I am posting this for a friend with her permission. THIS IS NOT WRITTEN BY ME. I am nowhere near this good of a writer.


The streets were baking under the midday sun, so hot that a fresh meal could be cooked upon it. Furied rays burst down from the sea of pale blue to stain unsuspecting victims with splashes of crimson and sweat. As far as the eye could see, the heat rose from the charred asphalt in undulating sworls, left untouched by a trace of wind.

Tailem pulled at the tie encircling his neck, his finger slipping down to catch upon his shirt and tear it open midway as well. He paid little mind to the tiny ivory colored buttons that careened down onto the molten sidewalk as he continued sprinting down the city streets.

It was times like these that made him question why he had ever chosen the profession of a law enforcer. Sure he wasn't in the same league as the everyday cops and thus, was granted more privileges than most, but it was still a pain to have to show up to work in a suit. Days like these killed him, especially when he was sprinting down a sun-scorched, cramped, and crowded city.

Tailem's footfalls came down harshly; no longer as steady as they had been a moment before. He wiped the sweat from his eyes and cursed irefully.

"We think he ran along Fifth Street by that college. You can cut him off near there," a voice blared from his earpiece.

No…that doesn't seem right. I've been hunting the bastard for three years now! He's not stupid enough to take such an obvious route! He's somewhere near where I am now…I feel it! His mind raced as he continued running.

"Hey? Did you here what I said?" the voice troubled him again. Tailem switched the earpiece off and pocketed it with an annoyed shove. The guy's voice was grating on him.

Now if I know him as well as I think I do…

Tailem turned the corner into a deserted alleyway, grateful that it provided shelter from the beating rays of the sun. He raced a few more series of corners until he found himself facing the main street, crowded with dozens of people. Gratefully, he rested his back against the sweltering brick wall, wiping beads of sweat from his face as he scanned the surroundings from his shade-shrouded hide out. Murmurs of conversation reached his ears and faded out like the passing of waves against a sandy shore. It was easy to zone out right there, allow the weight of fatigue overcome him.

Tailem shook his head, blinking his eyes back into focus as his breathing finally steadied. He was surprised with how quickly the adrenalin rush had left him. All he could really make out was a sea of unfamiliar and unimportant faces. Nothing out of the ordinary.

What if I'm wrong? What if he was by the college and I stupidly let him get away by following this hunch? Ugh! It's so damn hot I can't focus!

A cheerful, carefree face caught Tailem's eye and he noted the tiny smirk and sharp gleam the youth had about him. He was thin; the indents of muscle barely visible beneath his flesh, and extremely beautiful for a teenaged kid, a boy no less. There were few males in the world that Tailem could classify as beautiful. In fact, he hadn't thought there were any. But here one was, passing by without a care in the world.

Tailem's hand shot out like a viper snatching its prey, catching hold of the youth's arm and jerking him into the shadows of the abandoned alleyway. For a moment, the teen's sea-green eyes flashed in alarm from the sudden jolt, but they settled back into the savvy, crafty gaze of Tailem's foe.

"I've waited a long time for this day!" Tailem muttered as he cuffed the youth. The teenaged boy grinned as if the entire situation was nothing but a mere game of cops and robbers, not bothering to struggle.

"I bet you have," he commented calmly.

"You're under arrest, Shannon. You have the…"

"Spare me the traditional cop bullshit and just haul my ass in jail," Shannon sighed out of boredom. Tailem shot the youth a sharp look and cuffed the other arm tightly, extracting a wince from Shannon's usual carefree expression. He held onto the teen by the collar of his shirt and gladly carried out the boy's wishes as he dragged the grand master thief to his car.

Distantly, there was a faint clatter of something hitting asphalt, but Tailem paid it no heed, consumed with the thrill that he had finally managed to catch the person he had been searching for in the entirety of three long years. His elation was blinding.

"Uh…you dropped somethin'. Looks like an earpiece," Shannon remarked carelessly. Tailem's eyes darted to the ground for but a moment, but it was enough of a distraction to serve the youth's purposes. He felt something hard knock against his jaw and a distinct body slip from his fingers.

Impulsively, Tailem ignored the pain of his chin and sprinted close behind the youth. He managed to catch hold of Shannon again; the momentum of his sudden burst slamming them both against the nearest brick wall. Breathlessly, Tailem fumbled for Shannon's free hand, catching hold of it as he continued to press the youth against the wall.

"How the hell did you get free?!" He growled as he re-cuffed Shannon's right hand.

"Ow! Did you really have to be so rough? I'm gonna have a permanent face plant!" the thief replied with a whine.

"That's the least of your problems!" Tailem snapped as he pulled the youth from the wall and commenced in dragging him back to his car. He made sure to steal glances every few seconds at the kid, worried that Shannon would pull another fast one that Tailem wouldn't be able to cover.

Relief rushed through the young detective the moment he slammed the door of his car, locking the infamous Shannon inside. He had never felt so good in three long years.

"Shit!" Tailem's boss grumbled angrily. He was gnawing absentmindedly at his thumb, his mind distant. Tailem remained standing there, awaiting some sort of order.

It had been a few days since he had hauled in the grandmaster thief Shannon into prison and they still hadn't received any clues as to where the truckloads of stolen items were hidden. The youth proved to be resilient, refusing to tell them anything they wanted to hear. His extremely high tolerance for pain proved to work in his favor, smiting any attempts that his interrogators made.

In truth, there was only one thing that everyone was after. No one could say that the kid didn't have skill after he had outsmarted the best of the best, broken into the government's highly guarded facilities, and made away with one of their weapons. A weapon that was illegally made.

Naturally, if word got out about it, there would be hell to pay and several people of high status, including the president who authorized the development of such a weapon, would be incarcerated just as the dear thief was now. The public outrage alone would cause years worth of damage and distrust.

"We've tried everything! How can the kid stand stuff like that?!" his boss growled.

"Half of it's that you're going easy on him because he's a kid," Tailem commented matter-of-factly. He was silenced from any further comment by the sharp look cast in his direction.

"What do you expect us to do? We're dealing with a seventeen year old kid for chrissakes! If word got out that we were subjecting him to torture methods the shit would hit the fan!"

"Just like it will when people find out the government's producing biological warfare products and letting them slip into the hands of a child," Tailem returned, silencing his boss. It was a bold move to speak in such a way to his superior, but Tailem was beyond caring at this point. He had come to work for the law at a young age, filled with pride and honor with the thought that he would be helping to keep the world safe from injustice and corruption, only to find that the law was more morally corrupt and consumed with greed than the world around him. Everything was out of personal interest, anything to save the big boys' skins. Tailem had fallen witness to dozens of under-the-table transactions, confiscated drugs being leeched off bit by bit by fellow cops, and arrests for those that the law felt deserved to be incarcerated. With everything he saw going on around him, it was hard for him to uphold his ideals of right and wrong, and even harder to continue to work in such a corrupt profession. His only solace was that he would persist in conducting his affairs the right way, regardless of the shit that went on around him.

"If it's so easy, why don't you go down there and interrogate him!" his boss snapped heatedly. Tailem remained motionless, unsure of whether his boss had been sarcastic or serious.


"You heard what I said! Get your ass down there and interrogate the little shit!" his boss shouted. Tailem turned on a heel and slipped out the door, grateful to escape his boss' wrath. He knew that his boss was just humiliating him by sending him down there, making him seem like a fool as he tried to extract information from the stubborn kid. If the best interrogators of the state couldn't get it out of the youth, what chance did a normal guy like him have?

Tailem went through all the monotonous identification procedures, passing through the guarded walkways and into the gloomy prison cell especially reserved for the youth. The teen was seated on the bed in the far corner, his arms tightly bound behind his back and his feet tied together, rendering him immobile for the most part. Fresh cuts and bruises tainted the boy's beautiful face and worsened as they traveled down the length of his body. Shannon's limbs were trembling with fatigue and strain from all the beatings they must have endured. It was amazing to Tailem that the boy wasn't half dead.

"Ah! I thought they'd be sending another one in soon, but I had no idea that it would be you! Didn't think you were an interrogator," Shannon's sweet voice piped up clearly. Tailem slowly shut the door behind him.

"I'm not," he responded calmly, seating himself before the youth.

"Aw…how sweet! You just came to visit? To keep this poor caged soul warm in the night?" the youth smiled, though the strain started the blood-flow of his cuts anew. Tailem cringed in disgust at the suggestion.

"Where is it?" he growled.

"Right here for you, baby," Shannon grinned even wider, spreading his legs to the best of his ability, "I'm not usually a bottom, but for you I'll make an exception."

"Is this how you've been responding to everyone?" Tailem spoke after a few minutes of disgusted silence. The teen shook his head.

"Only for you. You're special."

"I'm honored," Tailem responded flatly, "Look, cut the crap and just tell me where the hell you stashed the weapon!"

"Why? So your precious government will get their asses covered and I'll score myself a one-way ticket to hell? Sorry, baby, but there's gotta be a little more in it for me before I'll give in like that," Shannon responded sweetly. Tailem remained silent, brooding to himself. There was nothing he could promise the kid that his boss would allow, but he felt the kid's answer had given him something to work with. He took note of all the sexually charged comments wafting in his direction and reluctantly seized hold, reaching out to caress the youth's bloodstained skin.

"Like what? What is it that you want?" he asked softly, using all the self-control he had to keep from freaking out right then and there.

"Besides the obvious?"

"Try giving me a more realistic answer. There's no way in hell I'll ever be able to let you escape from here," Tailem growled flatly. Shannon gazed at him for a while, deep in thought, aware that Tailem's soft touch was forced, but enjoying it nonetheless. His eyes passed over the detective's warm and inviting lips, so near to him and yet, so excruciatingly distant. It would be all the more arousing to feel them against his own, a warm gift of forced submission.

"Okay," the youth grinned, "I have something that'll tickle your taste buds."

"What?" Tailem's eyes narrowed.

"I'll tell you where your government shit is…if you kiss me. And it's gotta be a long one! None of that cheap five-second shit!" Shannon smiled. He felt ridiculous for forfeiting his life for a mere kiss, but he had always been known to act on a whim and pursue frivolous things. The mere look on the detective's face was satisfaction enough.

"You've got to be kidding me," Tailem muttered, covering his mouth in repulsion.

"That's all I want. If you really think about it…it's a small price to pay for something that's so important to you."

"Just a kiss? That's all you want?" the detective confirmed skeptically.

"A long one. But…if you want me to ask for more…"

"Fine! I'll kiss you! But you better carry out your end of the deal!"

"Don't worry, I will. Just be sure to rock my world. The juicier the kiss, the more info I'll give!"

"Wait, you can't be like that!"

"Why can't I?"

"It's either you tell me or you don't, okay?! No in between shit! You're already pushing me to my limits today, asshole!"

"Jeez! You on the rag or somethin'? Okay, I'll tell you all you want to know. Just make it worth my while!" Shannon frowned, sullen from being thwarted from his original intent.

Tailem stared at the youth, unable to fully accept what he was about to do. He truly understood now what nightmares were made of.

With a brush of his finger, he wiped away the bits of fresh blood from the youth's sensuous mouth, grimacing at the thought of what was to happen next. It was slightly comforting that at least he was kissing a beautiful guy, rather than an ugly one. Nevertheless, that thought alone wasn't enough to steady the cramping in his stomach, a signal that he was sure to vomit if things escalated too high from his liking.

