore his shoulder before making the return trip. Vinnie was doing some exploring of his own, nibbling kisses to Roger's cheek, ear, following the line of curls down his neck to the skin along his upper back. It took Roger a second to figure out the tiny sounds Vinnie was making weren't moans. They were numbers.

"Whatcha doin'?" he murmured.

"Countin' freckles," came the distracted answer, between gasps.

"No way in hell am I gonna last long enough for you to finish that little project," Roger chuckled into the side of Vinnie's neck.

The calculating part of his mind that always held itself aloof from whatever situation his body found itself in monitored Vinnie's responses. He hadn't been out of the hospital that long, and Roger, for all his teasing, wasn't going to hurt him. When the panting got a harsh edge to it, and the chest beneath his began to heave, and the lap he was riding started to tremble, he lowered his mouth to Vinnie's neck and began to suck. At the same time, he sat down, taking Vinnie as deep as possible, and squeezed the muscles in his ass. Vinnie bucked up against him just like he should, and as Roger bit down, Vinnie came with a strangled cry.

Wrapping one arm around Vinnie's neck, Roger dropped a hand to his own lap and finished himself off with a few quick strokes. He came as Vinnie's climax was winding down, and the spasms from his orgasm milked the last of Vinnie's from him. They were both gasping by the time they finished.

Roger buried his face in the curve of Vinnie's shoulder for a bare instant before withdrawing back into his protective shell. Balancing his weight on shaky knees, he stood as carefully as he'd sat. He managed not to groan as Vinnie's dick slid from him but it was a near thing. Vinnie's hands on his waist steadied him as he stepped back, then swung his leg clear of the bench.

"You okay, Roger?" Vinnie asked quietly. Roger looked down into dark blue eyes that were more naked than he could stand, then looked away.

"Always, Vince," he lied through his teeth. Raking his sweaty curls back away from his forehead, he reached down for his pants. Vinnie's hand on his arm made him pause. "Don't ask, Vinnie. No more questions." Shaking the touch off, he dressed as efficiently as he'd stripped and walked from the room. He ignored the pull in his hindquarters as thoroughly as he ignored Vinnie's exasperated huff.

Too close. The lines were blurring. He was starting to lose the battle, and he couldn't afford to, because things were coming to a head. He'd sacrificed too much. This was one war he wouldn't lose.

Not even for Vinnie Terranova.

Brother in Arms

New York City

The irony of the spaghetti dinner should have made him smile. The sure knowledge that he was going to put a three inch blade between Vinnie's ribs after dinner and before lying down in the arms of Morpheus kept the smile far away. Vinnie was concentrating on the old olive oil salesman being shmoozed by the snake oil salesman. The Don might have been the head of a criminal organization spanning the globe for decades, but he was putty in Mel's crazy hands.

His fingers suddenly felt slick, and when he glanced down, he could swear he saw blood. He blinked slowly, clearing his vision. No, no blood visible. Not yet.

Business finally concluded, Don Rudy took off with Charmin' Mel for the local whorehouse, the baby Dons taxied back to their Wall Street womb, and Vinnie followed Roger to the slaughter like the little lamb he was. The atmosphere at the hotel had ramped up since they'd left for dinner. Secret Service agents swarmed along the red carpet. It must be time for the festivities to begin. Roger got in the elevator first and stared over at Vinnie.

Welcome to the party. Time to die now.

Vinnie leaned against the wall, head back, eyes closed. "I feel like I haven't slept in three weeks." His throat looked long and vulnerable in the light. His hands were trapped in his pockets. It would be easy. He wasn't expecting a thing.

Roger had the blade in his hand and was shifting his weight preparatory to stepping forward and inserting it into Vinnie's heart, when the elevator doors opened and a Marine Corps Honor Guard stepped in. The shift reversed smoothly as Roger hid the blade in the folds of his coat and waited for the Guard to leave.

His eyes were drawn to the Marines. He hadn't worn the dress uniform often. Most of the time he was in fatigues, out in the rice paddies, getting his ass shot at. Not a lot of opportunities for spit and polish. He'd gone from the rice paddies to the shadows, still not a place to shine. Reflected light did nothing but highlight a target.

