See Part I for disclaimers, soundtrack, and thank-yous.

Crossroads, part II
© 2001 Kellie Matthews

        They reached the outskirts of Chicago a little after ten. Gus was starting to feel like his spine was permanently curved in the shape of the seat, and he'd resorted to doing butt-clenches to keep his ass from falling asleep. He made an executive decision.
        "Why don't we stop here? We've killed over a thousand miles today, over nine-hundred yesterday. At this rate, it'll only take two more days to get to the island. I think it's time to stop and get a good night's sleep."
        Ollie looked over at him. "Aye, my right foot's been asleep for nigh on two hundred miles."
        "You should've said something!" Gus said, aghast.
        Ollie shrugged. "Wasn't bothering me. I am hungry, though. Could we get some takeaway before we pack it in?"
        "Think there's going to be anyplace open this time of night?"
        Ollie laughed. "Well, there won't be a decent chippie, and I haven't got a clue where to find Indian or Chinese here, but this is America, land of the free, home of fast food and neon signs."
        Gus did a momentary doubletake at his companion before he remembered from his days as a penniless undergrad that a chippie was not a prostitute, after which he chuckled. "Haute cuisine."
        "Grub's grub," Ollie said. "Look. Vacancy sign, neon, just up from a McDonald's."
        "Looks like fate to me."
        Ollie nodded, took the exit, and headed for the restaurant's drive through. "You want anything?"
        Gus was definitely hungry, but . . . McDonald's. . . he shook his head. "No, thanks."
        "Your loss," Ollie said, rolling down his window as he pulled up to the order station.
        It was the smell of fries that did it. As soon as the window came down, the smell came in, and Gus wasn't strong enough to resist that. As Ollie finished his order, having to repeat himself twice (apparently his accent was the cause of some consternation to the young woman taking the order), Gus leaned across him and added his own request. As he settled back into his seat he heard Ollie snicker.
        "You have no willpower," he said, grinning.
        "No, none," Gus agreed ruefully. "It's my biggest failing."
        "Must make for some interesting sermons."
        "I'm a great advocate of 'don't do as I do.' And I lecture myself frequently on the evils of hedonism."
        "Ever convince yourself?" Ollie asked, looking genuinely curious.
        Gus snorted. "No. Never."
        "Glad to hear it," he said, pulling forward to the window to pay, and then handing the bag of food to Gus. "Here, you take care of this, I'll go get us a room."
        "No, you got it last night, my turn this time." Ollie looked as if he was going to object, and Gus preempted it. "After all, fair is fair."
        Ollie gave Gus a look that told him he was quite well aware he was being manipulated, and drove the half-block to the turn-in for the motel, pulled up next to the office, and drummed his thumbs on the steering wheel. Gus suppressed a grin, set the bag of food on the floor and got out. Ten minutes later he was back with a key. "It's around back, first floor. We had our choice of rooms, apparently it's been a slow night."
        Ollie nodded, started the car, and drove around back, parking in front of their room. Ollie snagged both his own bag and Gus' from the back seat, leaving Gus to carry the food and unlock the door for him. After depositing the bags on the floor, Ollie looked around the room, then back at Gus.
        "So why'd you pick this one?"
        "It faces away from the street, so less noise, plus there's no one in any of the rooms around it, so we won't get woken up by the neighbors watching television or fighting."
        "Or fucking," Ollie said, in a tone just a hair too casual.
        Gus laughed. "Yeah. Nothing like that rhythmic thump of headboard against wall to really ruin a good night's sleep." He paused a moment, then couldn't resist adding more, mimicking Ollie's nonchalant tone. "Unless, of course, it's one's own headboard and wall."
        Out of the corner of his eye he saw Ollie turn his head swiftly, knew he was being stared at. He couldn't keep the smile in, but he did manage not to turn his head. It was fun to be the one causing the double-take this time. He moved over to the small table and started taking food out of the bag. His own Big Mac, two cheeseburgers for Ollie, two large orders of fries-- chips-- two drinks. Good, it was all there. Ollie stopped staring at him and came over to the table, taking the seat where Gus had put his cheeseburgers. Gus sat down across from him and they started unwrapping food. Gus grabbed a half-dozen fries and put them all in his mouth at once, satisfying his most pressing craving. He closed his eyes with a sigh of pleasure as the anticipated flavors of salt, potato, and grease flooded his mouth.
        "Good?" Ollie asked, sounding amused.
        "Mmm," Gus informed him, swallowing. "Perfect. You have to wonder what they put in these things to make them so damned addictive." He grabbed his drink as the lingering saltiness made him want something to wash the food down with and he took a big swig, then grimaced. "Agh. This is awful. Their mix is off, it's all soda no syrup, and flat soda at that."
        Ollie tried his, and nodded, wrinkling his nose. "Yeah, mine's the same. Oh well, there's always water."
        Gus wrinkled his nose. "Have you ever had Chicago water?"
        Ollie shook his head. "Bad?"
        "That's putting it mildly. Oh, hang on, I know. Back in a minute." He dashed back outside and opened the trunk, leaning in to grab a bottle out of the case of wine, then on a whim, grabbed a second one. He glanced briefly at Ollie's bags, wondering idly what was in them. He was momentarily tempted to look, simply because Ollie had not mentioned them at all, and had clearly not wanted Gus to look at them the other night, but it seemed like a bad time to indulge his curiosity, since Ollie was waiting for him and he didn't really relish being caught snooping. He closed the trunk and checked that it latched, then went back into their room.
        "Here we go," he said, holding up a bottle. "A 1995 Merlot. Full-bodied, and perfect with red meat, or so they assured me."
        Ollie laughed out loud. "You're having me on!"
        "I'm perfectly serious."
        "That's much too good for this," he said, gesturing at his burger. "For starters, this is more gray than red and I'm not entirely sure it's meat. Look, if you really want a piss-up I'll go scout out an offy and get us some plonk."
        "Plonk?" Gus asked, puzzled. That was one he hadn't encountered before.
        Ollie pointed at the bottle. "Like that, only cheaper."
        "No need to go out again, this is perfectly good."
        "That'd be the problem, guv. You can't tell me you bought it to drink with fast food."
        "No, I bought it to use for state dinners, communion, or emergencies, whichever came first."
        "And which is this?"
        "Pick up the food for a minute will you?" Gus asked, unbuttoning his cuffs.
        Looking wary and confused, Ollie put all the food back in the bag and took it off the table. Gus stripped off his shirt and laid it over the table like a plaid flannel tablecloth. It covered the imitation wood-grain haphazardly and the sleeves hung over the edges, but it was enough for his purposes. He set the two bottles of wine on the table, and then snagged the bag from Ollie and put the food back on the table as well. Finally he stepped back and gestured at the table with a flourish. "There. Perfect. One official state dinner with an important financial consultant."
        Ollie looked at him, narrow-eyed. "You're off your head."
        Gus laughed. "Absolutely. Always have been. It runs in the family, you see."
        "So was your mother or your father mad?"
        "Well, I'm not sure really, they both died when I was young, so they hadn't had a chance to fully develop their oddness, but my grandfather certainly was. Maybe it skips a generation, like twins."
        Ollie cocked his head a bit. "How old were you when your parents died?"
        "Bad, that."
        Gus shrugged. "I thought so at the time, but I got over it. I was confused for a while, because you know, when you're nine and people tell you your parents are lost at sea, you think they mean they're just lost. It took me a while to understand they weren't going to eventually find their way home."
        "Lost at sea? What happened?"
        "They were out fishing, got caught on the water in a storm. It's a fact of life on an island."
        "But you had your granddad."
        "I did. And at that age I didn't realize he was mad, I just thought he was fun."
        Ollie nodded thoughtfully and poked idly at his wrapped cheeseburger. After a moment he spoke. "I know what that's like. Losing your kin."
        Gus suddenly remembered Ollie's fierce insistence on paying his part. "I can bloody well pay my share. Have done since I was fourteen." There was something there. Something important. He was used to teasing out pain from the scantiest of details. "How old were you?" he asked.
        "Older than you. Almost fifteen. Grown, mostly."
        "How did it happen?"
        "Car crash. It was foggy and raining and there was a pile-up on the road. They got caught between a lorry and a bus."
        Gus reached to squeeze Gus' shoulder sympathetically. "I'm sorry. I understand."
        Ollie nodded, and suddenly gestured at the bottles. "Have anything to open those with?"
        Gus knew a diversionary tactic when he saw one, but he also knew Ollie wouldn't have done it if he hadn't needed to. He reached in his pocket, got out his Swiss Army knife and opened the corkscrew, reversing his grip to hand it to Ollie. "I do. You open one, I'll get the glasses."
        He took their soda cups into the bathroom and emptied them down the drain and was about to rinse them out to put the wine in when he spotted the plastic-wrapped bathroom glasses. That seemed marginally more couth, so he tossed the cups and headed back to the table with two of the bathroom glasses.
        Ollie snorted. "Love the fancy crystal. You throw an hell of a state dinner, Prime Minister Knickel."
        "Oh, this is nothing," Gus said, holding out the glasses so Ollie could pour. "Wait 'till we get home, we'll have a real one, with fishcakes, lobster and beer. An official state clambake. We'll get Murdo to bring his fiddle and Sully can fire up his squeezebox. We know how to party."
        To his surprise, Ollie smiled. "Sounds like a lark. I'm not too chuffed on the white-wine and cheese-cracker kind of parties." He waved a hand at the other chair. "Sit. Eat. Food's probably stone cold by now."
        Gus took a seat across from him and they spent a few minutes eating lukewarm burgers and fries, washing the food down with generous gulps of red wine. Ollie refilled their glasses twice, and Gus was starting to feel relaxed and slightly flushed. He knew he ought to stop drinking when he heard himself asking: "So, what did you do after your parents died?"
