Heart and Soul
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"I'm out of here."

Jake doesn't even look up from his work on a new Glovatrix and I'm moving fast enough to barely catch his flat response. "Fine, Chance."

I know better, but I pull a Cyclotron out anyway. I need to drive, far and fast and this has the best range of our ground vehicles.

I don't really feel the wind grow angry as I gun the accelerator. I just see enough of the moonlit road to stay on it. I don't know where I'm going, if I'm going anywhere.

No, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going away. Away from home. From him. From expectations and desires I can't fulfill no matter how hard I try.

The twisting mountain road tries to force me to slow down. I don't until a carved wooden sign catches my eye.


Crystal Lake National Forest
3 miles


Yes. Someplace he'll never look for me. Someplace I'd never look for me. I hate camping. After Enforcer Survival Training, it's just not fun anymore, if I ever liked it in the first place. I'm such a city kat sometimes.

I hear myself chuckle as I pull into the vacant parking lot, relieved no one is around. Explaining why I have a SWAT Kats' cycle could be hell and a half. It doesn't take ten minutes to conceal the bike and I'm off again, on foot this time, into the dense evergreen forest and underbrush.

Yes, he'll come looking for me eventually. He's nothing if not tenacious.

Hell, he pursued me for over seven years before I caught on.

But the honeymoon is definitely over, if we ever had one. It's been a brutal six months trying to adapt for both of us. I would have never thought that adding sex to a partnership that's done very well for so many years and through so many trials could cause this much grief. About the only good part is we're both well trained enough not to let our private arguments interfere with our duty. It's been our only saving grace -- that we can fall back on the basic partnership. It's uneasy, but it's doable for a while. That we have no choice helps out too. We get along or the city gets destroyed. It really is that simple sometimes. To bad it's not true more often, we might get along better.

Shit, Chance. Don't blame him for any part of your problem. You're the one who can't deal with wanting sex. He's respected your trouble more than he should have to and them some.

"Pretty." My own voice sounds strange but the word is true, the water is ... pretty.

There's someone here, a shadow.

"Uh? Oh, hi bro." Crystal Lake fans out before us, glittering in the soft moonlight without a single ripple disturbing it's peace.

"You're going to love this one, bro.

"Umm? Yes, it's peaceful." Gods I just need to talk and get this out. "That's something I'll never know again; to be completely undisturbed. Even now Jake's with me, in the back of my mind. He's a constant presence now. At least he's not looking ... or would it be feeling? At least he's not actively checking my thoughts, and at least I can tell when he does now. It's usually during sex, and when we're in combat. I have to admit we're a better team for the ability, even if it still freaks me out that I can't keep a secret from him any more. He respects what I hide, but it's only that; respect. He could find out in a moment and there's not a damn thing I could do to stop him."

The sand is warm and soft as I sit down, hugging my knees to my chest. It is beautiful here. Aroen settles next to me. He's solid enough to feel his arms around my shoulders. Unusual, and wonderful. His touch saps most of the fear out of me.

I'm talking out of control and I just don't care. He'll keep all my secrets, he always has.

"Then there's the sex. The real crux of this nightmare. I need him. He wants me more than I've ever wanted anything in my life. I desperately want to get past my aversion, but ... I think ... I think the will just isn't in me. I've pulled it off, but it never lasts. I really don't understand why. He makes me feel incredibly good. Better than any fem I've been with." I glance at the shadowy tom next to me. "Please don't ask how many that is. I don't know any more. Put it at quite a few and leave it at that.

"I've never known ... lovemaking ... yes that's what he does. It's not sex. Not to him, at least not with me. I still can't remember our first night together. All I know is that first time I was the ... top. Well, that's what he calls the one who gets to be the 'male'. He told me that much, and my ass wasn't sore so it's probably the truth."

I hear myself chuckle, it sounds very distant. "Now our second time I can't forget. And there's no way in hell I want to. It was the best night of my life, and the most terrifying.

"We'd slept spooned together for twelve nights, my nose burred against his neck, his back warm against my chest. It was the first time I'd really appreciated how muscular he is. He looks lanky, skinny even sometimes, but it's pure muscle and strong. It feels so good to hold him as he relaxes into sleep each night. He smells good when he's asleep, he smells better aroused.

"He never showed any interest in sex even though I could smell need on him every night and I know he's felt my morning erection. Somehow I knew he was waiting for me to make the first move. He was respecting my ... virginity.

"That's a funny word, isn't it? It just doesn't sound right. Especially applied to me. Conjures images of pretty she-kats in long dresses and unicorns, not a battle worn tomkat.

"Uhmmph. I've popped enough cherries to feel bad about it now. I've never shown that kind of restraint to anyone. Now I wonder how many of them actually wanted it, wanted me, if it weren't for the alcohol ... or drugs ... or simple peer pressure. Maybe even just my charms or stubbornness and they gave in for a little while. All I know now is that none of them stayed with me for very long and I wasn't interested in making them want to stay. Not even Felina, and she could have been.

"What? Don't look at me like that. We have a lot in common. The only real breaking line is that Feral hasn't kicked her off; she still has her badge. I wonder if she'd come to us if he did? Gods, that could be incredible. We work together so well. And she pretty to boot.

"Ummph? Oh, ya, my sex life with Jake. It scares me that I've never had a successful relationship before now.

"Get that smirk off your face. You know I say stuff to you I won't say to myself, never mind another living kat. Anyway, three months was my record, this has made six. But I mean, can I actually make it work? I'm trying this time, though obviously not hard enough.

"Umph. I'm out here aren't I? Anyway, on night thirteen I'd gathered enough courage and frustrated to reach down and stroke him though silk boxers."

"Yes, he wears silk. Surprised me too. I've lived with him for seven years and I didn't notice. Funny sometimes what you don't notice.

"I had no friggen clue what to do next. I guess I figured he's take over once I'd shown some interest. No such luck. His whole body shuddered with a low groan and he stayed right where he was.

"Oh, I found one thing out right then; I really like making him vocalize. It went straight to my cock.

"Mmmm, ok, bad choice of words.

"That was the first time I felt him reach out to me. All of a sudden I wasn't just stroking him, I was stroking myself as well. He was feeding me what he felt. It was way to much. I came in my boxers right then. I couldn't even try to hold it back, as much as I wanted to.

"That set my decision. I'd made a promise to myself that he could have my body. Now was the time to test if I could go through with it without getting drunk first.

"I brought my hand and up and pulled him tight, kissing him on the back of his neck. There's no resistance in him so the tremor the passes along his spine when I ask him to take me is all the more noticeable. It excites him incredibly but he doesn't respond as I brush my hand down his side. He lifts his hips when I hook my fingers under his boxer's waistband. They slide off him easily and he greets the freedom with another low moan. My soiled ones quickly follow as he rolls over to face me, asking if I'm sure, his golden eyes searching mine. It's an honest yes I give him to soothe his concern. I still don't understand why he didn't know I meant it the first time.

"He can read my thoughts when he tries, word for word. He always feels what's at the surface. I can do it to him too, sometimes.

"Gods, what he does to me ... how he treats me ... he makes me want to go back and apologize to every she-kat I've ever been with, especially the ones that I was first with. I'd never thought such tenderness was possible, much less from another tom.

"He pushes my shoulder lightly and I roll on my back. He's captured my mouth before I can groan as he braces over me, straddling my hips. Almost on instinct I open my mouth, inviting him in, letting him taste me. I've never been so controlled in my life, and I'm loving it. I let my entire body relax and I'm actually looking forward to him using me.

"I know, I know, he won't use me. But that was how I thought of it. Still kind of how I feel about it. It's not how he sees it, though. It's that division between knowledge and belief you're always harassing me about."

I focus back to now and study the shadow next to me. "This is making you hot?"

He nods, I can almost feel his breath.

"Bit perverted, don't you think? Getting turned on hearing about your little brother and another tom." I watch him carefully. "Who will you go back to? Who will fix that?" I motion at his rather prominent erection.

He motions back to me.

"Me? You're joking, right?"

He shakes his head.

"I can't. Jake will..."

He shakes his head again.

"Then what do you mean?"

