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Computing By Candlelight

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Sam Curtis was actually whistling as he walked into his favourite Internet Café. He and his partner had had a pig of a week chasing an annoyingly elusive bunch of terrorists across France and Germany, but they were all captured now, the reports were written and signed off, and at last Sam had some time to himself. With nothing more urgent than laundry, which could wait for the morning, Sam had decided that a lazy evening in Connexxions catching up with his personal email was in order.

Signing in and collecting his usual cappuccino, Sam settled down at a computer and started to sort out what he laughingly called a social life. First he checked out a few of his favourite web sites, then his Hotmail account — the one that Spencer didn't know about. As he feared, it was mostly spam. Then again, that was probably preferable to the alternative of coming home to week-old replies to a singles ad. People never reacted well to being ignored, even if told he had been unexpectedly called away to some grand and important sounding event. He was just a name attached to a posting as far as they were concerned, they could hardly be expected to understand how hard it was to juggle a social life with CI5 work.

For all of the hassle it engendered, the anonymity of the Internet community was one of the things that Sam treasured. All that anyone knew about him was what he presented to them, and he had been careful not to leave easy to follow traces back to his real life. The ultimate in public privacy, that was how Sam thought of it. He could be himself without having to worry too much about the consequences. Smiling, he applied himself to the week's backlog of social chit-chat with a will.

Some while later, just as Sam was finishing a sympathetic reply to a tale of a lost lover who in Sam's opinion should never have been found in the first place, the lights went out. For some reason the computers were unaffected, and between the glow of the monitors and the candles on the dining tables there was still plenty of light in the café.

"Don't worry, folks," Tony called from behind the bar. "Normal service will be resumed once Marcus stops randomly destroying things." He gave a mock-glare in the direction of the kitchen, from where an equally fake howl of outrage could be heard.

Sam joined in the general grinning at the café owner and relaxed again. His natural reaction to the surprise had been to push slightly away from the table, ready for an attack coming from any direction. A paranoid reflex, some would call it, but it had saved Sam's life often enough that he felt it was perfectly justified.

Smiling, he finished writing the message before deciding that a break was in order. He could sort out the rest of his email later; now it was time to relax in company.

[Kurt15 has entered GayUK at 20:22 on 24/02/2002]

Kurt15: Anybody home?

X-Man: Hi K, hows things

Jailbait: Hiya!

Straight: Good to see you again, Kurt.

Kurt15: Hi X! I'm OK, mostly. In need of relaxation.

Straight: One of those weeks, huh?

Kurt15: Yes. I spent the whole week looking for people who were out.

X-Man: sounds like a real drag

Straight: Ugh. My sympathies.

Jailbait: Well, at least I had a good week

Jailbait: *smug*

Kurt15: OK, I'll bite. What happened?

X-Man: Dont ask!!

X-Man: Too late <g>

Jailbait: I'm pretty sure the captain of the school footie team fancies me.

X-Man: Lucky dog :-)

Kurt15: Congratulations!

Kurt15: Is that the guy you've been drooling about for the last month?

Jailbait: Yup.

Jailbait: All I have to now is get him alone somewhere <g>

Jailbait: Can you tell I'm excited? Can ya?

Kurt15: All I ask is if you do score, don't tell us the details!

Jailbait: Huh? Why?

Straight: With a handle like that you have to ask?

Jailbait: Hey, I'm 16!

Straight: And that helps how, exactly?

X-Man: Clueless Californian requests enlightnment

Kurt15: He's under the UK gay age of consent.

Straight: No gay sex 'til you're 18

Straight: Unlike us normal people :-)

Jailbait: *glare*

Sam grinned. Everything was reassuringly normal, from Straight's snarkiness to X-Man's attitude that punctuation was something that happened to other people. They would cure him of that eventually; heck, they had managed to fix Jailbait's spelling. Mostly.

Quite why the American had joined the chat room for gay British men was not something Sam was clear about. X still lived in the States, in the small town he had grown up in. Perhaps, Sam thought, he too needed the anonymity of the Internet to give him confidence, and was taking the extra precaution of making sure his new friends were in another country; he certainly had serious problems with the idea of coming out to his real world friends. Whatever the reason, Sam was glad that the young man had joined them. X had a wicked sense of humour that reminded Sam of his partner. He did have some strange ideas about the English understanding of things though...