But he'd worn it a few times. Mainly when they were hanging medals around his neck. He recognized the one gleaming from the chest of the center guard, the one holding the US flag. It was one Roger had, too, buried in a chest in a safe place far from the shadows. Far from the life he lived.

He'd been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for the same action that had given him the Purple Heart. A singular reluctance to leave his men behind had led to a brilliant if insane action that had single-handedly taken out nineteen enemy soldiers and allowed the squad pinned down under heavy fire to escape to the Medivacs without a single lost soldier. Roger'd left the field on a stretcher, but his men had survived.

Wasn't the first time he'd taken out a nest of enemy vipers. It was just one of the few times he did it in the light.

Memories flashed in the gleam reflected off the medal on the Marine's chest, glanced along the shaft of the flag he carried, flew from the wings of the eagle atop the pole. The stink of death and rotting flesh, the concussion of heavy mortar dueling with the screams of the wounded and dying, the searing pain of shrapnel tearing into his chest. The somber sound of Taps played over a green field. The weight of the ribbon as it was secured around his neck. The crispness of the uniform covering the scars.

It all exploded in a single flash of light as the elevator doors opened and the Guard stepped out. He could hear the music as they left, cut off by the doors closing again. Vinnie's soft voice brought him back to the present.

"I still get goosebumps when I hear that."

So do I, brother, Roger thought. The blade went back in his pocket. He had to get off that elevator. He ignored Vinnie's questions as he hobbled as fast as he could into his hotel room, gritting his teeth as his sprained ankle protested. Herb answered on the first ring and he updated his contact with minimal fuss and maximum frustration. He'd warned Herb not to underestimate Vinnie and the damned fool had done it anyway, and now the mission was in jeopardy. Then Herb ordered him, again, to kill the kid.

"I am not taking out a brother in arms!" Roger felt the tension that had been gathering in his mind since he'd learned Terranova was an FBI agent tie his brain into a knot. Herb blustered in his ear about the mission, and that knot turned to ice. "If you do this, if you send someone else and go behind my back on this, I'm going to kill you. Over a four or five day period."

He didn't slam the telephone down. He didn't have to. Herb knew he meant it. Quiet threats always made a deeper impression than yelling, anyway. A lesson he'd learned at his father's knee and had reinforced continually throughout his various adventures in the service of God and Country.

Energy sizzled through his veins, the past overloading the present, and the present was a bitch all on its own. He found himself back on his feet and heading down the hallway, his mind forming plan after plan to get around Vinnie's OCB status, make use of it, complete the mission in spite of it. He'd slipped the lock on Vinnie's door and walked in before any of the plans crystallized.

"What, your mother never teach you to knock?" Vinnie grumbled at him from the door to the bedroom.

Roger didn't bother answering. He simply walked up to Vinnie, pinned him against the door frame, and kissed him. Vinnie let himself be kissed for a long moment before pushing Roger away gently, hands steady on his shoulders.

"You okay, Roger?"

"Stop asking questions you already know the answer to, Buckwheat," Roger told him wearily. "I'm always okay. I'm never okay. Take off your clothes."

Vinnie crossed his arms over his chest and stuck his chin out. "Why?" he asked stubbornly, 'no' written all over him.

"Another stupid question," Roger sighed. Not giving Vinnie a chance to fight him, he pushed his way completely into the room. Shucking his jacket and tossing it on the chair, he started to undress.

"What the hell's goin' on with you, Roger?" Vinnie followed him into the room and stood, hands on his hips, looking like he wasn't sure whether to yell or walk out. Roger looked up at him from his seat on the end of the bed as he pulled off his socks.

"You can talk, or you can fuck. Don't know about you, but I've had about as much talking as I can stand for one evening." He reached out and ran his knuckles down the length of Vinnie's dick, starting to push against the zipper of his fine wool trousers. "How about it, Vince?" He slid the zip down and reached in, pushing aside cotton to get to his prize. Running his thumb in a circular pattern over the head of Vinnie's dick, he licked his lips. Looking up into stormy blue eyes in a cloudy expression, he asked, "Are you gonna say no?"