He releases his hold on my shoulders and lays down in the still warm sand. Then he speaks out loud, the first time I've heard my brother's voice in almost twenty years. "Complete your story." I can see his eyes close and darker stripes on lightening fur. He's more solid than when he first appeared, more solid than I've ever seen him after he died.

"Ok, bro. All the gory details, in order." I settle on my stomach next to him, just close enough to feel him move without touching. "Jake was braced over me, we were kissing. My hands found a life of their own, touching every place I wasn't allowed to before. The fur on is balls is the softest I've ever felt, and he hates being touched there. He says it's tender, no matter how careful I am I catch the pain it causes. I always liked mine played with, never occurred to me that he wouldn't. It's annoying to have my instincts be wrong.

"He breaks our kiss, catches my wrists and puts them above my head on the pillow and tells me to stay. I'm in some kind of obedient mood cause I do, I don't even want to move as he works down my body. The first pass he makes he nibbles my neck, I can hear my breath go ragged before he ventures down. I hear my voice, strained and incoherent as his rough tongue brushes a partially hard nipple and his hand rolls the other one stiff.

"You know, I've never been much into having my chest played with, but he caused feelings there I didn't know were possible. I don't want him to stop. I know I whimpered when he did. Then ... then, oh my god ... his kisses a trail of fire down my abbs. It's such a little touch, he barley ruffles my fur with his breath but it's almost more than I can stand. I'm getting hard again.

"It's physically impossible, you know. To get hard that soon after cuming, but he does it to me. And he hasn't even touched me there yet.

"I ... I can't breath. I grab the metal bar headboard and hold tight. It's the only thing grounding me as he slides downand kneels between my legs. I've spread them as far as I can; raised my knees to give him an opening to anything he might want. I want him in me so bad it hurts. Me, Chance Furlong, ace pilot, SWAT Kat and as macho as I can be wanted ... no, needed ... to be fucked by my tomkat partner.

"Ya, ya, I'm sorry. Just remembering is enough to set me over the edge. It's hard to retell. It hurts to be this split about my choices. Either it's right or not, and this is both.

"He ... he whispered his desires over my cock's head; a warm, moist breeze is as intense as being buried in a fem. I thrust my hips up, I wanted in his mouth. I couldn't help myself. He just chuckled, a taunting vibration deep in his throat I can feel tumble down my cock. It just turns me on more. I'm in hell and he's got the keys to heaven if I just have the patience to wait.

"He lowers his muzzle but he doesn't touch me where I need him to. He tongue dances through my fur, clearing my semen off. He's determined to be clean even now, and now that extends to me. It feels good though. It turns electric as he slips lower, hands and tongue and breath caressing the inside of my thighs. He works systematically from knee to crotch on each side without touching anything in between. I can hear myself whimpering, then begging.

"Then my brain kicks up what I hold him a week and a half before. The handcuffs. My voices doesn't sound like me, but he responds when I call his name. He has a hand resting on each thigh when he brings his head up to look at me.

"Those golden eyes stare at me again and my brain turns to complete mush. He waits on me, then asks what I want. I guess I manage to get the word out, or he reads it. That lustful smile as he gets off the bed is the most incredible thing I've ever seen.

"It ... it takes everything I have to roll over and get on my arms and knees. I put my hands through the headboard as he comes back. I can hear the jingle of metal against metal and it's exciting, more exciting than it should be, even with my dreams.

"Then he's standing there, his hard-on right in front of my nose as he locks my wrists together. I'm finally just going with my desires and I reach out to lick him. The metal bars stop me from engulfing him, but my tongue reaches. He shudders a little and moves closer, letting me take him in. As alien as it feels, I really like the tremor in his low moans as I explore him. I don't even know how to describe the taste. It's a musk, a little salty with a bite. It's Jake, I don't know how else to say about it. It tastes like his aroused scent amplified and purified. It tastes good. I like pleasuring him. I like it a lot.

"I ... I don't know what I'm doing but he's liking it. Then he has one hand on my head, just barely giving guidance. After seven years as my gunner, he knows how to direct me very well and I'm in the mood to go with it more than usual. Those sounds he's making and the restrain of the cuffs and his hand is intoxicating. It's incredible. It's not enough to make me cum, but it's close. I want to hear him scream as he cums. I want to be the reason he makes those noises. I want him ... I need to be everything he needs, everything he wants. And I'm not. I can feel it when he looks at others sometimes. He want's something and he want's it to not be with me. It hurts more than anything. That I'm not good enough. The only thing I ever really needed to be perfect at and I'm a failure.

"Uh, right, what happened.

"I'm too weak to protest when he pulls away unsatisfied. His hand never leaves me though. It's a electric breeze down my neck to my shoulder, then along my spine. The bed between my knees drops as he settles between them. I can feel his warmth. It's exciting, comforting and scary all at once. I drop my muzzle down, I'm too hot to breath and it just makes it better.

"It takes an effort but I get my tail over my back, out of his way. I'm just hoping he takes the hint. I doubt I could ask anymore. I can feel him near my balls. He breaths hot, moist air over them and I clutch. My whole body tenses but I can't release. It's too much. I know I'm not coherent but I'm begging him to finish, to stop teasing. I don't even know if I'm saying it or thinking it.

"I can hear him talking to me, but I can't make out the words. He has one hand gripping my left hip. I never appreciated how strong he is before. His thumb's caressing my butt and my breath stops in my throat. He's so close it's killing me. I need him so bad it hurts. No one's ever done that to me before.

"He cuts my protest off with a soft word and a slicked finger pressing in my ass. He keeps repeating the same sound. I eventually figure out it's 'relax' and I try. He's got one finger all the way in me, working it in and out. It doesn't take much to imaging that's his cock and my heart goes off the scale. My throat's too dry to even moan, I can taste the blood in my ragged breath. It's incredible and I want more. I push back until the cuffs stop me, the extra tension makes my head spin.

"Pain brings me back form the edge, just barely. He's working a second finger in. I finally figure out what he's doing, that he stretching me so not to hurt me a lot later. If two fingers hurt for a bit, his cock would have hurt like hellfire if he didn't do this.

"It's only uncomfortable for a little bit and he's being so careful. Then it starts to feel good. I never knew that line before, just how close pleasure was to pain. I can feel myself start to purr and he whispers something near my ear. I can't make it out, but I'm content to just feel the sound of his voice. I close my eyes and unlock every muscle I can when he pulls his fingers out. This is the moment I've been waiting for. What I've been begging for.

"I can feel him pause for a moment before pushing inside up to his balls. I'm ready for the momentary pain this time. I'm not ready for the pleasure the follows. It's not like being in a fem. It's not like it is for a female either, at least if the articles can be believed. Every time he pushes in his touches something inside that sends a jolt though me. It the most intense pleasure I've ever felt. I'm trying to hold back, I'm desperate for this to last. He's set up a rhythm, a slow slide in and out. I feel myself jerk a breath in each time he slides in and touches that spot. Then he adds his voice to my torment, a low, loving murmur that's more than I can stand. I can't slow the buildup any more and then his slick hand's around my cock, stroking and his other's holding my hips so I can't thrust forward very far when I cum. I ..."

Silence.

Silence is good.

Calm and quiet except for my breathing. That's very loud and as wild as it was six months ago.

Aroen's still beside me, watching me. I can feel his warmth. I'm glad I'm not alone. I hate sleeping alone these days.

The sand's cool now and my jeans are wet. My cock's throbbing as it softens. This is just too much as he whispers me to sleep like Jake does.




The sun's crested the mountains. It's warm on my back as I wake up.

Aroen's still beside me. He's never stayed with me before. I can't tell him how glad I am he has. I shift stiff muscles to get on my forearms and look at him in daylight for the first time. He looks just like he did when he left the house that last day, except he's naked. It's much like I did when I was sixteen, it's unnerving. But he's much more confident and relaxed.

He smiles at me. < What brought you two together? >

"As a couple?"

< Yes. >

"Ok, I guess the best explanation is my own private 'Hell Week', when we -- be realistic -- when I tried to deny what is really between us. That was six months ago. It almost killed both of us.