Slowly, he neared Shannon, his nose brushing lightly against the teen's as his lips slid gently into the beginnings of a kiss. For a moment, he managed to maintain contact with the youth, but the repulsion was too much and he was forced to pull away.

"Hey! What the hell was that?!" Shannon shouted angrily.

"Chill the fuck out and give me a minute!" Tailem shouted back, running a hand through his long blonde locks. He steadied his nerves, trying his best to convince himself that it was for the greater good. But it was hard to hold on to that ideal. Not when it was all to cover the government's ass like the master thief had said. Still, he knew he had no other choice.

Tailem, now calm and collected, leaned in again, slipping his fingers through the silken amber tendrils of the youth's hair as his mouth once again came in contact with Shannon's. Their lips parted and the thief accepted his captor's caressing invasion, chills coursing down his spine as the passion heightened. He longed to touch the detective, feel the man's smooth, pale skin beneath his fingers, but he was hindered from such a gesture by the bonds of metal that cut into his bruised flesh. Shannon laid his head to rest against the wall, overwhelmed by the intensity that Tailem had to offer. His tongue rose to greet the detective's in a soft embrace, relishing in such searing warmth. The way his captor tensed from the response excited him even further and he leaned forward to keep the kiss from fading too soon.

Tailem slowly pulled away, breathless. For a moment, he remained deathly close to the youth, so close that he could feel Shannon's soft gasps against his lips. The silence lasted for a length of time as the two composed themselves and resumed their original state.

"Is that good enough for you?" Tailem growled once his breathing steadied to a normal pace. The youth smiled widely as he leaned his head back against the wall, allowing his long lashes to make a lethargic descent.

"If I said no, would you give me another one?"

"Cut the crap!"

"Alright! Jeez! Don't need to get so bitchy!" Shannon exclaimed, his dazed expression gone in the wake of a frown. He studied the detective, going over the man's expectant gaze. The thought that the entire fit of passion that had transpired only minutes ago was nothing but a cheap deal depressed the youth. But beggars couldn't be choosers and he had gotten the best out of something so meager.

"The goods you're looking for are stashed away in the cellar of the abandoned warehouse off of First Street."

"What?! You mean that dump next to the police station?!"

"Hey…you didn't even think of looking there, did 'ya?"

"Well…no. I didn't even know there was a cellar."

"Well now you know."

"And the other stolen items?"

"Hey! You were only bitchin' about that one! I'm not givin' away all my secrets! Especially not for one frickin' kiss!" Shannon exclaimed in annoyance.


"I don't recall hearin' you say, 'I'll kiss you if you tell me where you hid all of your shit'. You just said, 'Where is it?' and I could only assume that you meant the government's little play toy! So back off, buddy!"

"Alright, alright! I forgot that dealing with creeps like you requires being painfully detailed down to the last syllable! But whatever. That 'play toy' is all that really matters," Tailem muttered, turning to leave.

"Hey, wait!" Shannon called, his voice deathly close to a desperate plea. The detective turned to look upon the youth once more.

"Uh…so…you'll tell those assholes to back off now, right?"

"By 'assholes' I assume you mean your numerous interrogators?"

"Yeah," Shannon grinned sheepishly. Tailem regarded the youth for a minute before sighing at length.

"I'll look into it," he responded quietly, turning without another backwards glance. He felt a trace of relief flood over the youth.

"Thanks. It was a pleasure doing business with you!" the youth called.

"I bet," Tailem muttered under his breath, wiping his lips with his sleeve. He was in desperate need of some mouthwash.

"What?! How the hell did you get it out of him?!" Tailem's boss exclaimed in astonishment. Tailem grinned, amused and satisfied that he had proven his boss wrong and come out victorious instead of in humiliation as originally intended.

"He said it's at the warehouse off of First Street, though I'm not sure if it's true."

"The dump by the police station?!"

"Yeah," Tailem mused, "According to him there's a hidden cellar and he stashed the stuff in there."

"You're shittin' me! It's probably a lie!"

"I wouldn't doubt it," Tailem muttered with a lengthy sigh. He watched his boss frantically call a few people and send his men to check the place out. There was never a congratulations or a word of praise sent in his direction whenever he accomplished something. In truth, he suspected his boss and his colleagues were resentful of his presence, he being the most brilliant mind they had at such a young age. Some part of it also had to be that they all knew he wasn't one of them. Never had he participated in their shady business, always preferring to do things the right way.

"So how the hell did you get the shit to talk? You don't strike me as an interrogator," his boss inquired once he was finished making his calls.

"It's all in the art of a deal," Tailem sighed ruefully.

"Deal?! You dealed with him?! What the hell's wrong with you?! I swear if you promised anything…"

"It was nothing like that!" Tailem cut his boss off from further shouting, "He knew the obvious things that could never happen, he's bright, I'll give him that. All he wanted was for me to call off all the people beating the shit out of him and…"

"And?" his boss pressed, not allowing Tailem to discard the matter.

"And he…he wanted me to…kiss him," the detective answered quietly. His boss burst into a menacing laugh of amusement, staring the young detective down to size with an icy glare of minute triumph.

"Didn't know he liked 'em on his own team! Whatta disgrace!" his laughter halted abruptly and he momentarily leaned forward from lounging in his expensive chair, eyeing Tailem with a piercing interest, "Did you do it?"

"You got the information, didn't you?"

"So you kissed him?" the look in his eyes horribly condescending.

"Yeah, well, it wasn't the most enjoyable thing to ever happen in my life and I never want to go through it again," Tailem growled in annoyance. His boss shrugged off the matter and resumed his work, treating the young detective as if he was nothing but a fly on the wall once more.

There was nothing left for Tailem to do past that point and so he turned briskly to escape the place and retreat homeward. However, the phone in his boss' office shrieked and he was ordered to stay.

Shannon had kept his word and treated the detective with honesty. The weapon was found in the hidden cellar of the abandoned warehouse, safe and sound.

"Good," his boss said briskly. He paused listening to what the speaker had to say before replying sharply, "Kill him."

Tailem turned violently to look upon his boss, knowing the 'him' in the conversation was the young thief.

So he was right all along. The kid had their actions pegged from the beginning. And I was the one that sealed his fate…

He turned and left in a fit of disgust. It was true that he didn't like the kid, and that the youth's actions were quite ill advised, but he didn't deserve to die for them. If he had never touched that weapon, never broken in and taken it for the sake of having fun, Shannon would have merely landed himself a lot of time in jail, instead of being fated to die. The weight on Tailem's conscience was unbearable.

I did the right thing…didn't I?

Shannon sighed, settling into his stiff, stone-like bed in the attempt of making himself minutely comfortable. The entirety of his body ached and throbbed, giving him little release to drift into a restful slumber. He was tortured by sharp stings that caused him to wince every time he moved even slightly, especially his wrists where the metal delved to the bone.

Through it all, he was mostly aware of his longings. The image of his beautiful detective, his resilient hunter that had stayed on his heels for a little over three years, plaguing his thoughts. He could still smell his hunter's sweet scent and the distinct taste of Tailem's mouth overpowered even the metallic taste of blood that clung to his senses. The kiss they had shared had meant little to the detective, but it had meant the world to him. Never had he imaged such a reckless dream would come true.

However, he was forced to admit regret. He had enjoyed the kiss given, but it only lead to longings of something more, something unattainable.

If I had a second chance…I guess I'd go for a little more than just a kiss. But whatever. I'm happy that I even got something from him…so I guess…I can die without too many regrets.

He knew all too well that the idea of a second chance was the most ridiculous thing that had ever crossed his mind. Now that the government had gotten what it wanted, there was no more use in keeping him around. He knew too much and word had already reached him of his eventual execution two days from now. It was surprising that they would wait that long. Three days had already passed since he had given up his hiding place to Tailem.

The door to his prison cell screeched open, warning him of a visitor before his eyes ever fell upon the intruder. Shannon's heart sank. He knew his detective would carry out his promises, but perhaps his requests had been ignored. His body began to cry out even more with the expectation of more injuries. Shannon didn't even want to look, keeping his eyes tightly closed and his mind elsewhere.

Slow footfalls steadily approached him, coming to an abrupt halt inches from where the youth rested. Soft fingers glossed through his silken hair, gently brushing aside the jagged amber tendrils from his eyes. Somehow, his visitor's touch didn't seem to be menacing.

Slowly, Shannon lifted the lids of his eyes to look upon the intruder, surprised to find that he was staring into the deep blue gaze of his detective. An amused grin spread across his face, but he was too tired to maintain his usual cocky attitude.

"You look great," Tailem spoke sarcastically.

"Don't I, though?" Shannon responded hoarsely, "To what do I owe the pleasure? Did that kiss madden you with a sudden desire for me?"

"You wish."

"Yes…I do," the thief smiled wanly, letting his eyes fall to a close, "So then…what are you here for? Have you come to say goodbye? It must be hard to lose something that you've tirelessly searched three years for in the blink of an eye."

"Actually…I've come to make a proposal."

"Yes, I'll marry you," Shannon chuckled, though the strain extracted a wince and he was forced to calm his breathing. He opened his eyes halfway to regard his detective in all seriousness, curious to see what the man had to offer.

"Okay…I'm listening now," he said quietly, noting the bemused expression on Tailem's face. The detective remained silent, thinking to himself for a while before he began.

"You know that weapon you stole?"

"I suppose I should."

"Well, it was shipped up to the pentagon yesterday…but it was stolen before it ever reached there. It was a sloppy job…not nearly as good as yours. We've already traced the weapon to a building an hour away from here."

"And this relates to me how?" Shannon uplifted an eyebrow.

"This particular building is the most state-of-the-art defense building in the world. The weapon is at its center, guarded by every defense mechanism known to man. We can't just break in or our men will be killed and any methods of force could trigger the weapon to go off and wipe out millions. The thing needs to be stolen back discretely."

"So you want some stupid sap like me to risk my life, go in there, and get it, right? That way, even if I screw up and get killed, there'll be no real loss. Cute," Shannon smirked.

"We need someone with your kind of skills to pull this off. If you could steal that goddamned thing without your presence ever being detected by the military, then you can do this no prob," Tailem said softly.

"One question," the thief grinned, "What's in it for me?"

"Your life. If you get that thing back then you'll be taken off the death sentence," his detective answered. He seemed pleased in some way about that part of the proposal; the youth could see it from the gleam in the man's eyes. Shannon stared at Tailem a while, admiring the man's comely features. He knew better than to trust such an offer when the government was involved. His silence seemed to disturb the detective as a worried frown began to form.

"Is that so?" the thief finally spoke, "Sorry buddy, but I doubt that. You'll have to give me a better deal."

"What do you mean? We're talking about your life! What deal is better than that?!" Tailem exclaimed.

"Yeah, well…sooner or later I'm going to die. Nothing's going to change that. If it's gonna be sooner, then fine. I have no problem with it. I want something else. Something worth my while."

"Like what?" Tailem was almost reluctant to ask.

"Like you," Shannon smiled sweetly, almost innocently. The blank expression on his detective's face was priceless.


"I want you. I'll do this little job of yours if you agree to let me get the fuck out of here and live with you. That's all I want. Well…that and a little under the covers action, if you know what I mean."

"Are you insane?!"

"No. It's a plausible idea. I see nothing wrong with it," Shannon shrugged.

"Uh huh," Tailem growled flatly, "If you ignore the fact that staying with me will make it easier for you to escape! The boss will never agree to it!"