Sam brought his attention back to the here and now as he noticed Marcus staggering over towards the computers. The cook's arms were loaded down with candles, which he proceeded to distribute over every flat surface that wasn't actually machinery.

Hastily, Sam brought up a browser window on the first innocuous site that he could think of. It wasn't that he was ashamed of Marcus seeing what he was doing, it was just... awkward. While CI5 might not have the problems with gay operatives that MI6 did, Sam still had the experience of years insisting he should hide the truth. Besides, if he admitted his orientation, Sam didn't think he'd be able to hide his crush for long, and that would be bad.

Seeing the pointed looks Sam was giving his waxy cargo, Marcus paused and grinned at him. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to put up with the candles for the rest of the night."

"What happened?"

"Oh, nothing to worry about, it's just that the fuse on the lighting circuit blew. I told Tony I could fix it with a bent paper clip and enough willpower, but he was unaccountably reluctant to let me try."

"I'm not surprised." Sam glanced over his shoulder to where the balding café owner was busily manning the coffee machine. Tony might have his quirks, such as hiring Marcus in the first place, but he did at least have a healthy dose of common sense. "Dare I ask how you blew the fuse?"

Marcus raised his eyes to heaven with a long-suffering sigh, tugging at his neatly trimmed goatee. "Why does everyone always assume that it's my fault?"

"Because it usually is?"

"Oh ye of little faith. As it happens, on this occasion I was completely innocent. All I did was change a light bulb. Granted I should have switched the light off first, and trying to stir the pan of pasta at the same time was definitely a mistake, but all in all I think I was a model of decorum."

Sam tried to imagine the chatty cook being decorous. He failed. "Why do I have trouble believing that?"

"Natural charm. Do you want another coffee?"

"Mm, cappuccino thanks."

"Sugar? Cinnamon? Arsenic?"

"As it comes, thank you." Sam grinned as Marcus bounced off to out-weird the rest of the café. He had to admit, though, that the candles had quite an effect on the place. The gentle golden light softened the harsh glare of the monitors, giving the normally bright and bustling place a romantic atmosphere. All it really needed to complete a perfect evening was...

Sam sighed and turned back to the chat room.

Jailbait: You are *so* blonde!

X-Man: Really? *preen*

Jailbait: Yup <g>

X-Man: Its just the two most dangerous people I know are blond

Kurt15: James Blond?

Straight: *groan*

X-Man: Though one of them does dye it

Jailbait: Dye or die? <g>

X-Man: Good question <g>

X-Man: Gotta go now, lunchbreaks nearly over

[Mikey has entered GayUK at 20:48 on 24/02/2002]

Kurt15: Hi Mikey.

Mikey: Greetings

Jailbait: Say hi to all those lushious builders for me!

X-Man: You wish!

Mikey: lushious->luscious. Do I want to know?

X-Man: Bye guys!

[X-Man has left GayUK at 20:50 on 24/02/2002]

Straight: X's new job is construction work.

Jailbait: Grump. I was close.

Straight: He seems happy, moreso than with the fast food places.

Kurt15: How very Village People.

Jailbait: Huh?

Mikey: That's good. I'm glad he's happier.

Kurt15: YMCA? Go West? In The Navy? Ringing bells here?

Jailbait: Nope.

Mikey: The youth of today...

Straight: Sad, isn't it?

Jailbait: Oi, Grandad!

Kurt15: They were a very flamboyant gay band in the 70s.

Mikey: You're a little young to remember them, J

Jailbait: I wasn't even born then!

Straight: What cultural joys you have missed <g>

[Elvis has entered GayUK at 20:53 on 24/02/2002]

Mikey: So how is everyone?

Straight: Elvis! Good to see you!

Elvis: Uh-thank yuh, thank y'all <g>

Kurt15: It's a little strange here, Mikey.

Mikey: How so?

Elvis: Rob will be on once he gets off the phone.

Kurt15: Well, the cafe's lights have fused...

Straight: Ah, the joys of home networking <g>

Kurt15: I'm sitting here surrounded by candles!

Mikey: Wow

Jailbait: Cool!

[Robert has entered GayUK at 20:56 on 24/02/2002]

Elvis: That is just *so* romantic.

