Title: The Return of the Colzone Brothers

Author: Olivia Sutton

Archive: Fan Fiction Net, Archive of Our Own

Story: 3 of 6

Series: Snapshots Universe (Slash, AU)

Rating: PG-13

Categories: Slash, AU, Angst, Hurt/Comfort

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Disclaimer: This fanfic is written for fun and for the enjoyment of other fans, but not for profit. Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) is copyright 2000-2001 by the BBC. The previous version is copyright 1969 by ITC.

Author Note: A new story in my Snapshots universe, this takes place immediately after "Just the Once", thus it's set in 1992 and Jeff and Marty are 30 years old. Kathy was born in 1986. Jeff and Marty were 24 in 1986. Bill would also be the same age, 24, and recently graduated from law school. As part of the Snapshots Series, it is recommended that one read those stories first, especially "Just the Once". However, if you choose not to the least one must know is that Jeff and Marty are telepaths with each other only and they have been committed partners for a very long time.

Summary: Jeff Randall thought he'd seen the last of Michael Forbes, the Harlequin, and a pair of gangsters known as the Colzone Brothers. He was wrong. Now will Marty Hopkirk, and Jeff and Marty's six-year-old god-daughter, Kathy Smith pay the price?

The Return of the Colzone Brothers

Jeff Randall, Marty Hopkirk and Bill Smith stood on the grey stone steps that led to the courthouse. All three wore formal suits, and Bill carried a briefcase, and still wore his court robes and wig.

Marty smiled at Bill, stuck out his hand and said, "Thanks, Bill, I appreciated having you with me through that."

Bill smiled back and shook Marty's hand, "It was nothing, your barrister did most of the work. I'm happy I could be there, representing you. And I'm glad I could give you moral support, too, Marty."

Marty looked off into the distance, his bright blue eyes troubled and dark.

Jeff stepped closer to his partner and slid a hand around Marty's waist. "Marty, if you hadn't done something, you... or I... or maybe even both of us..." Jeff left off.

Bill lightly touched Marty's shoulder, "Marty, Jeff's right. You were defending yourself, and Jeff. I know how close you two are, you shouldn't lose any sleep over this. The court found in your favour, the manslaughter charge was dismissed because you were defending yourself," he paused, then added, "And Jeff."

Marty shook his head, "I still feel a bit guilty though, because of me a man fell to his death off a roof..."

"Marty!" said Jeff, forcefully, "It really was not your fault, you had no choice."

Marty nodded, "I know, it's just, I feel so..." he paused, searching for the right word, "uncomfortable about actually killing someone."

Jeff nodded at Marty, "And you wouldn't be you if it didn't bother you, Marty. But please, try not to think about it so much."

Bill nodded again, then looked at his watch, "Not to completely change the subject or anything, but I was wondering... do you think you could watch Kathy for Gina and I soon? We've both had very tight schedules lately and we're trying to plan a week-end getaway together."

Marty smiled, "Of course, just let us know when. It would be wonderful to see our god-daughter."

Jeff nodded and smiled as well, adding, "We both enjoy taking care of Kathy, Bill, it would be our pleasure."

Bill nodded, "Okay, then, I'll talk to Gina and we'll pick a date, then call you. Kathy will be excited to stay with you both. Now, I really must dash. Bye, now," he rushed off towards the street, waving, then turned and hailed a taxicab.

Jeff and Marty stood for a moment, then walked to the street and hailed a cab to take them home.

It was early afternoon and Bill Smith walked up the stairs to the offices of Randall and Hopkirk Security Services, holding his little girl's hand tightly in one hand and a pink suitcase in the other. Kathryn Rose, whom they all called Kathy, had light brown hair, dark brown eyes, and wore a pink dress. He reached the outer door and knocked, then entered. Jeff Randall stood near the door to the inner office.

Jeff smiled when he saw his friend and his god-daughter, Kathy, "Why hi, Bill, it's good to see you!"

Bill nodded, answering, "You too, Jeff, you too. Is Marty here as well?"

Jeff nodded, "Yah, he's in the office, come in."

Bill nodded again, then picked up Kathy and followed Jeff into the office.

Once in the office, Marty smiled and went around his desk to Kathy. He knelt next to her, smiling, and lightly touched her light brown hair, before asking her how she was.

"I'm fine. Daddy says that I will stay with you this week-end."

Marty looked up at Bill, and nodded, then said quietly to Kathy, "Yah, that's right, Kathy. I hope you will enjoy it."

Meanwhile Bill stood before Jeff's desk. "Jeff, Marty, thank you so much. Gina and I are so busy these days we rarely see each other. It's starting to..." He left off, "Sorry. She has surgery today and I have court, but then it's off to the sea for the week-end, just the two of us."

Kathy frowned at that. Bill went to his daughter and knelt before her, "Kathy, honey, we talked about this at home, Mummy and Daddy need some time together. Uncle Marty and Uncle Jeff will take good care of you, sweetie."

Jeff raised a hand, stopping Bill's flow of words, "It's fine, Bill, it really is. We both love to take care of Kathy, we don't see nearly enough of her."

Marty smiled from where he knelt in front of Kathy, "We'll have fun, won't we?" he said to the six-year-old little girl.

Kathy nodded, suddenly shy.

Bill slung the pink suitcase onto Jeff's desk, "Well, here's everything, bedtime is 7 o'clock, and try to get her to take a nap this afternoon,"

Bill was interrupted by his daughter, "I'm too old for naps, Daddy!"

Bill smiled, "She isn't too fussy about foods, but she should have some type of vegetable with lunch and dinner, okay?"

Jeff nodded, "Don't worry, Bill! We can take care of Kathy just fine."

Bill reached forward and shook Jeff's hand, "Thanks again, Jeff, Marty," he took a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Jeff, "If there is an emergency, here's the number of the hotel where will be staying, my office phone number, and Gina's office number. I've also written the name and contact number of my secretary and Gina's... they can find us anywhere, okay?"

Jeff nodded, "She'll be fine with us, Bill. And it's not a problem, not at all."

Marty stood and held out his hand to Bill, who grasped it, "Thanks for letting us take care of her, Bill. Everything will be fine."

Bill nodded, then knelt next to his daughter, gave her a hug and a quick kiss on the forehead, before leaving the office.

Jeff watched Bill go, then sat behind his desk. He took out his cheque book and began going through bills and writing cheques, then stuffing them into envelopes. Marty had found a pad of paper, some pens of different colours, and some highlighters and had given them to Kathy. She lay sprawled next to the couch, working on her drawing.

Marty watched her, quietly, sitting at his desk, waiting to answer the phone whilst Jeff coped with the bills.

A couple of hours later, Kathy rose from the floor and walked over to the space between Jeff and Marty's desk, proudly holding up a piece of paper, "Uncle Marty! Uncle Jeff! Look what I made!"

Marty went over to her and looked at the drawing, "What a nice drawing, Kathy," he said, as he looked at the drawing.

Jeff glanced up from where he was working, looked at it and said, "It is very nice, Kathy."

"Would you like it?" Kathy asked, her lip trembling a bit.

Jeff got up from his desk and knelt before her, "Of course, I would. I'll put it right up here, okay?" He took the drawing and pinning it up behind his desk, then sat down and continued working on the bills.

Marty looked at Kathy, then around the office, then said, "Kathy, would you like to go to the park?"

"Yeah!" Kathy said, nodding, enthusiastically.

Marty smiled at her enthusiasm, "Jeff, I'm going to take Kathy to the park for a little while, okay?"

Jeff nodded, "Sure, that's fine, Marty. Look, these do need to go out today, but once I'm done we could take Kathy out for dinner or something, yah?"

Marty nodded, "That's fine, Jeff. We'll be back in about, oh, forty-five minutes or so."

"Don't rush... and have fun!" Then he went over to Kathy, "How about a hug for Uncle Jeff, hum?"

Kathy gave him a big hug.

Jeff smiled and returned the hug, then went to Marty, "How about a hug from you too?"

Marty smiled, hugged Jeff chastely.

"Wait," said Jeff, as he moved papers around on his desk, then picked up one of his business cards. He walked over to Kathy and knelt down before her, then handed her the card. "Kathy, put this in your pocket. If you get separated from Uncle Marty in the park, find one of those big, black taxicabs and give them this card and they'll bring you back here, okay?"

Marty looked at Jeff in surprise, "I'm not going to let her wander off by herself, Jeff, she's only six!"

Jeff looked up at Marty, "Better safe than sorry, Marty."

Marty nodded, then took Kathy by the hand and led her from the office.

Marty walked in the park, holding Kathy's hand. As they came to the top of a rise they saw an ice cream seller a little distance away.

Kathy noticed the ice cream seller and pulled at Marty's hand.

Marty stooped down to her height and asked, "Would you like some ice cream, Kathy?"

Kathy nodded vigorously.

Marty said, "All right, but don't tell Uncle Jeff . I think he's planning on a big meal tonight." Then he led her to the ice cream seller.

At the seller's stand, he paid for two ice creams, handing one to Kathy and taking one himself, then he and Kathy continue to walk through the park. They came across a bench near a decorative fountain and sat down, finishing the ice cream.