        He could have kicked himself for being insensitive, but Ollie seemed more relaxed too, and instead of clamming up he sipped at his wine and leaned back in his chair, quiet for a moment before speaking.
        "The social worker wanted to put me in foster care. I had a mate what got put into that. They used to beat him bloody, and nobody cared. Not for me, so I took off, pawned Mum's wedding band to buy a fake ID and went to work in the mines. I was tall for my age, and already starting with this." He ran a hand across his stubbled jaw. "So they figured I was sixteen and just skinny. Lived in an abandoned car until I got enough brass for a flat with some other blokes. I did well enough."
        "You had no relatives?"
        Ollie's expression tightened. "None as would have me, so I'd no use for them neither." He tossed back the last inch of wine in his glass and reached for the second bottle, opening it with Gus' knife and pouring himself more. "That's all water under the bridge. . . let's get pissed."
        Gus laughed and held out his glass. "Well, a little pissed. I don't want to drive hung over."
        "Spoilsport," Ollie said, filling his glass. He closed the corkscrew into the knife and looked at it. "So, do these come with lobster crackers too, for your parties back home?"
        "Not that I've found, damn it, though maybe I ought to write and suggest it. Maybe they'd pay me for the idea. Still, on the beach there are always rocks if you get desperate."
        "Wait, wait, wait." Ollie paused with his glass halfway to his mouth. "Really on the beach? You cook on the beach?"
        "Well, that's what a clambake is. You dig a hole, make a fire in it, fill it with seafood, and steam it for a few hours. It takes a while and it's thirsty work so it's a good excuse for lots of beer. What did you think, we carted all the stuff to the beach just to taste sand in our food?"
        Ollie grinned and took a drink. "You never know with you colonials," he said, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "Happen that's your idea of salt or something."
        "We are not colonials," Gus said with mock fierceness. "We're the free and mostly democratic republic of Solomon Gundy! Hear, hear! A toast!"
        "To clambakes?" Ollie asked, raising one eyebrow. He spoiled the look a moment later by laughing.
        "To clambakes, indeed. We were granted independence by England and the Netherlands in 1713, and we didn't accomplish it by shooting at the British from behind rocks."
        Ollie pushed back his chair and stood, not even a hint of sway, and held his glass up. "To the free and mostly democratic republic of clambakes, Solomon Gundy," he proclaimed, and downed the rest of his glass.
        Gus followed suit, standing too. "To Solomon Gundy!"
        They looked at each other for a few moments.
        "I don't suppose you'll toast the Queen, then," Ollie said thoughtfully.
        Gus grabbed the wine and refilled their respective glasses. "Queen Wilhelmina or Elizabeth, I don't suppose we have to get picky here," Gus said. "A blanket toast, as it were, to cover all our bases."
        Something in his words seemed to strike Ollie as absolutely hilarious and he started to snicker and then to laugh uncontrollably and then fell backwards onto the bed, somehow managing not to spill his wine, though that was getting iffier by the second.
        Gus took the glass out of his hand. "I think that's enough for you, Mr. McIntosh."
        That just made Ollie laugh harder. "You sound. . . . you sound like a librarian!"
        Gus stared at him, stricken. "Oh Jesus, I did. I sounded just like Zeda! I'm doomed!"
        "Who's Zeda?" Ollie asked, still chuckling.
        "My Minister of the Interior. And the island librarian."
        That started Ollie laughing again. Gus stared at him, lying loose and relaxed and happy on the bed, and every inappropriate urge he'd had over the last two days seemed to well up again, irresistible. After a moment Ollie stopped laughing, and stared back. Very slowly he started to smile, quite a different smile from before, not one of amusement. This one was hot, and fierce, and unless he was very much mistaken, an invitation. Gus put their glasses down and knelt on the foot of the bed, anticipation welling up inside him. He waited, Ollie looked at him, but didn't move, either toward or away from him. Gus understood suddenly. It was up to him. His game. His choice. Still, he couldn't assume.
        "Yesterday when you said you 'just don't fancy the right sort,' what did you mean by that? What sort do you fancy?"
        Ollie's gaze held his. "Let's just say I'm partial to gander, not goose."
        That answered the question quite well. And the invitation was still there, in those hot blue eyes, in the half-smile, in the brief flicker of tongue across lips. He didn't actually think about it, didn't remember making the decision, but he was suddenly crawling up Ollie's sprawled body on all fours, coming to a halt straddling his narrow hips. He reached to take Ollie's face between his palms, feeling the prickle of stubble against his skin, and stared into his eyes, seeing the heat sparking in their blue, and that was all he needed in the way of encouragement. He leaned down, and sealed his mouth over the teasing curves of Ollie's lips.
        His mouth was spicy and tannic from the wine, but Gus wanted to taste Ollie, not alcohol, so he went searching, letting one hand slide up into the bleached spikes of Ollie's hair, his fingers holding onto him, an anchor, as their tongues met in a sensual tangle of slick, hot muscle. He heard two distinct thumps and realized Ollie had kicked off his shoes, then Ollie's long arms slid around his back and pulled him down hard, his legs spread and knees tightened around Gus' hips. Oh no, no mixed signals now, no uncertainty. He wanted this as much as Gus did. Jesus, it had been aeons since he'd fucked a man. He'd forgotten how different it was, how good it felt.
        He shifted on the bed, rolling his hips against Ollie's, feeling the heavy swell of hardening cock between his thighs, a little surprised by the sheer volume of it. God. For someone as lean as Ollie was, that was pretty impressive. He rolled again, reveling in the erotic heat of the moment, it had been so fucking long, and he was so fucking hot, and Ollie was just exactly what he needed. Ollie didn't want anything from him, didn't need anything from him but this. The roll became a thrust, and he heard himself moan, and the headboard hit the wall at the same time. Ollie started laughing into his mouth so hard that Gus had to pull back or risk getting bitten. Ollie grinned up at him.
        "Fuck, now I know why you chose this room."
        Gus had to laugh too. "It might have been in the back of my mind, yes."
        Ollie groaned, shaking his head. "Christ, all the fucking time we wasted. We could have been doing this two days ago!" He reached up and threaded his fingers through Gus' hair, dragging him back down, flicking his long tongue across Gus' lower lip before catching it briefly in his teeth, then tilting his head and making it a real kiss, his tongue thrusting and withdrawing in blatant mimicry.
        Gus felt himself pushed over onto his side, and one of Ollie's long-fingered hands was sliding up to tug his undershirt free of his waistband, and his other hand was sliding up under it to skim across his belly and up his chest, callused fingertips dragging across suddenly sensitized nipples. Gus gasped and bucked, and reached for Ollie's shirt to return the favor. A couple of tugs and the loose shirt was out and halfway up his chest, exposing the muscular belly and chest. Not workout muscles, but working muscles. Ollie used his body, a lot. Gus liked that, liked the surprisingly fine texture of the skin under his hands. Beautiful skin, warm and silky, with a faint scatter of hair around each small, flat nipple. He ducked his head and nuzzled one, licking.
        Ollie squirmed under his tongue, making a little sound of encouragement, and Gus shifted from licking to sucking, drawing a soft sigh, then Ollie's hands left him and he was pulling away. Gus objected, not letting go, sucking harder, holding Ollie's shoulders and pushing him back onto the bed. He felt the hollow echo of Ollie's chuckle under his lips.
        "Let up for a second here, Gus. Time to lose some clothes, much as I'd like to do you with that still on."
        That got him to lift his head finally. "Hunh?"
        Ollie hooked a finger in the collar that Gus had forgotten was still around his neck.
        "You haven't got a clue how wicked this looks, do you? It's like. . . breaking all the rules."
        Gus thought about it and grinned. "I could leave it on if you want."
        Ollie's eyes closed, and he seemed to shiver. "No, not . . . not this time. I've got a feeling you look even more wicked without it. Been imagining you naked ever since your little strip-tease the other morning, and I want to see how close I got."
        "Strip tease?" Gus asked, fingers working the fastening on the collar and pulling it off.
        "Don't tell me you didn't know what you were doing. You took off that sweatshirt, then the sweatpants, stood there in nothing but your pants and stretched like some kind of big cat. I almost jumped you right then."
        "Why didn't you?"
        Ollie shook his head. "Wasn't sure enough. I'd never do that unless I was sure."
        "And you're sure now?"
        Ollie's gaze tracked down his body to his groin, where the evidence of his arousal was plain, then back up, and their eyes met. "Very. You want me, I want you, it's all good. Now strip."
        Gus had his shirt halfway over his head before he even realized what he was doing, and he started laughing is he pulled it the rest of the way off. "You always this butch?" he asked, echoing Ollie's question of a couple of days earlier.
        Ollie winked. "No. Just usually," he said before disappearing momentarily in the folds of his shirt.
        "I have a feeling I'm in serious trouble here."
        Ollie finished pulling off his shirt and dropped it beside the bed. "Nothing you can't handle."
        As Gus reached to undo the button on his slacks, Ollie stopped him.
        "I want to," he said, and his fingers were there, popping the button and easing the zipper down.
        Though the slacks weren't normally tight, they'd gotten a little uncomfortable sometime in the last little bit, and Gus relaxed with a sigh as the fly opened, only to tense again as Ollie's fingers slid into the gap and stroked him through his shorts. After the third pass across his erection with only a thin layer of cotton knit between them, Gus grabbed Ollie's wrist.
        "Don't! God, I can't, I'll come . . . ." he gasped.
        Ollie's eyes met his, bright and curious. "Been a while?"
        Gus nodded.
        Ollie smiled sympathetically. "Know what that's like." He squeezed Gus' cock gently, then slipped his hand free and let Gus go.
        Gus was about to slide out of his slacks when Ollie started popping the buttons on his jeans one by one and he had to stop and watch as bare skin came into view. He'd wondered all day if Ollie was wearing anything under them. Now he knew. And damn, only three buttons undone and he could already see the tip of Ollie's cock, half-hidden in its sheath of foreskin.