"Well he's gonna have to if he wants his precious toy back in his sweaty palms. Besides, do you really think I'd try to escape if I was living with you? It's like a dream come true!" Shannon smiled dreamily. The mere thought of being so close to his detective for long durations of time sent chills down his spine, a spiral of excitement. This was hardly the case for Tailem, however, who was terrified and sickened by such an idea. The mental image the detective was conjuring up caused him to shudder and remain silent for a length of time. It was obvious he was trying to force himself to accept such a proposal without going insane. From Shannon's point of view, it was quite cute.

"So…let me get this straight…"

"Or queer, depending on your point of view," Shannon cut in with a smirk.

"Shut up," the detective growled, "You're saying that if I let you stay with me at my place…"

"And sleep with me."

"…then you'll steal the weapon back for us?"


"So basically you want me to be your lover in exchange for your services."

"Basically," Shannon replied. The tormented look upon Tailem's face made him feel a bit sorry for the man, but his desires were too potent to be overcome.

"Maybe you haven't noticed…but I'm straight."

"I know," the thief responded innocently, "But that doesn't matter really. Sexual orientation doesn't set up boundaries to those you can and cannot love. It just makes life all the more difficult. I knew from day one that you were straight…but I can't help feeling the way I feel. No matter how much you hate me, I can't help but want to be with you. So I'm trying my hardest and makin' my move."

"Ughh! So you're saying that no matter how much I push you away and detest you, you'll keep pursuing me with the mindset that you have enough love to make up for the both of us?"


"What the hell's wrong with you?!"

"A lot…actually. C'mon, it's not that bad."

"Yeah, from your point of view! You're not the one that's got to go against everything you feel for the sake of a fucking job!" Tailem spat. The youth stared at him for a while, noting the obvious inner turmoil plaguing the man.

Perhaps…this is a little too much for him. Maybe I should just let it go and make him happy. I mean…he looks really distraught. Wait! He's not the one that's gonna die as soon as this job's completed! Why should I give in when he won't be with me for more than a couple of days?! It's not like this is a frickin' life sentence!

"Look…if it'll make you feel better I'll screw a chick to even it out. That way we'll both be doing something…or someone…that we detest," Shannon said softly, trying his best to console his detective. Tailem looked at him, silent for a minute, then chuckled softly in amusement. He shook his head, still smiling slightly, and sighed.

"No. This is all about what's in it for you, remember? That would be just another monotonous job that you'd want a return for," Tailem responded.

"No, I'd do it totally for nothin'. It'd just be a consolation prize for all of your effort," the thief exclaimed, waving his bound hands in front of him in a peacekeeping gesture. Tailem's eyes narrowed as his eyebrows furrowed into a frown.

"How'd you do that?" he growled. Shannon knew he was referring to the way his cuffed hands were now resting on his lap instead of behind his back as they originally were. He grinned craftily, happy to have stunned his detective.

"It's a secret, Tavi. If you were a fellow thief, I'd consider letting the info slide," he responded sweetly.

"My name's Tailem."

"I know. But it doesn't suit you. And I want a name that I can exclusively call you by and Tavi seems to fit."

"Whatever," Tailem muttered, "I accept your offer. Just don't get your hopes up too high. I doubt the boss will agree to this."

"Mm. A kiss to seal the deal?" Shannon smiled sweetly. His grin widened as the detective rolled his eyes and rewarded him with a brief smack on the lips. He watched Tailem begin to make his exit and was suddenly reminded of something.

"Hey wait!" he called.

"What now?" Tailem groaned, turning to face him.

"If your boss says yes…do you think you can take me home with you today? This bed's a frickin' rock and I can't get to sleep on it. Plus these cuffs you've got all over are killin' me! Please? I'll be good, I promise."

"Whatever!" the detective sighed in frustration, leaving without another backwards glace.

Shannon was sad to see him go. Even if their talk had been strictly on business, it was still calming to see Tailem's soft and comely face. The man had never once hurt him. Not intentionally anyway.

The thief just longed to be near him, to share the same space, the same air, the same atmosphere. His alluring hunter had torn his heart out and taken it along with him when he had left the room. Leaving Shannon engulfed in loneliness and misery once more.

A few hours later had left Tailem stranded in utter astonishment, marooned on an island surrounded by a sea of inner turmoil. Close by his side was the young Shannon, weak and in agony, but cheerful nonetheless.

His boss had blown up upon hearing of such a crazy idea. But after a tempestuous half hour of shouting and going utterly berserk, he collected himself and agreed as if nothing had ever happened, leaving Tailem to stare at him in a stunned stupor. It was proof enough that the government was desperate to retrieve the weapon. No doubt some sort of threat or ransom had been made.

Presently, Tailem stood in his boss' office, the youth's head resting against his shoulder for support. It was obvious that he was delirious with pain and alarmingly near to losing consciousness after being tortured close to death. He wasn't even fully aware that he was free from the handcuffs that dug into his bruised and sprained wrists.

A man entered and Tailem took hold of the youth, keeping him still as a peculiar looking gun was positioned against Shannon's side. There was a hissing noise, like air escaping a pressurized container in one violent burst, followed by an agonized cry.

Tailem felt a shudder pass down the youth's body as Shannon squirmed with pain. However, the youth wasn't nearly stunned enough to keep from attacking his newest enemy, clutching on to the man's throat and strangling him to the best of his ability. The attack was short-lived as Shannon's last burst of energy deserted him and he sank breathlessly back into the support of the detective.

"Fuckin'…prick…" he murmured softly, clutching at his bleeding side. Tailem looked up at his boss, wondering if the man was reconsidering the idea. But if the thought had crossed his mind, there wasn't any sign of it.

"I don't think I'll have much problem getting him home," Tailem spoke softly, his gaze drifting down to the half conscious teen nestled close against him.

"No," his boss agreed, "But I'll have a few of the boys escort you just in case."

"Yes, sir," Tailem answered, scooping the youth into his arms and carrying him out the door.

Surprisingly, the drive home was fairly peaceful, not a sound escaping Shannon's mouth. The youth's head lolled against the window, his eyes shut, his body swaying slightly with the movements of the car. Tailem had to admit that he felt sorry for the kid, knowing that he had probably gone through hell and most likely didn't even know who he was at this point.

Gently, Tailem picked Shannon up from the car once he had arrived home, nodding reassuringly to the guys who had escorted him. He watched them pull out and leave before he turned and made his ascent up the steps to his apartment, struggling with extracting his keys from his pocket and unlocking the door.

Once inside, Tailem took the time to settle the thief on the floor of his bathroom, the wall being the youth's only support, and commenced in bathing and bandaging Shannon's numerous wounds. He disposed of the bloodied rags that had been clothes when Shannon had walked into the prison, and changed the youth into some fresh clothes of his own. The movement caused the thief to stir slightly and his head, which had been lolling in front of him, lifted gently, not quite making it all the way up. Despite his eyes being open, he was still dazed and mostly unconscious.

Tailem lifted the youth to his feet, gently guiding Shannon to the bed and laying him down to rest. He noted how easily the teen became comfortable and drifted off to a deep slumber as he pulled the blankets up to cover the child's aching, exhausted body. Somehow, seeing the boy's peaceful sleeping face made him feel like the arrangement wasn't so terrible. It was true that Shannon was a criminal, a cocky little shit, and a crafty devil that would stop at nothing to get all he could out of Tailem, but he was also a victim to the government's affairs, bearing the brunt of their every whim. Neither side Tailem was faced with choosing was the right one. Needless to say, he felt infinitely more comfortable defending what little innocence the youth had left and keeping him safe from harm or cared for in the very least. Nursing the kid felt like the right thing to do, given the present circumstances.

The young detective settled down next to Shannon, slipping into the covers close to the youth. Hunger had left him long ago; along with all the things he had been sure he needed to do once he got home. All that consumed him now was a deep fatigue, weighing down the lids of his eyes and stilling him into a sweet caress. He submitted to the wave of slumber crashing over him, drowning him in its darkening rush, until he sank down to the sandy bottom to rest gently beside a slumbering teenager.

Lethargically, like that of the drugged, the lids of his eyes opened. The violent stinging caused by the shift sent his long lashes plummeting back down to their original state. Shannon's entire body felt weightless, nonexistent, and for a moment he contemplated the possibility of being dead. However, gradually, he became aware of a comforting warmth cloaked around him and the soft sounds of someone breathing near.

Shannon lifted the lids of his eyes once more, taking in his surroundings through tiny slits. There wasn't much to see. Just a wall looming right in front of him.

The youth slowly began to turn to the other side, his aching limbs screaming at him all at once, reminding him that they were there. He stilled, letting the wave pass over him, then began again, this time with more care. Upon exerting pressure onto his right side, Shannon was blinded with a sharper kind of pain, something newer than his other wounds. He winced and pulled off of it as much as he could, falling to rest upon his back.

When he finally recovered enough to look around, Shannon found himself in a rather spacious room furnished in semi-expensive furniture. Clothes were strewn every which way upon the floor, some spare change cast upon the dresser, an open closet filled with expensive suits, and a doorway leading into a fancy bathroom. Needless to say, he felt pampered just being in such a place, regardless if it was his or not.

"You're finally up," a voice sparked close to him, causing the young thief to jolt in surprise. Shannon's gaze fell on the body resting beside him, his comely detective.

"How long have I been asleep?" he asked hoarsely.

"Not long…considering how injured you are. You practically passed out on the way here and that was around six yesterday. You've been sleeping soundly since then," Tailem answered softly, his usual harshness absent for the time being.

"What time is it?"

"Noon. Are you hungry?"

"Starved," Shannon admitted, his hand traveling to rest upon his emaciated stomach, "I haven't eaten in four days."

"Hm. I'll make you some soup then. It'll be easy on your stomach," Tailem said, sliding off the bed and disappearing into another room.

Shannon did his best to sit up, only accomplishing this feat after several excruciating minutes. He still felt deathly tired and his body was overcome with chills coursing down his spine, causing his teeth to chatter. Upon lifting up an arm, he realized he was covered in bandages and cloaked in a button-up shirt two sizes too big. The pristine sleeve dangled inches over his hand to slope limply towards the bed. It drove home that he was still as petite as ever and nowhere near the size of his comely young detective. At best he only came to the man's shoulders. But, then again, that was half to blame for Tailem's natural tallness, an amazing six foot two.

The tantalizing aroma of something appetizing wafted to the thief's nose, sparking a desperate cry from his ailing stomach. He was consumed with a burning sensation as the acid began to twist and turn up his esophagus, extracting a wince. The past few days had been nothing but pain, leaving little time for his stomach to complain, but now it was coming at him full force, reminding him of its presence. It dawned on Shannon then that part of the reason he had had such trouble in trying to sit up was because he had no energy in his body to function.

Tailem entered with a bowl of soup, as promised, steam billowing into the air in frenzied sworls. He sat down beside the thief, eyeing him curiously.

"Are you alright to hold this or do I need to feed you?" he said dryly. Shannon grinned and shook his head.

"I think I can handle it," he replied, his voice still scratchy. Upon lifting his hand to take the bowl, he became suddenly aware of the sleeves again. "Whose shirt is this?"

"Mine," the detective responded.

"And these pants?"


"They won't stay on me."

"I know. I need to find a belt," Tailem sighed, apparently reminded of that fact. Shannon couldn't help the elated grin that spread across his bruised and bandaged face. No matter how weak and tormented he was, he couldn't resist taking a jab at the detective.

"I'm sleeping in your bed and wearing your clothes! Which means you saw me naked! Did you like what you saw? Were you touching me in naughty places while I was asleep?" he exclaimed to the best of his ability. The familiar annoyed and repulsed expression contorted upon Tailem's handsome features and he shoved the soup bowl in the youth's direction.