Once the ice cream was finished, they stood up and Marty looked at the sticky mess on Kathy's face, then looked around the park, hoping to find some water to clean her up. Then he noticed the decorative fountain which stood across the path from the bench. "Kathy, we need to get you cleaned-up or Uncle Jeff will have a fit. Come here," he brought her to the fountain and stuck his own hands under it. The water was biting cold, but it was the only thing they had. "Kathy, stick your hands under here, then run them over your face, like this," he demonstrated.

Kathy did as she was told, then pulled away, "It's cold!"

Marty knelt next to her, "I know, Kathy, but it's the only water we have, come on now. Can't let you run around all messy, now can we?" He dried his hands then lightly touched her light brown hair.

Kathy nodded, and stuck her hands in the fountain, washing them, then making a good pass at washing her face. Marty took a linen handkerchief out of his pocket, wet it, and finished. Then he took Kathy by the hand and led her to the path. Looking around, Marty noticed it was starting to get dark.

"I think we should return to the office," he said to Kathy.

Kathy nodded, "Um-hum, I'm tired."

Marty stooped and picked her up, then started walking down the path that led through the park to the street. Once he reached the pavement, he put Kathy back down, "Kathy, you can be a big girl and walk on your own, hum?"

Kathy looked up at him and nodded, "Of course, Uncle Marty."

They continued down the pavement towards the building that held the offices of Randall and Hopkirk Security Services, when there was a screech of wheels and a car came over the kerb, stopping right in front of them.

Marty yelled in surprise and Kathy screamed.

"Stay here, Kathy, I'll see if anyone is hurt," said Marty as he moved forward towards the car.

Suddenly the doors of the car were opened, and three men got out and grabbed Marty, dragging him back towards the car. "Run, Kathy!" Marty screamed as he struggled with the men holding his arms. Marty realised that he recognised one of the men as Tanner Colzone, a major criminal boss. He and Jeff had run into Matthew and Tanner Colzone during a recent case, when Marty's old acquaintance, Michael Forbes, had asked them to stop the Colzones from taking over his nightclub. That case had ended with a battle on the roof of the nightclub, during which Matthew Colzone had fallen from the roof. Marty had recently been tried for the death and acquitted, due to Colzone's death being self-defence.

Kathy moved towards the car and her Uncle Marty.

Marty pulled free of the two men who held him, grabbed Kathy, turned, and ran. But holding a six-year-old slowed him down and he stumbled. He stopped and let her down, "RUN, KATHY! RUN!" He grabbed her hand and ran down the pavement back towards the park.

Suddenly, one of the two men caught up to him, hit him in the back and knocked him flat. Marty struggled, trying to throw the man off, while screaming at Kathy, who stood watching, to run.

Another of the men made a move towards Kathy, but she turned to run before he could reach her.

"RUN, Kathy! RUN!" Marty screamed again, as he fought with now two men who held him down, pummeling him with their fists and feet.

Kathy turned and ran but one of the three men ran after her and finally caught her, Kathy began kicking and screaming, but the man put his hand over her mouth and dragged her back towards the car. When they reached the car, Marty was already bundled inside, and Kathy was thrown on top of him. Kathy shook her uncle's upper arm but he didn't react, his eyes were closed. Kathy yelled, "Uncle Marty!" but still the unconscious Marty didn't react. One of the thugs got into the back seat with them both and the other got into the front seat. The car sped off.

Meanwhile back at the office of Randall and Hopkirk Security Services, Jeff finished the last of the bills, straightened his desk, then looked at his watch. It was six o'clock. Jeff sat up bolt upright in shock. Marty and Kathy should have been back by now. Then, he knew that something horrible had happened to his partner. Jeff closed his eyes and thought about his partner, he could feel that Marty was still alive, but he knew Marty was hurt somehow, he knew it. Then he tried to reach Marty telepathically but there was no response; which didn't alarm him unduly, their unique means of communication seldom worked clearly over long distances. Jeff opened his eyes and stood-up, then he began pacing back and forth across the office, hoping for a phone call or some news about his partner.

The car pulled up to an old wooden warehouse and stopped. Marty had awakened in the car, though he was still groggy. Kathy had moved closer to her uncle, and he put an arm around her, and whispered comforting words in her ear.

The car door opened and the three thugs hauled Marty and Kathy out of the car. Once outside the car, Marty looked carefully at his captors, recognised one of them and swore under his breath, then said, "Let Kathy go... she has nothing to do with this!"

"Shut up, Hopkirk!" growled one of the thugs, turning a gun on Marty.

Marty moved quickly in front of Kathy.

"Do exactly what you are told, Hopkirk, or we'll get rid of the girl. We don't need her," growled another of the thugs, then he pointed them towards the warehouse. At that moment, Kathy began to cry.

"Shut her up!" said the leader of the group. "I mean it, shut her up, or I'll do it," he waved his gun away from Marty and towards Kathy.

Marty knelt down in front of Kathy and began to shush her, then took her in his arms, and held her.

"Now, move!"

Marty nodded, then looked at the thugs with contempt, "Tanner Colzone, I should have known, sorry about your brother, but it was him or me, and I didn't really have a choice."

"You'll regret killing Matthew, Hopkirk. I'm telling you. For the rest of your very short life, you'll regret it. Now shut up and walk," he gestured Marty, and Kathy, away from the car and towards an old, wooden warehouse.

Marty was silent again, and followed orders, holding Kathy in his arms as he walked.

They were brought through the warehouse and unceremoniously tossed into a small room with concrete block walls. The dirt floor was strewn with paper, newspapers and rubbish. The room had one window to the outside, a small one blocked by bars. The only other way out of the room was the heavy metal door that they had entered through. Marty immediately turned around and tried the door, but it was locked. The only furniture in the room was a dirty mattress which sat directly on the floor. Marty took Kathy by the hand and led her to the corner of the room and then he sat on the mattress. Kathy sat in his lap and he cuddled her close, holding her tightly.

"Uncle Marty?" Kathy said quietly.

"Yes, Kathy?" asked Marty.

"What's going to happen? Who were those bad men? What are they going to do to us?"

"I don't know, Kathy, but I'm here and I'll protect you."


"Yes, I promise," Marty answered, his voice filled with determination.

Sometime later, Marty and Kathy were still sitting in the small room, on the dirt floor when they heard a scraping sound and then the door opened. A man came in holding a tray of food which he sat on the floor.

Marty looked up at the man, Kathy asleep in his arms.

"Here's your food," said the man, then he leered at Kathy, "She's a sweet young thing, isn't she?"

Marty looked at the man, and snarled, "Yes, she is... and she's going to stay that way!" He pulled Kathy closer to himself, protectively.

Kathy woke-up with a start, and shivered as she saw the strange man now in the room.

The man came closer to them, his hand outstretched towards Kathy. Marty stood up and pushed Kathy behind himself, she whimpered.

"Kathy, stay behind me, I'll protect you!" insisted Marty, then he looked at the man who stood in the middle of the room, "Leave her alone! You touch one hair on her head and I'll tear you limb from limb!"

"Oh, like you could stop me," replied the man, then he spun on his heel and walked out of the room, slamming the door shut.

Marty pulled Kathy back into his arms, and ran a hand along her back to comfort her. "Kathy, they've left us some food, are you hungry?"

Kathy shook her head, tears in her eyes, "I wanna go home!"

Marty held Kathy tight, "I know sweetie, I know, I want us to go home too. But you need to eat, to keep up your strength. Try, hum?"

Kathy looked up at Marty, then at the food. She took the fork and tried a bite of the unappetizing-looking stew, then made a face. "It's cold, and icky!"

Marty sighed, "Okay, Kathy, maybe later, maybe they'll give us something better. Let's look around the room again and see if we can find a way out, hum?"

They searched the room, but all they found was a small heating vent near the floor. Marty looked at it, thinking that maybe he could slip through, then he shook his head.

Kathy looked up at Marty, "Uncle Marty? What is it?"

Marty shook his head, "Nothing. There doesn't seem to be a way out of here."

Kathy looked at him then at the heating vent, "Maybe I could crawl through there?"

Marty shook his head, "No, Kathy, it's too dangerous. We don't know what's through there, we'll just have to wait." He gathered her in arms and hugged her, then carried her over to the mattress, where they both sat down.

Just then the door opened and the three men entered, including Tanner Colzone, a heavy-set man with icy blue eyes and white blond hair. The men walked to where Marty and Kathy were sitting.

Tanner said, "Come with us, Hopkirk!"

Marty shook his head once.

Tanner nodded to his men and both men pulled guns, "Do it, Hopkirk, or my men will shoot the little girl. We don't need her."

"Then let me bring Kathy along," Marty said forcefully, trying to show more bravery than he felt.

Tanner shook his head. "There's no reason for her to come. She stays here!"

"Promise me she won't be hurt then," argued Marty. "If you, or your men," he said with a sneer, "tell me she won't get hurt, then I'll go with you."