        "Well fuck me," he breathed reverently, staring.
        Ollie looked over at him, and grinned, though a bit of color washed across his angular cheekbones. "Like what you see?" he asked cockily.
        Gus nodded, licking his lips, imagining how the heavy shaft would feel in his mouth, how it would taste, that tingling mix of salt and sweet and indefinable, how smoothly it would slide against his tongue. He shivered suddenly, and had to reach down and clamp a hand firmly around his own cock, pinching hard just beneath the head to force back the spasms that wanted to start just from fantasizing about what he wanted to do, before he'd even gotten to touch or taste for real.
        "All right, that's enough," Ollie said, and he pushed Gus down onto his back. "Shoes first," he said, tugging the laces on Gus' boots loose and pushing them off. "There, hips up, now," he ordered, tugging at his trousers.
        Gus lifted, Ollie pulled, and his slacks were removed and discarded on the floor, shortly followed by his briefs.
         "Nice tackle there, guv," Ollie said, grinning.
        Gus felt himself blushing, and would have protested if he hadn't seen the teasing light in Ollie's eyes. Noticing Ollie was still wearing his half-unbuttoned jeans, Gus tried to sit up to help him take them off, only to have Ollie push him back again, shaking his head.
        "I can wait. You can't," he said and before Gus realized what he was going to do, his hand had closed around Gus' cock.
        He couldn't help the half-frantic buck into that warm, tight grip, couldn't help closing his eyes and moaning.
        "That's it," Ollie said against his ear, then his tongue was there, tracing the whorls, dipping inside in a peculiar penetration that echoed the same rhythm as squeeze and pull of his hand on Gus' cock. "That's it. Give over, let it go."
        Ollie's other hand stole between his thighs, cupping his balls, rolling them gently, massaging. Gus dug his heels into the bed, shoving up into the hand on his cock that seemed to know exactly how he needed to be touched, exactly how much pressure to use, how to twist just a little at the top, and a spreading heat began to build in his groin, so sweet, so good. But. . . suddenly realizing he was the only one getting any, he struggled a little, pulling at Ollie's wrist. "Wait. . . " he gasped. "You. . . I want to . . . ."
        "Later," Ollie said, and cut off any further protest by the simple expedient of putting his mouth on Gus' and sliding his tongue into his mouth.
        Too far gone to protest any more, Gus sucked on the slick thrust of muscle in his mouth and let his hips echo the cadence of Ollie's hand on his cock. The tempo increased, the pace merciless, and he couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Ollie's mouth left his and he moaned a protest, even though it meant he could suck in air again, because he wouldn't mind suffocating if it meant having that mouth back on his, but then a hot flicker of that long, talented tongue across his straining cock stole every scrap of sanity from him. Ecstasy burst through him in rhythmic pulses as he came so hard he could feel it in his teeth.
        When he could think again, he realized that Ollie's hand was still on him, stroking the base of his cock softly, his head pillowed on Gus' hip, just inches from the splashes of semen on his belly. Gus reached down and stroked Ollie's face, ran a finger over his lips, and sighed. Ollie looked up at him, a self-satisfied smile on his face.
        "Feel better?" he asked.
        Gus laughed, he couldn't help it. "Yeah," he managed.
        "Good," Ollie said after a moment. "Right then, can I fuck you? Do you do that?"
        Gus moaned and nodded, shuddering as the hand that was wrapped around his cock milked the last drops of semen from him, thumb rubbing it across the painfully sensitive tip. He gasped.
        "Mmm," Ollie breathed in his ear. "Brilliant! It'd be a sorry waste of a perfect arse if you didn't. Turn over."
        Gus turned over, spreading his thighs wide, waiting breathlessly for the first touch. Hands came to rest on his cheeks, spreading them gently, and then finally, a touch, right in the center, where he was most responsive. Not a firm, dry touch, but soft, and wet, a flutter of sensation against the sensitive orifice. It probed and flicked and teased, firming to dip inside, softening to lap.
        "Oh, fuck. . . . " he moaned, realizing finally that Ollie was . . . licking him. No one had ever done that to him before. He'd done a lot, had a lot done to him, but never that. It felt amazing as that long tongue worked him, relaxing him more and more, until he barely even noticed when something firmer than tongue was pressed against him and eased inside just a little. He shifted his hips, trying to push himself onto that intrusion.
        "More?" Ollie asked, nipping at the curve of his ass with hard teeth.
        "Yeah," he agreed, almost a grunt.
        The finger pressed deeper, but he was a little dry and he couldn't suppress a wince. Ollie swore. "Bloody hell. Need lube."
        "In. . . in my duffel," Gus managed. "In the shopping bag."
        There was a moment of silence, then a startled laugh. "Keep surprising me. Hang on."
        Ollie's fingers left him and he tried not to whimper at the abandonment, but another nip silenced him, and he felt the bed shift as Ollie got up. He lay with his eyes closed, savoring the moment, humping the sheets languidly, as he heard the quick rasp of a zipper, then the rustle of a plastic bag and the hollow rattle of tube in cardboard. There was another rustle, cloth this time, the familiar sound of denim sliding off skin. Finally the bed gave again and the touch was back, cool and slick, and Ollie's long finger slid in deep and fast, breaching him almost uncomfortably. Almost.
        He shuddered, breath hissing over his teeth, already wanting more. Ollie waited a few seconds for him to get used to the sensation, then slowly began to finger-fuck him, sliding it out, pressing in, out, in. Gus felt himself loosening, which was good, he needed to if he was going to take Ollie. He hadn't done this in years, and even then none of his lovers had come close to Ollie's dimensions. The idea of that inside him made him moan and buck against the mattress. Ollie chuckled.
        "Greedy. Been a long time for this, too, hasn't it?"
        Gus nodded, having lost the urge to talk, which was, he thought, a first. This time when Ollie slipped his finger all the way free and didn't put it right back in Gus did whimper. He couldn't help it. His cock was hardening again from the stimulation, amazing this soon.
        "Open up," Ollie said against his ear, his voice a rough purr.
        Gus knew what he wanted and automatically reached back to comply. He felt something cool and hard against his anus, and then a shocking gush of cold into his ass.
        "Can't drill without spray," Ollie said, laughing at his startled yelp.
        The cool-hard moved away, though the cold inside was still there, warming rapidly. He realized what Ollie had done when there was pressure against his anus and this time he eased two fingers into him, almost sloshing in the amount of lubricant inside him, pushing deep, pressing, searching . . . . Gus sobbed aloud as Ollie hooked his fingers, found his prostate and played there, tormenting him with shivering pulses of need, plumping his cock up to full erection between his belly and the mattress. "God, oh God. Fuck me, fuck me now."
        "Not yet. You're way too good to mess up."
        "Now!" Gus insisted.
        "Oy! I'm doing this job, it's my call when to put the needle in. Settle down. Don't tell me you don't like this," he said, twisting his fingers a little.
        Gus couldn't. It was good, it was wonderful, but it wasn't what he needed.
        "What was that?" Ollie asked.
        "Not. . . what I need," Gus panted.
        "What do you need?" Ollie purred, a dangerous kind of feline.
        "Your cock, now, damn it!"
        "Pushy," Ollie teased, but Gus felt his weight shift on the bed and knew he'd won. He grinned as he felt Ollie's knees between his thighs. The long fingers gave one last stroke, then withdrew, only to be replaced immediately by the blunt, solid heat of Ollie's cock. He pushed in a little, withdrew, pushed in, withdrew. Even as prepared as he was, this was a lot. Gus felt the slight burn as his body stretched around that intrusion. He lifted, pushed back, and gasped as their combined movements worked together and Ollie slid in past the inner ring.
        Gus clenched his teeth against the need to cry out and kept pushing, feeling the thick shaft slide deeper, deeper, ignoring the searing ache, savoring the fullness. God, he'd missed this. Why the hell hadn't he done this in forever? Nothing was better than this, being filled with hard male flesh.
        "Oh, you beautiful fucker," Ollie growled, shoving himself deeper still. "Jesus, you're sweet."
        He pulled back, changed the angle a little and plunged in again, deep. Did it again, and again. Slow. controlled. No, damn it. It felt so damned good, but he wanted more. He put his hands flat on the bed, got his knees under himself, and pushed up onto all fours. He heard a startled gasp from Ollie, then felt the hard, uncontrolled buck of cock up into him at this new angle, and it was perfect, just exactly right. He'd broken the smooth, steady rhythm, now, had broken Ollie's control; he could feel it in the pounding thrusts, in the drip of sweat on his back and the desperate clutch of hands on his hips.
        His own erection protested the lack of friction and he shifted his weight so he could take himself in hand, stroking in an irregular pattern that matched, somehow, Ollie's fierce, quick plunges. He opened his eyes and stared down at himself, his own cock in his hand, stroking hard, fast, twisting, feeling that familiar pleasure more than matched inside him by an unfamiliar one, and just like that he was coming again. Somewhere in his own moans he heard one from Ollie, a long, low groan, and felt fingers dig hard into his skin, and knew he was coming too, his orgasm triggered by Gus'.
        Gus collapsed down onto the bed, panting, felt Ollie a warm, solid weight against his back, also panting. A pleasant lassitude spread through him, stealing any ambition to do anything but lie there and maybe fall asleep. After a few moments, Ollie pushed himself up, and gently withdrew, and Gus protested sleepily, reaching back to find the nearest appendage, a thigh, as it turned out, and hold onto it.
        "I'll be right back."
        "Mmm," Gus said, and let go.
        He heard water running in the bathroom, then some indefinable amount of time later the bed gave again under Ollie's weight and something warm and wet and a little rough was plied gently over his ass, and then Ollie's hand was on his hip.
        "Roll over."
        Grumbling, Gus complied, and Ollie did his front side too. He did feel better once Ollie had finished. The come on his skin had been starting to dry and itch.