"Hell no! Shut up and eat your soup," the detective growled. Shannon chuckled softly in utter amusement, the strain summoning dark spots to cloud his vision and a sudden wave of dizziness. Tailem managed to catch hold of him before he plummeted off the edge of the bed and saved the bowl of soup at the same time. He placed the meal on the nightstand and propped the youth against an enormous pillow, steadying Shannon.

"You idiot! Being a pain in the ass must put a lot of strain on your body! Take it easy for once!" the detective exclaimed in annoyance. He slipped a hand to Shannon's forehead and then wrapped the blankets closer around the youth.

"You have a fever. Of course, that comes of no surprise to me," Tailem said calmly, taking up the bowl in his hands, "Here. I'll feed you."

"Really? You're so sweet," Shannon grinned faintly.

"Shut up! I just don't want you spilling food all over my bed! So don't get any ideas!"

"Yeah, yeah! Just gimme the damn food! I'm dyin' here!" the thief mumbled. Never before had he felt so happy just to be eating. He swore that it was the best food he'd tasted in his entire life. Tailem had grinned at the comment, saying starvation often did that to a person.

When he was finished, Shannon settled into the covers again, deathly tired but unwilling to go to sleep. He wanted nothing more to remain watching his detective. For some reason he was afraid that if he fell asleep he'd awake back in his prison cell, the entire thing being nothing but a dying man's last fantasy, a figment to play tricks on his tortured soul. Several times he had to reach out and touch Tailem just to confirm that the man was real.

"You should get some more rest. You look exhausted," Tailem said calmly, returning from the kitchen. Shannon shook his head slightly, the lids of his eyes already falling shut against his will.

"Shouldn't you be at work?" he asked, hoping that not thinking about sleep would keep him awake.

"I am at work. My job is to watch over you now," Tailem responded, sitting next to the youth.

"Oh. So…you just have to watch me?"

"And nurse you back to health. You need to be in top condition if you're going to be breaking into some high defense building."

"Nn. My side hurts," Shannon frowned, clutching at his right side again, "What the hell did that fucker do?"

"I'm surprised you remember. You were so out of it I was certain that you didn't even know your own name," Tailem smirked, "The boss decided that if you were going to be convalescing at my place without any guards or handcuffs it would be wise to insert a tracking device in you."

"What?! What the fuck's wrong with you?! You damn sick bastard! Ughh…" Shannon let his head loll forward, his sudden outburst turning to betray him.

"Take it easy, kid. You can bitch at me all you want when you're better. Just get some rest for now."


"Why the hell not?"

"'Cause…if I fall asleep…it'll disappear…"

"What will?"

"This," Shannon mumbled, already fading. His head slid against the detective's shoulder and he clung desperately to him, his fingers closing in on the man's shirt. He felt Tailem's arms hesitantly envelop him, hold him safe from harm, providing shelter. Despite his desperate attempts to fight the darkness, it overcame him, smothered him. Shannon's fingers slowly unfurled from the detective's shirt, his hand sliding down to the man's waist. His last thoughts were pleads. Pleads for his detective to remain still. To be there for him.

Tailem sighed at length, still holding the youth close. He had never expected to end up in such a strange situation.

In a way, the youth's affection was cute and fairly innocent, save for the powerful sex drive. All the boy really wanted was someone to care for him.

Tailem had read the file on Shannon, learning all about his past. The kid's parents had both died when he was an infant, leaving him stranded on the streets with no relatives and hardly any help. A man that claimed to know Shannon's father, who had been a highly trained assassin as well as a master thief, had taken him in, bringing the youth up to be what he was today, a great thief with skills far surpassing his father's. But, somewhere along the line, the man had deserted Shannon like everyone else, taking all the goods the kid had stolen and leaving him alone to face the cold horrors of living.

Since then, the youth lived from day to day, stealing to survive and trying to make the most out of it by making the entire affair a game. He never knew where he would be sleeping for the night or where his next meal would come from. In fact, Tailem's first encounter with the kid had been when Shannon appeared out of nowhere and stole his lunch.

With a past like that, it was hard not to feel sympathy towards the boy. All Shannon was really guilty of was doing as he was taught and falling in love. Who was he to hurt and shun the child for something like that?

Tailem's distant gaze fell upon the sleeping Shannon, so peaceful and innocent in slumber. The boy was the fruit born from the tree of greed, but Tailem couldn't help but want to eat him up anyway. Shannon was just too beautiful, too inviting for even a straight guy to resist.

Quickly, Tailem shook the thought from him, astonished by such strange emotions. When did he become so receptive to something like this?

What the hell's wrong with me? Is the kid rubbing off on me or something? I've never EVER thought about guys this way! So why is he any different? Maybe he's actually a girl in disguise…oh yeah…I saw him naked. There's no way a girl would have anything like that. Unless he was a girl and then he got a sex change. Gahh! It's a guy! I'm just losing it! This is purely something wrong with me, not anyone else! Damn kid! I wish I were never assigned to hunt him down!

Tailem sighed and held the youth close. He concluded that he would just ignore such a feeling, let it pass as a phase. But, then again, he still had to fulfill his end of the deal. Meaning these sudden feelings could work in his advantage. Maybe now, sleeping with Shannon wouldn't be so bad.

The young detective let the issue slide, his thoughts drifting to other matters. It was clear that Shannon was terrified to wake up alone, meaning he would have to remain sitting there, serving as a personal pillow, until the youth woke up. He wondered briefly how he was going to get up and get something to eat if he couldn't budge from that spot. But it didn't really matter anyway.

It went on in this manner for two days, Shannon barely conscious for long durations of time, devoting much of his effort to recovering. Tailem had no complaints, having much time to relax and get things done in the guise of doing his job. He was stunned with how quickly the youth was recovering. If he had gone through something so hideous as torture, he wouldn't be out of bed for months. And here the young Shannon was, being as stubborn as ever and trying his best to get out of bed and walk around every chance he got.

Presently, Tailem walked back into his bedroom to find the bed empty of the new inhabitant. His heart ceased its beating in a violent seizure, his hand loosening around his pen to send it clattering to the floor. He raced to the bathroom, hoping it was just a false alarm, but found it as empty as his bed. Shannon had escaped.

"What's up with you? You look like you've seen a ghost," a voice piped up behind him, startling him to an early grave. Tailem whirled around to find the kid standing innocently before him, a glass of juice in hand.

"How the hell did you…! And why are you out of bed!" the detective shouted, nerve-racked. He felt strange under the youth's gaze, feeling like he was a freak show that Shannon could view at his amusement.

"I just went to get a drink? Jeez! Don't need to have a coronary," Shannon answered calmly, sliding past him without much thought.

"But I was just in the kitchen and I didn't see you anywhere! You never passed me!"

"Gotta practice those stealth skills if I'm gonna steal somethin' for you guys," The youth smirked. Tailem ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, wanting nothing more than to strangle the thief for scaring the shit out of him.

"If you weren't so crucial to this mission I'd strangle you right now!" he growled angrily. Shannon regarded him curiously, the cup pressed to his lips so that the only part Tailem could see was his luminous, sea-green eyes. He set the cup down on the nearest table and approached the detective.

"What's got you so torqued?" the youth spoke softly, toying with the buttons of Tailem's shirt, "Afraid that I'm gonna escape or somethin'? That you'll have to chase me around the ends of the earth to get me to do what your boss wants?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm afraid of. So I'd appreciate it if you'd let me get whatever you need," Tailem responded irritably.

"How sweet! You must really love me if you want to jump at my every beck and call and be my loyal servant," Shannon smiled, balancing on his tiptoes to plant a kiss on the detective's cheek. Tailem remained still, tolerating the thief's advances. The peck on the cheek wasn't that bad, but when the youth began unbuttoning his shirt and fondling, he lost it, pulling Shannon away with a firm grip.

"Hey!" the youth exclaimed.

"Haven't you ever heard of keeping your hands to yourself?" Tailem growled, sitting the annoyed thief on the bed.

"Whatta you talkin' about, you sunuvabitch! Your part of the deal included sleepin' with me! You can't just push me away and act like you never said anything! If that's the way you're gonna be…"

"I know what I promised you, Shannon," Tailem cut the youth off calmly, seating himself beside the fuming kid, "And I have every intention of carrying it out. Just…not now."

"Why the hell not?"

"Well, for one thing, you're still recovering and need some rest…"

"Fuck that! I'm fine now! If I can get past you without you even noticing then I can screw with you no problem!" Shannon retorted heatedly. Tailem sighed, remaining silent until the youth had calmed considerably.

"Are you done now?" he asked flatly.

"Maybe," the youth responded tempestuously. Tailem remained quiet, staring at the kid for a while longer.

"Okay, okay, I'm done already! Just say something goddamit! You're freakin' me out!" Shannon exclaimed at length. The detective smiled at the outburst, amused that something such as silence had an affect on the youth.

"Alright…so you might be in good enough condition to sleep around," Tailem said softly, "But I don't want to sleep with you until after you've stolen that thing back."

"Hn! I get it now. You don't trust me."


"Well why the hell should I trust you? What's to say that I get that piece of shit back for you and then you just kill me and piss on your side of the deal?"

"It may be hard for you to believe, Shannon, but I keep my word," Tailem responded calmly.

"And I keep mine! If you expect me to trust you, you better trust me in return!" Shannon exclaimed.

"Kid," Tailem slipped his fingers through the thief's glistening amber tendrils, "I swear to you that I will do as I say. I'm sure you would keep your end of the bargain if I slept with you right now, but I'd rather wait. Besides, it'll be more motivating for you when you go in there to steal the weapon."


"Please?" Tailem whined sweetly, cuddling the youth close. The thief latched onto him, unable to resist, and remained silent, thinking.

"Fine!" Shannon snapped against the detective's chest, "But you still gotta kiss me and stuff! I don't want none of that off-limits business!"

"Don't worry, you can kiss me all you want."

"And touch you."

"In certain places, yes."

"Whatta 'ya mean in certain places?!"

"Maybe you like giving hand jobs and all that shit, but I don't. Especially when I'm on the receiving end!"

"Ugh! You're such a pain in the ass!"

"Funny," Tailem sighed at length, "I was thinking the same thing about you."

A week had passed with little effort, leaving the odd pair stranded in a sunny Tuesday. Tailem was near the edge of completely losing it after spending seven days arguing with the master thief and resisting his urge to flee every time the youth came on to him. He was hardly aware of who he was anymore.

Shannon on the other hand, was having the time of his life. Not only did he live in a stable residence and have three meals a day, he was sharing it all with the man he was utterly infatuated with. It hurt that he could never receive the sort of affection he wanted from Tailem, but he was enjoying what little he was fortunate enough to have.

Presently, the detective silenced his alarm clock's incessant screaming and begrudgingly crawled out of bed, not even bothering to worry about the youth sleeping beside him trying to escape. The thief had meant it when he said he wouldn't try anything so long as he was living with Tailem.

Absentmindedly, Tailem twisted the shower knob and slipped into the water, grateful for the steaming droplets cascading down on his stiff body. He closed his eyes, enjoying the soft lullaby of the liquid crashing down to the tiled floor, beginning to ease back into a deep slumber. But he couldn't go back to sleep. There was work that had to be done, demanded his attention. Still, it could wait just a little longer…

Tailem lifted the lids of his eyes lethargically to find himself staring into shimmering orbs of sea-green.