Robert: Why thank you

Robert: That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day!

Elvis: Not you, Kurt's typing by candlelight!

Robert: <pout>

Elvis: You are romantic too, though.

Straight: Under a minute and they're being mushy already.

Straight: Is that a record?

Jailbait: Must be natural talent <g>

Kurt15: Elvis, why are you typing when he's sitting next to you?

Straight: Don't encourage them!

Jailbait: <peers enviously at El & Rob>

Elvis: brb. Mushiness to be done <g>

Straight: Gah! I did not want to know that!

Mikey: Don't worry Straight, we'll protect your cirtue <g>

Mikey: Virtue, I meant virtue dammit!

Jailbait: I dunno, cirtue could have been interesting <g>

Kurt15: Uh oh. Brb.

Startled, Sam hastily hid his chat window under the more innocent browser he had running as Chris Keel stepped into the café. What the hell was his partner doing here?

Probably much the same as he was himself, Sam thought wryly. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Chris would also want a net life away from CI5's all-seeing eye. Underneath all the bounce and enthusiasm, his partner was really a very private man. Few people got to see even as much of the real Chris Keel as Sam did, and he only got to see that much because the two of them had to practically live in each others' pockets on occasion.

From the way that Tony had a bottle of Becks on the counter before Chris reached the bar, he had to be a regular here. Well, Sam thought, there weren't that many decent cybercafés around, particularly ones that stocked American beers. It must have been sheer luck that the two of them had never been in Connexxions at the same time before.

Chris did a double-take as he noticed Sam and altered course. Sam waved as his grinning partner approached, and clicked his way further through his camouflaging web pages.

"Hi buddy, what brings you here?" Chris asked, gesturing expansively at the café.

"Well, I wasn't in the mood to curl up with a good book, and I didn't have the energy for clubbing. This seemed like a good compromise." Chris made a dubious noise, so Sam continued his justification. "I get to browse for all sorts of things while someone else makes me coffee. Do you have a problem with that?"

"Sounds ideal to me. So, found any good porn sites yet?"

There were times, Sam thought, when he could do without his partner's sense of humour. Of course, then Chris wouldn't be Chris, which on the face of it might make Sam's life easier since he wouldn't have to worry about all the things he couldn't say to his partner. On the other hand, he was happy enough just being around Chris. No, he wouldn't change that for anything.

"If you must know," he sighed, "I'm reading the BBC world news pages."

Chris made a face. "That sounds dangerously like work. Anything interesting there that isn't likely to involve us?"

"Plenty." Sam peered at his monitor. "There's a story here about an Italian politician refusing a bribe."

"That's interesting?"

"He's Italian, Chris. The man's practically unique!"

Chris grinned, then gestured round the café again. "What's with all the candles?" he asked. "The place looks like it's trying for... uh..."

"That's all Marcus' fault," Sam replied. Chris shifted, and Sam was momentarily thrown by the way that the flickering of the candles seemed to add a flush to his partner's cheeks. He pulled himself back together in a hurry. "He blew the lights somehow or other, and no one feels brave enough to try to fix them."

"Trust Marcus. I don't know how he ever got hired here in the first place, he can't cook." Sam raised an eyebrow, so Chris barrelled on. "Sam, the man burns toasties."

"This after your last barbecue? Mr Pot, there's a Mr Kettle on the line for you," Sam said, miming holding a telephone.

"You were the one who told me the sausages had to be cooked through."

"I said 'cooked', Chris, not 'cremated'."

Chris shared Sam's fond smile, then sat himself down at a computer opposite. "Let me know if you find anything really interesting," he said brightly.

"Not a chance," Sam murmured as he surreptitiously checked all the reflective surfaces near him. Satisfied that Chris couldn't see his screen at all, he brought the chat window back to the top.

Kurt15: Back.

Robert: lkmju;oij'[ [pl

Kurt15: Be like that then <g>

Mikey: We think Elvis is sitting on Rob's keyboard

[Jailbait has left GayUK at 21:07 on 24/02/2002]

Mikey: Was it something I said?

Straight: So what was the panic?

Kurt15: *innocent* Panic?

Straight: You said "uh-oh" before leaving.

Straight: I think that qualifies as at least mild concern :-)

[Jailbait has entered GayUK at 21:08 on 24/02/2002]

Jailbait: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh

Jailbait: ****ing Freeserve!