"No, it didn't start then. It started almost eight years ago when we met, I just didn't catch on for the first seven and a half. I think that's a record of some kind, though not the good kind I usual hold. It took a very angry panther twice my size snarling about Jake committing suicide because of me to get my attention. But that's how the story ends, not begins.


Jake had gone out on the town by himself the night before. He'd come home nearly five hours later happily relaxed, smelling heavily of alcohol, aggression and sex despite an apparent shower. That wasn't anything new, this happened at least three or four times a year for longer than I'd known him. And I was always upset without knowing why. I just usually hid it well enough, at least from myself.

That night something snapped.

Something? Try everything.

I decked him. Flat out, no warning. I didn't even realize I'd moved until I heard him connect with the far wall and slide down limply.

The shock was as good as a return slug.

Then that look he gave me.

Oh god, I still can't believe he was expecting it. Expecting me to attack him and he didn't fight back, didn't even try to duck. He just took it like it was his due, like he'd earned it somehow.

"Finally come to your senses?" His soft query held nothing beyond a little pain and a lot of understanding as he nursed his bruised face.

It still doesn't make sense what he did.

"I ... I'm sorry, buddy. I..."

"Kiss and make it better?"

I know I froze, the seductive tone in his voice was a lot more obvious that I could stand despite knowing he was drunk.

He just laughed, waving me off. "It's ok." He twisted to his feet in a single motion. "I understand."

"I don't." I still don't know if he was joking or not, but I'm beginning to think he was making a pass and I was just too blind to see. Check that, I was told he was. Rather bluntly.

"Look, you're stressed. Why don't you let me take you out tomorrow night?" He paused, he must have caught my reaction, or read my mind. "Not a date, silly. I know a strip club I think you'd like."

"Where you go?"

"Sometimes." He shrugged. "You need something. I don't really care for getting hit again."

I couldn't make myself do anything but nod. He seemed happy enough with it and headed upstairs without another comment.

I slept on the couch that night, I still don't know why I couldn't go upstairs to my own bed.

He's good to his word, no surprise there. The next night he drove. I didn't have it in me to claim the keys even though I knew where we were going. I wasn't looking forward to it. I couldn't. The reasoning was just too confusing.

Club Heat.

Enforcer turf.

It was a nice place; good dancers, good food, good drinks and prostitution on the side. Everything you could want under one roof.

I remember it from the eight months we were real Enforcers. //Stop going there.//

How would we be welcome? And why would Jake want to come here? Even I knew a dozen other clubs that would be more accepting of a couple disgraced Enforcers, assuming they even knew. It's times like these I really wish we could tell the truth and get the respect we deserved out of those damn costumes.

He pulled into the back lot, the one reserved for special customers. Important ones.

It was about there I realized I really didn't know my partner, and I was about to find out just how little I knew for all we'd trusted each other with our lives for over seven years.

"Don't look so nervous, we're welcome here." He easily slid out of the car, grinning at me. "Come on."

"Why?"

"I didn't burn my bridges like you did. I still have friends in the Enforcers, and here." He just regarded me with what seemed like pity. "Feral's gets more bad looks than we do. Most kats that know think we got shafted. I was never shut out of the community. He doesn't come here, ever. Now come on."

He couldn't have been more right about being welcome. The proprietor, a graying she-hyena, startled when we walking in the side door but quickly broke into a wide, warm grin for both of us and a fierce hug for Jake.

"Good to see you back. I though you went to Amina's last night?"

"I did. This is more for him."

She nodded at me quietly, her smile honest but with an edge on it. "I hope you find what you need. Jake's special to all of us, family."

I still believe she was warning me; but against what, I don't know. I screwed up just about everything possible the next few weeks.

Jake chuckled and pulled me to a table up front, almost dead center on the stage. It should have been the most prized location in the place, but was the only empty one.

"I said I had friends." Jake commented out of nowhere as we sat. The show hadn't begun yet. Quite a few kats were eating, more were drinking. All but a couple I know are Enforcers and those two have the bearing to mark them as such.

I didn't see whoever slid two drinks on the table, one for each of us.

"Just trust me, ok? It won't hurt you."

I'm really starting to wonder about how he does that, reading my mind.

I'm not that sure I even want to find out what I was drinking, or what they must have spiked it with. 'Cause two glasses of anything is not enough to make me loose my mind that much.

Ok, ok, I didn't loose it, I just misplaced everything I thought I knew about myself. Twenty seven years of training is a lot to forget after two drinks, even with a spectacular show.

And it was spectacular. I'd really forgotten how much I enjoyed this, and promptly forgot about the dancers when I caught a look at Jake -- he was flat out mesmerized and making no attempt to hide it.

That in and of itself was odd, he's usually so reserved -- at least he was the couple of times we'd gone out to clubs before, even plastered he held the mask up well. But it got worse -- what else do you call reality smacking you upside the head with something you desperately did not want to know?

He liked the girls; watched them carefully, made passes at a couple of them, but the guys entranced him. One stood out, at least to me as his favorite. A blank panther. Some long buried corner of my mind still commented that he was handsome. I swear it had to be in defense of Jake, some twisted form of good taste taking the sting out of the gender choice. Now, maybe I'm not so sure.

I don't know how to describe that particular feeling. Seven and a half years I'd worked, lived, played, risked and all but given up my life for this kat, and I didn't even know the most basic thing about him.

He's ...

Damn, I still can't say it. And I'm living it. At least I can admit that, or am I? I can't see being attracted to any male but Jake. Does that make me .... or is this just a one time fluke? Someone special that breaks the rules?

I have got to stop obsessing on this.

Still, Jake watched the show and I watched him and most of the staff watched me.

Why? Haven't a clue, and they won't talk about it.

Six dancers, four females and two males, comprised the first show. Then an half hour break before the next one.

"Hi, Jake." An athletic cream and black she-kat dropped onto a chair on Jake's far side, giving him a worried smile. Somehow my brain logged that she was Lieutenant Commander Jerok.

"Hi, Lyra. How's life?"

First name basis with that much rank, too weird.

"Pretty good, all things considered." She paused a moment before rage flashing across her hard features. She grabbed Jake's chin and forced him to face her. "What Happened?" The harsh hiss did not bode well.

"It's nothing, really."

"Bullshit Sergeant. Who Hit You?" Her voice was low, threatening. Her ears flat against her skull. It got everyone's attention, she didn't get angry easily. I knew that form more than rumor.

Sergeant. She still calls him an Enforcer at his old rank, even after all these years.

He offered a small nod in my direction. "It's been a long time coming."

Most of the fire drained from her as she released him. "You deserve better, you know."

"Lyra," His voice was low, calming and utterly resigned. "we both know better than that by now. It was decided years ago."

She sighed, shaking her head. "You need anything; place to stay, somebody to watch your back ..." Her voice was tight, I remember she hated offering such an open invitation.

"I'll let you know." Jake returned an odd hand squeeze she offered, one bound in the inner circle of Enforcer trust. "Promise."

No one had ever offered me that assurance, that welcome, and another surge of pure jealousy sizzled to the surface.

I waited till she was out of earshot, I hoped. "What did you mean by it's been a long time coming?"

He smiled, a soulful look I wasn't used to and shrugged. "Every time I go out, you're angry when I come back. I knew years ago you'd eventually snap and do something like this. It was just a matter of when."

"There's something you're not adding here."

"When you figure it out, I'll tell you." He offered one of those smiles he gave the girls. "The show's starting."

Six more dancers performed almost without notice for the knot growing in my gut.

Look at him. He's done everything but come out and tell you what he wants. Is he really asking so much? To love him that last little bit.

He's a HE.

No kidding. But you love him.

That's sick and I'm drunk.

Then accept the sickness and stop being miserable. You're not that drunk, just enough to admit this to yourself. Stop him from being miserable.

I can't, it's wrong. I'll ruin what we have and then how will the City survive?

"Hi darlin." The haughtily silky voice crooned next to me, snagging my attention back to the room as a female Ocelot slid into a chair between us when the second set was over. She make a pretty blatant advance on Jake, nipping his neck. I absently identified her as the third dancer as he dropped his nose to catch her in a real kiss.