"You're in no position to make bargains, Hopkirk, now move it," Tanner gestured with his gun towards the door.

Marty nodded, resigned that he had no choice. He got up, turned to Kathy and whispered in her ear, "You'll be all right, Kathy, I'll be back soon, I promise."

Kathy nodded, her face white with fear.

"Come on, Hopkirk, NOW!" said Tanner, and his men motioned again with their guns for Marty to go towards the door.

Meanwhile, Jeff was still in the office. He had returned to working on the stack of bills, but his concentration was nil and he found himself making simple mistakes. He leaned back in the chair, sighed, and brought his hands to his eyes, running them over his face. Then he dropped his hands to his sides. Jeff trembled, then closed his eyes and tried to reach Marty telepathically. Again, he couldn't clearly read Marty's thoughts, though he had a sense that Marty was okay but scared and angry. Jeff knew Marty must be some distance away. Just then the phone rang.

Jeff picked up his desk phone and asked, "Marty? Where are you?"

"If you ever want to see him again, you'll get us £100,000," said a gruff voice.

"Let me speak to him!" Jeff insisted.

There was a clatter then Marty's voice on the line, "Jeff, I'm okay. But Kathy's with me, Jeff, they have us both."

The phone was pulled away from Marty then, "He's all right, now, but he won't be if you don't deliver that money."

Jeff nodded, then said, "I'll get it, I'll get it... just don't hurt them. Please don't hurt them."

The phone went dead.

Jeff hung up his own phone, then got up from his desk and began to pace in the office. After a few minutes of restless pacing, he sat down again and dialed Bill's emergency contact number.

Meanwhile, Kathy sat, alone in locked warehouse room. She took a fork off the food tray, went to the vent and pried it off, then crawled through it. Kathy quietly made her way through the tunnels of the venting system, before she finally found a grill that led to outside. She pushed the grill open, then jumped down.

Tanner Colzone and his minders took Marty back to the locked room in the warehouse. As Tanner opened the door, Marty saw his chance and attacked. He hit Tanner square on the jaw. Tanner went down, and Marty wheeled to attack the minders behind him, but one pulled a gun and fired. The shot hit the ceiling, then he leveled his gun at Marty. Marty stopped fighting.

Tanner got up from the floor. "Don't ever try anything like that again, or my men will shoot you, Hopkirk. I wouldn't mind at'all returning a corpse to that partner of yours."

Marty nodded, and entered the room. The room was empty. "Where's Kathy!" he yelled, cold fear numbing his stomach.

Tanner pushed past him to the room, "What did you do with her, Hopkirk?"

"Me? Shouldn't I be asking that question?" said Marty.

One of the minders slapped Marty, hard, "Shut yer mouth, don't speak to the boss like that!"

The two minders had entered the room, with Marty and Tanner Colzone, they began searching the room. "Over here!" yelled one.

Colzone walked to the wall where his man was, the other minder kept Marty covered with his weapon.

The vent grill lay on the ground, a fork next to it.

"Looks like she went through here," said the minder.

Colzone laughed, "Well, she won't get anywhere going through there. Those heating ducts are a maze. Come on, boys!" He motioned the minders.

Marty's eyes blazed as he looked at the minders, "If she doesn't get out of there alive, I'll... I'll..." Marty left off, feeling helpless at the situation and scared for his god-daughter.

Marty was left alone in the room, his jaw and cheek sore from being slapped. He sat and hoped that Colzone was wrong and Kathy would escape and find help.

Meanwhile, Kathy walked along the street, when a car pulled up besides her. She stopped. The car was a big, black London taxi cab.

"Are you all right sweetie? What happened?"

Kathy looked up into the kindly face of the taxicab driver and began to cry, "The bad men hit my Uncle Marty... they hit him and he fell down! And I don't know where I am! I don't know how to get home!"

"Okay, okay, sweetie, we'll get you home, don't worry about that. Hop in."

Kathy looked up at the taxi cab driver then said quietly, "Mummy and Daddy say I'm not to accept lifts from strangers."

"But I bet your Mummy and Daddy take rides in taxi cabs all the time, right, sweetie?"

Kathy nodded, "Uncle Jeff said I'm to find a taxi cab if I get lost!"

"Well, this is a taxi cab and you'll be all right, I'll help you find your way home."

Kathy smiled then and looked up at the driver like he was her saviour, then went to the back door of the taxi and tried to open it, she soon cried out of frustration because she couldn't work the latch.

The taxicab driver saw her frustration, parked the cab, and got out, opening the door for her, then let her into the back, before closing the door. He got back in himself then asked, "Do you know where home is?"

"I...I'm supposed to be staying with my Uncle Jeff and Uncle Marty tonight. Mummy and Daddy went off to the sea, and... the bad men took my Uncle Marty, they hit him!"

"Where is your Uncle Jeff, do you know, sweetie?"

"In his office. He's a detective!" said Kathy, "Randall and Hopkirk Security Services!"

"And your name, sweetie?"

"Kathy Smith."

"And what about your parents, what are their names?"

"Mummy and Daddy!" Kathy answered brightly.

"Do you know what names other adults call them sweetheart?"

"They call Daddy, Bill, and Mummy, Gina," Kathy answered.

The cab driver nodded, she was a smart girl, he could always bring her to the police if he couldn't find this "Uncle Jeff", but he also knew it would be frightening for her to go to the police station... if her Uncle Marty had been attacked in the park... he left off the thought and continued to ask his questions, "Okay, now, think hard, do you know where your Uncle Jeff's office is?

"On the third floor, we had to climb lots of stairs."

"Do you know where his building is?"

"I...I'm not sure, but it took us ages to get there from home, and Daddy complained about all the traffic."

The cab driver smiled, then he asked, "Did you walk to the park or drive?"

"We walked... it only took us a little while. Then we walked in the park and Uncle Marty brought me ice cream! He had me wash up in the fountain and the water was cold!"

"Would you recognise the outside of your uncle's building?"

Kathy nodded vigorously, then said, "Wait, I just remembered something, Uncle Jeff gave me something, a piece of paper," she rummaged around in the pocket of her dress, then she handed it to the driver.

The driver looked at the business card, it had the address of Randall and Hopkirk Security Services printed right on it.

Jeff sat at his desk, with Bill pacing in front of him. "Bill, will you stop pacing, please?"

"What?" Bill said, then he stopped and took a chair before Jeff's desk, "Sorry, I'm worried about Kathy."

"And so am I, and Marty. And your pacing reminds me of him, he can't sit still when he's upset." Jeff sighed and got up, then walked to the window, after a few minutes of looking outside, "I wish I knew who took him. The voice on the phone was vaguely familiar, but I just couldn't place it." He took his fist and slammed it into his other hand, "If only I knew why he was taken."

Bill was about to answer, when there came the sound of the outer door opening.

Jeff looked towards the other room with trepidation, then he got up from his desk chair, saying, "I'll go check, Bill. You stay here."

Jeff opened the door to the outer office, when Kathy streaked through, running full tilt pass Jeff, Bill stooped down, opening his arms for his daughter as Jeff turned towards her... a look of surprise on his face.

Bill cuddled Kathy close, holding her and talking to her. Jeff turned away as he realised another person was in the room, the taxi cab driver stood there, a cap in his hands.

"This little girl was on her own, walking down the street, she said some 'bad men' hit her 'Uncle Marty'? Is that either of you?"

Jeff shook his head, "I'm Jeff Randall," he held out his hand, "Thank you for bringing my god-daughter here. Can you tell me what happened?"

Kathy ran to Uncle Jeff then, "The bad men hit Uncle Marty, Uncle Jeff! They hit him and threw him into a car, then they grabbed me and threw me in the car, too! They took us to this big building and locked us in a little room, but I got out through a vent and I ran and ran and then I was lost, then I was walking down the road and this man helped me!" She indicated the taxi cab driver.

Bill had stood at this point and he went over to the taxi cab driver and shook his hand, "Thank you for returning my daughter, Mr. ..."

"Hoskins, Sir," said the driver, "I didn't see much, only a little girl, crying and walking down the street by herself. I stopped of course."

Jeff pointed towards the pair of chairs in front of his desk, "Please sit down and tell us what happened."

The taxi driver went and sat down, "There's nothing to tell, I was driving down Piccadilly Circus, and I saw the little girl, crying, so I stopped. I asked her what had happened and she said some bad men hit her Uncle Marty and that she was lost and didn't know her way home, but she did have your business card, Mr. Randall ... that was a good idea by the way, so I drove her straight here."

"Did you call the police?"

"Well, I... I thought about it, but then I thought that a police station would be a scary place for a little girl, and I had your address on the card, so I thought I'd try bringing the little girl back and if anything seemed wrong, then I'd call the police."

"Did you see what happened to Marty?" Jeff asked.

The taxi cab driver shook his head, but Kathy answered instead, "The bad men hurt him, they were hitting him and kicking him on the ground. And the bad men took us... they took us out of the park!"

Bill picked up his daughter from where she stood next to him, "It's okay, honey, it's okay."