Kurt15: Nothing too bad. My partner just walked in unexpectedly.

Straight: *pats Jailbait on the head*

Mikey: You've got a partner?

Jailbait: Partner? Lucky dog. c'mon, we want details!

Kurt15: My *work* partner, guys.

Straight: The prize for long-distance conclusion-jumping goes to...

Mikey: Urk. I take it your colleagues don't know you fancy men?

Kurt15: They all think I think I'm God's gift to women.

Straight: <g> I *think* I parsed that right.

Robert: lkmbfvg [blkjm j;lk

Jailbait: You said it Rob :-)

Mikey: Ow. We'd better be on our best behaviour for you

Straight: <looks at Jailbait> <ponders "best behaviour">

Jailbait: Hey, I resemble that remark!

Elvis: back.

Mikey: Seriously, been there, done that, got the P45.

Robert: Trouble in paradise?

Jailbait: Kurt's partner turned up.

Straight: *Work* partner

Elvis: <deletes long but juicy question>

Robert: *sigh* See what I have to put up with?

Kurt15: Mikey was just concerned I didn't lose my job here.

Mikey: It's happened before.

Straight: Do you want to talk about it?

Mikey: No.

Jailbait: So El, has Rob's keyboard survived you sitting on it?

Elvis: I wasn't sitting on it!

Elvis: Honest!

Robert: If those were your hands, we need a serious talk <g>

Kurt15: *g*

[Flyboy has entered GayUK at 21:13 on 24/02/2002]

Elvis: My feet! IT was my feet!

Robert: It was, too.

Flyboy: Now's there's a greeting you don't see every day.

Straight: Hi Flyboy! Entury.

Flyboy: Entury?

Straight: Long time, no C <g>

Flyboy: groan

Jailbait: Still having trouble with visuls of El's feet here

Straight: visuls -> visuals

Jailbait: I know, I know, finger toruble.

Jailbait: I mean trouble!

Mikey: Guys, behave!

Flyboy: Huh?

Robert: Kurt has work colleagues nearby.

Kurt15: Mikey's worried I might get accidentally outed.

Flyboy: Hmm. problem.

Mikey: Just be careful, OK?

Kurt15: I know previous employers have had trouble with gay workers.

Kurt15: I'm not too optimistic about this one, thinking about it.

Flyboy: OK, OK, I'll be good

Straight: *looks at Fly*

Robert: Flyboy. Good. Words that do not go together <g>

Flyboy: grrr <g>

Jailbait: ANyway, how've you been, Flyboy?

Flyboy: Been a lousy week. I didn't even get to shoot anyone.

Straight: Someone took away your flight sim?

Jailbait: You are *so* busted <g>

Flyboy: *laser death glare*

Jailbait: Owowowowowowow

Flyboy: Sorry *laser death glare at Straight*

Straight: <hides behind J>

Jailbait: Owowowowowow <g>

Kurt15: Children, children.

Flyboy: I will have my revenge <g>

Sam sat back and sipped his coffee, smiling gently. It wasn't often that he got to meet Flyboy, and the ex-pilot's exuberance was always entertaining. Having both him and Jailbait on at the same time practically ensured that the conversation would go downhill in a hurry, and truth to tell Sam wasn't that worried about his own bundle of hyperactivity finding out. Chris didn't seem to be trying to work out what he was doing, and in any case Sam was confident that he was more than good enough to keep it from the American. It's what he was trained to do after all.

In fact at the moment, Chris seemed to be concentrating completely on his own computer, frowning at the screen and muttering under his breath. Sam allowed himself a moment of indulgence, staring at his partner as Chris focused totally on his task. At times like this, when he was sure that Chris' attention was completely elsewhere, Sam almost got up the courage to voice his feelings... but that would be foolish. Chris Keel was rarely as unaware of his surroundings as he looked, and the last thing Sam could afford was his partner getting wind of his affections.

Chris' face lit up in an evil grin. "Oh yeah," he said quietly, "that'll do nicely." Sam smiled again as Chris started pecking away at the keyboard. Typing was not amongst his partner's vast catalogue of skills as Sam knew well from all the report writing that he inevitably had to do himself. Still, what he lacked in style, Chris as ever made up for in enthusiasm.