Wrong or not, I want to kill her for receiving that.

"Mmmm, evening." His throaty purr sent shivers down my spine straight to my groin.

Ok, two glasses of whatever and I want to be the one kissing him. How'd I get here from hating queers in one night?

"Chance, this is Bast." His voice dragged me back to the room.

"Up for some fun?" She purred seductively, sliding her rough tongue along my jaw.

Well, that has to go to the top of the list of blatant come-ons.

Jake wanted me to say yes, it was too clear on his face. I still wonder if I could have refused him even if he'd been the one asking. Probably not.

Her room.

He walks in behind me, I don't know if the light brush against my hip is accidental or not, it really doesn't matter. I've him pinned against the wall a heartbeat later, seeking the kiss he'd given her.

Then everything hit slow motion, unstoppable and I didn't want to even try.

He's warm and hard against my thigh, scent aching of his desperate want; more intoxicating than any drug. It pushes everything into the background as he opens his jaw and strokes that soft tongue against my lips, pleading.

Sweet Mercy, there is nothing as intense as that first kiss.


Where am I?

Club Heat, upstairs. Bast's room.

I'm not alone.

The room's dark, but Jake's easy to see snuggled up against my chest, his nose burred in the crook of my neck, content in our naked embrace.

I didn't ...

We didn't ...

He moves, just a little. It's enough to make me freeze; that and I can feel myself hardening in response to his touch.

"Chance?" His voice is quiet, calm, content.

Shit, he's awake.

"Yes." He purred softly, so happy.

I have to ask.

"What ... what did we do?"

"We finally finished." His soft tongue played along my throat, hitting every spot just right as he shifted, bringing his weight above me. Before I loose myself again he brings his head up, locking eyes. "Mate."

This can't be real.

Something flicked across his face too fast to make out, but his voice was calm, level, reassuring. "It is. We are. The Bond has been made, it'll just take some time to get used to it."

"Get Off Me."

He obeyed without a word, not looking at me. I all but bolt for the bathroom.

What the hell did I just do?

What are we going to do?

Just shower and get out of here. Leave it behind in this room along with the smell.


Four days and he hasn't said a word to me.

He's scared. It laces his scent with an oily, acidic tang I'm learning to hate more than the thought of touching him again.

I silently thank the powers that be nothing has happened. For once the city is quiet. We've enough problems as is. I don't know if we could handle an outside threat right now.

How did things get this out of hand?

"They always were, you just didn't know it." His voice is ragged, lack of sleep and heartbreak mixing with something else, something that sends a chill down my spine even though I can't identify it.

There he goes with that mind reading thing again. "Always?" I can't look up. I can't face him. I can't see the want in those eyes again.

There's a soft touch on my shoulder. The concern echoed in his voice is mixed with certainty. "This was decided the day we met at the latest. I knew I was searching for you for as long as I can remember. I understand your choice, I only hope that you will eventually understand mine."

I look further away. I've had plenty of 'mornings after' but nothing like this. He's telling the truth, the absolute fucking truth. The alcohol had nothing to do with it. He seduced me and I let him.

I can't handle this.

"Chance?" His query is gentle.

"Chance." There is acid in his tone now, a demand. "Look at me."

I look up. He's hurting more than I am, it's written so clearly in his eyes. Those beautiful golden eyes. Oh, god not again. I can't get lost again.

"I'm sorry."

I barely hear it or see him walk away, helmet in hand. There are just two golden eyes staring at me, through me, to my very soul.

A motorcycle roars to life and out of the Yard.

It's not a Cyclotron. I know it's sound. It's his bike. The only thing he ever forbade me from touching. The last time this happened, he was Razor and feeling guilty about a mistake that hurt two civilians. I fixed that one, kind of. Found the proof it wasn't his fault. Everything was ok then.

So how the hell do I fix this?

The problem's in me, somewhere. His only fault is in loving me a little too much.

I guess that's something to start with.

I'm just no good at this analyzing stuff.


Chasty,

I know I haven't written in a long time. Looks like almost eight years. Not since I meet Jake. He's why. I never needed to do this with him around. And now he's gone because of me.

Been eight - no nine days since he left. It's past midnight. Not a word.

It's been the longest week of my life. Academy hazing was easier to handle than this. I could fight then. Now, I'm the enemy and my own dreams betray me. They're so intense, so explicit, and I want them to be real.

I Really Screwed Up. Big Time.

I ljhf,

A big black kat came out of nowhere and slammed me against the Hanger wall, sending paper and pens flying.

"Crud! Who the hell are you?" I didn't even know he was there. I am out of it.

"Terrok." The panther is just barely controlling his rage. "Jake's friend."

All my anger flees at his name. "How ... how is he?"

"Dying."

"No, oh no." My heart sinks, denial rises into a full force tidalwave.

"Because of you." He hisses, full of distaste.

"No."

"Yes. Because of you. He loves you. He's convinced he can't exist without you. He intends to end it tonight, I intend to stop him if I can. Otherwise, I'm invoking one of his clan rites; his mate goes with him. One way or another, this will be set right."

He's here to kill me. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Never thought I'd welcome such an unceremonial end. Always figured I go down with a jet eventually. A final fiery salute to the best pilot of my generation. It sounds so hollow now; 'The Best Pilot'. All I ever wanted was to be a goodkat, to be the best. Everything I thought I wanted is an illusion and mocking me.

"Stop him how?" I can barely hear my own voice.

He takes several moments to control himself, he really doesn't want to. I understand his difficulty. "You have to accept him. In life or death, you will. Bast and Lyra are delaying him enough to give you the chance. You don't deserve it, but he does."

He's right.

I can do this.

I have to.

Living without him is one thing. Having him die is quite another.

We can sort the sex part out later. It's just a body. I've done a lot worse to this one than let someone who loves me have it. He can have it. I'll learn to live with it at worst. My dreams make me think it might not be that bad.

It such a simple choice, no choice at all for too many reasons. It's not like my family didn't disown me when I was kicked off the Enforcers. What else can they do?

Terrok is waiting on me, none too well.

"I'll do whatever I have to to keep him alive." I'm not sure if I say the rest out loud. 'and happy.'

He never lets go of my shirt till I'm shoved into the passenger side of his car. For once I have no interest in defending myself, or my honor.


Out in the country somewhere, way out.

A dark house.

Another dark room.

Three kats, kneeling in a sort of circle. One I'd know blind, deaf and dumb.

"Jake?"

He doesn't look up. "Let him go." His voice is certain, calm, totally controlled. "I want him to suffer."

It's over.

It can't be.

"I can't let you die over this."

He still does not look when he speaks. "Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about." There's no anger in it, no resentment, just a statement of fact.

"Does it matter?" A low female voice demands softly from one corner.

"Yes." He doesn't pause in his methodical preparations.

"Then explain it to me." I hate the begging whimper that escapes my throat, but it suits it's purpose.

It gets his attention.

"Explain what?" He's incredulous that I don't know.

This is progress. A little piece of my mind rapidly starts sorting out possible reactions that were the result of missing information. There are way too many.

"This." A general gesture to his preparations. "What I am to you. What you want of me."

That stopped him. Good.

Those golden eyes are searching, confused. He really doesn't know what to make of my request. "Why?"

"Because I don't know Damnit!" It takes a couple deep breaths to calm down. "I want to know. Somewhere along the line we lost track of what we knew. There's something here I don't understand and it's killing you. You know, so tell me."

"You don't feel it?"

"Feel what?" It's a fight to keep the irritation out of my voice, I know I failed.

He's scared now, that evil tang is back in his scent. "The Bond."

Oh, crud. I'm going to have to do this the hard way. One questions at a time as he reveals language I don't know. Deep breath. "What is The Bond?"

He's a long time answering, searching for a way to explain something he probably just knows. But he's not as haunted by whatever he saw between us. "It's a ... bond ... " he shakes he head in defeat. "between two souls. It's rare at best."

It sounds like an explanation you give a kit, it probably is. Somewhere in the background I realize we're alone in the room. "So what does it feel like?" He's just confused by the request. "I have so much new stuff floating around my head from the past couple weeks I don't know what you want me to look for."