Before Vinnie could say yes, no, or demand an explanation he wasn't going to get, Roger dipped his head and replaced his thumb with the tip of his tongue. The moan he got in response was as affirmative as it got.

He used his mouth to keep Vinnie in place while his hands slid the shorts and trousers down Vinnie's legs. Vinnie couldn't help; his hands were too busy hanging onto Roger's curls for dear life. Roger slipped a hand up Vinnie's chest, stymied in its pursuit of skin by fine French linen and sturdy American cotton. Finally, he pulled his mouth off Vinnie's dick and looked up. Vinnie's eyes were closed, his mouth was open, and his cheeks were flushed. He looked like a debauched choirboy from a little church in the foothills outside Pietraperzia. Not that Roger had ever been to Sicily, but Vince in extremis engendered within him a strange kind of romantic imagination.

It'd probably end up getting them both plugged.

He ducked his head again and got back to work. Vinnie was coming before Roger had gotten through the cloth barrier at his chest, so he concentrated on the meat at hand and left the rest of the feast for dessert. He controlled Vinnie's collapse to the bed, rolling the shivering man supine before crawling up him and quickly stripping the rest of his clothes off. By the time Vinnie came down from his high, he was naked, and Roger was burrowing between his thighs.

"Rog?" It was barely recognizable as a word. Vinnie's tongue was still a few steps behind his brain.

"Hang on, sweetheart, I'm almost there." And he was. Vinnie's legs splayed further apart as Roger worked his way in, and it was as tight and as mind-bending as it had been the first time, only better this time because Susan was nowhere in sight. Roger ran his hands up Vinnie's chest, soothing the heavy bands of muscle under the soft skin, petting the light fur, playing with the tightly-drawn nipples until Vinnie was arching under him. More sounds were coming out, and none of them were coherent, either. He thought he recognized a single disgruntled, "sweetheart?" but he ignored it.

It didn't last as long as Roger wanted, but then, forever was a difficult concept to physically master. Vinnie's arms came up around his back, steadying him as he came, and he bit off a cry as his own hands tightened on Vinnie's shoulders. Then Vinnie kissed him, and he held on longer than he should, because he didn't want to look up. If he did, Vinnie would start asking questions again, and Roger would start thinking again, and all the tension that had just been blown away would be back again.

He was still hiding his face in Vinnie's hair when an unexpected sound whistled into his ear. Drawing back far enough to peer into Vinnie's relaxed features, Roger grinned. The son of a bitch had fallen asleep on him.


Extricating himself without waking the sleeping giant proved to be tricky, since Vinnie was holding onto him like a favored stuffed animal. But he managed it, inching off the bed, gathering his clothes and escaping in complete silence. He paused at the doorway, looking back at the bed. Vinnie hugged a pillow and looked vaguely abandoned. Roger smiled softly.

Better alone than dead.

A sound from the hallway caught his attention, and he melted through the door out into the shadows. Susan, looking like the wrath of a vengeful Goddess wrapped in black Irish lace, flew up to Vinnie's door and pounded on it. Roger took a deep, unheard breath of relief and followed the shadows back to his room. Vinnie could play with the black widow.

Roger had some thinking to do.

Sense of Morality

New York City

Cracking the Chinese puzzle apart had been easy. Shatter the crystal, break the bust, destroy the few lingering traces of sanity left in Mel's echoing head. Susan grabs a needle and it's sayonara, sweetheart. When Roger told her she was free, he didn't know if she heard him. When he saw her again in jail, he knew it was much too late.

Mel hadn't been the only one to break when the crystal had shattered. Sue was Humpty Dumpty at the base of the wall, and there was no way to put her back together again. The plan was set, Ketcher was up-to-speed, and the Western Hemisphere was on its way to being safe for democracy once again ... yet again ... again and again ... Then Susan dropped a bomb on his head as he was escorting her out of the police station.


Well, didn't that just beat all.