Giving a sympathetic thought to whoever his partner was about to work mayhem upon, Sam returned to his own computer screen.

Jailbait: Being good is boring.

Jailbait: I can make up scientific proof if you like <g>

Mikey: It's good for you, it's supposed to be unpleasant

Straight: Some people....

Flyboy: I do have a story that meets M's specs

Kurt15: Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

Mikey: Experience? <g>

Robert: Hey, let the man talk

Robert: I mean type

Jailbait: It's about girls, isn't it?

Flyboy: I swear this story is true

Flyboy: Its about planes.

Jailbait: Sounds better already

Flyboy: I heard from someone who heard it from someone who was there

Elvis: Suuuuuure.

Flyboy: Trust me

Straight: *looks at Fly*

Flyboy: You know how flight suits are so *cough* well padded?

Jailbait: *drool* yeah

Mikey: Behave!

Flyboy: turns out there's a reason for that

Flyboy: If your flying a fighter, you get strapped in real tight

Flyboy: to stop you going every which way from G forces

Jailbait: And?

Kurt15: Patience, grasshopper

Flyboy: Hey, slow typst here!

Jailbait: Huh?

Straight: That would be another old TV show you don't know :-)

Flyboy: They say the extra padding is to protect your dangly bits...

Flyboy: ...from the strap going between your legs pressing on them

Elvis: *wince*

Flyboy: But thats not the whole story

Flyboy: It seems that one cockpit design had the mount point...

Flyboy: ...for the straps a bit low

Jailbait: Cockpit, mmm

Mikey: Behave!

Flyboy: so the straps met in a V between your legs

Robert: Oh God, I can see where this is going

Flyboy: Webbing's really tough stuff you know.

Kurt15: *blench*

Robert: Please tell me I'm wrong

Flyboy: The first high-G turn pushed the test pilot down...

Flyboy: ...but the webbing stayed in place...

Flyboy: ...with sensitive bits of his anatomy on the far side.

Elvis: Gak!

Flyboy: NOt only did they fix the design...

Flyboy: They replaced the whoel damn seat

Flyboy: It was easier than cleaning the blood out :-)

Jailbait: I need to go and be sick.

Jailbait: Seriously.

Straight: You go do that. Flyboy, can I borrow that story?

Jailbait: brb

Flyboy: Sure. Why?

Elvis: I think you've broken Essex Boy here <g>

Straight: I have a pilot friend who occasionally needs to be out-grossed.

Kurt15: And that was gross.

Flyboy: *g* glad to be of service

Elvis: brb. Tender ministrations to be done.

Straight: Gah!

Sam chuckled, and looked up to see Chris staring back with an amused twinkle in his eyes. "Something interesting?" the American asked.

Mouth open to answer, Sam paused. No, he thought, this was a story to save for when Chris needed to be brought down a peg or two. "It doesn't translate well," he said. "How about you?"


"You've got that look in your eye, Keel, don't try to deny it."

Chris actually looked a shade embarrassed. "I was just sending a sick story to a sicker friend," he said.

"Anything I should be interested in?"

"Probably not. It's kind of a high speed and excruciating pain story, and we get more than enough of that at work."

"Hmm." Maybe he should tell Chris the story now, he thought, just to prove that Chris didn't have the exclusive right to sick stories. But no, it would be better to save his ammo for when he really needed it. "Another drink?"


Sam waved at the bar, attracting Tony's attention, then pointed to himself and Chris, and mimed drinking. Tony frowned for a moment in concentration, then stuck his thumb up and hustled to the coffee machine, snagging a bottle of beer as he went. Within moments both men were resupplied with their beverage of choice.

"I didn't know you knew each other," Tony commented as he deposited Sam's cappuccino.

"We work together," Sam replied.

"Yeah," Chris said, "I save his scrawny ass on a regular basis."

Sam frowned. "If I recall correctly, last time it was me saving your 'scrawny ass.'"

"Details, details."

Tony rolled his eyes. "Remind me not to ask you questions after you've started drinking," he said.

Chris and Sam looked at each other, then at Tony. "Don't ask us questions after we've started drinking," they said in unison. Tony threw up his hands in horror and walked away, muttering something about not knowing why he had to have customers anyway.