"Gahhhh!" he screamed, startled. Tailem lost his footing, beginning to plummet to the tile floor, but was caught by Shannon's soft hands. He steadied out, momentarily using the youth's shoulder for support, and calmed his fluttering heart.

"What the hell are you doing?! You scared the shit out of me!" Tailem shouted angrily.

"I'm taking a shower with you, stupid! What does it look like I'm doing?" Shannon smiled in return.

"You are so…." Tailem growled through clenched teeth, hanging his head forward, unable to formulate his frustration into words. The thief merely giggled and wrapped his arms around the detective, squeezing him tight.

"Want me to wash your back for you?" he asked cheerily.

"No! I want you to get out!"

"Oh, c'mon, don't be a shithead! Just enjoy it, it'll feel nice," the youth persisted.

"No, I won't enjoy it! What I'd enjoy is for you to get the fuck out! Jesus! I can't even take a piss in peace with you around! Just get the hell out of my face for one goddamn minute!" Tailem exploded, losing it completely. Shannon remained still, his face expressionless. For a few moments, he stared at Tailem, then turned, snatched a towel, and left, leaving the detective alone as requested. However, his departure didn't make Tailem feel any better or even the slightest bit relieved. Now, in place of his anger, was guilt.

Tailem finished his shower, dried off, and dressed. His eyes scanned around his room for the youth, but found nothing. Slowly, Tailem made his way into the living room to find the TV on and Shannon lounged on the couch, fully clothed, his amber hair clinging to the nape of his neck in damp, spiky clumps. Hesitantly, the detective sat beside him, noting the unusual lack of response from the youth. A sigh escaped his lips.

"I'm sorry, Shannon," he spoke softly, "I didn't mean to blow up at you."

"S'okay," the youth responded without emotion, his gaze still transfixed on the television screen, "You're just doin' what you feel."

"Let me make it up to you," the detective neared Shannon, his arms enveloping the small frame of the youth, his lips pressing against the thief's as they parted in a kiss. Shannon responded hesitantly, letting it last for but a moment, then jerked away from his detective.

"What's the point!" he cried in disdain, "It doesn't mean anything! It never will! You're straight! The only reason you're doin' any of this is for some shitty deal!"

"You walked into this knowing damn well what was going on! Why the hell are you freakin' out now!" Tailem growled, annoyed.

"You're right! I did know that you were straight and that all this was just part of a deal!"

"Then what the hell's your problem?!"

"My problem is I thought it wouldn't matter that you were straight! I thought…that as long as I was with you…and could have some part of you…that I'd be okay. I thought that as long as I loved you…it wouldn't matter how much you hated me in return," Shannon spoke softly, his gaze downcast, "But everything I thought was wrong! It doesn't matter how much I love you…because it won't change a damn thing! You'll never stop hating me! You can't change who you are."


"That's why…I think it'd be best if you didn't sleep with me. Just forget I ever asked. And…you don't have to do any of this either. I'll even go back to that cell if you want."


"Don't worry. I'll still fulfill my side of the deal. So you don't need to freak out about somethin' you know you're happy about."

"Would you shut up a minute," Tailem growled, then calmed, "Look…maybe I am straight…but…I'm not gonna let you screw yourself over. And I don't hate you. I just…don't agree with the choices you've made and I don't understand you most of the time. So I'll just forget I ever heard you say any of this and we'll go back to what passes for normal between the two of us."

"I meant what I said! I'm not taking it back! I don't want to fuck you anymore!"

"Then why do you have such a hard time resisting me?" Tailem smiled, leaning in to kiss Shannon once more. The youth didn't try to struggle; unable to deny the detective of something he was entirely right about. He let the detective's touch wash over him, drown him in a moment of ecstasy, falling to lie on the couch, his hunter's luxurious weight resting atop of his own body.

Tailem ended the kiss after a length of time, pulling up off of the kid and composing himself. Shannon sat up, reluctant to have stopped.

"I think that's enough of a make-out session for today," Tailem breathed.

"Whatta 'ya talkin' about? You give me a major boner and then you call it a day?" The thief retorted, "C'mon, gimme just a little more lovin'."

"Glad to see you're back to normal," the detective remarked flatly, "I already told you that I'm not into that sort of stuff."

"Oh, come on! Please? Pretty please?" Shannon wheedled.


"Fine! I'll do it myself!" The youth growled, sliding a hand down his pants. Tailem turned to watch, wide-eyed.

"Wha…what the hell are you doing?!" he cried in disgust.

"What does it look like I'm doin'? C'mon, you're a detective. Figure it out!" Shannon responded. Tailem snatched the youth's arm and pulled it away from its temporary resting place.

"Stop it! That's revolting!"

"Jeez, quit freakin' out! It's just a hand-job!"

"Yeah…well…you're giving yourself a hand job! What's wrong with you?!"

"Well you wouldn't give me one and I can't stand havin' it linger there so I'm doin' it myself!"

"But how can you do that?"

"Simple. You just stick your hand down your pants like this and…" Tailem snatched his hand and prevented it from sliding back down where he felt it didn't belong. The thief tried his best to jerk his hand away, but had no such luck.

"God! Do you have some kinda phobia on masturbation or somethin'? If you don't like it, then don't watch!" Shannon exclaimed in annoyance.

"I don't want cum all over my couch!"

"Fine! I'll do it in the bathroom!"

"No! Just don't do it at all!"

"I'm gonna do it no matter what!"

"Ughh! Fine! C'mere," Tailem growled, pulling the kid against him. Shannon's amused look annoyed him to no end and his hand twitched nervously.

"Look, I can't do this if you're looking at me!" he exclaimed.

"Do what?" Shannon frowned.

"Y'know…that," the young detective fidgeted. Shannon smirked and took hold of Tailem's trembling hand, gently pressing it against his belly, guiding it downward. The youth's sweet kiss distracted Tailem from the reality of it all and he was only partially aware of what he was doing. His hand enveloped the teen's arousal and he froze suddenly.

"What do I do?" Tailem frowned. A soft sigh of laughter escaped Shannon's lips as he rested his head against the detective's shoulder. The youth shook his head and brought his gaze back up to the nervous Tailem.

"Just do what you think would feel good," Shannon responded calmly. It was clear to the detective that the youth was far more experienced in this line of duty.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, do something that you think you'd like if this were happening to you," the teen replied with a bewildered smile, "You really don't get around much, do you?"

"Not with guys! This isn't a typical straight guy situation!" Tailem growled back. Shannon admitted defeat and gave him time to do what he wanted. Slowly, the detective fumbled at the youth, trying his best to please him.

God! What the hell am I doing? I wanted to make it up to him, but not this way! And I'm probably screwing this all up! He's probably wondering what the hell I'm doing! Okay…stay calm. Just do it the way I'd like it if it were me…the way I'd like it….

A groan emerged from Shannon's inviting lips as he buried his head in the detective's shoulder, the soft shudders of his body signaling Tailem to continue. It struck the young hunter as strange that the youth was actually enjoying it. But what was even more alarming was the fact that Shannon's pleasure served as his own. Somehow, knowing that he was giving something to someone else made him experience the same emotion.

A half hour of time passed in a blur of kisses and caresses, leaving the pair at a finish. Shannon rested against the detective, quite satisfied and breathless. For a while, stillness overcame their limbs and Tailem remained holding the thief close, happy to cuddle. However, he soon came to his senses and pushed the youth away, springing up to thoroughly wash his hands.

The youth made no attempt to follow, preferring to remain in a dazed stupor for a while longer. By the time Tailem got back, Shannon had resumed watching the TV, acting as if nothing had ever happened.

The young detective sat down beside him, feeling awkward and nervous now that everything was done with. He didn't understand how the thief could just shrug off something like that. But, then again, he was probably used to it.

"You up for breakfast," Shannon broke the silence between them, ignoring the incessant blaring of the television. Tailem looked at the youth and then down at his hands, repercussions of his actions beginning to hit him.

"No," he said softly, feeling as if he'd throw up any minute.

"Mm," Shannon mumbled in return, falling silent for a while, then suddenly turned to the detective again, "Can I suck you?"

"Gah! Hell no! How can you even think about doing something like that?! Keep your mouth away from me!" Tailem exclaimed, scooting to the other end of the couch. Shannon sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Here we go again," he muttered.

"Yeah, only this time I'm not giving in!"

"But I thought you wanted to make it up to me."

"I've made it up to you in full!"

"What the hell's wrong with you? It's not like I asked you to do it to me. Just lay back and relax, you'll like it, I promise."

"No I won't, you sicko! Get the hell away from me! I'm not helpin' you this time around! You can suck your own dick for all I care!"

"It's really not that bad."

"How can you even say something like that?! You're putting your mouth all over somebody's…somebody's…"

"Cock?" Shannon filled in for the wavering Tailem.

"Yeah," the distraught detective responded, "I mean…do you know how many germs are all over somethin' like that?"

"Not as many as there are in your mouth! You didn't seem to mind shovin' your tongue down my throat too much, if I recall," the thief smirked.

"Ughh! What gives you the motivation for something like that?"

"The response," Shannon answered shortly and sweetly. Tailem frowned in utter confusion.

"Huh?" he managed to utter. The youth sighed, trying his best to find a way to explain what he meant. For a few moments he remained still, his face contorted in a frown, his luminous gaze distant.

"It's like…" the thief began, then discarded that approach, "Look, have you ever fucked anyone before?"

"Yes," Tailem answered curiously.

"Well in the few times…"

"What do you mean few?!"

"Okay, fine! In the numerous times that you've slept with people, chicks probably…


"Whatever! Didn't you get any sorta satisfaction out of giving them pleasure? Like….it felt good 'cause you knew they felt good?" Shannon asked, his eyebrows furrowing slightly as he contemplated whether he had voiced it the way he had intended.

"Yeah," Tailem responded, unsure of where the young thief was going with this.

"Well, it's the same thing with blowing someone. Their satisfaction is your satisfaction. I just want to give you a good time since you're basically forcin' yourself to do all this shit you've been doin'." Shannon said sweetly.

Okay…I suppose that makes sense. His approach is a little twisted…but it's the thought that counts, right? Still, there's no way in hell I'm letting him do something like that. It's bad enough that he suckered me into giving him a hand-job! God, this is one dirty minded seventeen year old!

"I appreciate your concern," the detective spoke softly, "But I'm still not going to let you do that."

"Whatever," Shannon sighed, folding his arms behind his head and plummeting into the cushions of the couch.

Wow! He's actually going to give up on this one? I guess I should count myself lucky. I wonder if he's getting sick…

Without another thought, the young thief sprang to his feet and headed to the kitchen, rummaging in Tailem's cupboards for some breakfast. He looked up to the detective genially, raising a cereal box in Tailem's line of vision, and offered his hunter some.

Tailem's answer was cut off short by the phone's blaring ring, which was promptly silenced as Shannon picked it up.

"Yo," the youth answered the phone carelessly, sparking a nervous twitch from Tailem, "Oh, you're that fucker from the prison! I remember you, you stupid sunuvabitch! How's it hangin'?"

Tailem raked his fingers through his hair, wanting desperately to strangle Shannon, chop him up in little pieces, and hide his chunks in the walls of the apartment. The youth extended the receiver out in the distraught detective's direction.

"The boss man wants to talk to you," he mumbled through a mouthful of masticated cereal. Tailem passed a nerve-racked hand over his eyes and slowly rose to answer the phone, expecting to have his eardrum blown off by a series of infuriated shouts. Unfortunately, he was right.