        "Right then," Ollie said briskly. "Time to switch beds."
        "Don't want to," Gus said mulishly.
        "Suit yourself. But I'm going to," Ollie said, moving off the bed again.
        "God, your brain really has gone on holiday, hasn't it? No wet spots."
        Oh. Well, that made sense. He sat up as Ollie turned back the covers on the other bed, managed to find his feet. Between the wine and the sex, he felt better than he had in years. He took the two steps needed to reach his destination and slid into the bed, pulling a pillow into place under his head and closing his eyes with a contented sigh. He heard a soft chuckle and opened his eyes again to look over at Ollie where he was sitting on the other side of the bed, leaning on one arm, watching him.
        "Are you laughing at me?" he asked.
        "Not. . . exactly," Ollie said, a smile still haunting his mouth and eyes.
        "You are. You're. . . being smug."
        "I'm not!" Ollie protested, then he grinned. "All right, maybe a bit, but it's your fault. I never fucked anyone's brains out before."
        Gus guffawed. "Is that what's all over the other bed?"
        "Seems to be."
        "That means I don't have to think for a while?"
        "Not if you don't want to."
        "Good," Gus said, and closed his eyes again.
        "I'm not planning on thinking, either," Ollie said, and stretched out beside him.
        Gus reached out and pulled him in closer. "That's good too."
        He felt Ollie's hand come up to rest on his shoulder, and smiled, letting sleep come up around him like the blanket Ollie pulled over them.
        Some time later, startled awake by a passing siren, Gus lay in the dark, heart pounding a little, and it was strange that for once it wasn't caused by the nightmare about Dexter. Usually when he woke up this way, that was why. Not tonight. Not last night, mostly. Not the night before. He frowned, realizing all too clearly what the common denominator was. Jesus. Pathetic. Maybe he ought to buy a teddy bear to sleep with, because he wasn't letting Hamlet on the bed, but apparently he needed company to keep the dreams away.
        Except. . . that had never worked with Noelle. Her presence had done nothing to avert the nightmares. So what did that mean? He mentally shook himself. Why did it have to mean anything? Maybe he was just finally growing out of the dreams. Finally getting over it. Ollie's musings about the Fisher King had made him realize for the first time that he was, in essence, haunting himself. It wasn't Dexter's ghost, just . . . he smiled self-consciously, monsters from the id. His lips were dry, and when he licked them he realized his mouth was as well. He eased himself free of Ollie's heavy arm and went into the bathroom.
        He pulled the door to, and turned on the light, found a glass, filled it, and then on a whim he turned in what he thought was the general direction of Solomon Gundy, and lifted his glass. "Thanks, Dexter," he whispered. "This grave shall have a living monument1. . . if I can somehow just pull it off."
        He drained the glass and went to get his bag, digging through it to find the budget again, intending to take it into the bathroom to work on where the light wouldn't disturb Ollie. Before he found it he heard the rustle of sheets and looked up to find Ollie watching him, eyes gleaming in the faint light from the gap between the bathroom door and its frame.
        "What's up?" Ollie asked.
        "I am," Gus admitted. "I didn't mean to wake you. I just thought as long as I was up I'd try to get some work done."
        Ollie sighed and shook his head. "Get back in bed. Working on that now isn't going to solve anything at the moment. It'll just give you a headache."
        Gus sighed. "Yeah. You're right. I just can't help thinking that the answer's there, somewhere."
        "The answer's somewhere, but it's not there. If it was there you'd have found it already."
        "You know, you could get annoying," Gus said, only half joking.
        "Could get? I must not be trying hard enough. I'm told it's one of my better qualities."
        "One of them? What are the others?"
        Ollie laughed. "I think you're pretty familiar with the main one at this point."
        That made Gus laugh too. "That's a very . . . nice . . . quality. I'll admit." It occurred to him suddenly that he'd never really seen Ollie completely naked. By the time his jeans had come off, Gus had been past noticing. He felt compelled to remedy that, and he dropped his bag and reached to push the bathroom door open further. Ollie squinted in the sudden light, and looked surprised as Gus came over to the bed and slowly pulled the covers away.
        Ollie was much as Gus remembered from after his shower the other day. Long, lean body, muscles that were there, but not obtrusive. The arching lines of his collarbones were as elegant as wings, and Gus found the slight concavity of his sternum somehow endearing. He looked like some kind of bird, a hawk, perhaps, all hollow bones and fierce strength. This time, though, there was nothing to keep his gaze from following the feathery trail of dark-honey hair that led downward from Ollie's navel to where it fanned out in a delta surrounding the heavy, and currently limp, length of his cock. At rest, the head was hidden in its sheath, almost coyly.
        Imagination went to work again, and he licked his lips. This time he wasn't so needy. This time he could control himself, and actually get what he wanted. He sat down on the bed and put his hands on Ollie's hips, then leaned in, inhaling deeply as he ran his nose along the smooth expanse of skin between hip and thigh. Ollie gasped, and one hand slid into his hair, fingers stroking through it, catching briefly in the sleep-tangles, then soothing. Gus repeated the caress. Odd, he knew, but he just needed to do it, needed to lock that scent and the feel of Ollie's skin into his brain. He followed the same path with his tongue, imprinting flavor along with aroma and texture. He licked lower, taking short little laps along the line of demarcation between pubic hair and skin. Against his throat he felt Ollie's cock begin to thicken and lift, and he smiled in anticipation.
        "Here, when I told you to get back in bed, it wasn't an order," Ollie said, shifting his hand off Gus' head and moving it so it was between his cock and Gus' skin. His tone of voice was odd, almost challenging.
        Surprised, Gus lifted his head and looked up the lean torso to Ollie's face. His expression was unreadable, his eyes narrowed and assessing, as if he was waiting for something.
        "If it had been an order, I wouldn't be here," Gus shot back without even stopping to think about it, feeling his lips curve in a smile he knew was more than a little artful. "Now move that hand."
        Ollie shifted his hand a little, but not away. Rather his fingers curved around, stroked one slow stroke, rolling his foreskin back and forth over his cock. Gus caught his wrist and shook his head.
        "Mine. Hands off."
        Ollie laughed and let go. "Right, guv. This time."
        Gus went back to his mission, moving up to find Ollie's mouth, startled by how familiar it felt under his, how known, when this was only their second real kiss. Silky mesh of lips, harsh prickle of stubble against stubble, slick, polished slide of tongue over teeth over tongue. That went on for a while, until the urge to go exploring grew too strong and he began the long trek downward. Throat. Taut tendon, tender hollow, hard ridge of collarbone. He followed that out to the point of Ollie's shoulder, bit there, gently, sucked. Ollie shivered, his hand curving around the back of Gus' head, fingers sifting through his hair, startlingly gentle. He seemed content this time to let Gus take the lead as he had done earlier, and that was . . . good. Gus liked the give and take of that.
        As he started the return trip his mouth felt dry, and he reached for one of the glasses on the nightstand, took a sip of wine, then he immersed his fingers in the dark liquid, removed them and drew them down Ollie's chest, following their route with his tongue. Ollie made a little purring sound and arched a little, and Gus dipped his fingers again, this time circling small, flat nipples with wine-wet fingers, blowing across them until they tightened, and finally covering each in turn with his mouth, sucking the sharp tang of wine away until there was nothing but the sweetness of the flesh beneath.
        Ollie was surprisingly quiet under his caresses. Gus tended to be noisy, and he had guessed Ollie would be too, but he wasn't. He wasn't still, though, he expressed his appreciation in strokes and caresses and encouraging movements and shifts. Gus followed each movement with his tongue, feeling the play of muscle under skin, almost hypnotized by his exploration. Everything felt right, except the place. This wasn't where they belonged. For this journey he wanted to be home, on Solomon Gundy, where he could spend hours investigating, tasting, testing, cataloguing; ensconced with Ollie on an old, worn quilt, the sea close enough to hear and smell and even taste-- that faint rime of salt on skin. Ollie should be lit with the golden glow of a kerosene lamp, not the harsh bluish tones of the motel bathroom fluorescent.
        Romantic. He could take a step back, see that, and mentally shake his head in amusement. He was fucking another man in a cheap motel, and he wanted to dress it up. But it was more than that. There was something else here, something deeper. God, don't think that. That way lies madness. He lifted his head and drank the rest of the wine in three long gulps, letting the empty glass fall to the carpet. Under him, Ollie moved, stretched a little, then settled again, this time holding the other glass from the nightstand. Deliberately Ollie drank most of the wine from that glass, then tipped Gus' face up, dipped his own fingers into what was left and traced them across Gus' lips.
        Maybe madness wasn't so bad. He sucked Ollie's fingers into his mouth, tonguing them, teasing, and that set off that ache in him again, the one that had held him captive before, the need to taste Ollie more intimately. He took the glass from Ollie's hand and poured the last of it onto his belly, dropped that glass beside the first, then bent to dip his tongue into his navel where it pooled, lapping it clean, chasing the scattered drops across his stomach and abdomen, down into the thick delta of pubic curls, pursuing them even there. He could feel the mounting tension in the body under his, and the heavy shaft between Ollie's thighs was no longer flaccid, but full and hard.
        Gus could see the rise and fall of Ollie's breath in his stomach, see the beat of his heart in the faint movement of his erect cock. He reached, found, held. Ollie fit his palm and the curve of his fingers just right. It felt like he'd done this with Ollie a thousand times before. He tightened his fingers a little, shifted his hand, easing the foreskin back to expose more of the shaft. Licking his lips, Gus opened his mouth and leaned in. Slide of moist, silky heat. Bitter salt on his tongue, like swimming in the sea, familiar and profoundly right. Home. His mouth watered, and he swallowed, his tongue pushing against the intrusion in his mouth. Ollie jerked in response. Yes. Yes. There. Just like that.
