Warning - slash ahead - but nothing graphic.
With thanks to my beta reader Roa1
Something to Hide
Richard Barrett sheltered in the narrow shop doorway and watched as Craig ran towards him through the driving rain. He couldn't help but notice how effortlessly his friend moved, every part of his body in perfect harmony.
How gorgeous he is, Richard thought to himself as his friend slid into the doorway next to him.
"OK, I've reported in. The bad news is that intelligence says tonight's the night, so we're stuck here until something happens or until morning, whichever comes first," Craig announced.
"Marvellous, only another four and a quarter hours until 8 a.m. then we can knock off," Richard said gloomily.
The confined space forced them to stand very close together and Richard felt his heart start to beat a little faster as his body responded to Craig's nearness in its usual way. A small shiver of arousal ran through him and he pressed himself as close to the side wall as possible in an effort to increase the space between them, fearful that his friend would realise the effect their proximity was having.
"You OK?" Craig asked, feeling the small tremor that Richard had been unable to suppress.
"Oh sure, I'm just fine," Richard responded, deliberately injecting sarcasm into his tone. "Except for the fact that I'm cold, wet and tired that is. I just want to go to bed."
..with you. His mind furnished the end of the sentence, the words that Richard would never dare to say aloud.
"You don't have to be like that, you're not the only one who's been stuck out here for hours, you know. I feel the same as you do," Craig said.
Like hell you do, thought Richard. Aloud he said,
"Sorry, I'm tired out that's all. I just wish this assignment was fini...,"he broke off as the distant sound of an approaching car came to his ears.
"About time!" Craig said, his body tensing with anticipation.
The car pulled up at the end of the street, two men spilled out, then it took off at speed.
"Damn, only two of them," Richard said.
The door of the shop opposite opened and a man emerged. One of the men from the car turned on his torch and the man who had come out of the shop headed for the rendezvous, guided by the light. As soon as the men were all together Richard and Craig broke cover and tackled them. A short tussle followed and the torch went out. This had no effect on the two Nemesis men who, with their enhanced eyesight, could still see perfectly clearly. They made short work of the opposition and, before the three men could properly take in what had happened, they were in custody and Richard and Craig headed back to their hotel.
Richard lay in his hotel bed listening to the sound of the shower and trying to push away the mental image of his friend standing naked, rubbing his soapy hands over his body. The noise of the water stopped and Craig emerged with a towel wrapped around his waist, his hair dripping a little and tiny droplets of water gleaming on his wet chest.
Bloody hell! Richard swore inwardly. Christ, I want him! Why does he have to be so damn sexy?
Craig sat on the edge of the other bed and began to towel himself dry. It was some moments before Richard managed to tear his gaze away. By the time he glanced back, his friend was in bed and, a short time later, asleep.
Richard lay there wondering what he could do about the situation. He'd been hoping that they'd have the case wrapped up tonight and they could go home. The fact that only two men had turned up for the rendezvous had put paid to that, and there was no way of telling how long they were likely to be stuck here. Richard looked enviously across at his slumbering friend, he was so tired himself he wasn't sure how much longer he could manage without succumbing to sleep. And that was the nub of his problem; he daren't go to sleep for fear of what he might unwittingly reveal to his friend when he did. In an effort to keep himself awake he allowed his mind to range over the past.
When he'd first met the old man in Tibet and learned about the powers he and his two friends had been granted Richard had felt uniquely privileged. He'd been profoundly grateful that the three of them had even survived and to learn they had been given more than just their lives back had been wonderful. He hadn't realised the down side of their new found abilities until later. They'd made their way back from Tibet, marvelling at the way their bodies were now able to do just about anything they asked of them. It wasn't until after the three of them had submitted their reports and Richard had returned to his flat that the implications of the mental link that they now shared had hit him. As a result of the connection, the secret that he'd been guarding zealously for so long was in real danger of being uncovered. Richard was forced to contemplate the very real possibility that his feelings for Craig would be exposed.
From the first moment Richard met the American he'd been attracted to him but, until now, it had not been much of a problem. Sure it was frustrating at times, working so closely together and knowing that his friend was resolutely heterosexual and that there was no chance of them ever being more than friends, but he'd learned to live with that. He and Craig worked well together and Richard had managed to put his attraction to his charismatic colleague to the back of his mind while concentrating on whatever assignment they were working on at the time. Now and again he'd had to work a little to keep his mind on the job but, in general, it hadn't been too awkward. The fact that his friend featured heavily in Richard's private sexual fantasies didn't get in the way of their working relationship and, of course, Craig had no idea of what went on in Richard's head. Until Tibet.