"I'm sorry, sir. He got to it before I could," Tailem responded calmly, holding the receiver several inches away from his face.

"When I allowed you to take his ass down there with you, I was expecting you to do a damn perfect job! But obviously you're fuckin' slackin' off!"

"Sir, I've been keeping an eye on him twenty-four seven."

"Shut up! Like hell you are! That kid's doing the job tomorrow! Bring him down here now!" his boss snapped irritably, hanging up before Tailem had a chance to respond. The young detective slammed the receiver down, looking at the kid tempestuously.

"Thanks a lot, you little shit! He's probably gonna fire my ass once this mission is done!" he growled murderously. Shannon smirked with a mouthful of cereal, already on his second bowl, and shrugged his shoulders.

"I doubt it," the youth managed to say, pausing to swallow before continuing, "That guy knows you're the best he's got. All of those pussies there do. There's no way in hell he's going to fire you. Hell, you're the only one that's ever caught me."

"It took me three years to do it," Tailem responded flatly, unable to latch on to the youth's optimism.

"Yeah, but it took the guys before you five years before they even got a glimpse of me. That tells you somethin'."

"Shannon, there are several people who are far superior to me."

"Then why were you assigned to hunt me down and not one of them?"

"All I'm saying is that eventually, one of those people will show up, put me in my place, and give people like you hell. I'm no great detective," Tailem sighed.

"What're all those?" Shannon motioned to the numerous certificates and newspaper clippings scattered on a distant table. Tailem knew what the youth was driving home to him.

"Just shut up and get in the car," he muttered, buttoning his shirt.

"I'm not even finished with breakfast yet!"

"I'll buy you a muffin or something on the way. We have to be there quick."

"Why? So your boss can scream at you some more and throw my ass back in prison?"

"How'd you know where we were going?"

"How can I not the way that guy was yowling? He sounded like a fuckin' weasel in heat!"

"That will be enough of your comments, thank you," Tailem muttered as they walked out the door. He couldn't help but smirk at the youth's remarks, however. It was also amusing to watch Shannon fumble with his pants and try his best to keep them on.

"I need some frickin' pants that'll fit me for a change!" the kid exclaimed. He looked ridiculous wearing Tailem's button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows and those extremely baggy pants held up by a belt that didn't have enough holes to tighten around the youth's emaciated waist. Tailem couldn't help but chuckle and feel sorry for the kid.

"I'll take you shopping when we're done at HQ, okay?" he smiled softly. Shannon tilted his head back to look at him and smirked in return.

"Yeah," he replied, "And I'll be good for your dick boss."

Tailem smirked and ruffled the youth's silken hair, unexplainably amused and cheerful. He was forced to admit that he was beginning to really enjoy the kid's company, even with all the quirks involved. Life was never boring with Shannon. It certainly wasn't safe either. But he could handle that.

They arrived at HQ shortly, Shannon munching on a box of doughnuts the whole way there. When Tailem parked he reached over to snag one.

"Gimme one of those, you mooch!" he muttered. The youth jerked the box away, unable to speak with a mouthful of pastry, and made small sounds of irritable protest, provoking the detective into action. He slid over to Shannon's side and they wrestled over the box, Tailem unable to keep up with someone as flexible as the master thief. Eventually, however, he managed to pry his fingers into the box and extract a rumpled doughnut.

"BWAHAHAHAHA!!!" Tailem exclaimed maniacally, holding the doughnut in midair. He turned to find himself under the estranged look of the kid, staring at him in silent interest.

"You gotta real psycho streak, you know that? I bet you're some kinda closet freak or somethin'," Shannon smirked.

"Oh, shut up and get out. The boss is gonna be furious," Tailem growled in return, visibly embarrassed.

They got out and entered headquarters, immediately subjected to many curious stares. Tailem kept his gaze to the floor, not wanting to meet eye contact with anyone, but Shannon reacted defensively, eyeing them back tauntingly, daring them to pick a fight. The young detective knocked the thief on the back of the head, advising him to behave, which the youth begrudgingly obeyed.

The boss was still rather irritable, regarding Shannon under a hostile gaze, causing the atmosphere of the room to be rather uncomfortable and tense.

"You'll be starting your mission tomorrow," the boss growled tersely to the young thief, "So I want a list of all the equipment you might need and then you'll be given the plan of action to be memorized."

"Ummm…whatever," Shannon responded carelessly, "I'll need some finite steel wire, a switchblade, some of that gunky stuff I don't know the name of, night-vision glasses, hairspray, and a steak."

"A steak?"

"Trust me, you'll see," the thief smirked, then began listing off more that he would require for such a mission. Somehow, despite all he knew of Shannon, Tailem still found it strange that the same kid he had been wrestling over doughnuts moments previous was here effortlessly naming parts and tools needed to execute a tricky theft.

I wonder…what he would have been like if all this shit in his life never happened. If he still had parents and that asshole hadn't taken him in…would he be just a normal teenaged brat?

The next few hours were spent going over the plans and routes the master thief was to take to recover the stolen weapon. It appeared to Tailem that the youth wasn't even bothering to pay attention and by the time everything was finished, he could see how drained Shannon was from trying his hardest to behave.

When the two were finally able to leave, the youth was practically dragging Tailem out of the building, desperate to be away from the vile pits of hell his mind had sculpted the headquarters into.

The detective gladly drove to the mall, taking the kid to find some decent clothes that would fit him.

"I like these!" Shannon exclaimed, holding up a pair of baggy jeans covered in holes. Tailem frowned.

"They're full of holes. What's the point of buying some expensive crap like that when you can just buy some normal jeans and cut them up at home?" he replied. The youth rolled his eyes.

"Jeans with holes in 'em are the shit! Besides…who said you had to pay for them?" the crafty gleam in Shannon's sea-green eyes sparkled through.

"You're not stealing them, alright?' Tailem snapped sharply.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Help me find my size."

"I dunno, do they have a size for emaciation?"

"Yeah, it's called Gandhi style," the thief smirked, sparking a chuckle from the detective. They found a size that would fit the youth and moved on.

"Look at these pants! They have pockets all over 'em and they're zip of so if I get caught on somethin' I'll just zip 'em off and keep going!"

"Yeah, those look like something you'd wear," Tailem sighed.

"Now I need a coupla shirts and a tight one for stealth. Oh…and some Chinese food would be nice!" Shannon mused, his eyes catching on the food court. It was Tailem's turn to roll his eyes and he pulled the youth away from his slow gravitation to the food area.

"Do you ever stop eating?"

"Gotta make up for the lost time at the prison," the thief responded.

"If you're gonna eat something, you might as well eat something that's not junk. And junk is all they have here," Tailem replied, "In the mean time, find your shirts so we can find a place for your stomach!"

"Hey, I'm not picky," Shannon shrugged.

"Yeah, but I am. Besides, you probably don't get to eat out at restaurants often, right?"

"Pretty much. You should know that for sure after I swiped your lunch that time," Shannon chuckled at the memory. Tailem could hardly say he shared the amusement.

"Why are you treating me so nice all of a sudden? I thought you couldn't stand me, but now your buyin' me shit and takin' me out to eat and all that," the youth eyed the detective suspiciously, "D'you think I'm gonna die or somethin'?"

"No," Tailem responded reassuringly, "I just…I don't know. I figured I'd help you out and be less of a jerk to you."

"It's my irresistible charm," Shannon smirked.

"Yeah…keep tellin' yourself that."

"I will, Tavi. It's only a matter of time before you start wanting some of this."

"Why the hell aren't you nervous or anything," Tailem frowned, "Shouldn't you be concentrating on how you're going to infiltrate that building tomorrow? Shouldn't you be practicing or training at all?"

"This is my training."

"What? Slacking off, lazing around, and making sexually charged comments?"

"Exactly," Shannon smiled, "There's no use in gettin' all worked up over somethin' that needs to be done. When the time comes you just go in there and do it. Fussing over how it's gonna be done and stressing over every little detail doesn't do shit! It just makes you so nervous that you fuck up when the time comes."

"I guess that makes sense," Tailem mused.

"Of course it does! Because it's right! I've found all I wanted, let's go eat!" Shannon smiled cheerily. Tailem smiled in return, unable to be annoyed with the youth, bought the kid's clothes, and took him to dinner.

Evening passed into night in the blink of an eye, leaving Tailem stranded in bed with the young Shannon cuddled close, enveloped in the detective's warm embrace, his face peaceful and child-like. The soft sounds of the youth's somniferous breathing proved to ease his mind somewhat. However he was still unable to shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Shannon was far from innocent and even farther from being pure, but something about the mission and the government's plans reeked of something fouler than dishonesty and petty theft. The youth would most likely be put to death after carrying out his services, draining all of that precision, intelligence, and care the thief had developed over the years into a meaningless pool of forgotten blood. What little innocence the boy had left would no longer be given the opportunity to bloom. Tailem now looked at the coming day with reluctance, rather that the eagerness that had once consumed his body.

Tailem's boss went over the plan of action one more time with the youth, trying his hardest to drill it into him. It was obvious to the detective that his boss thought the kid was some sort of moron, a fact that irked him to no end.

Shut up, jackass! He knows the goddamn plan! I even asked him to recite it for me this morning and he did it without a moments hesitation! Jeez, get off him already! Stop making the kid feel like a stupid ass! Ughh! If I could only deck that smug grin off that fucker's face!

"…and you'll be wearing this earpiece," his boss placed the tiny gadget in the palm of Shannon's hand.

"You can keep it, buddy! I ain't wearin' no earpiece. This thing's bad enough. I don't need you fuckin' people talkin' in my ear and makin' things even harder!" Shannon replied disdainfully, flinging the earpiece back at the man. Apparently, he had caught on to the condescending tone from the beginning. It didn't help that the boss had also snatched away the youth's box of doughnuts, Shannon's only means of breakfast.

Tailem's boss looked at the youth irritably. One could count down the seconds before he would explode and go completely berserk on the young thief.

To prevent this, Tailem snatched Shannon by the arm, pulling the youth close and kissing him hard on the mouth. It lasted no more than a few lingering seconds, but it was enough to remind the kid of his reasons.

"Just wear the damn thing, Shannon," Tailem smiled alluringly, "Remember, the sooner you get this done, the sooner I fulfill my half of the deal."

"Alright, Tavi," Shannon smiled after a long pause. He snatched the earpiece from the detective's boss and clipped it to his ear. Soon after, he pocketed all the gear he needed and stood ready to make the departure over to the building.

Tailem smiled at the youth reassuringly and waved as Shannon began to leave, followed by several others on the job.

"Take care, kiddo," he called, trying his best to sound optimistic, "I'll be there listening to everything that's going down so don't try anything!"

Shannon tilted his head in the detective's direction, smiled widely, and saluted in a gesture dripping with sarcasm, leaving Tailem to shake his head and watch as the youth faded out of sight. He then headed to the van with a few of his other colleagues and began to make the drive there. The nervousness he felt had manifested itself in the spasms from his heart and quivering stomach, causing him to feel like he would pass out or throw up at any minute.

The hour long drive passed like one of Tailem's shuddering heartbeats and he was distraught to find himself staked outside the enemy building, seated in the muggy, cramped car.

"Yo, kid!" one of his colleagues snapped. Tailem looked up from his brooding, responding to the man's beckoning.

I have a name fucker! And what the hell do you want?

