AN: I am terribly sorry about the delay. I've been taking some summer classes, which have kept me occupied more than I'd like. Also, I feel the need to say this: this chapter does not mark the beginning of the plot. The plot began in the very first chapter. The growing relationship between Tristan and Lucky is a HUGE part of this story. In fact, it's the FOCUS of the story. I recall a review I got a while back asking when we would get to the plot. Well, the relationship IS the plot, essentially. It will all make sense at the end (it makes sense in my head, at least). So, while this chapter does mark the beginning of a threat, it is not the first sign of the "plot" itself. And now that that's cleared up, read on! And sorry for the spoilers.

Chapter 10

Everything seemed brighter. The sun was shining. The sky was bright blue—the same blue as Locke's eyes. Tristan smirked and shook his head at himself. He was acting like a school boy. He even had the grace to smile and nod at some fool that ran into him in the street. Because, although spending the day in bed with his lover had sounded grand—perfect, even—Tristan had decided to check around a few of his own sources in Ravidia to see if anyone nearby needed killing. He couldn't very well let Locke make all the financial decisions in their new partnership.

In retrospect, he should have been paying more attention to his surroundings and less to his fantasies about bending Locke over his pilot's chair.

He was passing a darkened building when someone shoved him toward the front door, which opened just far enough for him to be pushed through. He heard it close behind them, heard a lock click into place.

Tristan drew a knife and turned to attack, but a hand caught his wrist as another hand wrapped around his throat, shoving him backwards into the wall by the door. The hand on his wrist twisted, until Tristan could feel the little bones scream in protest. He dropped the knife with a grunt, clawing at the hand on his throat.

"Let him go."

The sound of that voice alone caused Tristan's face to go a shade of white that few had ever witnessed.

He was dark-haired, with gray patches around his ears. Ice blue eyes, so different from Locke's warm ocean blues, stared at him with calculating coldness. The man was muscular on his own, but his henchmen both probably had a hundred pounds on him, each. This was not the kind of man that anyone wanted to cross, whether they be an honest worker or a skilled mercenary. Tristan had learned that the hard way.

"Cenric," Tristan said, coughing. "What…?"

"The time has come, Tristan, my boy. I'm here to collect."

No. Not now.

"I…I don't have—."

"Oh yes, I'm aware," Cenric said, not giving Tristan a chance to finish. "However, we've noticed that you just became one half of a lucrative partnership. Although lately, it seems that you two have taken the 'partner' bit to the extremes."

"You leave him out of this," Tristan ordered, surprised by how strong his voice sounded.

"Certainly, as long as you cooperate."

"I told you years ago that I would. I'll keep up my end of the deal."

"Good. We would hate for the authorities to hear about exactly who your new partner is."

"You wouldn't be able to prove it."

"We can, and you know it."

Tristan grit his teeth, not replying.

"We can do that, and more. We can see to it that your partner never sees daylight again, unless it's through the bars of a cell window."

"I said I would cooperate! You leave him alone!"

"See to it that you do, and we will. Now, you remember the price?"

"Yes," Tristan ground out.

"We expect that in three months."

Tristan gaped. "Three months? That's all? Cenric, that's a lot of—."

"I know. I suggest you and your partner find some well-paying jobs between now and then."

Tristan took a deep breath to calm himself. With a nod, he turned to go.

"Oh, and Tristan?"

Tristan paused, his hand on the doorknob.

"I don't suppose I have to tell you that we'll kill your 'Lucky' if you breathe a word of this to him."

Tristan shuddered. His nickname for Locke sounded twisted coming from Cenric's lips. And the fact that he even knew… It was testament enough of what Cenric was capable of.

"I won't," he promised.

Without another word from either party, Tristan yanked open the door and fled into the sunlight. He had to go make sure Locke was okay.

Locke was wondering when he became so used to Tristan's ceaseless chatter. The quiet while the other mercenary was gone just seemed unsettling. How quickly things had changed. It wasn't so long ago that he fantasized about choking his partner into silence just for a little peace and quiet.

With a sigh, he stood from the pilot's chair to go and make himself useful. Brooding in the dark about how attached he had become was not cleaning the interior of Artemis. He was about to head into the kitchen when the exterior door opened and Tristan stepped inside.

Locke went still, watching Tristan's eyes track the room and land on him. When their eyes met, Tristan smiled, and Locke found himself returning it, one corner of his lip quirking.

"Find anything interesting?" Locke asked as Tristan stepped inside and locked the door into place behind him.

"Nah. Might be time to head somewhere else," Tristan said before turning back around to face him.

"We can do that. We can go wherever you want."

Tristan grinned. "Wherever I want?" He slunk forward, and Locke had a feeling he knew where this might be headed.

"Yes, Tristan. Wherever you want," he patronized as Tristan reached him. One dark hand reached up to cup his face, and the other settled against the back of his neck. It was a surprisingly tender gesture. Locke raised his own hands to grip Tristan's forearms.