        He used his tongue like the instrument he knew it was. Licking into the source at the tip of Ollie's cock where the sea-taste welled fresh and warm, down to flicker just below the flange, where he could feel the racing throb of pulse close to the surface, swirling around, and down, and up again, letting his jaw loosen and tilting his head back so he could take him deeper. It was as good as he'd imagined. Better. The suppressed groans and rhythmic arching of hips under him broke the almost narcotic rhythm of his suckling, and he smiled, understanding the accolade inherent in the sounds. He soothed and sucked, tightening his hand, starting to stroke in cadence.
        "Gus . . . !"
        His name was gasped through clenched teeth, softening the final consonant to a hiss. He hummed his response, low and soft.
        Buck. He was ready for it though, rode it, didn't falter.
        "Close . . . . "
        "Mmmhmm," Gus acknowledged, appreciating the warning, but not needing it.
        He used his shoulders to push Ollie's thighs wider, slid his free hand down, skimming lightly over the rising tension of scrotum, then further, to stroke firmly over perineum, and finally to part his buttocks and ease a fingertip into the small opening there. Ollie's fingers dug into Gus' hair, bringing tears for a moment, then he shuddered, moaned, and came so hard the first spurt almost stung. The next few were softer, and he let them accumulate before he swallowed. When he did, Ollie gasped again, and his fingers clenched once more, before finally loosening to fall limply to the bed.
        When he was sure Ollie was done, Gus gently eased his finger free and released his cock. Ollie barely twitched. Gus lifted his head, studying the sweating, panting figure splayed out beneath him, and grinned. That had been worth waiting for. He stretched out next to Ollie on the bed, soothed a hand down his shoulder. Ollie turned his head, eyes still closed, rubbed his cheek against Gus' hand, and sighed deeply. Gus recognized the signs of a man about to fall asleep. Smiling a little, he propped his chin on his fist and watched the other man's breathing deepen, watched his face relax even more.
        Funny how comfortable he felt with Ollie. It was as if they'd been here before, done this before. He tried to tell himself that the feeling was misleading, illusory, even dangerous, but somehow he couldn't. He was aware that there was something important that Ollie was withholding from him. Over the years he'd learned well how to read people, how to know when there were things they weren't revealing, for whatever reason. Despite that, he would miss him when they had to part ways, and not just because Ollie was the first person he'd had sex with since Noelle had left. He just . . . liked him. On that thought he reached for the covers, pulled them up over them both, and closed his eyes.

* * *

        Ollie was starting to like waking up with Gus wrapped around him. Probably not a good idea, but not something he could really help. He hadn't slept with anyone three nights running for a long, long time. Jesus. When he thought about exactly how long it had been it shocked him. It was back when he'd been sharing a flat with Davy Wingfield, when he'd been sixteen. The year it snowed. They'd started sharing a bed when they couldn't afford to pay for heat for a few weeks.
        That had been when he'd first realized that he had absolutely no interest in women, but a great deal in men. Not an easy thing, considering the environment in which he lived and worked. Since that was long before he'd taken himself off to Manchester for a little worldly experience, he'd kept it to himself, learned to fake interest in girls, learned to ask out the shy ones who wouldn't let a bloke do anything more than a bit of snogging, which had been perfectly all right with him. He'd just closed his eyes and imagined a variety of leading men instead.
        Funny, none of those imaginary leading men had come close to the reality of Gus. Ollie still couldn't quite believe his luck. He was starting to worry, waiting for the universe to figure out that things were going altogether too well. From the moment he'd fetched up in that drain next to a million in cash, right up through discovering that the good Samaritan who'd picked him up was not only drop-dead gorgeous, but he liked sex with men, and was the best lay Ollie'd ever had-- not that that was all that difficult. Still, it all felt suspiciously lucky. On the order of utterly and completely impossible.
        Jesus. What if none of this was real? What if he'd been clocked on the head by something and was lying unconscious in a puddle of dirty water somewhere in a storm drain and all this was in his head? Cheery thought, that. He tried to think of a way to prove one thing or the other, and couldn't. Pinching himself wouldn't work, who was to say he couldn't imagine he felt pain?
        He fretted about that for a bit, then finally gave up. If he was in a coma there wasn't anything he could do about it so he might as well enjoy the dream if that's what it was, or the reality, if it wasn't.
        "You look troubled."
        Gus' voice startled him and Ollie turned to look at his bed-mate, who was mussed, stubbled and sheet-creased and still just about the best-looking thing Ollie had ever seen in his lifetime. Caught by Gus' calm, concerned blue-gray gaze he found himself answering honestly. "I. . . a bit." It was so damned hard to lie to Gus.
        He frowned, trying to figure out how to put it. "It's daft. I keep wondering if this is really happening. Can't prove it is, can't prove it's not. Hell, can't even prove I'm real. Maybe someone's dreaming me."
        Gus smiled. "The nature of reality. There's an interesting question, one people have be asking at least as far back as Plato. Are we the shadows or the substance? Who knows? I don't."
        "Now then, that's helpful," Ollie said, disgruntled.
        Gus chuckled. "Sorry. Can you tell I started out reading philosophy at Oxford before I switched over to theology? Why do you think you're dreaming?"
        Fuck. Ollie had talked himself into a corner. Now he was going to have to confess that he'd been wondering about dreams and reality and where Gus fit into that and where Ollie thought he fit and how stupid that sounded, to think of Gus as dreams made flesh. Or wait. He perked up. Maybe he didn't have to say any of that after all "Oxford? You were at Oxford?"
        Gus grinned. "Two years. Balliol, on scholarship."
        Ollie grinned back. "Well, that explains quite a lot."
        Gus laughed at that. "True. Very true."
        "Only two years?"
        Gus' smile faded. "Had to come home when my grandfather got to where he couldn't manage on his own any more."
        Ollie nodded, commiserating. "Rough luck."
        Gus shrugged. "If I'd stayed I'd probably have become an insufferable prig."
        "Prig?" Ollie snorted rudely. "I don't think you've got the constitution for it."
        "Now I'm just insufferable."
        Ollie laughed. "You're not insufferable. Not half. And didn't anyone ever teach you not to fish for compliments?"
        "I'm sure someone did, but clearly it didn't take," Gus said with a grin, which turned into a yawn and a stretch.
        The sheets slid and shifted, revealing a lot of naked skin. It hit Ollie suddenly that he was lying in bed with a naked Gus and they were talking. Just talking. Christ. Talk about daft. He thought about Gus last night, with the wine, and shivered a little with remembered pleasure. What a shock that had been. The entire experience had shown him a level of . . . sensuality . . . he'd never guessed at. The slow, unhurried sweetness of it was new to him. His own experiences had tended toward the practical.
        Curiously he reached out and slid a hand down Gus' shoulder, letting his fingers trail over the firm arch of pectoral muscle until he found a nipple. Gus had gone still under his hand, his breathing slightly faster than before, but he didn't say anything as Ollie's callused fingers trailed a circle around the satiny flesh, feeling it pebble and rise. He chanced a look at Gus' face. His eyes were closed, his lips slightly parted, a faint upward curve to the corners. Looked like he liked it too. Ollie leaned over and put his tongue where his fingers had been. There was no wine left to try last night's experiment himself, but Gus tasted good without it. Tasted good, felt better.
        He slid his fingers over Gus' other nipple, then followed the touch with his mouth, as before. Gus shifted a little, made a soft sound in his throat. A quick glance downward showed him the covers tenting over Gus' groin. Aye, he definitely liked it. Impatiently Ollie tugged the sheets out of his way. He wanted to see more, touch more, have more. His own cock hardened as he remembered how good it had felt last night, to be buried deep in the heat and closeness of Gus' body. He wanted that again. Wanted it now. He slid his hand down Gus' torso to his hip, rubbed the soft hollow there, teasing a little as he avoided the most obvious target and moved lower, to his thigh. Hooking a hand under Gus' knee, he lifted up and out. Gus let him, shifting a little, angling his bent leg outward, his smile more pronounced now, his eyes open, and smoky.
        That look reminded him again of last night, and it came to him that maybe he ought to stop rushing things. After all, there was no reason, right? It was early yet, and they weren't on deadline. Hadn't he just been thinking about how good it had been last night, going slow? Leaning across Gus with most of his weight on one hand on the bed next to his hip, he used his other hand to stroke the back of Gus' calf, enjoying the curve of hard muscle there, the shift of soft hair under his palm.
        Gus looked a little surprised. Ollie liked that, too. It was good to surprise people. He smiled and went back to licking nipples, alternating between them, this time letting his hand explore parts of Gus he'd not touched before. Calf. Ankle. Sole. Gus laughed at that one, a startled, explosive guffaw accompanied by a yank of his foot that told Ollie he'd found a ticklish spot. He backed off, went back to stroking and kneading Gus' leg.
        Gus relaxed a little, but he shifted restlessly, his erection brushing Ollie's arm where it crossed his stomach. Ollie supposed it wasn't surprising that Gus was a little impatient this morning, and wondered briefly if Gus had gotten himself off after he'd fallen asleep on him last night. The idea of that made him a bit less patient himself, though he guessed Gus hadn't. If he had, he'd not be anxious now. Maybe sometime he could do that, and Ollie could watch. This time, though, he figured he owed Gus one, so he lifted his head and looked up at him.
        "What's your pleasure, guv?"
        Gus licked his lips and arched his hips again. "You."
        Ollie felt his face going hot, and covered his embarrassment with a grin. "Goes without saying."
        Gus chuckled. "God, I like you. But you know, it's Gus, not guv," he teased gently.
        "Is it?" Ollie played along, pretending surprise. "Have trouble remembering that."
        Gus's smile turned sly. "You remembered it just fine around three a.m."