"The boss wants you down there in the underground section. He says he doesn't want to take any chances when the kid finishes," the man informed the young detective. Tailem gladly left the truck and headed down into the hidden subterranean entrance. The cool, crisp air was comforting to his burning skin, glossing over his face, gently kissing his nerve-racked body, loosening his taut muscles.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Tailem spoke softly when he met up with his boss at the end of the path. The man turned to him, his face contorted in a permanent scowl.

"Yeah. The kid should rendezvous here once he's stolen the weapon. I just want to make sure the shit doesn't try to pull some funny stuff," his boss growled. Tailem responded tersely to the man, hating him now more that ever, and slipped his earpiece in to listen to the situation. Shannon had already started and someone was steadily talking to him, instructing him of what would be seen up ahead of his route.

"Now make a left, there should me a heat seeking weapon nearby, so make sure not to trigger it," the voice said calmly.

"Shut up, already! I can't think straight with all your fuckin' talking!" Shannon's irritated voice replied. Tailem couldn't help the slight smirk that stained his lips at the sound of the youth's typical response. The guide didn't seem to take the hint and continued to talk.

"There should be an entrance way to your right. Take it," the man continued. There was no response, merely a slight click followed by a disturbing silence.

"Shannon? Shannon? Please respond! Shannon? Sir, he's disabled his earpiece and the tracking device!"

"WHAT?!" the boss screamed. Tailem's heart ceased to beat and he remained frozen, his gaze distant.

Oh god! What the hell is he doing? Was he killed? Or is he playing us? Either way my head and the kid's head are both gonna be on a silver platter for this! Dammit Shannon, what the hell are you doing?!

Tailem remained deathly still, unable to breathe. Spots clouded his distant gaze as he continued to wait several excruciating minutes, holding his faith in the young thief, trusting that the kid would show up as planned right before his very eyes.

The minutes carried on in lethargic strolls, progressing into a half hour, then to forty-five minutes. Tailem felt as if he would pass out any second now, consumed with fear for his young thief and for his own head.

Gunshots sounded nearby, causing his boss to cease his shouting and Tailem to jump practically out of his skin. Metal scraped against metal, like nails raking against a chalkboard, and the agile young Shannon slipped out from the air vent above, weapon in hand, a grin spread across his beautiful face.

"How's it hangin'?" the thief said cheerily. The boss snatched the weapon from him, unable to contain his rage.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?! Why the hell did you disable your earpiece? And who the hell gave you a gun?!" he screamed.

"I stole the gun from Tavi here," Shannon answered innocently, causing Tailem to instinctively reach for his piece only to find it missing, "And I took that earpiece out 'cause I didn't need that guy's lame instructions and his voice was grating on me. Plus, your frickin' plan was too obvious. A detection system made by a child could have caught me if I followed them out. So I made my own and I figured that I'd get it done a lot faster if I didn't have you pussies screaming in my ear."

"You son of a…"

"Look!" Tailem interrupted, getting in between Shannon and his boss, "The fact of the matter is he stole the weapon back and we haven't been detected. Let's just get the fuck out of here before your pointless shouting gives us all away!"

His boss glared at him murderously but did as Tailem suggested. Both watched the ireful man storm out of the place and back up to the light of the scorching day. When he was gone, Shannon clutched at the detective's arm, toying with the buttons of his shirt.

"Mmm, Tavi, you're so brave and sexy!" he smiled. Tailem shook the teen off, unable to resist the grin sparked by the youth's comment.

"Shut up and get back to the van," he chuckled, "I don't think it's wise to screw you here."

The master thief giggled and began the ascent back to the police van. Both filed in and discretely drove away in the separate vehicles from which they had come.

The mission was over. But Tailem couldn't help but feel like the trouble had just begun. His nervousness had not left him and he eagerly anticipated arriving back home to assuage his growing fears and still them to a rest, prove them wrong.

However, it soon became clear to Tailem that his sense of foreboding had not betrayed him. The van containing Shannon was nowhere to be found and his boss was strutting around with a wide grin.

"Where's the kid?" Tailem growled the moment he leaped out of the car. His boss glanced at him, momentarily distracted from his boasts and blabbering.

"He's down at the prison, where he belongs. And tomorrow afternoon he'll be in hell, which is where he belongs most!" his boss answered snidely.

"But I never fulfilled my half of the deal! I never slept with him!" Tailem exclaimed angrily.

"Then I guess I did you a favor," the boss growled, denying the young detective any further protest with an abrupt turn. Tailem watched the man walk inside, talking away and laughing like nothing had happened. He knew then that there was someone more suited to being hacked up into little pieces and stashed into the walls.

Motherfucker! How can he laugh about putting someone to death? It doesn't matter that Shannon's a great thief, he doesn't deserve this. He's just a kid. But all that bastard cares about is ridding himself of the one person to insult him on a regular basis! And all the government cares about is getting rid of the one person to slip past their defenses and steal the shit that they shouldn't even be making! But there's nothing I can do. I can't do a goddamn fucking thing!

Tailem turned away, unable to overcome the sudden agony blackening his conscience. He felt like a traitor; something he had always strived to avoid. There was no such thing as an honest word anymore, and he had fallen in with the rest of them. Just a pawn in the endless game of lies and betrayals that had become society, the world.

Home wasn't any less comforting, now seemingly desolate without its new spark of annoyance. It seemed that his happiness, his heart, his soul, had been torn from him, now resting peacefully in the tainted yet, warm love of a certain youth.

A pang set his heart afire with a newborn ache and an age-old loneliness as his gaze fell upon a pair of jeans, ridden with holes, and a few simple T-shirts in his bedroom. An empty bowl of cereal still rested on the kitchen counter, the box sloppily set aside from its proper place. The extra toothbrush resting on the bathroom sink, the detective's hairbrush, now glistening with a distinct amber, the rumpled bed, the remote resting on the seat of the couch; signs of something now gone. A love now gone.

Tailem fell face first into the messed up bed, cuddling close to the blankets for comfort. But there was no warmth given in return. The desolate feeling remained, screaming for that thing that had taken its leave, that thing that would remain permanently absent in another day.

Shannon struggled violently, trying his best to free himself from the guards' iron hard grasp. He had no such luck, but that didn't stop him from trying. Even if he wasn't to make any progress with his efforts, he still preferred to make them earn the pay they received. He refused to be docile and dragged effortlessly to his gloomy dungeon of a prison cell.

The two men "escorting" him to his cell bolted him down to the bed after much hassle. They took a few hits to the jaw from Shannon's foot, but other than that, they got away scott-free.

Well…at least this prison cell comes with a window. Too bad I can't get up and look at the scenery before they fuckin' lop my ass tomorrow!

A rage swelled inwardly at the mere thought. It wasn't so much the fact that he was going to be killed in less than twenty-four hours; that he had known from the beginning. It was the fact that after everything Tailem had told him about always keeping his word, he had double-crossed his ass and flung him back in prison without so much as a second thought.

And I trusted you, Tavi! I trusted you! But I guess I should've known. You can't trust anyone in this world. Especially a cop! Somehow I just hoped…you'd be different. That maybe…even if you could never love me…you'd at least give me something that made me feel like I could be cared for…even if it was for just a few hours.

Dammit, Tavi! You fuckin' screwed me over…and not even in the literal sense! I hate you! I hate you, you fuckin' bastard! I HATE YOU!!

Shannon was overcome with a heavy sigh as his eyes bored into the ceiling, those sea-green pools afire with fury and hate. He wanted nothing more than to scream, to break away and find his dick detective and beat him in for all that he had done. But he knew that, even if given the chance, he could never lay a hand on his hunter, no matter what the man did to him; a thought that angered him even more.

For hours on end, he brooded to no avail. All he could do was stare up into an endless void of concrete and watch as the sun that alighted upon it changed from gold, to orange, to crimson, until it faded finally into darkness, resembling the murky waters of his soul, the millions of tears that he would never allow himself to cry.

Is this really how it's gonna end? Full of hate and resentment and regrets? Maybe I'll become a ghost and haunt that fucker's soul and torment him for all the shit he pulled. Make him pay for how he's hurt me! But……what hurts the most…is that all that time it was just a lie. All those times he smiled at me and was nice to me…it was all just an act. Why was I such a fool? Why didn't I see through it?

A small screeching of a metal door snatched Shannon away from his thoughts, momentarily distracting him from his present mood. Light footfalls echoed down the hall, slowly approaching his solitary cell of agony and loneliness.

Shannon's keen eyes probed the darkness, awaiting the intruder's eventual appearance. He was not denied a look at the guest, the moonlight casting down on the smooth, shadowed face of his detective.

"Didn't expect you to be here, of all people! I figured you were still laughing you're ass off about what a fool I was! Or are you here to play me for more?" the thief spat disdainfully, the mere sight of his betrayer sparking all the hostility in him. Tailem said nothing, unlocking the door and walking in. He sat beside Shannon's bed, his agonized expression now clearly detailed in the moonlight.

"I didn't play you, Shannon. I had no idea that he was going to do that," the detective spoke softly.

"Bullshit! You used me to get that fuckin' war toy back and that's all! You never intended to carry out your side of the deal! But like a fool, I trusted you and went along with it, thinking you weren't like the rest of 'em!"


"I was wrong about you! Completely fuckin' off! And now I regret ever loving you! I wish I never said all those things or stayed with you or any of it! I hate your guts! I hope you die along with me somehow, you sunuvabitch! I hope you pay for betraying me!"

"Dammit Shannon!" Tailem caught hold of the youth's arms, "I didn't betray you! If I had done something like that do you think I'd be here right now?"

"Tch! Yeah! To laugh in my face!"

"No! Shannon…" Tailem's face contorted into something even more pained than before, "I would never sink that low. You were right. I'm not like them. That's why I came here. They may not believe in keeping promises, but I do. I just…I just…" his voice faltered for a moment, "This whole fucking thing is screwed up! I don't know what to do anymore. It's not right that they're killing you…but it's against the law to try and save you. And the law is s'posed to be what's right. But everything's fucked and I don't know what's right and what's wrong anymore. So if keeping my promise to you is what they consider wrong, then I guess I'll be in here with you soon!"

Shannon studied Tailem distraught and troubled gaze. There was no way the detective could fake something so pure. It had to be genuine. His faith in the man began to reassert itself. After a long pause, he finally managed to ease the detective and respond.

"Well…" he sighed softly with an amused grin, "I never thought we'd be doin' it here."

Tailem smiled softly with relief and gratitude for the youth's forgiveness, unable to keep himself from kissing the thief hard on the mouth.

"Sex is sex, no matter where you are," he responded, his lips still pressed against Shannon's. The youth grinned.

"Yeah…well unless you've got some kinda fetish for bondage, I suggest you take these damn cuffs off of me before you start gettin' busy," he responded with a giggle. Tailem shook his head and did as he was told, unlatching all of the shackles that pinned the youth to the bed. But that wasn't all the unlatching he did.

With surprisingly eager hands, the detective undid the button to Shannon's pants, guiding the zipper in a downward spiral with tender care, sliding the material past his hips to make its descent to the cold stone floor. He assisted the youth in extracting his shirt next, revealing the young thief's petite yet, sinuous frame.

Shannon remained sitting there, watching with ravenous eyes as Tailem began to undress, taking his time, making the wait excruciating. He moved forward then, crawling on the bed to loom over the youth's slender body, quivering with anticipation. Their mouths touched, slowly at first, in brief taps, then deepened into something more. The weight of his detective eased upon him, laying him down to rest his head into the meager cushioning of the pillow.