After the three of them had checked in with Tremayne, they'd gone out for something to eat together before returning to their respective flats. For Richard the euphoria of, not only surviving but also, successfully completing the assignment lasted right up until the moment when he was lying in bed about to unwind from the stresses of the mission by indulging in his favourite 'Craig fantasy'. Then it hit him; the old man had confirmed they had a telepathic link and that meant Craig would know. Richard's arousal subsided abruptly as he mulled over the implications. Craig would know. Oh God, what was he going to do? He'd hardly been able to sleep for worrying about it over the next couple of days and he'd arrived back in work on the Monday morning feeling exhausted and full of trepidation. He'd been afraid to meet Craig's eyes at first, in case his friend read the truth there. When at last he'd got up the courage to actually look at Craig his friend's attitude to him seemed just as relaxed as usual. Obviously the American hadn't picked up on what his colleague was feeling. Richard's profound relief was tempered with fear, because there was no guarantee that the situation wouldn't change, realisation could hit Craig at any time. Richard vividly remembered the old man telling him that they would have to learn to use their powers. There was no way of predicting how long that would take. In the meantime Richard would be living in constant fear of discovery.
He'd gone home that night and lain in his bed contemplating his next problem: what to do about his libido. He needed relief from sexual tension just like any other man and the nature of his job made it difficult to form long term relationships. Richard had indulged in one night stands at times but, in general, had found them pretty unsatisfactory. He could never be quite sure how the other party would react the next day, no matter how clear he'd made it that he was not looking for a relationship. More than once he'd had to battle to extricate himself from the ensuing awkward situation when his erstwhile sex partner had wanted more from him than he was prepared to give. Besides, although he enjoyed the spice of sex with a stranger, after a difficult mission he didn't really want to have to work that hard and preferred to be with someone familiar who knew what he liked. Unfortunately the one friend who was content to have casual sex with Richard, whenever it suited them both, lived in London so, at the moment, there was no chance of them working off some of his frustrations together. Under normal circumstances Richard would have sorted himself out while fantasising about Craig but obviously he couldn't do that now. He tried to force his mind to think of somebody else, preferably someone as unlike Craig as possible. There was a very attractive young lady, Janet, who had just joined the typing pool at Nemesis, petite, blonde and decidedly female, maybe he could concentrate on her instead. He began to stroke himself as he resolutely tried to keep his mind on the girl, but the image of Craig kept intruding, and he was forced to stop. It was hours before he managed to fall asleep and, when he awoke at the sound of the alarm clock, he was so painfully hard he could have wept with frustration.
The next few nights were spent in a similar fashion. The more Richard tried not to think of Craig the more difficult it seemed to get. To make matters worse the extreme strain he was under was starting to affect his attitude at work. He was struggling to concentrate and was getting more and more irritable as the days wore on. He'd felt awful that he'd snapped viciously at Sharron when she'd mildly asked him if there was anything wrong. He couldn't carry on this way but he didn't know what the hell he could do about it. Luckily the problem solved itself soon after and Richard awoke with soggy pyjamas and Craig's name on his lips. He'd jumped out of bed in disbelief; it had been years since he'd had a wet dream. Hard on that thought came the fear that his colleague would know what had happened.
Once more Richard entered the office with fear in his heart, and once again his friend seemed unaware of anything untoward. In fact later that day, when Richard had cracked a few jokes, having finally accepted that his secret was still safe, Craig had told him he was happy to see him relax. The conversation had taken an unnerving turn just after that.
"I know what's been bothering you," the American had said.
"Sure, it's the mental link isn't it?"
"The mental link?" Richard had echoed, faintly.
"Yeah, you were snappy all the time so Sharron and I got to speculating what might be wrong. She reminded me how much you like to keep the stuff that goes on in your head private. It's pretty hard for me, knowing that you and Sharron are able to get inside my mind sometimes, and I'm a pretty open kind of guy. It must be doubly hard for you Richard. If it's any comfort to you I think we're still a heck of a long way off actually being able to read each other's thoughts, that's if we ever do get that far. I know we've managed to intentionally communicate information to each other, but it's been very limited, just a visual image. As for the other stuff, right now all I get is vague feelings, the strongest of which happens when you or Sharron are in danger. I guess that's because of what's involved when someone is afraid, very strong emotions must communicate themselves well. You don't need to worry Richard, all your secrets are safe," Craig teased.