Jeff nodded at the driver, walked around his desk and held out his hand, shaking hands with the driver again, "Well, thank you for bringing Kathy home, we owe you so much. Let me cover her fare, at least," he took out his wallet.

"Nah, that's okay," said the driver.

"Oh, come on, here," Jeff shoved a note into his hands, then showed him towards the door out of the office, "Thanks for bringing her home."

The driver smiled, put his cap on his head and left.

Jeff went back into the office, "Bill, I'm so sorry this happened, and I'm glad she's okay, but Marty..."

Bill nodded, "I know, Marty is still being held somewhere. Jeff, please, let me help."

Jeff looked at him, unsure of what to say, then he saw Kathy was crying. He went over to her and lightly touched her back, though she was still in her father's arms. "Kathy?"

"What will happen to Uncle Marty? Those men still have him! They might hurt him," said Kathy.

"Shush, shush," said Bill.

Jeff nodded, stroking Kathy's back, "Shush, Kathy, it's a good thing you got away."

Bill nodded, still holding Kathy, "If anything happened to you, I'd be very sad, Kathy. I love you, sweetie."

Kathy nodded, sniffing back her tears, "I was so scared."

Jeff nodded, "Kathy, sweetie, are you hurt? Did these bad men hurt you or touch you, Kathy?"

Kathy shook her head.

Bill looked at his daughter and said carefully, "It's okay for you to say. Did they hurt you, Kathy?"

"No... no, they grabbed my arms and pushed me into the car with Uncle Marty, but they didn't hurt me, Uncle Jeff, Daddy."

Jeff and Bill nodded, then Jeff asked, "Can you tell me what happened?"

Kathy nodded, "Um-hum, Uncle Marty and I had just left the park and were walking down the pavement and a car swerved in front of us, Uncle Marty went to see if anyone was hurt and the men got out and grabbed him."

"How many men, Kathy?" asked Jeff.

"Three. Two had Uncle Marty by the arms and one grabbed me, but I got away, then Uncle Marty got away and we ran. But the men followed, they caught Uncle Marty, one of them knocked him in the back and he fell down, then the men began hitting and kicking him. I stood watching, screaming, then Uncle Marty told me to run, so I turned and ran, but one of the men caught me. They put me in the car, and Uncle Marty was sleeping. I yelled at him but he didn't wake up, Daddy." Kathy looked at her father.

Bill and Jeff exchanged worried glances.

Bill took a deep breath then asked, "Where did the car take you, Kathy?"

"I don't know!" Kathy's lip trembled, "I was lost!"

Jeff lightly touched Kathy's arm and he asked, "Sweetie, it's okay, but can you describe the building where you and Uncle Marty were held? What was it like?"

Kathy nodded her understanding and answered, "The car took us to a building, and Uncle Marty was awake by then, and they put us in a dirty stone room."

"And then what happened, how did you get away, Kathy?" asked Jeff.

"Uncle Marty and I found a hole, a small one. Then the bad men came in and they took Uncle Marty away. I was all by myself and so scared."

Jeff moved over to Kathy then, looking at her trembling upper lip. He knelt down and said, "It's okay, it's okay, Kathy. I think I know where they took Uncle Marty, he rang me on the phone, then I talked to the bad men. Kathy, what did you do next?"

"I opened the grill with the back of a fork and crawled in. There were all sorts of metal tunnels, going all different ways, and I was so scared, but I had to be brave, Daddy, and I kept crawling on my knees, then I found a way outside. I had to push open a metal grate... it was really hard. Daddy, I was so scared." Kathy whimpered, then looked at her father again for approval.

"You were very brave, Kathy, we're so happy you were able to find your way out. Then what happened?"

"I started walking down the street, but I didn't know where I was, until finally the taxi stopped and brought me here."

"Kathy, do you remember anything about the car that took you and Marty?" Asked Jeff.

"It was big, big and black, but not anything like the taxicab. It was square and boxy."

"Was it really long?" asked Jeff.

Kathy shook her head.

"Did it have four doors, do you remember?" asked Bill.

Kathy nodded, "Yah, it did."

Jeff sighed, a black four door car, that could be anything. "Do you remember anything else?"

Kathy shook her head, "Uncle Marty will be okay, won't he?"

"I hope so, Kathy, I hope so," said Jeff.

"Jeff, I better call Gina, tell her that Kathy's okay, and then take Kathy home."

Jeff nodded, then he looked at Bill, "I'm sorry this happened, Bill. I really am. I wouldn't have anything happen to Kathy for the world."

Bill walked over to Jeff and lightly touched his shoulder, "I know, Jeff, I know. And once Kathy is home and safe, I'll help you find Marty, I swear it. But Gina has to know that Kathy is safe... she's frantic. And I need to have Kathy safe at home, all right?"

Jeff nodded.

Jeff showed Bill to the door out of the office, then was startled by the telephone ringing. He rushed to get it, yelling "Hello," in a breathless gasp into the receiver.

"You have the £100,000?" a gruff voice asked, "You better, or you'll never see your partner alive again."

"I'll get it, I'll get it. I just need a little more time. Please don't hurt him. Please!" Jeff answered, his voice tight.

"You have until nineteen hundred hours tomorrow night. Come alone with the money. Bring it to the carpark near Jubilee Park. You give us the money and we'll give you Hopkirk."

Jeff nodded, then said, "I'll have it. Now, please let me speak to him."

"You've spoken to him before, forget it."

"Please, just for a moment, let me know he's all right. I'll get your money, just let me speak to him."

There was a click, then noises from the phone, then Marty's voice came on to the line, "Jeff?"

"Marty? Marty, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Jeff, but Kathy..."

"She's here. She said she got out via the heating ducts. Marty, are you sure you're all right? They haven't hurt you?"

"I'm fine, Jeff. Really. Jeff, I... I love you."

Jeff swallowed, tears coming to his eyes, "Marty?"

There was another click, and more sounds, then the gruff voice came on the line again, "Get the money, Randall, or lover boy here dies," the phone call went dead, then was replaced with a dial tone.

Jeff set the phone receiver down on it's cradle, then took a deep breath, and another. He was deeply worried about Marty, he didn't think it was a good sign that he had expressed his feelings in front of his kidnappers. Jeff knew that Marty knew they didn't have the money. Even though Marty trusted Jeff, he probably thought that whatever plan Jeff came up with might not work. Jeff sat at his desk, took a deep breath, then tried calling his bank. But they were closed. And they didn't have that amount of money in either the business or personal accounts. Next, he called Bill and Gina's.

Bill's phone rang several times, then a woman's voice answered.

"Gina? Jeff Randall."

"Jeff? How dare you put Kathy's life at risk like that!" yelled Gina Smith

"We didn't exactly let her get kidnapped, Gina. It wasn't our fault! Marty took her to the park. Someone grabbed them both. And that someone is still holding Marty. Now let me talk to Bill."

"Why did they kidnap him? It was because of your relationship, wasn't it?"

Jeff shook his head, even though he knew Gina couldn't see it, then answered, "There's no reason to assume that, Gina," he said, frustrated with her accusations and anger. "We simply don't know. I don't know who took Marty. But they are demanding money, so maybe it's to do with work. Gina, I don't know why this is happening, but I do know Marty's in trouble. And I care about him. I also need help getting him back in one piece, now... let... me... talk... to... Bill." Jeff said tightly, pronouncing each word clearly and precisely.

There was a series of noises, then Bill came on the phone.


"Yah, Jeff?"

"How's Kathy?"

"She's fine, sound asleep. I'm sorry about what Gina said. She was frantic. And she's still worried about Kathy. She'll calm down."

Jeff nodded, then said, "Bill, can you come over to the office right away? I've had a call from the kidnappers."

"Did they give instructions for the drop?"

"Yah, that park near here. Same one where Marty and Kathy were grabbed. Bill, I need £100,000, and my bank isn't even open. And even if it was, we don't have that kind of money. I don't know what to do."

"Well, I don't have that kind of money lying about the house. But I'll come over to your office. We'll come up with a plan."

"All right, see you soon?"

"Yah, I'll be right there. I need to calm Gina down, but I'll be right there."

"Right. Bye."

"Bye, Jeff."

Jeff returned the phone to it's cradle, then sat in his chair, quietly, trying to come up with some sort of plan.

Bill turned from hanging up the phone and faced his wife. Gina's eyes still blazed with anger.

"It wasn't Jeff's fault, Gina!"

"It was a mistake letting them take care of Kathy! What were you thinking, letting two gay men take care of our daughter?" Gina yelled back.

"Lower your voice! Our daughter is sleeping upstairs!" Bill turned on his heel and began to pace, "Gina, Jeff and Marty are her god-parents! They love Kathy!"

"I don't think they are a good influence. Look what happened." Gina said in a more reasonable voice.

"That was not Jeff's fault! Or Marty's! Believe me, Jeff is just as upset about it as we are. More maybe. Gina, you need to understand... those two love Kathy. And they love each other. I want our daughter to know that love is important, not the sex of the person you love. Dammit, Gina, you agreed with me to make Jeff and Marty her god-parents."

Gina interrupted her husband's flow of words with, "After you bullied me into it!"