Gentle kisses paraded down Shannon's neck, driving him wild as they steadily made their descent. Tailem's soft, warm lips brushed lightly against his skin, his fiery mouth drawing in the youth's nipple in one sudden, violent motion, extracting a surprised and pleasured groan from Shannon's lips. It lingered for a moment before his tongue traveled down the boy's belly in crazy zigzags, halting for a moment to invade the silken crevice of his belly button.

Shannon's back arched, his body tortured with ecstasy as he writhed under his visitor's soft touch. His sensuous lips parted in a wordless cry as he felt Tailem's head sink between his legs, his arousal engulfed in a well of liquid fire. It was pointless to try to contain the wet gasps that escaped his mouth as his limbs were ensnared in violent spasms of the most insatiable agony known to man. His hand slipped down to embed itself in Tailem's long golden locks, the lustrous tendrils tickling at his thighs as his detective's head burrowed deeper into him, extracting another wordless cry. Shannon settled his head deeper into the pillow, whispering his lover's name with pleasant astonishment. Never had he anticipated such sweet bliss.

Tailem pulled away from the lengthy kiss, tormenting the youth further. Shannon looked up, his gaze begging the detective to continue, to spare him the agony of lingering. Instead, Tailem pulled the teen to his knees, enveloping him in sweet kisses and caresses of a different kind.

Shannon straddled the detective, his palms flat against Tailem's bare chest as their mouths touched, became entwined. Slowly, his arms slid up to wrap around his lover's neck. Their hips locked and they began to move in slow, deliberate circles.

The youth received Tailem eagerly, resting his forehead against his lover's shoulder as his lips parted in yet another gasp. He could not contain his cries of pleasure as their heated passion escalated to amazing heights.

Naked, connected, they danced. Shannon's fingers clutched at Tailem's shoulders in a violent spasm as their tongues met. For what seemed like hours, they rocked together, intermittently shuddering, like ice shifting in spring. The night air, scented by cool dewdrops upon cherry blossoms and budding leaves, gentled them in a caress, veiling the soft sounds of their lovemaking. Their passion intensified, quickening, signaling that promise of sweet release.

It came for him, but Tailem managed to hold back a while longer, allowing Shannon's pleasure to continue to build. For a moment more, the youth remained taut with quick tension, his wet gasps sending Tailem hurtling over the edge, leading the thief into a crazed release.

The two lovers breathlessly crawled over one another, spent. Soft murmurs of cars and city life entered through the open window for what seemed like the first time, mingling with the soughing of their breaths. Their bodies glimmered with sweat as the moonlight showered upon them, the night sky closing in around the pair.

Shannon remained entangled in his lover's embrace, their limbs entwined along with the soft blanket clinging desperately to them. If he were to die now, he would do so without so much as an inkling of regret.

"You know," Shannon spoke softly, still in a dreamy daze, "for someone who claims to be a straight guy…you sure don't fuck like one. You even sucked me for a while! I thought you hated that stuff."

"Just shut up for once," Tailem muttered.

"Still in denial?"

"I don't like guys!" Tailem exclaimed, irked, but his gaze softened, "Just….you. You're different. I only like you…no one else."

"So you did fall for my irresistible charm! I'm honored," the thief smiled sweetly, "But you're Bi."

"If you don't shut up…"

"Yeah, yeah. Just stop bitchin' and hold me," Shannon muttered, burying his head in the detective's chest. Tailem did as he was told for once.

"So…" the thief spoke after a while, "you really love me?"

"Yeah," Tailem responded, his gaze distant, off soul-searching, "I guess I didn't really know until earlier today when I went back home. But I shouldn't be telling you this. It'll only make things worse for you. I should've just kept it all inside."

Shannon studied his lover's grave countenance and lifted a forefinger in the air with a cheery smile.

"Love in the heart wasn't put there to stay. Love isn't love 'till it's given away," he said sweetly, as if reciting a quote. Tailem uplifted an eyebrow before chuckling softly in amusement.

"Who said that?" the detective asked.

"Me. Write it down. Someday I'll be famous for it."

"Yeah, famous in the greeting card industry."

"Beggars can't be choosers. At least I'll be remembered in some way."

"You'll be remembered whether you like it or not as the master thief," Tailem shook his head. The two fell silent, not needing words to communicate the inner turmoil in both their hearts from the sudden reminder of what lied in wait upon the next horizon.

"You know…" the detective spoke softly, reluctantly, "I can't stay the night."

"I know," Shannon replied sullenly, "But please…just stay a bit longer."

"Don't worry…I will."

"And don't leave without saying goodbye either!"

"Don't worry…I won't."

Tailem remained close, holding Shannon tightly in his arms. The two finally allowed the night air to wash over them, soothing them in a gentle lullaby.

I wish time could stop right here. Day could never come and I would never die. We'd just stay here. Together.

Shannon's soft breathing soothed the detective's soul, but it could not subdue the worries that plagued him. To lose a joy so quickly after waiting an eternity to obtain it was simply not acceptable for either of them. Tailem's desperation to cling onto Shannon, shelter him, keep him safe from harm was obvious.

An hour passed in a terse sigh, signaling Tailem's departure. Reluctantly, he disentangled himself from the slumbering thief, gently shaking the youth into wakefulness. He dressed, allowing the youth to do the same, then stole a soft kiss from his lover's lips before slipping silently into the shadows from whence he came, leaving Shannon alone once more and for the last time.

Shannon stared after his detective, even when his image had long since faded, saddened to see him go as was once and would always remain. His time left on earth was waning, but that didn't really matter. All that mattered was him.

"I'll be waiting for you," he whispered softly, "Wherever I am…I'll be waiting for that second chance. For the time…I should've had…with you."

The remaining portion of the night was a restless one. Despite the soothing cool of the gentle breeze and the soft murmur of insects, nature's lullaby, Tailem couldn't manage to drift into sleep. Shannon's soft breathing had lured him close to a deep slumber, but he was there no more and soon would be breathing no more as well. His thoughts raced on what he was to do. What could he possibly do to help his Shannon?

I can't bust him out…that would be breaking the law. And saving him would only mean that I'm just like the others: a lying bastard doing things for my own benefit and masking it in the name of justice! That can't happen. Not after I worked so hard!

But this isn't right either! It's not like he murdered anyone. He just stole three million things. That's not a crime deserving of the death penalty! He has to be saved from this! But I can't do a damn thing! I'm a cop, he's a criminal! There's no way in hell I can save him! Then again…as long as I don't exactly do the saving…then technically…

Tailem leaped out of bed, donning his coat and racing out the door. There was no way he was going to sleep anyway, so there was no use in trying. His time was better spent carrying out some craftiness adopted from Shannon.

Sunrise came quickly for the young detective, showering him in gold. An hour ago he would have regarded this fact with hatred, treating it like an enemy. But now he could care less. Everything was said and done, and despite the obvious underlying crime he had abetted in, he was feeling rather good about himself.

After a slow breakfast, Tailem drove to headquarters, entering without much thought. The frantic rushing surrounding him signaled that something was wrong and he furrowed his brow in concern.

"What's going on?" he asked curiously when he entered his boss' office. The man was screaming at someone on the phone, unaware that anyone had entered. Once the one-sided conversation was ended with a violent slam of the receiver, his boss looked up to find Tailem standing there, still awaiting a reply.

"What?" he spat irritably.

"What's going on around here?" Tailem iterated calmly.

"You've got another job is what's going on!" the man shouted, "That smug son of a bitch escaped five minutes ago and we can't find a goddamn clue where the hell he is!"

"What?! How the hell did he…" the detective exclaimed, falling silent with pure astonishment.

"A doctor came in to check up on the kid to make sure everything was fine for the execution. Everyone thought it was nothing and let the guy in. But he was an accomplice! He and the little fucker broke their way out of the prison and just disappeared! Not a trace of 'em!" his boss exclaimed, gesticulating wildly.

"What are your orders, sir?" Tailem asked, determined to assist in any way possible.


"I'm on it sir!" the detective said, immediately departing to carry out his duties. His orders had been extremely vague, but no different from the first time he had been assigned to hunt down Shannon.

The rest of the day was spent rushing about, looking for the youth and his newfound accomplice or finding traces of a trail to track them by. There were a few leads, but none that took them anywhere but a dead end. He had to congratulate the kid for being the craftiest he had ever come across. But that's what was expected from the master thief Shannon.

And so it continued for a several weeks without any progress. The mad rush to find the thief gradually began to lag. There were no signs of the youth, no activity. Tailem's boss had decided that the youth had fled out of state, maybe to Europe, and the detective agreed with him for once.

Shannon had definitely disappeared. He couldn't survive without stealing something, taunting the cops to follow his trail, catch him if they had guts enough. Nothing had been stolen, and if something had, the culprits were always caught and always found to be some common thugs. There were no more big chases, no more sudden break-ins, no more challenges. Only the same old monotonous stuff day after day.

It had been so long since Tailem had been on any other case except for the master thief's and he could honestly say that it was boring now. Every new case was cracked in four days tops, giving him nothing to look forward to.

I hope he's okay. I haven't seen him in forever. The last time was that night…not since then. And I never thought I'd say this…but I miss the little shit. For some reason I keep expecting him to just show up one day with that big grin of his. He'd probably say something stupid or make some rude comment like he always did and it'd be just like he never left at all. But even if I never see him again…at least I know he's safe. And that's good enough. Right?

Slowly, routinely, Tailem slid the key to his apartment into the doorknob, twisting it with weary hands. He walked in, tossing the keys on his kitchen counter and retreating to his lonely room.

A grin spread across his face as he noted the pair of baggy jeans, covered in holes, still resting neatly near his closet along with a few pairs of shirts two sizes too small for him. They had been his only comfort for the past few months, a reminder of what had been, and what was gone. He didn't have the heart to throw them out or give them away. They would be there, eternally waiting for him, greeting him on a long day's end, and perhaps, just maybe, be there to greet a certain someone if his capricious nature ever guided him back into the desolate confinement of the detective's apartment.

Tailem undid his tie, casting it to the floor, and unbuttoned his shirt halfway so that it was comfortable. Lethargically, he wandered back into the living room. He wasn't hungry, but he would eat anyway. It wasn't healthy to skip meals.

Upon reentering the kitchen, Tailem found the box of cereal out of place, resting on the counter instead of in the cupboard, along with an empty bowl, traces of fresh milk lingering at the bottom. Beside the bowl was a note written in sloppy yet, legible handwriting:

Hey Tavi,

A certain guardian angel of mine sent me one of his minions (and one of my best friends) to set my caged ass free! But I guess you know that already. Xan says you're a real riot and he'd love to do business with you again some time. Now he knows why I love you. But yeah, there's a gig tonight that me and the guys wanted to see, so I'll be home late. Wait for me! I'll rock your world and give you a long hard night to make up for a long hard day!

So umm…yeah. I'll see you then.

This letter will self-destruct in 5 seconds!!! (That is…of course…if YOU provide the matches. Heh heh…?)

Tailem set the letter down, unable to really make sense out of what he just read. When he had thought about expecting Shannon to just show up out of the blue, he hadn't been serious. The youth should've been far from the city that was hunting him down. But then again, what else was new.

Quickly, he turned and pulled out the matches from the junk drawer, burning the letter in the fireplace, scooping up the ashes, and dumping them into the garbage. He ate a light meal afterward and spent the rest of the evening numbly watching TV.

The letter only became a reality to him when a slender figure appeared from the shadows, an enormous, cheerful grin spread across the most beautiful face Tailem had ever seen.

The End.