Richard turned away sharply to hide his expression, then realised the futility of that.
"Thanks," he said quietly, and abruptly changed the subject.
Three nights later he lay in bed wondering whether to risk relieving the tension that had once again build up within him. Craig's words about strong emotions haunted him. Aside from fear when in a life threatening situation, the moment of climax was the time when the strongest emotions were likely to be felt. And transmitted too? He didn't know, couldn't know, unless he risked finding out. Craig had obviously not felt the results of the wet dream so maybe he'd be equally oblivious to this. The main difference being that Richard had been asleep right up until the final moment the other night: if he decided to risk this he'd be awake throughout and fully conscious when he reached a climax. Maybe it would be better to continue denying himself, but that would mean he'd become increasingly tense and difficult to be around for several days until his body once again rebelled and he had another nocturnal emission. And who was to say that Craig wouldn't pick up on the next one of those anyway? In the end he decided to take a chance and find out if he was worrying unnecessarily. In spite of the sexual tension that had built up over the last few days it took Richard quite some time before he could relax enough to actually come, so strong was his fear that what he was doing would communicate itself to one of the other two. He was reasonably confident that Sharron wouldn't pick it up, but Craig filled his mind so effectively during the act he was performing that he might easily sense what was going on. Still, Richard couldn't go on this way forever, so he continued to do what he needed to in order to bring himself some relief. As soon as he'd finished, fear took hold of Richard again and he lay awake for the rest of the night dreading the confrontation that might await him. The next day he walked into Tremayne's office wondering just how palpable his tension was and, once more, found his worries were unfounded.
As time wore on and days turned into weeks and months Richard had begun to relax a little. But now all his fears were back with a vengeance. He hadn't dared to allow himself the luxury of release while Craig was actually sharing the hotel bedroom with him and the frustration of living in such close proximity with his friend was getting worse by the minute. Although they had shared hotel rooms on other occasions since Tibet, it had been for no longer than a couple of nights and, although a little frustrating, hadn't been much of a problem. This time it had been four days and, much worse of course, four nights. And there was no sign of an end to this torture. It had got to the stage when he was afraid to sleep in case he had a wet dream; he found it hard to believe that his friend wouldn't pick up on it when he was just a few feet away so he daren't take the risk. So, last night, he'd lain awake – all night – just in case.
He'd been so pleased when the message had come through that there was a good chance they could wrap the case up within twenty four hours. For once he'd not minded the idea of spending the night on surveillance; at least he wouldn't have to lie there in bed knowing Craig was so close and oh so untouchable. But now all hopes of finishing the case quickly and going home had disappeared and there was just no way of telling how much longer he'd have to suffer this situation.
The ridiculous thing was that, although he was strongly attracted to his handsome colleague, he'd never got so wound up about it that he'd needed to relieve his sexual tension while on an assignment before. Even on the rare occasions when he and Craig had shared a room and the mission had gone on for a couple of weeks. One reason for the difference this time was the fact that Richard dare not allow himself the luxury of release. The full force of the fact that there is nothing like the certain knowledge that a course of action is forbidden to make you desperate to try it was something Richard was discovering first hand. The other thing that had changed was the very thing that was forcing him to deny himself. The results of what had happened to them in Tibet. Before they'd been rescued by the old man the attraction Richard felt for Craig hadn't been much of an issue during assignments. He was generally so busy concentrating on the task in hand; trying to make sure they'd covered all the necessary angles that, when they'd finally managed to snatch a little rest time, Richard had been so exhausted all he'd wanted to do was sleep when the opportunity to do so presented itself. And, while the sight of Craig emerging from the shower was still a turn-on, Richard's tiredness had meant that he hadn't the energy to do anything about it. Now things were very different. For one thing his mind and body were much more alert due to the enhancements the Tibetans had given them. Despite the self inflicted sleep deprivation Richard was suffering, his mind was still reasonably alert. The other major problem was the fact that he was much more aware of his friend than he used to be. In the past Richard had been able to put attraction to his colleague to the back of his mind when it was necessary. Now Craig was a constant, intangible, presence in his thoughts. They could never be completely out of contact no matter how much Richard might want to be.