She said it was Vinnie's, but it could be Mel's, for all Roger knew. Or cared. It put a wrinkle in his plan, not one he'd counted on, not one he cared for, but one he'd have to ignore in favor of the greater good. He didn't liquidate innocent women, but he would gaslight a guilty one. Susan was many things, but innocent hadn't been a term that applied to her since she was a teen.

So he did what he had to do, and convinced her that Mel was alive and well and playing hide 'n' go seek. It was easy enough; some altered tapes, a forged note, artfully scattered props. Her mind was easy to manipulate. It was a good thing Vinnie was the only one affected with a sense of morality. Good thing Roger'd lost any morals he might have had years ago.

Or Susan wouldn't have been the only one crushed under the weight of what he had to do. He'd told Vinnie he'd stopped asking questions a long time ago, and he had. But once in awhile, one came out of the dark and bit him on the butt. One that asked what would happen to the baby, when the mother was bouncing off padded walls. He closed his eyes, and saw Vinnie's face. The baby would be all right.

Shaking off the thought, he watched through a barely-opened door as Susan Profitt lay on her bed, clutched her dead brother's shirt to her breast, and lost her mind.

Two days later he eavesdropped from the next room as Vinnie had his never-to-be-bride committed. He refused to admit, even to himself, that he was relieved she wasn't pregnant. Vinnie had done what had to be done, and now Roger would do the same. He took advantage of the kid's preoccupation to slip out the back way. He had a job to do. 'Bout time he got back to it.

Striking a Blow for Democracy

Stockton, CA

McPike put up a good fight for a skinny little shit. There wasn't much of him, but what was there was muscle and temper. Roger judged the pressure on the chloroform rag, enough to knock him out, not enough to kill him.


After all, he was with Vinnie. And he was a cop. Roger wouldn't kill him unless he had to, and he didn't see any reason why he'd have to. Taking the round glasses off the night stand, he went down to the bar and tossed them on the table in front of Vinnie.

The conversation went about as well as he'd expected. The kid got hot under the collar about his partner, grilled Roger about how he'd gone from a Medal of Honor winner to a mercenary, which was a much more slippery slope than Vinnie would ever believe, and Roger gave him a few home truths about the world they lived and he fought in. He informed Vinnie that McPike would be returned to him when the operation was over, and stood to go.

Then Vinnie cut the ground out from under his feet.

Preet was dead? Darehousen had done it? Vinnie had killed Darehousen in self-defense? Ketcher knew? And laughed when he'd left the scene of Preet's murder?

The sense of unreality that had been growing in Roger for the past several months threatened to swallow him. He stood there, trying to breathe, willing the darkness away as Vinnie stormed off. Bobby was standing there, asking him if he was okay, and he heard himself give an affirmative from very far away.

Yanking himself out of the paralysis that hit when he realized that Preet was dead, Ketcher had her killed, Roger was no doubt next, and he was trapped in a web of lies spun around him behind his back, he forced his feet to move. Half-chasing the kid out the door, he called, "Vince!"

Anger radiated from Vinnie's back like a blast furnace. Roger was tempted to lean against him, soak up some of that tempestuous heat, melt some of the ice he could feel encasing him. But this was neither the time nor the place, and there were plans to be made.

"We have to talk," he said quietly. Vinnie glared at him. "Your room, not mine." A short nod, and silence surrounded them all the way up the elevator and into the room.

"So spill," Vinnie growled at him.

Roger did. Everything germane. The plot to take over Isle Pavot. The moron Ketcher was setting up to be the puppet. The money, the recon photos, the weaponry. He cut a deal, and Vinnie agreed to everything he asked. He had no choice. Roger had all the proof the OCB needed for its warrants.

He also had McPike.

Frank would be returned on promise of amnesty for Roger's team. In return, the OCB would have Ketcher, the Pavot boys, Henri the buffoon, the plans for the illegal extra-Agency field trip to the island, everything they needed to close Ketcher down.