"What?" asked Bill, his voice tight.

""You didn't give me much choice, and... and I just went along with it. And after the way they surprised us with the truth of their relationship. Bill, I'm sure that has something to do with why Marty and Kathy were kidnapped."

Bill looked at his wife in disgust, "Gina, what are you saying? We go over there for dinner and cards at least once a month. They've been our friends for years! What is your problem, all of a sudden?"

Gina began to cry.

Bill moved forward and took his wife in his arms, and held her as she cried. Finally she stopped crying, and he held her a small distance from himself. "Gina, come on, What is it?"

"I... I suppose I was just worried. Worried sick about Kathy. You went straight over to Jeff, you had something to do. I just sat here, waiting. Waiting for the phone to ring. Or even worse for the police to knock on the door." Gina looked at Bill, then whispered, "It was the worst experience of my life waiting."

Bill nodded, holding his wife's shoulders, "Yah, and?"

"And, I suppose, I... I needed someone to blame. And, I'm..." she flushed and then said quietly, "I'm beginning to worry about their influence on Kathy. She's getting older. She asked me the other day, if Jeff and Marty love each other, and I said 'yes'. Then she asked if they love each other like we love each other, Bill. And I said 'yes', they were committed to each other , like we are."

Bill nodded.

"Then she asked if they were married," Gina said, her voice shaking, "And I had to explain why they weren't 'really' married. Kathy was really upset. She hasn't seen that kind of bigotry before, and... She's only six! I hated explaining to her that the law doesn't allow Jeff and Marty to 'really' marry."

Bill nodded, "Well, Kathy is smart for her age. And she loves her Uncle Jeff and Uncle Marty. I'd hate to stop her from seeing them."

"And that's not what I want. Not really. Tell Jeff I'm sorry I yelled at him, I just wanted to... well, I suppose, I needed to yell at someone. To blame someone. You know, Bill? And, I really am, sorry."

"Gina, you need to tell Jeff that. Once this is all over. But, you do, all right?"

Gina nodded.

"And I don't think the kidnapping had anything to do with their relationship, Gina. Jeff and Marty are private detectives, their work angers people. Someone must have decided to get even."

Gina looked at Bill in surprise, then said, very quietly, "I never thought of that."

"What?" Bill asked.

Gina repeated what she'd said.

Then Bill said, "Oh, honey... come on, they make their money following husbands or wives who are having affairs..."

Gina nodded again, then whispered, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. You're right, of course. I was just so scared..."

Bill leant forward and kissed her, running his hands up and down her back whilst he did so, then they reluctantly broke apart. "Now, I really need to go over there."

Gina nodded, again, then said, "Yah, you do. Be careful, all right? Please, Bill."

Bill nodded. "I will, Gina. I will. I promise."

Jeff stood near the window in his office, looking at the painting on the wall, and sighed. Bill moved closer to Jeff, then said, "What is it?"

"What is it?" Jeff repeated, incredulously. "Marty's been kidnapped! I don't even know who has him, or why they took him, Bill."

"We'll get him back, Jeff," Bill answered.

"You don't know that," Jeff replied, his tone dark and depressed. Then he turned and walked to his desk, sitting down.

Jeff sat behind his desk in his office, and Bill sat in a chair before him.

"Where am I going to get that kind of money, Bill?"

"Well, I could write you a cheque."

"Somehow, I don't think they'll take a cheque. And I wouldn't want to take your money like that. And I'm sure Gina wouldn't approve."

Bill grimaced, then answered, "I can't believe I said that... of course kidnappers wouldn't take a cheque. And I'm sorry for the way Gina acted, she's upset... about Kathy. I mean, she's our only child and..." he left off.

"Don't worry about it, Bill."

Bill sighed, "Okay, tell me again about the phone call. Where do they want you to deliver the money?"

As Jeff was explaining there was a noise from the outer office, then the door to the inner office opened. A tall, blond, blue-eyed, muscular man entered the inner office.

Jeff looked up in surprise, then growled, "Michael, Michael Forbes, What are you doing here?"

The man smiled then said, "Well, I could say that I'm looking for Marty. But I happen to know he's not here, and I happen to know he's not here because he's been kidnapped."

Jeff glared at Michael, then asked, tightly, "And how do you know that? I swear, Michael, if you had something to do with it, I'll tear you apart!"

Michael strode forward to Jeff's desk and stood there, looking down at Jeff, "Something to do with it? Jeff, I'd never hurt Marty! Not in something like this. No, I heard through the grapevine that he'd been kidnapped. Now, how much do they want?"

Jeff glared at Michael, then said, "£100,000, alright. They're asking for £100,000. And I couldn't raise £500.00 at the moment, the banks are closed."

"I can give you the money."


"Why not, Jeff?" asked Bill, an expression of confusion on his face.

"Tell you later, Bill," Jeff answered curtly, whilst glaring at Michael.

"Come on, Jeff. Take it. The Colzone gang play hardball. If you don't take my money, they'll kill Marty. Neither of us wants that."

"Colzone gang? Are they behind this?"

Michael nodded. "Word on the street says it's them, Jeff. Now will you take the money? I want to help, to get Marty out of this mess."

Jeff slowly nodded, "All right. Since you're offering. I need it by tomorrow. The drop is tomorrow night."

Michael nodded. "I'll have it. My club is flush with cash. I'll see you tomorrow. What time?"

"Be here by seventeen hundred. That will give me time to get to the drop by the deadline. Thanks, Michael."

Michael nodded his head a fraction of an inch, then he sauntered out of the office.

Bill looked at Jeff, "Who was that?"

"Old client," Jeff answered sharply.

"Why didn't you want to take his money straight away? It was lucky he walked in and offered it."

Jeff looked at Bill then stood up and walked to the window. He stared out at the painting on the wall outside.

Bill walked over and put a hand on Jeff's shoulder, then he let go.

Jeff made a fist and hit his hand. Then he silently began to cry.

"Shush, Jeff, shush. We'll get Marty back all right. We will."

Jeff nodded, then he turned around. "Do you want to know why I don't want to take Michael's money?"

Bill nodded.

"If the Colzones' are really behind this, it's his fault! Our last case was protecting Michael's nightclub. You remember the details, most of it came out at Marty's trial. Marty killed Matthew Colzone. And Tanner Colzone must be his kidnapper if Michael's word on the street is trustworthy."

Bill nodded. "But there's something else, isn't there? This 'Michael' he's a former client, yet you acted... Jeff, you seemed so angry with him."

Jeff looked at the ceiling, then looked at Bill, "That's probably because he slept with Marty."

"He what?! Marty cheated on you?"

"What?!" Jeff exclaimed, then he explained, "No, it was before Marty and I were together. Marty's always been faithful to me."

"Oh," Bill said, surprised, then he added, "Well, I suppose that's all right, Jeff. We all play the field before we settle down."

"Not all of us, Bill," Jeff interrupted, "I didn't, and Marty..." Jeff took a deep breath, then another, before replying, "You don't understand. Marty was only fifteen when he slept with Michael. It was about six months before we first slept together. Marty told me everything and I forgave him for it. But when he hired us, Michael wouldn't leave Marty alone. He kept making passes; which Marty flatly refused. I'd prefer it if Michael would stay out of our lives. And now I'm dependant on his money to save Marty's life. And he'll want to be part of the drop tomorrow, mark my words."

Bill looked at Jeff in shock. He opened his mouth to say something, closed it, then opened it again, and closed it again, before finally saying, "You and Marty have been together since you were sixteen?"

Jeff nodded, "You were at our commitment ceremony... are you bad at maths?"

Bill shook his head, then said, quietly, "You were so young."

"Yeah, we get that a lot. You should have heard my mother when she caught us red-handed, so to speak. Bill, Marty is everything to me. Everything. I love him. And I'll take Michael's money and his help because I have to. But don't ask me to like it."

Bill nodded, "I'll be there to help too."

"Well, we should still make a plan. They want me to go alone. Maybe you and Michael could stay out of sight in another car? We need to think about this."

Bill nodded, then returned to his chair in front of Jeff's desk. Jeff walked to his desk and sat down, and the two began to work out what to do next.

The next day, in the afternoon, Jeff and Bill sat together in the offices of Randall and Hopkirk Security Services, Jeff was tense with nervousness. There was a knock on the door, then Michael Forbes strode in, carrying a small, canvas suitcase.

"Hello, Michael, is that it?" said Jeff, tightly through his teeth.

Michael nodded, "Yes, it is. Jeff, I know you don't like me very much, but believe me, I want to see Marty get out of this as much as you do."

Jeff nodded curtly.

Bill looked between them, then said, "We think we might have a plan for tonight, you see, and..."

Michael nodded, "What do we do?"

"You and I," said Bill, gesturing towards Michael and then himself, "we go straight to the car park in my car. We'll park someplace where we're not going to be noticed and wait for the kidnappers to show up. Jeff will come alone, on foot, carrying the suitcase."

"Is that the best you can do?" asked Michael.

"You got any better ideas?" snapped Jeff.