The tiredness washed over Richard and he shook his head hard in an effort to keep sleep at bay. He had no idea how much longer he could last out, the old man had said he was superhuman, but he was still human – and, as such, he needed sleep. Being so worn out it was even harder for him to control his thoughts, hearing Craig breathing so close to him was taking his mind to places he was trying to avoid. He started to imagine himself creeping over to his friend's bed and kneeling beside it, then gently ranging his hands over the American's firm body, then covering him with kisses, finishing off by lowering his mouth onto his…..damn, why did he have to start thinking of that? It was one of his favourite fantasies and now Richard was so uncomfortably hard that he could have screamed. Why did the hotel have to have private bathrooms in every suite? Why couldn't they have public ones? He would have risked slipping off to one of the other floors, to relieve the tension in his body.
Then he heard the bed opposite creak and, as he watched, he saw his friend walking softly towards him,
"Richard, if you feel like that, the secret's to do something about it," Craig said softly, as he bent over his friend, brushing their lips together gently.
Richard responded instinctively, wrapping his arms around the American's neck and pulling him closer so as to kiss him more thoroughly. Craig pulled back sharply.
"So it's true!" he exclaimed harshly, standing up, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth and glaring down at Richard.
With that he started to stride towards the door, as he reached it he turned and said in a voice ringing with contempt,
"You disgust me."
Richard sat bolt upright and stared confusedly at the lump in the other bed. It took him a few seconds to marshal his thoughts enough to realise that he had drifted off to sleep and was living out his worst fears in a dream. He decided that he was just going to have to risk giving himself the release his body craved. It was becoming abundantly clear that, even if he continued to try and hold out, his body would betray him anyway and all this suffering would be in vain. Impatiently he climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.
A short time later he emerged and noticed that, although his friend had shifted his position, he appeared to be sound asleep seemingly oblivious to recent events. Richard climbed into bed and fell into an exhausted sleep almost before he had time to lie down.
It was late afternoon when he finally awoke. The first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was Craig, stretched out comfortably on the bed opposite, reading through a myriad of reports. Richard watched his friend covertly for a while, wishing that there was something he could do to control his attraction to the American. He was getting hard again just looking at him and he knew that life was going to be intolerable in the future if he didn't find a way to resolve the situation. Craig's voice cut into his thoughts,
"Hello sleepy-head, I thought you were never gonna wake up. How about you order yourself something to eat from room service and give me a hand going through these reports? There has to be something we missed."
He tossed a few of the folders carelessly across the room as he spoke and Richard caught them deftly.
"If you say so," Richard said, getting out of bed and heading for the bathroom.
Half way across the room he realised that Craig was watching him. Richard turned sharply to try to prevent his friend from spotting his erection through the thin material of his pyjamas but he was too late. The American briefly glanced in the direction of the bulge with a slightly puzzled expression then his face cleared and he looked back at the paperwork in his hands.
In the bathroom, Richard turned the shower to its coldest setting and started it running. As he waited for it to reach the temperature he required, he stood cursing himself. How could he have been so stupid as to try and hide his erection from Craig? It wasn't as if it was an unusual occurrence for one or both of them to awaken in an aroused state. In fact it happened with monotonous regularity and, under normal circumstances, they both carried on as usual, accepting it as one of the minor inconveniences of being male. By trying to hide it like an embarrassed adolescent, Richard had given the impression that it had an unusual significance this time. He was so annoyed with himself he wanted to hit something. Unfortunately he couldn't even allow himself that outlet for fear that Craig would hear his fists hammering against the tiles. He took a deep breath and stepped under the freezing water. Despite the extreme discomfort it caused him he stayed there until his erection had fully subsided. Then he dried himself off and headed for the door. He took a moment to regain a little of his composure then left the bathroom and walked over to telephone room service.
"Do you want me to order anything for you?" he asked his friend as casually as he could.
"A chicken sandwich and some more coffee please," said Craig, without looking up.
Richard gave the order and replaced the receiver. He sat down on his bed and picked up the first file, gazing at it unseeingly, his mind in turmoil. He toyed with the idea of pretending he'd been taken ill and needed to return to Geneva but realised that, now they were linked, there was no way he could deceive his colleague into believing that. Craig's voice cut into his thoughts,
"Richard, can I ask you a personal question?"