        More heat in his face. Fuck. Ollie decided maybe it was a good idea to shut Gus up. He went for Gus' mouth. Gus wrapped an arm around him and met him halfway. More than halfway. Gus' tongue sliding in, licking, flicking, teasing. Ollie opened his mouth and let Gus explore, and the way he went at it, it felt like he was trying to memorize him. Gus shifted under him, spreading his legs, and one of his hands came down on Ollie's bum as his knees snugged up around Ollie's hips.
        Ollie eased down so they were touching from chest to hips, so their erections were lined up, and then he rolled his hips. Gus grunted into his mouth, and pushed on his backside again. Ollie repeated the movement, long, slow strokes against smooth belly and hard cock, setting up a leisurely rhythm. If that was what Gus wanted, that was all right. It all felt good. The times he got to touch skin other than his own were few and far between, and he was bloody well going to enjoy every last minute of the opportunity. He had no complaints at all. Well, unless Gus wanted to stop. He'd complain about that.
        He didn't want to come too soon though, and he wanted to give Gus back some of that same languid pleasure he'd shown him last night, so when Gus started to move faster against him and pant into his mouth, and he felt his own need tightening his muscles, he pulled back a little, disengaging. Gus' hands caught at him, trying to pull him back.
        "Don't stop," he said huskily.
        "Not stopping," Ollie assured him, sliding down between Gus' spread thighs. God, even his cock was gorgeous. Not huge, not tiny. Just . . . right. He was erect, the paler foreskin retracted, revealing the flushed, shining head of his shaft. Grasping Gus' cock at the base, Ollie angled it away from his body, and went for a long, slow lick, starting low, and ending with a flutter across the tip. Gus arched, and his hands gripped the rumpled sheets. Ollie licked again, this time licking behind the glans, exposed now, where it was usually hidden. He knew how sensitive that area was. He wrapped his lips around the tip and teased the little spot on the underside just below the head with a hardened tongue-tip. Gus jerked and moaned.
        Ollie soothed a thumb back and forth across the smooth arch of thigh and Gus settled a little until he started sucking and added another little flick along the underside to the mix. Gus' thighs tightened as he pushed up into the sensation with a dark, throaty sound, then suddenly his hands were on Ollie's shoulders, pulling at him. Ollie released him and let Gus pull him up and kiss him, hard, almost harshly. Tongue on tongue, hot, damp skin pressed together from chest to cock. He rocked against Gus' body, enjoying the hot press of male flesh against his own.
        Gus spread his thighs wider, bringing his knees up so they were on either side of Ollie's waist, putting his hands on Ollie's bum again, urging him down. That finally got through, and Ollie realized what it was Gus wanted. He broke the kiss, lifting his head, breathing hard.
        "You sure? Not sore?"
        Gus shook his head. "Yeah, I'm sure, and no, I'm not sore."
        Well, there was no misunderstanding that. Ollie, however, wasn't entirely sure how to work this. He knew how to fuck, just not . . . this way. It was clear, though, that it was what Gus wanted. And just as he was about to have to confess that he hadn't a clue how to do it face to face, Gus rolled them over and he was on top, and Jesus, of course. It was obvious. Ollie reached over to the night-table between the beds, groping for the lube, still amazed Gus had actually bought it. What the hell had the clerk thought? Gus caught his wrist and shook his head.
        "Don't need it," he said huskily.
        Ollie frowned. "Not a good idea."
        "It's fine." Gus guided Ollie's hand around behind him, put it on his arse.
        Cautiously Ollie moved his fingers into the warm crevice, traced a fingertip back and forth across the small opening there, before pressing inside. The slide was easy, hot and wet. Gus was right. Between the leftover lube, and the leftover Ollie, things ought to go just fine. And getting to fuck Gus twice in one night was just about enough to prove his coma theory, but he didn't care. He added another finger, and Gus sucked in a breath through his teeth, clenching reflexively around Ollie's fingers.
        It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Gus again if he really wanted to do it again when Gus started to move, rocking back, forcing Ollie's fingers deeper. He gave a choked-off groan and his cock twitched, and that answered the question. He definitely wanted it. Ollie bent his knees to give Gus something to lean back against, and put a hand on Gus' hips, tugging him forward just a little as he slid his fingers free and grasped his own cock to position it. Gus tilted his hips forward, and smiled, his head falling back as he pushed himself down.
        His cock went in smooth as a drill bit through clay. His hands tightened on Gus' hips, guiding him in a little circle. Gus took over the movement after a second, rocking on him, sometimes leaning forward to nip and lick at Ollie's chin, or mouth, or shoulder, sometimes leaning back to take him in with a soft grunt that was incredibly sexy. It felt so good, in that same slow, lazy way as last night's blow job. Ollie knew he could do this for a long time, for as long as Gus needed him to, so he just relaxed and let Gus have him, even though it felt strange to be doing the fucking. . . without doing the fucking.
        The amazing thing about this position was that he could see the slack, blissed-out expression on Gus' face, the parted lips, the sweat-damp curls around his face, the eyes that were unfocused with pleasure and need. If that wasn't enough, there was also the strong, smooth expanse of shoulders and chest, the lean plane of belly, and even the hard length of leaking cock that thrust upwards from where their bodies were pressed tightly together. Usually all he got to see was back and bum. Face and cock was much better.
        Ollie let one hand slide off Gus' hip and onto his cock, curving around it, starting to stroke, feeling the slide of skin over skin. He knew that, knew how it felt from both sides, knew it was all good. Gus jerked and grunted, leaning into his touch, and his arse clamped down on Ollie's cock in a way that left him gasping, his hips involuntarily bucking upward in an attempt to go impossibly deeper. Gus braced both hands on Ollie's shoulders, and started to go for it, fucking his hand, fucking his cock.
        So much for thoughts of a nice, leisurely ride. This was a wild-west bronco show. Ollie concentrated on not losing Gus' rhythm and just let himself go, savoring the hard slam of firm buttocks against his hips, the slink and slither of cock in his grasp, and finally the gasping, groping mouth against his own as Gus shoved himself down one last time and with a shudder, came all over Ollie's belly and chest, the internal contractions of his orgasm milking Ollie into a matching, if less overtly messy, eruption.
        Gus slumped forward onto Ollie's chest with a groan, pushing him down into the mattress, dislodging his cock in the process. Gus flinched, and then chuckled.
        "Okay, now I'm sore," he said, sounding rueful.
        Ollie laughed too, and not really knowing what else to do, put his arms around Gus and stroked his back. He was heavy, but not so much that Ollie wanted to move him. In fact, it felt good. All of it. The fucking, and the holding. He tried not to think about how short a time he'd have to enjoy it, and let post-orgasmic fatigue claim him.
        Ollie woke fast, a rush of adrenalin sending him upright in bed with his heart in his throat as he heard three sharp raps at the door, followed by a woman's voice saying something he didn't quite catch. Fuck. The cops had caught up with him. Keys scraped and rattled, and, strangely, all Ollie could think about was Gus as the door swung open. What if they didn't believe he didn't know anything? Maybe Ollie could say he'd been holding him hostage, forcing him to drive? That wouldn't explain their current situation, though. What was it called when a hostage fell for their captor? Sweden Syndrome or something?
        All those thoughts flashed through his head as the door opened. But though the woman who entered the room wore a uniform, it wasn't blue, and she had a rubbish bag in her hands, not a gun. He stared at the young black woman in the ugly pink uniform. She stared back, looking as startled as he felt. Right, then. The maid. They'd forgotten to put out the 'do not disturb' sign. Gus grumbled and muttered, reached for the covers Ollie had dislodged when he sat up, didn't find them, and pushed up on one elbow to look at Ollie sleepily.
        "What's up?" he asked.
        The maid's eyes flickered down to Gus, widened, came back to Ollie's face, and she put her hand over her mouth and giggled. He got the impression she was blushing. He started to blush, too, as she backed out of the room and closed the door. Gus had looked over his shoulder once he realized Ollie was staring, and he started to laugh, rolling onto his back and stretching.
        "Well, I imagine that's going to be making the rounds here shortly. Good thing we're checking out today."
        Check out. Damn. Ollie grabbed for his watch on the night stand, and read it. "Fuck, we've twenty-three minutes to checkout. We need to get a move on."
        Gus nodded and sat up, pushing his fingers through his hair. "Yeah. Shower together? Save time."
        Ollie dragged his gaze away from Gus' body and snorted. "We get in the shower together we won't be out in time for Christmas. You go first, make it short."
        Gus laughed and nodded. "I can do that."
        Ollie stared shamelessly as Gus sauntered, naked, across the room. God, what a body; all smooth and sleek. Made him feel positively scrawny, which he knew he really wasn't. As the shower came on he rolled out of bed and started gathering up the clothing they'd dropped haphazardly the night before, separating his things from Gus'. Five minutes later the shower shut off again. He was impressed. They might actually make check-out. He smiled. They weren't going any nine hundred miles today, he suspected. Speaking of which, he wondered where Gus was planning to go from here. He'd said they'd take I-80 to Chicago, but hadn't mentioned the rest of their route.
        Gus came out, drying his hair. "All yours."
        Ollie nodded and headed in for a quick scrub down, and somehow they managed to get checked out by eleven. The maid must've already had a chance to gossip, because the desk-clerk had been smirking in a way that put Ollie's back up, and Gus had suggested he go out to the car while he finished up. He'd gone, reluctantly, knowing that getting in a dust-up and having the cops called was something he really ought to avoid. He distracted himself by getting out the map. Looked like I-80 turned into I-90 and went up into New York, and after that he really wasn't sure where they were going. He tried to find Solomon Gundy on the map and couldn't. The map stopped at the border, but Gus had said it was near Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and he knew where those were.
        Gus came out finally and got into the driver's seat, spending a moment buckling up and hunting his sunglasses before starting the car. They swung through the McDonald's drive-up for coffee and sausage-biscuits, and they ate as Gus steered them back onto the motorway. After a bit Ollie looked over at him.