Michael shook his head. "All right, then, we'll give it a try. Hopefully, Colzone and his boys won't notice us. What do we do?"

"Rescue Marty, of course. Assuming they bring him along, and they let him go. I'll get Marty under cover, and you two... go after Colzone and his minders, all right?" said Jeff.

Bill and Michael both nodded.

It was a frosty night, Jeff shivered as he walked down the street from his office to the park, clutching the small silver suitcase with Michael's money. Bill and Michael had left him a few hours ago, and Jeff was on his own and worried about Marty.

He reached Jubilee Park carpark, and looked around. Suddenly, a car pulled into the carpark, blinding him.

"Do you have the money, Randall?" asked a gruff voice.

"Yes," Jeff answered his voice quivering, then he said louder, "Yes, Do you have Marty?"

There was a mumbled voice then the car door opened.

Jeff's eyes had adjusted to the bright lights, and he saw two men holding a defiant Marty.

"Walk towards us, drop the money, then move away," said the man in charge, whom Jeff recognised as Tanner Calzone.

"And when will you release Marty?" Jeff asked.

"After we have the money," answered Tanner.

"Bring Marty to the exchange point," insisted Jeff.

"No. We hold all the cards, Mister Randall, when we have the money, then we'll release Hopkirk."

Jeff nodded, reluctantly, then started to walk towards the midpoint between himself and Marty.

Tanner walked towards Jeff. Marty was outside the car, being held by Colzone's minders.

Jeff reached Tanner and handed him the suitcase, as he did so, Marty pulled out of the minders' arms and began to run towards Jeff.

Tanner ran back to his car with the suitcase, shouting at his minders for allowing Marty free. The minders began firing, wildly.

Jeff yelled at Marty to get down.

Running in a crouch, Marty yelled the same thing at Jeff. Jeff stood, in shock, waiting for Marty, but when the minders reacted to Marty's running away by firing at him, Jeff realised he was in trouble and dropped flat.

Marty had reached Jeff, by this point, close to the place where Jeff had handed over the suitcase. Jeff moved to him, embracing him tightly, "You all right?" he asked.

"Yeah," responded Marty, "It's good to see you."

Tanner had reached his car by then and leapt inside, where he opened the suitcase. He took out the stacks of brightly coloured cash, then flipped through a stack. When he did so he quickly realised that only the top notes were pounds, the rest was blank paper. Infuriated, he stepped back out of the car, gun in hand, and yelled, "Stupid, Randall! Really stupid! How dare you try to trick me!" He addressed his minders, "Kill them both!" Then he began firing.

"Jeff, get down!" Marty yelled, putting himself between the shots and Jeff. Then he moaned and sank to the ground.

Jeff turned and saw Marty on the ground behind himself... he crawled the few feet to Marty.

"Marty? Marty!" Jeff yelled, as he placed his own hand on Marty's back where he had been shot.

"Jeff, GET DOWN!" Yelled Bill.

Jeff shook his head, sitting next to Marty in shock.

Michael pulled out a handgun and began firing at Tanner Colzone and his minders.

There were more shots from the Tanner and his minders, then the sound of police sirens ripped through the air.

Tanner Calzone and his hired minders jumped back in their car and backed-up with a squeal of tyres.

Jeff was at Marty's side, his hand covering a wound on Marty's back, and whispering quietly to him.

Bill and Michael ran over to Jeff, "What happened?" demanded Bill.

"That's what I'd like to know. What was in the suitcase, Michael?"

"I didn't mean for Marty to get hurt," Michael sidestepped the question.

"What was in the suitcase, Michael?"

Michael pondered, then said, "Only the top bills were real, the rest was paper."

"WHAT?" Jeff screamed. He shook his head, then turned his attention to Marty, touching his face gently with one hand, and covering the bullet hole in his back with the other. Jeff murmured to the unconscious Marty, tears on his face.

"I've called the paramedics, Jeff, they should be here any minute. What can I do?" asked Bill.

Jeff shook his head, absorbed in comforting his lover.

"Get a blanket from the car, he needs to be kept warm," suggested Michael.

Bill nodded, ran to the hidden car, and soon returned, he spread a blanket over Marty, then took a small car rug and draped it around Jeff's shoulders.

Jeff ignored Bill and tried to reach Marty, touching his forehead and sending, Marty?

Jeff? Wha... what happened? was Marty's silent reply.

You've been shot. But you'll be okay, Marty. I swear, you'll be okay, just stay quiet and don't move, the ambulance will be here any second.

Marty nodded, and opened his eyes. He looked up at Jeff, then, and mouthed "Love you," before his eyes slid shut again.

Jeff's eyes filled with tears, and he tried to comfort Marty best he could, pressing down on the wound in his back.

An ambulance and two police cars pulled into the carpark. The EMTs hurried to Jeff and Marty. One spoke, "Are you hurt sir?"

Jeff, in shock, shook his head, but stayed at Marty's side.

"Sir?" said the EMT, trying to pull Jeff away from Marty. Jeff stayed put, not even conscience of what the EMT wanted, his attention focused on Marty.

Bill went to Jeff , then, and touched his shoulder. "Jeff, come on, let the EMTs do their work."

Jeff shook, then nodded, moving away. The EMTs moved to Marty and began treating him.

Jeff stood next to Bill, his face white with shock, "Marty?" he murmured.

"He'll be okay," Bill said, his hand still comfortingly on Jeff's shoulder.

Jeff shook off Bill's touch, then said, angrily, "You don't know that!" Then he turned on his heel and found Michael, who stood a few feet away. "You!" he shouted, moving towards Michael, murder in his eyes. "What were you thinking? You told me the club was flush with cash! You gambled with Marty's LIFE, Michael. With his LIFE!" Jeff began to shake, as he verbally tore into Michael.

"We had a low take. I put in as much cash as I could," Michael explained, calmly.

Jeff stared at Michael, then pulled back his fist, ready to hit him. But Bill intervened, pulling Jeff away. "Don't, Jeff."

Jeff looked at Bill, eyes blazing, then noticed several police officers were approaching them. "Great," he muttered, sarcastically, before dropping his fist.

"I'm sorry, Jeff, I didn't think they'd notice until they were long gone," Michael explained, then he added, "I certainly didn't plan for Marty to get hurt."

Jeff glared at Michael. Meanwhile, Bill had approached the police officers and tried to explain what had happened in the carpark. Jeff saw that Bill was handling the police, so he turned away from Michael and moved back towards Marty. Marty was now on a wheeled trolley, the EMTs nearby, holding IV bags and monitors.

"How... how is he?" Jeff asked, quietly.

"He's stable, we need to get him to surgery," answered a dark-haired EMT. "Are you family?"

Jeff nodded, "I'm his partner."

"We're transporting him to London General," the EMT explained.

"May I..." Jeff swallowed, then continued, "May I come with him? He's my partner!"

The EMT nodded, then the two EMTs loaded Marty into the waiting ambulance. Jeff climbed in after them.

Bill noticed, and shouted to Jeff, "We'll follow in the car!", then he turned back to the police officer and continued his explanations.

Jeff sat in a hard, plastic hospital chair, waiting, silently. The ambulance had screamed through the streets of London, but when they'd arrived at the hospital, Marty had been whisked away, and Jeff had been told by the nurses where he could wait. He'd been waiting ever since, hoping Marty would be okay.

"Jeff? Jeff! Any word?"

Jeff looked up, and saw Bill in front of himself in the waiting room.

Jeff shook his head, "Not yet," then he resumed his silence.

Bill nodded, and sat next to Jeff. He placed a hand on his arm, "He'll be all right," he said, reassuringly.

Jeff pulled his arm away, then said, tightly, "You don't know that, Bill, so please, don't..." he broke off, nearly in tears, then said quietly, "You can sit with me. Actually, I'd appreciate it. But don't say anything, all right, Bill, just don't say anything."

Bill nodded.

Michael looked at Jeff, then at Bill, and hesitantly said, "Would anyone like a coffee? Tea?"

Jeff looked up, noticing Michael for the first time. "What are you doing here?"

"I couldn't exactly leave him in a car park, and he wanted to come. He feels bad about what happened." Bill answered.

"He should. If I had more energy..." Jeff let that hang, his eyes flashing. "Fine, you want to stay, fine. But be quiet."

Michael nodded, silently, and sat next to Bill. A few seconds later, he got up again, "I'm going to get a coffee. You want anything?"

Jeff shook his head, and sat back, leaning against the wall behind his chair.

Bill nodded and said, "Coffee, black, thanks, Michael."

Michael nodded at him and left.

Bill sat back and closed his eyes, remembering back to when he had first met Marty Hopkirk.


Bill Smith and his girlfriend Gina O'Neill stood outside the two-level semi-detached flat of his college mate, Jeff Randall. They had been invited over for a night of dinner and cards, a break from long nights of studying at uni. Bill had gladly accepted the invitation, he liked Jeff and any opportunity to go out with his new girl, Gina, was also most welcome. Bill rang the doorbell, then knocked on the door for good measure.

The door opened, and Jeff stood before them, dressed in a semi-formal suit and tie. "Bill, hi, and this must be..." he held out a hand.