Roger nodded once, then turned toward the door. A warm hand against his back stopped him. Turning, he looked up slightly to meet Vinnie's concerned eyes. "What now, Buckwheat?" He'd given the kid everything he could. There was nothing left to bring to the bargaining table.

In response, Vinnie leaned over and kissed him. It wasn't what he'd expected. It was sweeter than any touch he'd felt in years, and it took him unprepared. Vinnie deepened the kiss, shaking him down to his ankle bones, and Roger was gulping for breath by the time it ended. He stared mutely at Vinnie.

"Time to come in from the cold, Rog."

He had no answer for that. His time had run out, and there was nothing but cold left. When Ketcher went down, Ketcher's handlers would be gunning for Roger, and eventually, that would be the end. He raised a hand and touched Vinnie's mouth, once, fleetingly.

"Welcome to my world, Vince," he whispered. Then he stepped away and walked out the door. He had a lot to do before morning, when that world ended.

Flip Sides of the Same Coin

Bethesda, Maryland

Roger hadn't gotten drunk in a very long time. But then, he hadn't lost his illusions so thoroughly in even longer. He hadn't known he had any illusions left to lose, until Ketcher took the foundations upon which he'd built fifteen years of undercover life and turned them into so much useless rubble.

Loose ends. Preet. Roger. He glanced over at Vinnie, staring back at him with big sad eyes, and sighed. Vinnie was a loose end, too. On the other side of the balance sheet, Ketcher was a big loose end that had to be tied off before this would all be over.

Roger wanted it to be over. God, but he wanted it to be over.

Staring into the fire, trying not to think of Preet, he realized it was the first time in almost two decades that he was Roger Lococco, not the Angel of Death. He felt strange. Adrift. Naked.

Maybe it was the whisky.

He glanced back at Vinnie, who had leaned his head against the back of the chair now, eyes closed, lines around his mouth denoting exhaustion and frustration. Roger almost smiled. Herb Ketcher had ordered Vinnie's death time after time, and Roger had deflected the order each and every time. He'd thought it was because he still worked under his own code of honor, even if nobody else on the planet could understand it. Vinnie was a cop, a brother in arms in the combat against the decay eating away at democracy, and as such, Roger would not kill him.

Of course, that could just be so much horse shit, and the real reason Roger wouldn't kill the kid was because Vinnie was Roger. As Roger could have been, if he hadn't lived in the muck so long he could no longer scrape all the mud off. Vinnie still asked the questions Roger had stopped asking too long ago. Vinnie still believed in right, and wrong, and the American way, and whatever the hell the Sicilian version of apple pie was. Looking at him, Roger felt like the dark reflection of the white knight, the flip side of the coin, the shadow of the light.

Christ, if he got any more drunk he'd be writing sonnets. Or comic books.

"Bed," he ordered abruptly. Vinnie looked startled, and Roger nodded his head. The room tilted.

"Good idea," Vinnie agreed, rising with a fluidity Roger envied, given that his own muscles felt like cornmeal mush.

He would have giggled when Vinnie had to help him out of the chair, but he couldn't, because if he did he had the horrified feeling he might actually start to cry. Since the last time he'd cried he'd been six years old, and he hoped he hadn't reverted that far under the influence of crushed ideals and a bottle of scotch, he didn't make any sound at all.

Vinnie wrapped an arm around his waist and walked him up the stairs. Two very tall, very Fibbie suits with matching furrows in their brows started forward, but Vinnie waved them off. Good. Two was a party but four was a crowd. If this was the first day of the last of his life, Roger fully intended to go out of it with a bang.

Roger's room had a double bed, wooden slats of the headboard casting shadows on the wall. Vinnie reached for the light and Roger stopped him with a touch. Even being drunk off his ass didn't cripple reflexes buried so deep they defined muscle memory, and Roger had the door kicked shut, Vinnie turned and deposited on the bed, and his boots half-heeled off before Vinnie could ask the question hovering on his lips.

"Just say yes," Roger groaned softly.