        "Naff little git, that clerk. Didn't you want to smack him?"
        Gus shrugged. "Yes, but you know, I decided that there was no reason to let a 'naff little git' ruin my day."
        Ollie thought about that and smiled a little. "Good point. Right, then. Where are we going from here? Stay on I-80 until it turns into I-90 and on up to New York?"
        "Actually, no, there's a shorter route. Let me show you."
        He pulled the car off to the side of the road as Ollie unfolded the map, then he leaned over, practically in Ollie's lap, to trace his finger across the map.
        "We'll take 94 through a little bit of Indiana, then 196 up into Michigan and cross into Canada at the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron-Sarnia. From there we stay on 401 until we get into Quebec and it turns into 20, which we take until it hits Trans-Canada 184, and we follow that down to Trans-Canada 2. That goes all the way to the coast where we'll have to get a ferry."
        Ollie stared at the map, calculating distances. Jesus. It wouldn't take any time at all to get to the border. Four hours, maybe four and a half. Apparently his abrupt wake-up that morning had been prophetic. He'd thought he had at least another day, maybe two, before he'd have to go off on his own. He hadn't counted on just four hours. Fuck. He should never have started things last night. That had been a huge mistake on his part. It would have been hard to part even before that, but now it really sucked. Now he wanted more, and as usual, he wasn't going to get it. He swallowed hard and looked up, found Gus staring at him, frowning faintly. Something flickered in Gus' gaze, then he looked away and straightened back into his own seat, his hands on the steering wheel and his gaze on the road ahead.
        "That is to say, I'll do that. You don't have to, of course."
        Gus' voice was even and mild, no hint of upset, but Ollie knew what he'd seen in those eyes. He wanted to hit something. Not Gus. A wall. A plate glass window. That clerk. Any of those things would work. Fuck it. He didn't want to do this. He wanted to stay with Gus all the way to the coast, and not just because now he'd have to find another way there. It was clear he didn't need to tell Gus they'd be parting soon. Gus knew. He knew. Ollie wasn't sure how, but he knew. Wordlessly Gus pulled back onto the road and they drove in silence for a good half-hour before Ollie finally managed to put himself together enough to speak. He figured he owed Gus at least part of the truth.
        "Guess I'll have to ask you to leave me off in Lansing or Detroit, whichever you go through," he said quietly.
        Gus glanced at him, clearly having expected that, but also curious. "Why? I thought you wanted to go all the way to the east coast."
        "I did, but I can't cross the border. I've no identification. It all got left behind in California."
        Gus sighed. "Why didn't you say something before? There's probably a British Embassy or Consulate in Chicago, we could've stopped to get you replacements."
        Here it came. He wasn't looking forward to this, to seeing the open friendliness in Gus' expression replaced by disgust. He stared out the passenger window to avoid looking at Gus and seeing that change happen.
        "Because I'd likely be arrested, if I did. That job in California? It wasn't exactly legal."
        There was a momentary silence, then Gus spoke, his voice incredulous. "They arrest people for illegal remodeling?"
        Ollie laughed. He couldn't help it. He'd forgotten he'd told Gus that. "In this case, aye, they do."
        More silence. Finally Gus spoke again. "I think you'd better tell me a little more."
        Not an unexpected request. Ollie sighed. "Aye. Well, I'd just finished up my last job, some sewage system expansions in Paris, and was looking for a new gig. My service takes a call from a fellow named Bentley, a Brit, though the job's in California. Tells me he heard that I'm good and he wants to hire me to do some work on a private school in California. He's putting in a new security system, and needs to punch through from part of the basement into an old storm drain system. He'll supply the equipment, and whatever crew I need, but it has to be done on a tight schedule so as not to disturb the school any more than needed. So I agree to meet with him."
        "Seems reasonable so far."
        "It was, then. And he seemed reasonable when we met, even if he was a right wanker. And he's got plans and geological surveys and maps, and it all looks well planned. It seems an easy job. Then I ask about the compensation, and that's when he starts to make me suspicious."
        "Because he offered me a great lot of cash to do it. First off, no one pays that sort of brass for a day's work if it's on the up and up. Second, even if he was stupid enough to pay that much, he'd not do it in cash if he was honest. No one pays cash, especially not that much, for honest work. Cash is strictly under-the-table stuff."
        "Mmm," Gus said, nodding. "I see."
        Ollie nodded. "So I ask for time to think about it, and he says I can have twenty-four hours, but if I can't decide by then, it's off, because he's got a deadline and needs to find someone else. So I go off to think. I know it's not all kosher, I don't know why he needs to put a security system in a storm drain. That seems daft. But what do I know about security systems? And what possible problem could there be in drilling a hole under a school? It's not like it's a bank. I mean, the money was. . . well, let's just say it'd set me up good. Might even be able to take some time off. So I ask my foreman what he thinks, and he thinks it sounds all right. That should have warned me right there, because Ferret's a good bloke but not the keenest." Ollie sighed, and sipped at his lukewarm coffee, thinking he needed to phone the answering service and see if Ferret had checked in. That was always their fallback.
        "Ferret?" Gus asked. "His name's Ferret?"
        "Well, it's Edgar, really. But he's a little fellow, and fast, and bites like a son of a bitch when he gets mad, so everyone took to calling him Ferret and he liked it so it stuck."
        "Makes sense. Keep going."
        There was steel in that voice. No stopping now. Ollie nodded, and continued. "So I know sommat's off, but I keep coming back to the money he's offering. And his deadline's getting close. So. . . I figured, what the hell. Just once more, I'd do it."
        "Just once more?" Gus asked, frowning.
        Ollie laughed. "How'd you think I knew that cash meant it was a dodgy deal? I've done my share of shady stuff, but if I'd known exactly what Bentley was up to I'd not have taken the job. I'm not saying I didn't know there was something off about it, I did, and I took it anyway, so I've really no excuse."
        "So, I take it once you got there you found out what was going on?"
        "No, not at first. At first it seemed my job was exactly what he'd said. Drilling from a basement into a storm drain. But it was all the other stuff Bentley was doing that was the problem. And once I figured out what was going on, I still mostly went along. All I could see was the money by that point. I'm not proud of it. I was wrong, and I know it. I just pretended all the other stuff wasn't happening."
        "What other stuff?" Gus asked, starting to sound annoyed.
        "I'm getting there, just let me work up to it. This isn't easy."
        Gus nodded and sighed. "All right. I'm listening."
        "So, I fly out to California and meet the crew Bentley hired. Good workers, experienced, mostly from along the Appalachians. Lots of colliers out of work there, needing money bad. I didn't have a problem there, and I had Ferret along to help keep them in line. But Bentley also had these other guys, the 'security team.' I've worked in some bad areas, and I know mercenaries when I see them. So I'm wondering what he needs mercs for, but I don't ask, because I don't really want to know. I just want to do my job and get paid."
        "Oliver," Gus said warningly. "What happened?"
        Christ. No one but Gus had called him Oliver in a hundred years. This was the second time now. Funny how it made him sit right up. "Right, then. It was the kids. Bentley took over the school, held some of the kids hostage."


        Gus wasn't sure what he'd been expecting, but it was definitely not that. "What?" he demanded, the car slowing as he took his foot off the gas and stared at Ollie.
        The car behind them honked, and Gus turned his attention back to the road, speeding up again, changing lanes and taking the next exit. Ollie remained silent through the maneuvers, his body slouched and his gaze fixed firmly on something outside of the car. Pulling into the first parking lot he saw, Gus killed the engine and sat gazing blindly at the dashboard for a moment. God. He'd suspected Ollie was hiding something, but . . . this? He was having trouble wrapping his brain around the idea that the man he'd been starting to consider a friend, more than a friend, could possibly be involved in something so reprehensible.
        "Kids? The man was holding a bunch of kids hostage? And you let him?"
        Ollie refused to meet his gaze. "Aye. Well, by the time I figured out what was up I was already well in the middle of it. Once I figured it out, I did what I could, but I could've done more. Hell, I could've walked away. I didn't."
        Gus couldn't get past the idea that children had been the targets of whatever scheme Ollie had been part of. "Jesus Christ, Ollie! Kids? I can't believe you'd be part of that. They could have been hurt!" He stopped, struck by the realization that he didn't know no one had been hurt. He'd just made that assumption based on his own liking for the man. He swallowed hard. "They weren't hurt, were they?"
        Ollie's head snapped up and he stared at Gus. "No, they weren't. And I wouldn't've gotten into it if I'd known from the start. I'm no angel, but I've never done anything I knew could hurt someone."
        Though his tone was angry, there was something else in his eyes, not anger, but Gus reacted to the anger because he was angry. "How do you know?" Gus snapped. "If your previous under the table deals have been as poorly researched as this one . . . ."
        Ollie's gaze slid away from his. "I . . . don't, I suppose." He closed his eyes, shook his head, and suddenly he was fumbling with his seat belt, opening it, reaching for the door handle. Gus reached across and clamped a hand over his, pulling it back.
        "Where the fuck do you think you're going? We're not finished."
        To his surprise, Ollie didn't fight him, not really, though he gave a token pull against Gus' grip before settling into the seat, staring out the window.
        "No. I suppose we're not. Go on, then."
        Finally the look Gus had seen in Ollie's eyes moments earlier penetrated the anger, and he recognized it for what it was. Shame. That struck a deep, deep chord in Gus, and he suddenly found himself bereft of words, wondering where he would be now if after Dexter's death he had not found support and understanding from his friends and constituents, if they had, instead, treated him as he'd fully deserved for putting them all at risk. That acceptance and support had been why, despite his desperate desire to not be a leader, he'd accepted their call to stay on as defacto head of 'state.' He owed it to them, It was his duty, honor, and punishment, all in one.
        "I can take hard words, guv," Ollie said quietly. "And you'd be in your rights to thrash me, but I don't go on well with silence."