"Gina," the girl introduced herself.

"Gina, hello, Bill said he'd bring a date, well, come in," he gestured into the foyer of the flat, "Let me take your coats," he held out an arm.

Um-hum, came a noise from behind Jeff.

Jeff turned slightly and gestured the man closer, "Marty, this is Bill Smith, a classmate of mine, and Gina, his girlfriend," Jeff smiled at the word.

Marty nodded, "I know, Jeff, you've been planning this evening for a week." He held out a hand, grasped Bill's and said, "Marty Hopkirk. Nice to finally meet you, Jeff's talks about you all the time," then he grasped Gina's hand and kissed it very lightly, "And nice to meet you, miss," he said formerly, before dropping her hand and stepping back so he was next to Jeff again.

Jeff casually placed a hand around Marty's waist, pulled him close, then said "Bill, there's something I think you should know, about Marty and I..." Jeff said.

"What's that, Jeff?" asked Bill, then he looked at how closely they were standing together and raised an eyebrow, questioningly.

"Well, the thing is, we're..." Jeff took a breath, "That is, we're more than flatmates, or best mates, though we are both of those, and we're..."

Marty interrupted Jeff who was getting very flustered, "We're lovers."

Jeff nodded at Marty, "We're lovers." he repeated.

Bill looked at Jeff in shock, then sputtered, "Jeff? Jeff, I didn't know you were..." He took a deep breath and said, "You're gay, Jeff?!"

"I know," Jeff answered, then said, "Bill, please understand. You don't really have a problem with it, do you?"

Bill shook his head, "No, of course not."

"Gina?" asked Jeff.

"Not at all," she answered, politely.

Bill looked at Jeff, then at Marty, then said, "I just don't understand why you never told me before now, Jeff, I mean, we are friends, after all."

Jeff took a deep breath, "Well, to be honest, I wanted to, but it didn't seem appropriate at uni or between classes, and the time was never right. We're law students. It's a conservative profession. I didn't want it getting out..." Jeff paused, looked at Marty then said, "It's not that I'm ashamed or anything, I love Marty, but..."

"Oh," said Bill, "You were afraid of how the professors, or even some of the other students would react."

Jeff nodded, dumbly.

Marty jumped in with, "It's not like it's anyone else's business what we do, together, under our own roof. Jeff decided to tell you though, because you're his closest friend at uni."

"I'll keep it secret, Jeff." Bill said, resolutely, "Now, what about this fantastic dinner you've promised, eh?"

Jeff nodded, "I hope you like Italian."

The group had proceeded into the dining area of the flat and Jeff had served spaghetti with meat sauce, salad with Caesar dressing, and fresh Italian bread. The group had also opened a bottle of red wine, and were soon talking and joking. After dinner, they cleared away the plates and leftover food, then played cards until one in the morning.

Finally, after an extremely good evening, Jeff had seen Bill and Gina out to their car and they had left, then he'd returned inside and closed the door.


Bill shook his head, and realised Michael was standing before him with a cup of coffee. Bill nodded, and took the coffee, then took a small sip. The coffee was tepid, weak, and truly dreadful, but he drank it anyway.

Jeff stood up and stretched, then sat again, then he turned to Bill and said, "So, what were you thinking about?"

"What?" Bill asked.

"You've been very quiet..."

"You asked me to be quiet," Bill answered.

Jeff nodded then said, "I know, and I appreciate it, but you had a look on your face like you were a million miles away, what were you thinking about?"

Bill glanced at Michael, then said, "I was remembering when you introduced me to Marty, that dinner party at your flat."

"Oh," said Jeff, remembering as well, though his memories also included talking to Marty prior to Bill's arrival about his plan to tell Bill the truth of their relationship, and of having a very nice time in bed with Marty after Bill left. "I remember that night. You were a brick, Bill. A bit surprised, but a brick."

Michael looked over at the two of them, "What?"

"Nothing. None of your business, anyway, Michael," answered Jeff, then he was silent again. After a few moments, Jeff turned towards Bill and said, "Bill, thanks for staying here with me, I don't think I could face waiting alone."

Bill looked at Jeff, surprised, "It's not a problem at'all, I wouldn't have left. Besides, Marty's a friend of mine."

Jeff nodded, "Still, I... I really appreciate that you're here. Marty's everything to me and..." Jeff broke off, nearly in tears.

"He'll be all right, try not to worry."

"He was shot! In the back! We've had our scrapes before, but this..."

"Jeff, try to stay positive," said Michael.

"YOU stay out of this... Marty was shot because of you!" Jeff shouted, then he noticed a few nurses and other people who were near the waiting room staring at him and he calmed down.

"I care about Marty, too, Jeff. He's a friend. And I'm sorry about the cash, I really didn't think..."

"No, you didn't think, Michael. Somehow, I don't think you ever do."

Michael was about to respond to that, when a doctor approached the three of them. All three stood up, and Jeff walked towards the doctor.

"You're waiting for word on Marty Hopkirk?" asked the doctor.

Jeff nodded, "Yes, Jeff Randall," Jeff stuck out his hand and shook the doctor's hand, "Marty's my partner. How is he?"

"I'm Doctor Terry Wilson. He's a very, very lucky man. The bullet missed the spinal cord. It did enter the left lung and both deflated the lung and caused bleeding. We managed to retrieve the bullet, and repair the damage. He does have a chest drain in right now, to remove excess fluid. He's on a ventilator to assist with his breathing. But he's very lucky, no other organs were damaged, and as I said, there was no damage to the spinal cord. We've also given him a transfusion, because he lost a lot of blood. He's in recovery now, then they'll move him to ITU. He'll need to stay for several days, until he can be moved to the main ward."

Jeff looked at the doctor then mumbled, "But, he's going to be okay?"

The doctor put a hand on Jeff's shoulder, lightly, then let go, "He's going to be okay."

Bill walked over to Jeff and gave him a quick hug, then went to the Doctor and shook his hand, "Thank you, Doctor."

Wilson nodded.

Jeff shook the doctor's hand again as well then asked, "When can I see him?"

"He needs rest."

Jeff nodded, "I realise that, but, please, may I just see him? For a few minutes? Please?"

Dr. Wilson looked at Jeff's intense, pleading face, and nodded, then said, "Are you family?"

"He's my partner," Jeff answered, at the doctor's blank look he added, "My lover. We've been together for fourteen years. We're also business partners."

The Doctor nodded, "All right, then, as soon as he's been moved to ITU you can see him, but only for a few minutes. Once he's been made comfortable, someone will let you know. And these gentlemen?"

"Friends," said Jeff.

"It was a long, intense surgery, Mr. Randall. Mr. Hopkirk needs his rest. They will have to wait. I'll let you see him, now, sir," he indicated Jeff, "Because he probably needs to see a friendly face, but only for a few minutes. Now I'll need your name to give to the nurses, and there's a few other medical questions."

Jeff nodded, and then quietly answered the doctor's questions. Once the doctor left he sat down to wait until he could see Marty.

Sometime later a student nurse came over to Jeff, Bill and Michael, "Is one of you Jeff Randall?" she asked.

Jeff nodded and said, "That's me."

"Dr. Wilson told me you're Mr. Hopkirk's family. He's been moved to ITU, and been made comfortable, so you can see him now. But only for a few minutes, he needs his rest."

Jeff nodded.

"And he may not even know you're there, Mr. Randall, he's resting from the surgery," said the nurse.

Jeff nodded. The nurse walked down a corridor off the waiting room, and Jeff followed, then they walked to the lift. They waited for a moment in front of the lift doors.

"ITU is on the fifth floor, and the doctor has you down as family so you can visit ITU whenever you want. The others?" she asked with a tilt of the head back towards the way they came.

"Friends. They were with me when it happened," said Jeff.

"Friends will need to wait until he's moved to the ward, which should be in a few days, maybe a week."

Jeff nodded, "He'll be in intensive care for a week?"

The nurse nodded, "And I should warn you, he's on a ventilator to help him breathe, and he has a chest drain in to keep his lung clear of fluid. And Mr. ..." she left off.

"Randall," Jeff supplied.

"I'll need details of what happened for my report, but that can wait 'til you've seen him."

Jeff nodded, "Thank you, nurse. For letting me see Marty first, I mean."

The nurse nodded again, "Oh, here's the lift," she said, as the lift bell dinged, and they both got into the lift.

They rode in silence in the lift, which soon brought them to the fifth floor. The student nurse led the way to 504, Marty's room, then said as they stopped before the door, "Well, here we are. Only a few minutes, mind. And don't be alarmed if he doesn't react to your being there, Mr. Randall, he's had a very stressful surgery and he may be asleep."

Jeff nodded, took a few deep breaths, then entered the room. Marty was in a hospital bed, surrounded by equipment. The ventilator and chest drain were particularly distressing to Jeff... he knew both medical interventions were necessary, but they only served to remind him, strongly, how close he'd come to losing his partner. Jeff moved into the room, took a chair, and moved it near Marty's bed, then sat down and took Marty's hand, and held it.