He's thinking hard, images flicking through his mind. That must be it. That's how he knows what I'm thinking.

A small smile plays across his face. "Yes. Tell me what you feel for me."

"Don't you know?"

"I need to hear you say it."

"I love you." Humph, never thought it would be that easy.

"What's holding you back?"

Yap, he's back to his old self again. Time to face the music. "We're male."

That look he gives me is unmistakable -- well duh.

"I know I love you now, but convincing my mind that everything I was taught about right and wrong, everything I thought I knew about my own sexuality," now that's a word I never thought I'd use. "is wrong, takes time. Maybe more than we have. I'm still in shock over what I did."

"We did." He's growling. "I was there too."

One of these days I'm going to figure out how to say this stuff without tripping over my own tongue.

I feel more than hear my sigh. "Jake, what you did felt right to you. I think maybe it always has." He at least acknowledges it with a small nod. "What I did, I'm not so comfortable with. It's the act, not who was involved."

"But you said you love me."

"I do. But that doesn't wash away what I was taught to believe. What I do believe. This is so simple to you; we love each other, we sleep together, everything's fine. It's just not that blasted easy for me. Loving another male is a sickness, a disease."

The shock on his face tells me a lot. There were things he didn't know about me too. At least we're kind of even now, with a bunch of mistakes and hurt feelings between us to deal with.

It's his turn to look away. "I'm sorry."

"It's a moot point." I bring his chin up to face me. That first touch between us in over a week is an electric shock. "It's done. I've made my choice, I intend to live by it. I ... I have nothing left to loose and a lot to gain."

Either he can't read me right now or he needs me to say it. Either way ...

"I love you. But I need to learn how to love you. I need you to be willing to deal with me trying to relearn ... everything I believe about myself. Can you give me that much for me to give you everything?"

The mixture of admiration and humility from him feels odd, but so does everything right now. He just nods acceptance. It's enough, but I want that smile back. I doubt I'll be seeing it very often in the next few months.

Oh god, reality check time. I want him to want me.

Can I really deal with this on a daily basis?

I flash back to the charge that passed between us. Yes, I can. I want to.

I smile, I try to make it seductive, I don't know if I succeed. "I've been having a dream lately."

Oh, that got his undivided attention. "About what?" He kept his voice carefully neutral but his mind is racing though possibilities. I can't catch any of them, but I feel them flash by, some good, some bad, some erotic.

"You, me and a pair of handcuffs." I try to keep a strait face saying it. I doubt I make it.

It's worth it for the fire that lights his eyes. That it's true makes it all the sweeter.




Areon lets me rest again. It's amazing how much just talking takes out of me. I've come out of losing combat in better shape.

< What brought you here today? >

"What were we fighting over?"

He just nods. He's completely solid. It feels a little weird, but he's not concerned that he's naked in a state park next to another male.

"Mmm, I don't know anymore. I think maybe nothing at all. I love him. I need his affection. But I can't look too closely or I get sick at what we do. That hurts him, confuses him and I can't say or do anything to fix it. That hurts me more than I thought anything could. Love conquers all is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. We were better off friends and it's my fault."

< You'll return? >

"To Jake, of course. There's more to consider than our feelings or my problems."

< What's wrong with what you do? >

"You lived with dad, you got the same lectures I did. Homosexuality is a sickness when he's in a calm mood, that it's a sin as bad as murder when he's not. Fags are what's wrong with this world. The Enforcers reinforced that. School reinforced it. Society reinforced it. Everything reinforced it. I'm twenty-seven bro, older than I ever thought I'd be. Maybe I'm too old to change."

< You'll change what you need to. You're a survivor. >

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, but it doesn't help here much. How the hell do you go about changing your subconscious?"

< Carefully. >

"Some help that is."

He rolls on his side to face me, a strong hand cups my cheek. "Chance, listen to me." His breath ruffles my ear.

I feel him tense as he's about to continue and awareness of someone else approaching. Areon growls as I find the intruder. It's Jake. I'm not surprised he's come, especially after what he must have caught from me.

"Goddess." Even I can hear the fear in Jake's voice. "Chance, come here."

I push myself up. "Chill, Jake. He's my brother." Areon's tension should have left when I identified the intruder, instead it increases.

Jake makes a move I can't follow and there's a curved blade in his left hand, his off hand. He's not even trying to hide the urgency he feels. "Chance, just come here. Please. I'm sorry. Just move away from that creature."

I feel Areon's claws unsheathe and eight years of combat training kick in. I'm twenty feet away, standing between them before I even realize I've moved. "Chill out, both of you. Jake, he's my brother. Areon, he's my mate." Even I can feel the tension go up a couple more notches as Jake moves between me and Areon as he gets to his feet.

"That is not your brother." Jake hisses, his ears flat and blade ready. He doesn't take his gaze off his opponent.

I have to wonder why he's pulled a dagger and not the blaster I can see at his side. And more to the point, what I do if they choose to fight. I shouldn't worry about Areon, it's hard to kill a ghost ... unless ... unless Jake or his father did it in the first place. They never did find out. Jake's whispered of secrets he can't tell. Secrets more dangerous than being a SWAT Kat. Ones that could get him dead in a big hurry.

"No." I step forward to Jake's right side. I don't want him to fight, but I'm not going to get in the way of his weapon if he does. "Both of you stop it. There is nothing to fight over."

"You're worth fighting for, Chance." Jake directs the comment to me without looking. I'm not sure how to take it, especially considering I know he wants someone else.

Areon's shaken as he backs off toward the water and speaks outloud. "Jake, listen to me."

"No." Jake free hand reaches back to touch me. "Just stay away from my mate. Your kind are not welcome here."

"I never wanted him like that." Areon's voice is level as his foot lands in the water. "I don't come to hurt him." He doesn't wait for a response and dives with a twist into the water. When the glittering splash settles there's no trace of him. I didn't expect one. He's a ghost after all.

Jake holds still, focusing on the water for longer than I think necessary before turning into me. The blade's still in his hand as he embraces me, shivering and murmuring apologies and gratitude that I'm ok.

"Umm, Jake. You're getting mushy on me here." I pull him tight, he's been acting odd since we became mates. Some of it I put to seven years backlog, dealing with me and adjusting, but this is a bit much. "I wasn't in any danger from him. It's my brother's ghost. He's been around since I was ten."

He looks up, locking our eyes. He's deadly serious, believing every word he says. "That was not a ghost, Chance. That was a Sin-Ka, a type of vampire and you were in a lot of danger. It was solid; ready to kill you and take your place."

"Now you're getting weird."

He urges me to move away from the water. "Chance, just come home. Leave this behind. We can get the cycle later."

"Umm, buddy?"

He turns back to face me, nervous. "Yes?"

"You are going to explain what's freaking you out?"

"If you want, I'll explain everything."

I catch a undercurrent that he's offering to explain more than just today. "Yes, I want an know."

"Then you'll have it."


It's late. I'm tired. He's tired. He really does not want to tell me what he promised. I can wait this time. Wait for him to be ready. Just as I'm ready to give up on tonight he wants to go downstairs. He settles on the floor in against the TurboKat's front wheel. He won't look at me. He's scared but his voice is level. "The Sin-Ka are creatures of the next world. They usually first appear and claim to be the ghost of a recently dead loved one. They gain nourishment, energy, from the emotions and physical sensations of the living. When they gather enough extra, they start to become solid in the form of the one giving them power. Then they kill and take their place to create more of themselves."

I'm keeping myself very neutral. It's remarkably easy considering I know he's wrong and I really need to not say that. "How could you tell just by looking?"

"I didn't look, I felt." He glances at me, uncertain. "Some creatures can be felt."

Time to shake him loose of his concern that I can't handle it. "Like you and the TurboKat?"

He jerks back, closing off from me completely. Shock, panic and fear are dancing in his eyes as they meet mine.

That more of a reaction than I thought I'd get, but it's out now. "I've caught a couple conversations you've had with her." I offer him as much of an explanation as I can. Sometimes, I've sworn I've heard her too.