Shit, what was coming now?
Richard felt panic setting in; nevertheless he somehow managed to keep his voice steady as he replied,
"It's about what happened to us in Tibet. I know we haven't talked about it much. I guess that's because the three of us are still coming to terms with what happened. We're only just beginning to take in some of the implications but I think we need to get a few things out in the open. At least between the two of us," Craig said.
God,…he knows! Now what am I going to do? Should I deny it? Laugh it off? Oh God, I can't do this. I can't have this conversation, Richard thought, while he desperately tried to think of a way out.
"The thing is," Craig went on, "I was wondering how much you've been aware of me since we got back."
Constantly- that's your answer. There's hardly been a moment when I wasn't aware of you. For God's sake Craig get to the point! Let's get this over with.
"And," continued Craig, "I've especially wondered if you'd be able to pick up on if I….when I …..Oh hell, what I'm trying to ask you is do you think you'd sense it when I was with a woman?"
Richard took his courage in both hands and said,
"Why are you asking me this now, Craig? There's something you're not saying. It's no use denying it. I can sense you're holding something back."
"Okay, Okay, I admit it. I was trying to avoid putting you on the spot. Since you asked I'll tell you. It was what happened last night after I'd gone to sleep that's got me thinking about it. I woke up suddenly and, for a second or two, I thought I was having a wet dream. It was the strangest feeling, my heart was hammering, I was breathing fast, I might even have groaned aloud, I don't know! Then I felt as if I'd climaxed, but I knew I hadn't. I tell you, it took me a few minutes to get myself together enough to process what I was feeling then, when I did, I looked across to see if you'd felt it too. That's when I realised you weren't in your bed. Then I heard you come back into the room and guessed what you'd been doing. And that got me wondering – just how close are we, now we have this link?"
"Pretty damn close, if we can pick up on intimate stuff like that, I'd say," Richard replied. He was tempted to make some flippant comment and try and leave it there but something drove him to probe further. "Did you pick up anything else, Craig? Could you sense what I was thinking about?"
"I don't know. I definitely picked up on the physical sensation, there's no doubt about that, but the rest of it's all a bit vague and nebulous. I know that you were thinking of Janet, of course. But that might not be because I picked up your thoughts last night. I've seen the way you look at her and I've sensed you're attracted to her, so it's pretty obvious she'd be in your thoughts isn't it? She's a nice girl, you should ask her out."
If Richard hadn't been seated he would have fallen down, the relief he felt was so overwhelming. So, although Craig could pick-up the physical sensations, he had no idea what was going on in Richard's head at the time. His secret was safe. God bless Janet, he thought. The mental link was still going to be difficult to cope with at times but it was no longer such a threat to his peace of mind. No more sleepless nights worrying about what secrets might be uncovered while he slept. He could indulge in his favourite fantasies once more. He could enjoy the gifts they'd been given without fear of his life being blown apart by it. He felt a great rush of happiness as he looked across at Craig, who had returned to his study of the files. Just as a final test and, if he were totally honest, for the sheer fun of it too, Richard mentally undressed his friend and imagined touching him. He smiled to himself as Craig serenely continued to read the paperwork. Yes, his secret was definitely safe. With a sigh of satisfaction, Richard began to read through the notes in front of him with renewed vigour. The speed at which he was able to get through the papers filled him with renewed gratitude for what the Tibetans had given him. It was great to be alive.
A few days later the two men were conversing over a coffee in the works canteen when Craig said,
"Uh oh, I know you had your eye on Janet but you've left it a bit late I think. Looks as though someone has beaten you to the draw."
Richard looked up to see Janet being handed an enormous bouquet from the local florist. He grinned at the expression of delight on her face. She picked up the card that came with the gift and, as she read it, her face briefly registered the confusion she felt. This quickly gave way to pleasure as she inhaled the wonderful scent and admired the beauty of the flowers she held.
"I wonder who they're from," Craig said.
"Who knows," replied his friend. "Whoever he is he has great taste."
Richard smiled to himself as he remembered how long it had taken him to decide what to ask the florist to inscribe on the card. In the end he'd realised it was a simple, all he'd needed to express his feelings towards Janet were two words,