Jailbait: back

Jailbait: FLyboy, if you ever do anything like that again...

Jailbait: ...I'm going to hunt you down and throw up on you.

Flyboy: Flattery will get you nowhere :-)

Robert: jdlknmkjl

Straight: Oh, for pity's sake!

Robert: Gotcha!

Elvis: Back.

Straight: Gah!

Elvis: You naughty boy, Rob

Straight: Do not, I repeat *do* *not* administer punishment now!

Mikey: <g>

Kurt15: Evil people

Robert: That's why you love us

Kurt15: Guess so <g>

[MarkIzmo has entered GayUK at 21:29 on 24/02/2002]

Flyboy: So has anyone else been up to anything interesting?

Elvis: Not really.

Robert: getting ready for more concerts...

Elvis: ...which is unbelievably boring, I can tell you...

Robert: but nothing terribly unusual.

Robert: <glares at El>

MarkIzmo: That's cos ur sad little gits

Mikey: WTF?

Kurt15: Oh, a troll, how nice.

Jailbait: What the fuck?

MarkIzmo: You'd like that, wouldn't you?

Jailbait: Troll?

Kurt15: Someone being gratuitous to get a reaction. Ignore him.

Jailbait: OK. So El, you get caught up in the concerts too?

Elvis: Nah. Despite the names, Rob's the musical one.

Mikey: Not liking this, Kurt. This is a potential problem for you.

Elvis: I just do computers

Kurt15: It's OK, I can cover if need be.

MarkIzmo: You disgust me, you dirty damn queers

Robert: Yet here you are

Straight: 'Dirty damn queers.' None out of 3 ain't bad.

Straight: Oh wait, yes it is.

Kurt15: He'll go away if we ignore him.

Jailbait: Him?

Kurt15: Women are usually smart enough not to bother

Kurt15: Or have a better vocabulary.

MarkIzmo: A good woman wouldn't even bother looking at you

Mikey: Can't someone do somehting about this guy?

Straight whispers to Kurt15: Can you keep him busy? Elvis and I have plans to shut him up.

Flyboy: Beginning to wish I knew where he was here

Kurt15 whispers to Straight: Sure

MarkIzmo: You reckon you could take me on? Don't make me laugh

Mikey: I don't have to put up with this

[Mikey has left GayUK at 21:36 on 24/02/2002]

MarkIzmo: That's right, run away nancy boy

Kurt15: <sarcasm> Oo, look at the big butch man there </sarcasm>

MarkIzmo: I can take any three of you limp-wrists

Flyboy: Suuuuuuuuure

Kurt15: I *sincerely* doubt that.

MarkIzmo: YOu reckon you could take me then?

Robert: You're asking a bunch of gays if we can deal with an arsehole?

MarkIzmo: You know what I meant, pervert

Kurt15: I wouldn't even have to break sweat, bigot.


Elvis: Sorry, wrong window

MarkIzmo: Yeah, you and what army

Flyboy: Me for starters

MarkIzmo: With one hand tied behind your back?

Flyboy: My partner's done it to better than you with one arm out

Flyboy: And I'm better than him

MarkIzmo: Suuure

Kurt15: Believe him. We're scary people here

Robert: Wow. Severe testosterone poisoning in progress

MarkIzmo: You wouldn't recognise testostorone if it bit you on the arse

Kurt15: I think you've rather disproved that already

Flyboy: Big words for a small brain

[MarkIzmo has left GayUK at 21:39 on 24/02/2002]

Flyboy: It wasn't that good a line!

Straight: Well, that's got rid of him then.

Elvis: Straight, we are *so* cool

Kurt15: Ah, so we have you two to thank for his disappearance?

Straight: Yes. He won't be back soon, either.

Straight: Hang on, I'm writing an email of complaint to his ISP.

Kurt15: Impressive.

Flyboy: Jailbait, you OK?

Jailbait: I think so.

Elvis: That was as sweet a tracing job as I've ever seen

Elvis: Then the bozo turned out not to have protected himself against the telnet hack.

Elvis: I seriously want to know how you fritzed that modem bank

Robert: YOu do realise that was total gibberish, don't you?

Elvis: Yes, but it was *cool* gibberish :-)

Jailbait: Did you really mean that bit about taking him on?

Flyboy: Yup

Kurt15: Absolutely.