"You ... you don't think I'm crazy for hearing a machine?"

"Why?" I try to open up to him, showing him that I'm not just saying this. "After all we've gone though. After accepting that we can talk without talking. How much more is it to believe you can chat with things as well as people."

"I'm sorry." He drops his eyes and curls a little tighter.

"For what?"

"For not trusting you as much as I've asked you to trust me."

Damn he does a good guilt trip when he's not trying. I pull him against me; at least he doesn't resist. "Let's go to bed. It's late and we're both too tied to be level-headed."

He chuckles weakly. "Like you ever are."


We work in comfortable silence on the TurboKat three days later. We're getting along amazingly well, and it doesn't feel forced like before. I'm fiddling with the engine, he's installing some new weapons system. It's a nice return to normality as the siren blares for our attention. That's normal too. Not welcome, but normal.

"Yes, Miss Briggs?" Jake tags the com so we can both hear as I supress a rather creative line of curses. He glances at me with an amused smile playing across his face. Sometimes I swear he enjoys messing with me for no reason at all, just to see me react.

"There are plant monsters in City Hall." Her voice is strained, but more annoyed than scared.

"We're on our way, Miss Briggs." He clicks the com off before we scramble to change. It's automatic for us now after eight years.

"Sometimes I think we're trapped in one of your grade B movies."

He grins as he ties his mask. "No way. Grade B's never have hot sex."


Jake snuggles into me that night, his need to be closer to me than physically possible still evident. The last few days have really shook him up.

"Chance?"

"Mmm?"

"Are you willing to do me a big favor?" He locks eyes with me.

I've finally figured out this is his way of double checking when he's desperate to be sure of something. "Anything I can, baby." It's weird to know I mean it. Whatever he asks for, he'll get.

"See a counsellor."

"Why?"

"Because you aren't getting through this on your own. Dr. Shelta is very good with identity problems."

"Identity ..."

"Chance, you're having hell accepting that you're bi. That you enjoy sex with another male. Where ever it came from, it's destroying you and taking me along for the ride."

"Ok, I will." I can't refuse him, regardless of how much I don't want to do this. "But I don't trust shrinks."

"What happened?"

"Now you're being nosy."

"No, now I'm desperate. I'm losing you."

"No you're not." How does he get me to open up like this? "I went to one after Areon died. He put me on something ... pills. I lost four years, maybe more because of them. It's all gone. The nightmares I kept, the rest is gone. I was fine before then. I mean it hurt that my brother was gone and I never found out who, but it wasn't incapacitating or anything. I wasn't violent, I even did better in school than before trying to make his memory proud. Just my dreams were vicious. I ... I dug up my juvenile record after I got in ... my god Jake, I killed a kid on those drugs. My arrest record is almost as long as my arm, all of it in those four years, all of it violent and I don't remember doing any of it. They just put me on more medication and I lost it even more." I close my eyes and concentrate on breathing until my heart slows, he waits on me without even twitching. "Eventually dad got the guts or survival instincts to put a stop to it. Mom said I calmed down a lot after they stopped giving me anything."

Now why did I just blurt that out? I could have said a lot less.

"Survival instincts?"

"I was almost ten when it started. I was over fourteen and had more muscle than my dad when it ended. I found out later my mom was honestly afraid for her life. My siblings still won't see me alone because of it. I have blood relations, but no family any more."

"Sweet mercy." Jake makes eye contact again. "I'm sorry. Believe me, Dr. Shelta doesn't believe in using drugs. She got me through more than I care to remember without the option coming up once."

"Jake, calm down. I agreed. I'll go and I'll try my best. I do need to deal with this." His pride in my decision shows clearly in his eyes and through our link. It feels incredibly good to have him proud of me. I've found something almost as addictive as adrenaline. "Now who's Dr. Shelta?"

"The Clawson family psychiatrist. She knows about our hobby and my quirks and everything."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Not really. Our secrets are some of the least she keeps. There are Clawsons in all sorts of interesting jobs, many of them requiring security clearance. She's trustworthy. If she wasn't, she'd be dead by now."

"Oh."




"Welcome, Chance." A sweet voiced and well-but-comfortably dressed Collie fem smiles encouragingly at me as Jake backs out of the door and shuts it. I kind of want him to stay, but I know she's going to want me to talk about stuff I can't say directly to him. At least not yet. "Please sit down." She stands by a small table and waits for me to comply before continuing. "Would you like something to drink? Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, juice?"

"Umm ... Chocolate, please." I really want something stronger but this is warm and smooth. At least the overstuffed chair is comfortable. It's very inductive for curling up. I suspect a lot of her patients do that. I probably will sooner or later.

Following my own thoughts I realize that I left my pride at the door. It feels remarkably good. Not very productive, but good. I wonder is this is how it is for Jake. If he talks to her, or cries or what. I kind of wish I could remember what counseling seasons are like. But then, Jake swears she's completely deferent.

She prepares a large mug for me, even including a handful of mini marshmallows. Somebody briefed her on at least some of my likes. Probably Jake, he wants to make this as easy as he can. He knows how much I hate to talk about my faults. She hands a warm black mug to me and has a brown one for herself. I can smell the mint in her tea. It's rather calming too. For some reason, she reminds me of my recruiter. A mother I never really had.

She settles in a padded wicker chair a few feet away from me and smiles before speaking again. "Tell me a little about yourself."

How the hell do I answer that? "Umm, what do you want to know?"

She smiles again, unreadable but trying to be friendly, and I think non threatening. "What do you prefer to be called?"

"Chance."

She waits. I don't know what to say, though it's obvious she wants me to say something. Potentially anything. Start with something other than me. "How'd you meet Jake?"

She doesn't miss a beat answering. "Sandy asked me to help him adjust. How did you meet Jake?"

This isn't bad. Nothing terribly personal yet. "I saw him graduate Enforcer Academy. Feral made me go to see my new partner join the force as punishment. Not the first and not the last." Oh, shit. I'm not going to stop. "The kat hates me and I've given him good cause, even before we went rouge. And he gave me cause not to trust him. Bad orders, stupid choices. His decisions cost lives I knew weren't necessary. I wasn't going to be one of them. Survival cost me promotions, respect, eventually both of our careers."

Suddenly I can't talk. I can hear myself try to suck in air though a dry, constricted throat. Still she says nothing. She's waiting for me to continue.

Then the mug is taken out of my hands. I realize I'm shaking. The thing is, I'm not angry about it anymore. Now there's just grief for losing ... ummm ... what have I lost?

Respect? I never was respected, except maybe as a bully. And that's not respect, that's fear. It may look the same, but I know better. I never wanted the fear, not when I was in my right mind at least.

Authority? No. I never had that either. I took some, once. Got demoted and a new partner for my trouble that saved five Enforcers and god only knows how many civilians. I think that was the last time I ever trusted Feral for anything. But I've never questioned Jake's authority over me.

Now that's interesting. I had the seniority and rank. I should have been unquestionly in charge, but I don't think I've questioned him or his orders once. Sure, I've told him he's crazy, but I've never actually hesitated in following wherever he led or told me to go. Ummm ... no, I did refuse to leave him when he ordered me to. But that's different.

Ok, Chance. How's it different? An order is an order.

No, that's not true. You disobeyed Feral because he gave bad orders. You disobeyed Jake because ... because I couldn't stand to leave him. Love, loyalty or ... or fear of losing him. It doesn't really matter. It's probably all of them. Of everything I've lived with or thought of living with, surviving when he didn't has been the only one I could never deal with. It always lead to the same decision.

Now why am I starting to self-analyze now of all times?

Ok, that one's easy. Girl thing or not, I have to. I can't function much longer as it is and that is just not an option. Areon was right about one thing. I'll do whatever I have to to survive. Even if that means looking at things I want to forget ... or changing everything I am.

Now while I'm in the mood to do this ... what else have I lost; at least that I'm upset about.

My dream? Well, yes. I lost that. I wasn't an official goodkat anymore. But Jake gave it back to me, in spades. Not as me, but I never had recognition of what I did right before. I knew what I was, but the uniform didn't bring that last bit of believing. It didn't give me what I need.