Hands reaching out to hold him steady as he stripped off, then helping when his jeans balked, were the only answer he needed. He wasn't hard, and given the amount of booze he'd ingested he wasn't likely to be, but he needed to get fucked, and Vinnie was the best prospect he'd had in months. He could make Roger feel things he hadn't felt since ... his brain froze up at the thought of Preet, and a different kind of groan broke free.

"You okay, Rog?" Vinnie whispered as Roger's knees collapsed.

He ended up sprawled across the top of a completely clothed Vinnie, and that wasn't how it was supposed to work. Not bothering to lie about his screwed-up mental state, Roger tugged, pushed and pulled until the kid took pity on him. Dumped him on the bed and got himself naked.

Now that was more like it.

Vinnie hadn't had nearly as much to drink, hadn't had the emotional equivalent of an atom bomb go off on top him, and hadn't walked out of the shadows for the first time in fifteen years that day. Of course he was hard as a rock and dripping. Roger hummed, "yeah," and reached out for the meat pointing at him like the arrow to true north.

The bastard stepped back.

Roger lunged forward in a move Vinnie couldn't have predicted, given his obviously inebriated state and forgetting the black ops training Roger lived by. Heel to the back of the knee, hands to the hip and shoulder, and Vinnie was flat on his back with his flag pole raised. Roger threw a leg over his hips and pinned the kid flat.

"You gonna fight me on this one, Buckwheat?"

"Hell, no, Roger," Vinnie ground out. "Whatever you want, you got. Just get on with it before I die of frustration. Or exposure!"

Roger was laughing as he shifted his ass back, having to wiggle a little to acquire the target. Well, that, and watch Vinnie squirm. Finally, Vinnie got tired of waiting and ran one hand the length of his dick, firming it up and ramming it home. Roger bit his lip until he tasted blood, not wanting the guards on the first floor to come running up and interrupt the party.

Entry hurt, but pain had never slowed him down in pursuit of his objective, and this was no different. If anything, it gave an edge to the fucking that he needed right then. Vinnie was grimacing up at him, eyes fierce, mouth clenched into a scowl, but he was panting, too, and his dick felt like a ramrod inside Roger. Soon enough the muscles relaxed, and the burn twisted into pleasure, and the pleasure made the world go away for a while.

Long enough.

Not nearly long enough.

Lost in the ride, in the rhythm, Roger was startled when long fingers wrapped around his half-hard dick and tried to coax it to life. He laughed, low and unsteady in the darkness. "Give it up, Vince. The old dog's anaesthetized. Lie back and enjoy it."

Sliding his hand down to cup Vinnie's jaw, Roger leaned forward and kissed him, roaming with tongue and lips until Vinnie's mouth was swollen and shiny. Then he sat back on his haunches and put his back into it. Vinnie's panting got harsh and irregular. Roger timed it perfectly, stuffing his fist in Vinnie's wide-open mouth just as the kid came hard enough to nearly unseat him. Sharp teeth closed around his knuckles but didn't break the skin, and the scream that would have brought the bodyguards on the double smothered on Roger's bones.

Settling down on his knees, feeling the fluid seep out and run down his thighs where they rested against Vinnie's hips, Roger took a deep breath. Removed his hand from Vinnie's mouth and dropped a feather-light kiss there instead. Vinnie stared up at him, eyes huge and dazed. Too damned vulnerable. A shiver worked its way down Roger's spine.

Both of them were too damned vulnerable. He and Vinnie were going to have to have a little talk, probably more than one, if they were going to make it out of this mess alive.

Either one of them.

Prayer for his Soul

Brooklyn, New York

He'd watched for five days before the OCB presence chilled enough to let him close. Three more nights before Mama Terranova went off with Cousin Angie and left Vinnie on his own.

As alone as he could be, with the ghost of his brother at his shoulder.

Roger let himself in through the back door, shaking his head at the crappy home defenses, and walked silently into the front room. The kid looked like hell. Twenty pounds over fighting weight, bags under his eyes you could pack the house in, a slump to his shoulders that screamed defeat. A second disgusted shake of the head, this time at the state of Vinnie's defenses. No way in hell would the kid be able to take down the sons of bitches responsible for his brother's death when he was so close to putting the barrel of his own gun in his mouth and saving them the trouble.