        Ollie's words startled Gus out of his ruminations and he gentled his grip on Ollie's wrist, soothing the finger marks out of his skin with gentle strokes. "Gus," he corrected. "Not 'guv.' I thought we got that straightened out last night. And I'm sorry. Christ, Oliver, I've got no right to be passing judgement on you. That's not my place. There's really only one person who can do that."
        Ollie looked at him, frowning. "God?"
        Gus smiled. "You'd expect me to say that, wouldn't you? No, the only person who can judge you is you. Even if I were tempted, all I have to do is remember that I once got a man killed by acting on impulse, and the temptation is gone." He snapped his fingers. "Just like that."
        "If I judge me, I know I should've done something," Ollie said, his voice tight and almost hoarse. "Should've helped the lad muck up Bentley's plans. I didn't."
        "We all make mistakes, Oliver. All of us. You made one. At least you admit it. That's more than most people do. You said no one was hurt?"
        Ollie shook his head. "No, not other than a few bumps and bruises, according to the article I found yesterday. All the kids got away. There was this one lad I heard Bentley and the geek talking about, name of Ozzie. Guess he was the older brother of one of the hostages. He kept messing things up for them, and Colonel Plonker and his band of gormless pillocks couldn't find him so Bentley wanted me to go after him but I wouldn't. Then he got Ferret to do it. Never heard aught from Ferret after that, and it's clear the lad got away from him, since he proceeded to blow up the pool. That pretty well washed up the whole caper."
        Gus blinked. "He blew up the pool?"
        Ollie grinned a little. "Aye. That's how I ended up wet. Love to shake his hand and ask him how he did it. I've twenty years experience with blasting, and I'm not sure I could've set a charge that accurately without at least a set of blueprints. And that was after he rigged the boiler to blow, which I managed to fix after a fashion, because I didn't fancy being roasted. He also mucked with their computers, and set off the fire-suppression system, just brilliant. Clever bastard."
        "How the hell did he manage to blow up the pool?" Gus asked, still stuck on that.
        "He nicked some dynamite and caps from my stash. I noticed someone skulking about, figured it was him, but it never hit me he was pinching goodies. I thought he was just hiding out from the idiot mercs on his tail, so I let it go. After that I'm not sure what he did. By the time I washed up I was about half a mile away and didn't think it'd be smart to go back and gauge his work, not with the place crawling with police. I thought it best to make myself scarce, so that's what I did until they all cleared out, which wasn't too long before you picked me up."
        Gus flashed back on that moment. Ollie limping along the road, filthy, obviously tired, carrying those bags. . . . "Ollie?"
        "What's in the bags?"
        Ollie sucked in a long breath, let it out, then looked at his hands, his expression melancholy. "Payroll. I've got to find a way to get it to them. Wasn't their fault Bentley was a sodding prat. If some of them got pinched, they'll need it to bail out, hire counsel, that kind of thing. Even if they didn't, they did their jobs, they should get paid."
        "Payroll. You mean money? Cash?"
        "Aye. Money."
        "That bag is full of money?" Gus said again, still not quite believing it.
        "That's what I said."
        "Ah. . . how much money?"
        "Not sure, really. Around a million, I think."
        The shock of that was very nearly electrical. "I'm carting a million dollars, US, in cash, in my fucking trunk?" he demanded, hoping he'd misunderstood.
        "Aye." Ollie said, looking at him uncertainly.
        Gus leaned his head back against the headrest and rubbed his forehead. "Lord Liftin' Lamplightin' Jesus." He sat for a moment, turning the ramifications over in his head. He felt the slow burn of humiliation course through him as he realized what an idiot he was. He'd been used. And he'd enjoyed it. Had thought there was something there, between them. Friendship. More. He wasn't sure. 'Fool me once,' he thought bitterly. "So, I suppose it would be stupid to ask why you didn't tell me about this earlier?"
        Ollie looked at him, frowning slightly. "No, it's not stupid at all. I didn't tell you because thought it'd be best if you didn't know. That way you couldn't be held responsible in any way. You'd be able to say you didn't know and pass a polygraph. You're a good man, I didn't want to cause you trouble."
        Gus knew his surprise at that response showed in his face, because Ollie's expression clouded.
        "You don't think I was just. . . oh, aye. You do. Guess I can't blame you. Well, then, that's that, then, isn't it? If you'll pop the boot I'll get out of your hair. You can turn me in or not, as you like. I suppose I haven't much say in it."
        Ollie was speaking fast, his face flushed and his jaw tight. He wasn't looking at Gus. He reached for the door handle again. Gus hit the child-proof lock button on the automatic lock panel. Ollie tried to open the door and it wouldn't open. He tried again, then he yanked at the handle fruitlessly, then shot a glare at Gus.
        "Let me out or I'll break the sodding window."
        "Oliver, stop. Please," Gus began.
        "I said let me the fuck out!" Ollie snapped, pulling his fist back, his eyes rather wild.
        Gus wasn't sure which would break worse, the window or Ollie's hand, so he unlocked the car. Ollie was out in a flash, and Gus followed him seconds later. Ollie was leaning on one arm against the car, his breathing so fast it could nearly be called panting. Gus moved around to where he stood and reached out automatically to touch, to offer comfort. Ollie shook off his hand and waved him away, straightening up with a shake of his head.
        "I'm fine. Just don't like being locked up."
        Gus thought his reaction was a little extreme for that, but he let it go. He didn't really have the right to pry, and there were other things that needed to be dealt with at the moment. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I shouldn't have locked the car. I just didn't want you to go before we had a chance to talk things out."
        Ollie scowled. "There's naught to talk about. You think I used you. Well, you're right, I did. So, that's an end to it."
        "No, it's not, and you didn't. Or, well, not entirely. And if I'm honest, I'd have to admit I've used you too. Isn't that what most human interactions are about? What can I do for you, what can you do for me?"
        That uncertainty was back in Ollie's gaze. "Aye. Happen so. But you're still right steamed about the money."
        Well, he was right about that. Gus sighed. "Ollie, you know you've got to give it back."
        The dubious look vanished in a flash, replaced by mulish stubbornness. "No. I can't. I'd be a complete rotter if I did. Don't you understand? I may not've hired them but they were my crew and I'm responsible for them." He paused, thought for a moment, then looked back at Gus. "I could give up my share, but not theirs. It's not mine to give."
        Gus sighed. The hell of it was that he could see both sides of this argument. There were good solid reasons to give the money back, but there were also good reasons to keep it. He leaned on the car and ran his fingers through his hair. Ollie's gaze tracked his movement, slid back to his face, and their gazes locked. Gus felt his heartbeat speed up. Stupid. In the middle of a fucking argument and he was thinking about sex? He had to get a hold on himself. Which was a really idiotic metaphor to use under the circumstances. Ollie glanced away after a moment, his color high and looking a little flustered. Gus resisted the urge to shake himself.
        "All right," Gus said after a moment. "Let's take this one step at a time. We'll talk about the money later. Right now we need to address the problem of your identification."
        Ollie's stared at him in obvious surprise. "We do?"
        "Well, wouldn't you say that's a pretty pressing concern?"
        "Aye, but . . . we?" Ollie regarded him in consternation. "You're not going to give me up to Old Bill, then?"
        Gus scowled. "There's no call to be insulting."
        "But you're. . . ." Ollie let his sentence trail off and shrugged.
        "I'm what?"
        "You're good. You're not supposed to help the bad guy."
        Gus studied him for a moment. "Do you consider yourself a bad guy?"
        "No, but . . . . I thought you'd think I was," Ollie replied, still looking perplexed.
        "Let me think for myself, all right? Plenty of good men have done bad things. The difference between a good man and a bad one is that the bad one doesn't care when he does something bad, and the good one does. You've shown me you care. We may not agree on certain specifics, but I think there are some overarching sensibilities that we share. So, you need some sort of ID that will get you into Canada, right?"
        Ollie nodded. "Aye. Passport, I think. Canada's technically part of the Commonwealth but they still want a passport."
        Gus nodded. "Yes, I think you're right. Unfortunately, forging that would be a little more on the illegal side than I'm willing to risk." He sighed, and looked across at the traffic. In ten minutes he'd seen more cars than there were resident on Solomon Gundy. He would be glad to get home, get away from the overwhelming press of people. Home. Passport. "Jesus, of course!" he exclaimed.
        "Of course?" Ollie asked, puzzled.
        Gus grinned. "How would you like, at least temporarily, to become a citizen of Solomon Gundy?"
        "You're off your head again, Gus. What are you going on about?"
        "I'm not off my head. Well, I probably am, but that's beside the point. It just came to me that since I am, after all, head of state, and the ultimate authority over immigration and naturalization, if I want to make you a citizen, I can. Which means that Solomon Gundy can issue you a valid passport. We'll need to get passport photos, though, and find a place with a scanner and Internet access. We'll also have to put off crossing into Canada for a day or so while we wait for Zeda to courier the damned thing to us."
        Ollie gaped at him. "You'd do that? For me?"
        Gus smiled. "I would. Now, if you'll get back in the car, we can go hunt up a place to get a picture taken."
        Leaving Ollie to make his decision, Gus walked back around to the driver's side and got into the car. And waited. And waited. Ollie was still standing next to the car. He had to resist the urge to open the window and prompt, as well as the urge to lean across to the other side so he could see Ollie's face and maybe get a clue about what was going on in his head. Finally the passenger door opened again, and Ollie eased his lanky frame back into the seat. He glanced at Gus briefly, but long enough for Gus to notice his eyes were suspiciously bright and his nose was a little red, then he cleared his throat.
        "Don't quite know what to say," he said, his voice slightly husky.
        "You don't have to say anything," Gus said, starting the car. "Keep your eyes open for travel agencies and photocopy shops, they often take passport photos."
        Ollie nodded, and Gus pulled out of the parking lot.

* * *

Crossroads part III