Now that's a good question. What do I need?

Food, water, shelter.

No. The survival stuff doesn't count. We'll get any way we have to.

To fly, pride, recognition, freedom, helping katkind?

No. I don't need any of those things. I want them. Some of them very badly, but I don't need them. I'd go on without.

Ok, so what do I need?

Purpose?

Now that doesn't really count either. If I need it, I'll make one up. It's kind of hard to take away.

My sanity?

Who says I was ever sane to start with.

Ok. Things that can be taken away from me that I can't live without.

..... ..... ... Jake. Cut to the bone and that's it. Everything else can be taken away and if he's still around, we'll make it. It was true even before we became lovers.

Lovers.

Yes, we are. I don't just love him, I'm his lover.

I can feel my smile. I'm starting to like that word. I like 'mates' too, at least the way he says it. There's such devotion in the way the word slips out. Like it's so much a part of him that he doesn't think about it anymore.

I look up to see Dr. Shelta watching me calmly. She looks more curious than anything. I've got to wonder what she saw, or heard. I can't tell if I've said anything out loud, so I ask. "What were we talking about?"

She smiles and offers me my mug again. "Feeling better?"

"Umm, yes. I guess so." I force a sip of the chocolate down. It's barely warm anymore as I watch her watch me.

"You were talking about how Jake is the only thing you really need."

I nod. I guess I was thinking out loud. "When it comes right down to it, he's the only thing I can't give up."

"I have to ask what you mean by that." She's got a funny look on her face as she asks. I'm really not sure what to think of it.

"After I finish business, I'd kill myself." My words ring truer than almost anything I've said out loud. It's ... comforting to be so sure of something. Takes the fear out in a hurry. That it was a choice I made nearly six years ago doesn't hurt any either.

"Business?"

I shrug. "Killing whatever killed him, if it's still around."

She's trying to hide her concern and not being terribly successful about it. "Is this something you've thought a lot about?"

"I guess." I don't like the look on her face. Reminds me of dad when he was about to launch into another speech about the right and wrong way to do things. "With our job it's a given one of us won't come back. It's been close too many times already."

I am not going to mention that we are supposed to die together. But I just don't believe that future is set in stone. If it was that easy, Pasty would have gotten rid of us when we were kits.

"An auto shop is that hazardous?"

Shit.

I feel everything lock up. I must read like a book right now. She knows she's said something wrong. I can see it on her face.

She's supposed to know what we do on the side. I know I've probably rattled his brain calling like this, but right now I need answers. Quick.

His response isn't so much the word but a feeling. I feel him hold back from rushing in. It's a little calming knowing he's just a few seconds away.

//She knows we're SWAT?//

//Yes.// He's totally confident of it, and calming down. //She probably just wants you to say it. She doesn't like using information from other sources. It can be dangerous.// There's a pause in his speech. //Just relax, baby. It's ok. I'm right here.// With that he slips far enough out that he won't hear me unless I call again. Funny, but I'm gotten so used to his presence in just eight months it's unnerving not to feel him close.

"Not the shop. Being a SWAT Kat." There. I've said it. Now what does she make of it?

There's a small nod. She's definitely not surprised by the news. That's good.

"Is that the only reason you'd consider suicide?" Her voice is low, carefully neutral. She knows she's spooked me once. I wonder if Jake's told her that we can talk silently.

I shrug again. "I'm sure there are others, but nothing like 'if this happens, it's over'. It's just not something I think about much. I've got better things to spend time on."

"Like what?" There is just honest curiosity in her voice. It takes the sting out of usually hateful words.

"Like keeping myself in shape, the gear in order, video games, busting bad guys, watching Scardy Kat." I swish the cool liquid in my mug around to bring the chocolate back into the mix and take a swig. "Life."

It seems to soothe her a good bit. On her next question, her voice is much more unconcerned. "Do you like your life?"

Now what's she trying to get at here? "Well enough. It's been worse and I can think of better."

"How could it be better?" I can see her try not to fidget as she scribbles something on a notepad.

"If I got over my problems with sex."

Did I just say that? Ok, so it's true. But ... never mind. It needed to come out. I must be way relaxed. Probably good Jake isn't here. There's no way he'd pass up this opportunity to play with me.

I really wish she'd stop staring at me. I doubt she knows she's doing it.

I wish my head would stop pounding too. I don't get headaches often, and never this fast. Closing my eyes with my palms over them helps. A little.

"Chance?" Her voice is very quiet, concerned.

"I'm ok. Just a major headache all of a sudden."

Great. Now I've got Jake's attention. He's trying to stay out, but he knows I'm in pain.

I can hear her move. I'm in no mood to see what she's up to.

"Chance." She taps my right hand.

I open one eye and drop the hand to see what she's offering. It takes a bit to focus on the two small, white pills.

"They're just painkillers." She offers the assurance before I even register that this is something I could take wrong. Jake definitely briefed her on some stuff to watch out for.

"Thanks." The pills go down easy with a couple swigs of cold chocolate.

Her voice is still very soft as she touches my shoulder. "It's time for Jake's season, anyway."

I nod and stand, letting her guide me to the door.

Now why do I get the feeling that she wouldn't mention the time as long as I kept talking? I know Jake wouldn't bring it up.

I'm not at all surprised to see him all but hovering just outside the door when she opens it into the waiting room.

"Give me fifteen minutes, ok?" I think it's directed at him. I'm having a terrible time focusing past the pain in my head and the warmth of his hands on my arm.

"Sure." He sounds a little absent as we walk away from the door. "What happened?"

"It's just a killer headache."

"You're sure?"

The pain's already ebbing. Weird. "I'm sure."




Three months later Jake asks me to go with him to a gay benefit dinner. It's not an idea that thrills me but he's going regardless. Grace wants me to get involved in the community and this is about as non threatening as the options get. I'm getting used to the idea that there's nothing wrong with Jake and me being together, but I am definitely not ready to have another male make a pass at me. Acceptance has come mostly thanks to the fact that a full 10% of the population is like us. Well, actually, 10% are gay. Jake's pointed out on more than one occasion we aren't really, because we both still like fems. We don't date them anymore, but they are an option if we do. That ten percent that are pure gay are too many for it to be anything that can be changed, or be ashamed about. We couldn't find any stats on how many are bi, but it's probably just as high. Doesn't help much with the outside world, but we never had much to do with them anyway. At least beyond saving them every other week.

I don't like wearing the suit, but it means a lot to him -- and I have to admit he looks good enough to eat in his. And if I keep thinking like that, we'll never get out of here. That he's thinking about the same thing of me is not helping one bit.

"Are you sure you want to come?" Jake makes a final adjustment to my bow-tie, managing to caress my jaw and neck in the process.

He can turn me to mush with such a little touch. "Yes, I'm sure. Besides, it'll get Grace off my back about participating a little." He closes his eyes and offers a little kiss when I brush my thumb across his lips. "You said no one was likely to come on to me."

He smiles and shakes his head lightly enough not to loose contact with my hand. "Chance, you worry too much. You go to the Thomas Milk Dinner with a date, not to pick one up."


"A church?" I almost balk when he points where to pull in.

"Not all of them are homophobic, closed mined backwater hypocrites." He brushes his hand up my thigh teasingly as I find a spot in the nearly full lot. "Some embraced the Good Book's preaching as they were intended and have changed with the times."

I don't have an answer for that. I don't want to know if he attends church, even a 'good' one. It makes my skin crawl just being here, no matter what sponsorship of this event says about the group. It's another of Dad's ideas I probably need to get rid of. Sometimes I think it would be better to get clobbered and forget everything; to just start over without any preconceptions.

The wind picks up a notch as we get out of the car. It's cooler than it should be, even after dark in late November. Jake slides his fingers through mine and smiles up at me in the headlights of another vehicle pulling in. I try to smile back as the night looses it's bite.

The walk though the small parking lot and up a short, evergreen bush lined sidewalk to the building is badly lit but we make it to the front door without tripping. A plump cream and brown mottled femkat asks for our tickets just inside the door. If Jake hadn't provided them so quickly, I'm sure my confusion would have gotten her attention. As it stood, he hauled me into the somewhat crowded main room as she turned to greet a female couple behind us.