For an instant, he wished that more time had passed. That he wasn't still too high-profile to risk being seen in the States. That he didn't have the remnants of Stryker's hit squad on his ass. That he could step away from presumed death and visit some retribution, for Vince's sake, on the scum who'd murdered his brother.

Since he couldn't do that, he'd do the next best thing. He'd do his best to glue Vinnie back together, and hope he stayed in one piece long enough to get the job done. If he didn't, Roger might have to step in and pick up the pieces, and nobody wanted that to happen. Because it would mean that Vinnie was dead, and that would mean a whole lot of unholy would be visited on the ones responsible.

"If you're gonna put them out of your misery, Buckwheat, you're gonna have to do a better job of it than this." Roger waited for a jump. A start. Any indication Vinnie had heard him. After a several moments, Vinnie shrugged one shoulder.

"One dead guy telling me what I should do for another one. What do you know about retribution, huh, Roger? You left. Took off."

Roger hooked a knee over the arm of the couch, resting lightly. "Rather I be dead for real, Vinnie? It was the only option, and you know it."

"Thought you were really dead. Saw you on the street and thought I was losin' it, then you grinned at me and I knew you were real. Kept expectin' a phone call, or somethin', didn't get nothin'. It's been months, Roger. Why now?"

"Stupid question. You need me. I'm here."

Bloodshot eyes rose to meet his, a world of hurt and anger there. "What can you do for me, huh? Can you bring Pete back? Whack the bastards who killed him? What are you good for, Roger?" His voice gradually got louder with each word, until he was screaming in Roger's face. A good sign.

"I'm here to get your blood moving in your veins again, Vince. To wake you up to the retribution lying there, waiting for you to grab it. To take the bottle out of your hand and put the sword back into it." His calm, steely words were a sharp contrast to Vinnie's loss of control.

"How?" Vinnie's voice broke on the words.

"By never giving up," Roger whispered back. "Hang on," he urged, shifting off the arm of the couch onto the cushions beside Vinnie. "Hang on, and do what you do best. Bring them down, and bring them down hard, and do it right. Pin their asses to the wall." He gathered Vinnie up in a strong embrace, more bracing than comforting. Long arms looped around him and held on desperately.

"I wanna kill every last one of them." It sounded like a vow.

"But you won't." Roger murmured the words against Vinnie's hair. "You'll find them, and you'll get the goods on 'em, and you'll hang 'em out to dry. You want vengeance, but Pete deserves justice. If you go out there and take them out, you'll be a killer, not a cop. You'd get your vengeance, yeah. But what will Pete get?" Vinnie muttered against his shoulder, and Roger overrode it. "Pete was a priest. He wouldn't want revenge, and you know it. He wouldn't want you out there making like a vigilante. He would want justice, and you're the only one who can get that for him."

"I don't think I can do this." It was an agonized cry from the bottom of Vinnie's heart. Roger closed his eyes and held him tighter.

"You can." He dropped a kiss against the thick soft hair. "You know you can. But first you need to get some sleep, or you're gonna fall apart before you even get started." The large body shuddered against him.

"Can't sleep," Vinnie admitted. "Get nightmares. All the time. Pete's face, last time I saw him, then torn apart, blood all over the place." The shudder intensified. "Everywhere."

"I always did think you had too much imagination for this job," Roger muttered too quietly for the kid to hear him. When Vinnie said, "huh?" Roger answered, "What you need is to be too damned tired to dream."

Vinnie pulled away far enough to look at him, and Roger had to take a quick breath against the pain in the kid's face.

"C'mon. Show me your bedroom."

It was as if the words triggered a need Vinnie hadn't foreseen and couldn't control. Roger found himself pinned against the side of the couch and kissed ferociously. Vinnie's hands were everywhere, pulling his head back by a deathgrip on his curls, digging at the buttons on his jeans, yanking off his leather jacket. Roger recognized the storm for what it was, the dam breaking on all the emotions Vinnie had been fighting for a week, and let himself get carried along on the tide.