The kiss was soft and slow, all soft lips and warm tongues. Locke was struck by the sweetness of it. Tristan tasted like sunlight and honey. He smelled like leather and gunpowder. Locke's hands fell to his hips, pulling him closer, wishing they didn't have to breathe so they would never have to part. Groaning, he started to pull away, and Tristan followed him, swallowing down his protests and pressing closer, slotting their hips together.

Locke's breath hitched, which did not go unnoticed by Tristan, who rolled his hips forward to elicit a similar reaction.

"Goddess…" He breathed.

"I prefer Tristan," the cheeky bastard whispered.

"Don't be crass," Locke chastised, even as he reached down to slip his hands into the back of Tristan's pants, guiding his hips for more friction.

Tristan pressed forward, until Locke was pressed against the wall. He proceeded to shed Locke of his shirt, mouthing along his chest while the blonde attempted to remove Tristan's jacket and shirt as well. Once their upper bodies were bare, Locke swept forward, both arms wrapping around Tristan's waist, pressing warm skin against warm skin. Tristan hummed pleasantly at the sensation, his arms going around Locke as well.

Hands moved to belts and buttons. Locke suddenly found himself holding an armful of air as Tristan dropped to his knees, pulling Locke's erection free of his pants. He swallowed Locke down, and Locke gasped, pressing his shoulders back against the wall as his hips involuntarily jerked forward. Tristan stilled his hips with both hands, tongue sweeping against the underside of his cock. Tristan eased up, one hand sliding up Locke's body. Locke took the proffered fingers into his mouth, having to lean forward a bit. He copied Tristan's mouth on him, tongue moving in the same way on Tristan's fingers until the mercenary shuddered.

One hand threaded itself into Tristan's hair as one slick finger probed his entrance. Locke hissed, then moaned as Tristan rolled his tongue around the head. Locke's hips thrust forward, and Tristan snickered, mouth vibrating around his cock. He inserted a second finger and crooked them just slightly inside him. Stars exploded behind his eyes, and Locke suddenly found himself torn between driving himself backward and thrusting forward.

"Tristan, please," he moaned breathlessly.

Tristan pulled his mouth away, his free hand taking its place, and he said, "Please what, baby?"

Locke's mouth dropped open as a third finger found its way inside him. Growling under his breath, Locke grabbed a fistful of Tristan's hair and tugged. Tristan followed his hand with a howl.

"Unnecessary," Tristan breathed against his lips.

Locke pushed Tristan's pants down and turned around, bracing his hands against the wall. The invitation was clear, and Tristan shuddered at the sight. He spit into his hand to slick himself up.

"This will probably hurt," Tristan warned, pressing a kiss to Locke's shoulder.

"Don't care," Locke sighed, removing his hands from the wall to reach around and grab Tristan's ass. "Just want you."

"Mm," Tristan moaned, reaching down with one hand to guide himself while his other arm went around Locke's trim waist.

Locke hissed as the head of Tristan's cock breached that first ring of muscle. He leaned forward, hands returning to the wall to support himself. Tristan eased further in, one hand going to fist Locke's erection.

The blonde moaned, hips jerking. When Tristan bottomed out, they both breathed a sigh of relief.

"Lucky," Tristan whispered, and Locke turned his head for a kiss.

"Now, Tristan," Locke said, lips brushing his partner's.

Tristan reached up with both hands to thread his fingers through Locke's. Pressed together, chest to back, arms framing Locke's, Tristan pulled out and thrust back in. Locke cried out, a sound torn between pain and pleasure, fingers tightening around Tristan's.

Tristan picked up a rhythm, and Locke rocked backwards to meet his every thrust. Tristan pressed his mouth against the junction between Locke's shoulder and neck.

"Goddess, Tristan…hngh," Locke groaned, head falling back on Tristan's shoulder.

Locke could feel heat curling in the pit of his stomach and knew he wouldn't last long. He turned his head and pressed his mouth against Tristan's, tongues twining together. Tristan slid one hand down the side of the blonde's body to his cock. Fisting tightly, he pumped his hand in time with his hips, and with a cry that echoed through Artemis, Locke found release. The clenching of his muscles around Tristan's cock was enough for Tristan as well, and together they slumped against the soiled wall, spent.

"I missed you, too," Locke snarked good-naturedly against the wall.

Tristan pressed a kiss to his shoulder, not replying—which was uncharacteristic enough for Locke to turn his head. Looking into chocolate brown, he asked, "Everything okay?"

Tristan smiled and pressed a hot, lingering kiss to his mouth. "Everything is perfect."

Locke grinned. "Good." He gently extracted Tristan from himself and strode toward the bathroom. "Clean up that mess on the wall, would you?"

Tristan gaped at Locke's retreating, bare behind, then turned and smirked at the mess in question. Once he heard the bathroom door slide closed, he wiped away the sweat on his forehead and shivered in a way that had nothing to do with the cool air conditioning. He felt like he was being watched, and with a hesitant glance at the mirrored glass of the cockpit, he hastily pulled his clothing on and set about distracting himself with obeying his partner's demand.

He wasn't sure yet how he would deal with Cenric, but he did know this: he wouldn't let Locke pay the price for his past mistakes.