"I do not believe this." A smooth male voice calls a little mockingly from our right, bringing Jake up short. "Jake Clawson's got a date."

"Yap, Jake's got a date, and then some." Jake mimicked his tone perfectly, then dropped to his normal voice. "Hi, Frank. I see you're still going stag."

The tall, lanky gray tabby grinned. "Of course. So who's this?"

"Chance Furlong." Jake nodded to me, then to Frank. "Frank Mau. We went to Aeronautical Engineering School together. Now he's head of some project or another at PDC."

"The Chance Furlong?" Surprise and respect both coat Frank's voice now, reflected clearly on his face. I can't help but wonder what he thinks he knows of me. There's nothing Chance has done to warrant this kind of respect. Plenty I've done, but not as Chance.

Jake's grinning ear to ear -- literally. His tone's almost mocking. "Yes, the Chance Furlong."

I try to keep a neutral face as Frank gathers his wits enough to greet me. His smile is one of awe, his handshake firm and his attempt not to stumble over his own words almost succeeds. I have to ask. "What has he been telling you about me?"

"Jake? Not much, considering." Frank shot an annoyed look Jake's direction. "But I hear plenty. You've been at the top of the recruitment list for years. Wh..."

"Frank..." Jake's warning tone broken in.

Frank just sighed and rolled his eyes. "Please consider it." He presses a business card in my hand. "I can answer any questions you have ... and approve almost anything you want."

Jake has my hand and heads into the crowd with a final nasty look in Frank's direction. When we're out of his earshot I pull Jake to a stop. "What was that all about?"

"Nothing important." Jake snaps. I can't place what he's irritated about. "He's trying to recruit you to Cathedral."

"Oh, what's PDC?"

He sighs and chills out some. "PumaDyne Cathedral. It's their vehicle and weapons R&D branch and base." He offers an apologetic little smile that make me want to melt against him, to hell that we're in a very public place. I know he catches my arousal and my discomfort with it and offers a distraction. Either that or he just saw her and it's good timing. He halls me off with a subtle wave to get her attention.

Felina's grin is almost playful as she meets us halfway. I guess they know each other. But she eyes me, I guess trying to decide if I'm being supportive or we're actually a couple. The last time we were this close, I was definitely single. When her eyes slide to our interlocked hands, I can see a little disappointment in her eyes. I guess that we could have been something wasn't as far off as I thought. Pity.

Her eyes flick to Jake and she smiles. "You off duty this year?"

"Half." He shrugs. "I'm never completely off duty, same as you. But I'm not on the roster."

What the hell is he talking about? They're friends? Could she have known about us before the warehouse? Before I showed her? Was that why she was there? Not for the truth for itself but for him? I feel him catch my confusion and he gives me a reassuring glance and squeeze.

She focuses back on me. "Nice to see you finally came to your senses."

"Wh...what?" I hear myself stammer.

She cups my chin up. "I knew years ago. Why do you think I took the opportunity when I had it?" She releases me and nods at him. "Jake here insisted I keep quiet until you understood on your own. You have no idea how many times I've wanted to drag you into a nice dark ally and knock some sense into you."

This is even more unlike the Felina I know than what she did in the warehouse. Everyone I know is acting weird. If I see Feral here, I'm am going to loose it. Maybe I've landed in another alternate dimension. But then where is the other me? I get drunk one night and the entire city turns upside down on me.

Jake's voice brings me back to the gathering. "... soon, Fel. Come on Chance, there are more people for you to meet."

I let him lead me to another group. "Did you just call Lt. Feral, Fel?"

"That's what she prefers off-duty." He shrugs, unconcerned.

It's going to be a long night.


I figure long does not even begin to cover the evening as Jake guides me to our car. I think someone else is helping, someone taller than me. I can't even make myself object when he takes the keys. I'm too exhausted, and not a drop of alcohol is involved. Five hours and some it went on; dinner, singers, speeches, talking, people and more people, and dancing ... yes the dancing.

That was incredible. He pulled me out on the second song, a slow instrumental, but I ended up leading halfway through. He's compliant in my embrace, a warm purring bundle willing to follow where I lead us. If feels so strange. He's always led us; in battle, in equipment, in bed, I even submit to him on such little things as not fighting Burk and Murry. The only times we've gotten in real trouble is when I got obstinate and din't follow him. But all those times he disagreed with me. This time, he wants me to lead and I comply and it goes very well. Why can't my life ever be simple? I want to be in charge, but I follow him almost without question.

At least I didn't see Feral. There is some hope for reality. Some.

He's saying something. I turn my head to focus on him as he repeats himself. It kind of registers that he's on the wrong side of the car.

"We're home." He's trying to get me out of the car. I know I'm not coordinated but I'm trying.

He pulls me down and invades my mouth. I can taste the chocolate and blackberry still on his breath. It's as sweet as he is.


Five months have disappeared since the Thomas Milk dinner and Aroen still hasn't come back, much to Jake's relief and my disappointment. But I don't really need him either, so maybe that's why. The guilt diminishes a little each time we make love. And it is making love now, for both of us. I can't even describe what it felt like the first time I realized that. It was sweet. It was sweeter when I realized a few weeks later that he hadn't looked at another kat since I made the breakthrough.

We've fallen into a comfortable pattern when our evenings permit. I watch Scardy Kat or the news or sometimes even David Litterbin while he reads curled up against me on the couch.

Tonight he's a little more ... affectionate that usual. Every couple pages he shifts to left to free hand drift over my leg or he nuzzles my neck. When it's quiet, he's always a little like this, but it's a bit much tonight. He has plans. Not that I mind, not that I mind at all. Time to push, I don't feel like games tonight.

"Just what are you reading?" He flicks the book so his thumb keep his place but the cover is facing me. The title is is an elegant script and the background is a soft blue, red and cream swirl pattern but there's no clue as to what's inside. "The Gay Kama Sutra. What's that?"

"Things to try out."

He opens the book to show me the inside and I can feel my eyes widen. "Wow."

"That all you have to say?" He's grinning ear to ear at me, too turned on to be subtle.

I grab the book and flip through it. Graphic images of pairs of males doing all sorts of things pleasurable. I'm amazed he didn't jump me hours ago reading this. "How far up the advanced course list is this one?"

"Not far. At least not some of it." His voice has dropped to that needy level he doesn't reach often. Usualy I start something long before he wants it this bad.

I set the book on the floor carefully. My hand hasn't left it two seconds when he's twisted me to face him on the couch, his full weight pressing me down. I can feel his hard-on press against me as he tongue thrusts in my mouth and eager hands unzip my overshirt.

I can stop him at any time but I sure as hell don't want to this time. That's the amazing thing, no matter how wound up he is, he can let me go in an instant.

I reach out to him, opening my mind to what he's experiencing but keeping myself separate, for now.

He grins against my mouth and brings my hand down to his agricite-hard erection, rubbing my palm and fingers against it through his clothes. He's already shuddering as he leaves my hand to work on it's own. Sharp claws dig into my shoulders for support as his entire body arches back for a moment then almost collapses against me. I don't care about the claw marks, I'm the reason he's doing it. He chokes a cry against my neck and drops one leg off the couch, opening himself up incredibly. I slide my fingers open to stroke the side of his penis as we move. He can't stop his hips from rocking any more as he presses his chest against mine, his face buried between my neck and shoulder. I feel him start to cum a moment before it wrenches a strangled scream from both of us and he collapses against me, completely spent.

"Love you." His voice is muffled and a little slurred when he's finally still again.

"Love you too, baby." I murmur into his hair. "I love you too." It feels good to say and know what it really means.

Heart and Soul

NC-17 for M/M
Het Level is None
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Very Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

84 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written November 8, 1998 by Rauhnee Ranshanka

Setting: SWAT Kats

Primary Races: Kat

Contents: Furry. Slash (M/M). Bigotry, Supernatural, Violence

Pairings: Jake Clawson/Chance Furlong

Blurb: Despite having taken Jake as his lover, Chance has quiet a few demons to deal with over it, and few of them his partner can help him with.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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