They didn't make it to the bedroom. They didn't even stay on the couch. Roger maintained enough control to break their fall onto the floor so neither of them broke any bones. Vinnie wasn't thinking at all, and his control was nil. His brain shut down and his body took over. Roger had been there. Not often, and not for a long time. But he knew what happened when the threads linking mind to body snapped under pressure.

Good thing he'd never minded a few bruises. They'd be lucky to get out of this with nothing sprained.

He consciously relaxed once Vinnie had ripped his clothes off and dumped him on his face on the floor. It was a measure of the man that even nuts as he'd gone, his hands bruised but didn't damage, and his dick hurt but didn't tear. Roger'd taken worse, and the punishment would be worth the reward.

Right ... about ... now.

He knew the instant Vinnie found himself again, because the hands gentled on him, and the body covering his curved over him instead of battering against him. Roger raised his hips in response, planting his hands under his torso and lifting himself into Vinnie's thrusts. The startled grunt he got at the change in angle made him grin.

The need didn't soften, and the craziness didn't completely disappear, but it was controlled chaos, the kind Roger specialized in, and he guided Vinnie through it like the expert he was. Vinnie came first, and Roger waited it out, then twisted beneath him. They ended up in reversed position, Roger lying on Vinnie's chest, legs pushing Vinnie's thighs apart. He rubbed his belly against Vinnie's dick, still mostly hard, and watched the flush in Vinnie's face deepen. Reaching down between them, he caught both their dicks in one hand and milked them.

Bucking and groaning, Vinnie growled something that could have been Roger's name, or a curse, or a blessing, and came again. The slick heat against his skin triggered Roger's climax, and the next few moments were nothing but the feel of Vinnie beneath him, the smell of him, the sound of him, and sparkling blackness behind his eyelids. The world came back into focus as he was rocked back on his heels, as Vinnie sat up and wrapped his arms around him. Buried his face against Roger's neck and made the strangest noise.

It took a second for Roger to figure out that Vinnie was crying.

A corner of his mind threw up its hands and thought, Italians, what can you do? Another corner wondered if it was the first time Vinnie had allowed himself to grieve. The vast majority of his brain was swamped with relief. With the dam broken and the pain cried out, Vinnie could center himself and get back to the job at hand. The screaming need for vendetta could be set aside, and Vinnie might live long enough to find the justice he sought.

It took awhile for him to cry himself out. Roger sat and held him through it, laughing internally at the image of himself as some kind of waterlogged security blanket. When the sounds had died and his shoulder was thoroughly drowned, Roger wound his fingers in the hair at Vinnie's nape and pulled his head back.

"Can you sleep now?" he asked quietly. The kid nodded wordlessly. Roger believed it. Vinnie was practically dead on his feet. Or in his lap, whichever. Climbing carefully to his feet, he braced himself and pulled Vinnie upright. The trip to the bedroom was precarious but they made it. Vinnie didn't need to be put to bed. Roger barely got the blanket yanked out of the way before Vinnie tumbled over like a felled tree, out before he landed.

Laughing at himself for playing nanny, wondering where all his vaunted toughness had gone since he'd fallen into Vinnie Terranova's snare, Roger pulled the blanket over the slumbering man and backed out of the room. It was time to disappear again. But not completely.

Picking up Vinnie's jacket, he rummaged through the pockets until he found his little black book. Looking up Uncle Mike, the lifeguard he'd met at the OCB safe house while waiting to testify in the Ketcher mess, he punched in the numbers. It was answered on the first ring.

"Hi, Mikey. This is Casper the friendly spook." Dead silence greeted Roger's cheerful voice. "Just wanted to let you know your nephew's been pulled back from the edge of the abyss. I'll be around, Buckwheat."

"Jesus," Uncle finally said. "You're alive?"

Roger chuckled.  "Keep it under your hat, or I won't be for long. Comprende?"

"You got it ... Casper."

Roger hung up, still chuckling. Vinnie had a lifeline, and he'd make sure it stayed that way. He glanced over at the bedroom. Some debts would never be cleared. He wouldn't have it any other way.