Jailbait: One hand behind your back <g>

Flyboy: Yup

Kurt15: Some of us adults can take care of ourselves, you know.

Jailbait: *snicker*

Kurt15: No, we can.

Jailbait: I know, I just had this image of you two taking on the troll...

Jailbait: bondage gear :-)

It was bad timing. Sam was taking another sip of his cappuccino when Jailbait finished, and he really hadn't been expecting the picture that sprang to mind of him and Chris tackling bad guys while wearing leather and chains. Quite how he managed to keep the resulting spray of coffee off the computer was just one of life's little miracles. He didn't even look up when he heard Chris choking loudly, no doubt laughing himself silly at Sam's ineptitude; his imaginary Chris looked so hot in bondage gear that Sam didn't think he'd be able to keep a straight face.

Sam mopped at the coffee spill with a handkerchief, hoping that Tony wouldn't notice, then set to typing rapidly.

Kurt15: J, please don't do that while I'm drinking!

Flyboy: Aaaaaaargh!

Jailbait: *innocent* who, me?

Kurt15: Coffee is not a good thing for computer keyboards. <g>

Kurt15: Particularly not someone else's keyboard.

Flyboy: Now my partner thinks I'm trying to give him a beer shampoo *g*

Robert: Your partner's there too?

Jailbait: The guy you've been mooning over for ages?

Flyboy: too?

Robert: Kurt's droolable colleague is within spitting distance.

Flyboy: Yes, that's the guy.

Jailbait: Er, he's not reading this is he?

Straight: Hmm. *thinks*

Flyboy: He isn't reading this.

Flyboy: I hope.

Straight: Duh. Sometimes I am *so* dense.

Elvis: That wins the Cryptic comment of the day prize.

Straight: Flyboy, where did you say you were tonight?

Flyboy: In the cafe as usual. Why?

Straight: Humor me.

Straight: Kurt, did your partner choke on his beer a moment ago?

Kurt15: Yes, he did.

Kurt15: Oh.

Flyboy: That's pushing coincidence.

Straight: Guys, do the whole world and me in particular a favour and just talk to each other, OK?

Flyboy: eep

Kurt15: Are you serious?

Straight: Yup. Unless you want me to use your real names here :-)

Flyboy: Backup?!

Straight: In the electronic flesh

Robert: There's got to be a song in this <g>

Kurt15: What are you doing here?

Jailbait: You three know each other?

Straight: Looking for ways to tell my two colleagues, who are painfully obviously in love with each other, to get on with it.

Robert: You decided on the unsubtle approach then? <g>

Straight: What else would I be doing in a chat room for gay men?

Robert: *looks at Straight suspiciously*

Jailbait: Wow. That;s just so romantic I could cry!

Elvis: So talk already!

Sam looked up at Chris, who looked back with a mix of fear and hope on his face. "So," he said slowly. "Flyboy, huh?"

"It seemed like a good name," Chris answered. "And how about you? Kurt One Five. Curt-I-S. I really should have spotted that."

Sam shrugged. "It looks innocent enough, since it is my Hotmail ID." There was a pause, then he continued, "Have you really been mooning over me?"

Chris looked away, then met Sam's gaze again determinedly. "Yeah, I have been. Am. You're just so... I couldn't not... you know?"

It was Sam's turn to blush and look down. "Same here. I felt... I mean I always... I didn't think you... that you could..." He took a deep breath to control the trembling. "Even knowing... wow."

"Yeah. Wow." Chris gave his partner a weak grin, then shook his head sadly. "It took us long enough to work it out. I guess we owe Backup one."

"We do that, mate. I reckon there's just one last important question to decide."

"What's that?"

"Your place or mine?"

Jailbait: Your a *gurl* ??!!

Elvis: your -> you're. And you are in *so* much trouble

Straight: Yes little boy, we mythical women really do exist.

Jailbait: Huh?

Jailbait: *ouch*

Robert: This 'gurl' kicks cyber-ass, remember?

Straight: Don't worry, this won't hurt. Much. <g>

Jailbait: Owowowowowowow <g>

Flyboy: We've talked. We're off to talk more and stuff.

Jailbait: Stuff or stuff*ing*? <g>

Kurt15: Bye. Mushiness to be done <g>

Straight: Gah!! *g*