"Marty? Marty, I'm here, I'm here, and you're going to be all right. You'll be just fine," Jeff said aloud as he held Marty's hand. Then Jeff closed his eyes and sent Marty? Can you hear me?

Jeff could sense waves of pain and confusion in Marty's mind then Marty responded, muzzily, Jeff? Wha... what happened?

You were shot.

I remember that much. Wait, Kathy. What about Kathy, she was with me.

She escaped. Don't you remember? She got out through the cooling vents and found a taxi, she's home now.

Jeff sensed fuzzy agreement and more pain from Marty, then after a pause, It hurts. Not hearing your thoughts, I mean, I hurt... everywhere, Jeff.

You've had some pretty serious surgery, Marty. I... I didn't know... Oh, god, Marty, I thought I was going to lose you.

Jeff could sense agreement from Marty, as if he was nodding his head, then, I'm still here, Jeff. I mean, I hurt, yeah, and... and I think it will be a long recovery, but...

You will recover, Marty! The doctor assured me that you'd be just fine.

Love you, Jeff. Marty sent along with a flood of his feeling of love for Jeff.

Love you, Marty. Jeff send back, as well as sending his own feelings of love to his partner.

Marty quietly drifted off to sleep then. Jeff sat quietly next to Marty, still holding his hand.

Then the student nurse came in, she gestured Jeff towards the door, and Jeff followed her out of the room.

"Did he wake?" asked the nurse.

Jeff shook his head, "Not really. I think he knew I was here though."

The nurse nodded and made a note on the chart she carried, "Well, that's all right. After the surgery he's had, we wouldn't expect him to really be conscious yet."

"What time can I see him tomorrow?" Jeff asked.

"Anytime," she put the chart back in a holder on the door, then continued, "It's on his chart that you are family, so you don't need to wait until visiting hours. I'd suggest no earlier than nine a.m., though, let the doctors finish checking him tomorrow morning."

"And friends? Bill, and Michael, will want to see him. And Bill's wife, Gina, and we have other friends... and, oh god, I need to call mum, and..." Jeff left off as he began making a mental list.

"His mum? Well, family we can add to the list, so she'll be able to see him in ITU outside of visiting hours. Friends, we'd rather wait until he's on the ward, then visiting hours are two to four p.m. and six to eight p.m."

Jeff nodded, then smiled, "Thank you for your help, Nurse."

"Mr. Randall? If you could come with me? I need details of what happened for my report, and you should talk to the police as well."

"Do we have to do that tonight?"

"It would be best, while everything is fresh in your mind." She led him to the nurse's station, then took him to a little room off it. "Here we are," she said, indicting for Jeff to sit down at the small table in the room. She sat down as well, "Now then, what happened?" She looked at Jeff, and began to take notes on the chart in front of her.

"Well, Marty and I are private detectives, and he was kidnapped... by an old enemy of ours it turns out. We went to the drop, Michael, Bill and I, and well... all hell broke loose. It didn't help that Michael put blank sheets of paper in the suitcase, instead of bank notes."

The nurse nodded, "And who are Michael and Bill?"

"Michael Forbes, he's a friend, he owns a nightclub and restaurant called The Harlequin, maybe you've heard of it? He offered to pay the ransom because I didn't have the cash," Jeff answered talking quickly, "And Bill Smith, he's a solicitor, and a personal friend, we've known each other since uni."

"Okay, and who kidnapped Mr. Hopkirk?"

"Tanner Colzone. The gangster? We ran into him a few months ago. He and his minders took Marty. They were holding him..." Jeff's voice began to shake as he remembered the events of earlier that night, "They brought him to the drop and were holding him at gunpoint outside Colzone's car. I handed the money over to Colzone and Marty started walking towards me, but then..." tears came to Jeff's eyes, and he stopped to take a deep breath and control his shaking voice, "Colzone opened the suitcase then he ordered his men to start shooting. There were bullets flying everywhere, and Marty got shot."

The nurse nodded, "It's important to remember that he's going to be fine," she said calmly, "Now, is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"

Jeff shook his head, "That's everything, Nurse."

"All right, then," the nurse stood up, taking the chart with her, "Do you need help finding your way back to the A&E waiting area?"

Jeff stood up and shook his head, "No, I think I can find it. Thank you again, Nurse."

The nurse nodded, turning, and headed towards the nurse's station.

"Oh, Nurse," Jeff called as she headed away from him.

"Yes?" She asked, turning back towards Jeff again.

"Call me if there's any change? In Marty's condition, I mean."

The nurse nodded, "Of course, Mr. Randall."

"Thank you," Jeff replied and then he made his way to the lift, planning to return to Bill and Michael, who he knew would be waiting for him.

Jeff approached the waiting area in A & E, as he did Bill and Michael stood. "How is he?" asked Bill.

"He... he was still asleep, Bill. I think he knew I was there, but... he didn't say anything."

Bill nodded, "Come on, then, Jeff, let's get you home."

"I should... I want to stay with him."

Bill shook his head, "Jeff there's nothing you can do here, tonight. Marty will need you tomorrow. The doctors and nurses will care for him tonight."

Reluctantly, Jeff nodded, his expression grim.

"What time can we see him?" asked Michael.

"They said friends would have to wait until he's on the ward. That should be in a few days to a week. But I'm not sure..."

Michael cut Jeff off, "Marty is a friend, Jeff. I do care about him," he held up a hand to stop Jeff's protests, "Okay, maybe not like you do, Jeff, but I care and I want to see him."

Jeff nodded.

"Jeff, do you want to stay the night with Gina and I?" Bill asked.

"I'm not sure Gina would approve," Jeff answered.

Bill looked up at the ceiling, gathering his thoughts, then at Jeff, "She's sorry about what she said on the phone..."

"Maybe she should tell me that," Jeff interrupted, "I know she was upset, but Kathy was home safe and she still attacked me because of my relationship with Marty. I never thought that your wife..."

Bill cut him off, "It's not that. And she is sorry. She was just upset about Kathy. Panicked, actually. But she owes you an apology, and you'll get it," Bill paused and added under his breath, "I'll see to that," Bill paused again, then said, "If you don't want to be alone tonight, we have a spare room, Jeff. And you are welcome."

Jeff shook his head, "I'll be fine. I'd appreciate a lift home, though."

Bill nodded.

"I'll need a lift to the club, if you don't mind," said Michael.

Jeff looked at Michael in surprise.

"It's not that late, Jeff, and I have a business to run. Besides, it will save me cab fare," Michael explained.

Jeff nodded, and the three exited the A&E department and walked to Bill's car.

Jeff walked into his flat that he normally shared with Marty, his shoulders slumped and feeling depressed and tired. He knew Marty would be all right, eventually, and he was happy and grateful for that, but he missed Marty terribly and hated entering the flat alone. He walked to the kitchen, then picked up the phone and dialed his mum's number from memory.

"Hello," said Anna Randall's groggy voice on the phone.

"Hi, Mum," said Jeff.

"Jeff?" asked Anna, her voice groggy.

Jeff didn't answer right away, then Anna asked, "Jeff, Is that you? What's wrong?"

Jeff took a deep breath then said, "It's me, Mum, it's Jeff."

"Oh, Jeff, hello," Anna said, waking up at hearing the distress in her son' voice, "Is everything all right, it's quite late, you know."

Jeff looked at the kitchen clock, it was after midnight, then nodded, before answering, "I'm fine, but..."

"What is it, Jeff? What's happened?" asked Anna, fully awake now.

"I'm fine, really, mum, but Marty... He's in hospital, Mum."

"Hospital? What happened?" asked Anna, fear entering her voice.

"He was shot," Jeff answered, quietly.

"What?" asked Anna.

"He was shot! It's a long story, but Marty was kidnapped, by Tanner Colzone, and he was shot."

"By who? Never mind, how is he? How are you, Jeff?"

"He's... he had surgery, major surgery, but he's going to be all right. I... I got to see him for a few minutes and... well, he didn't talk to me but I was able to contact him, in our special way, Mum, and... he's going to be okay."

Anna nodded, then asked, "You said, somebody kidnapped him? Tanner somebody?"

"Colzone. Marty... Marty sort of killed his brother. But it was self-defense, and even the courts cleared Marty. You remember?"

Anna nodded again, and replied, "I remember, Jeff. Marty was very nervous about appearing in court. He told me so, on the phone. Listen, do you want me to come down there? If he's hurt, I'd like to be there, for both of you."

Jeff nodded, "Oh, mum! I'd like you to come down. It's been so hard, and Marty's... well, the doctors say he'll recover, and I was able to contact him but... he's still on a ventilator, and he has a tube in his chest, and... it's so hard seeing him like that." Jeff trailed off.

"I'll be there, Jeff. I love you, Jeff, and I'll be there. And you know how much I love Marty. I'll come down tomorrow by train. Which hospital is he in?"

"Central London hospital. He's in ITU."

"All right, Jeff, Central London hospital. I should be able to get there by early afternoon. I'll see you then."

Jeff nodded, "I can't wait to see you, Mum. And it will be a comfort to Marty. The doctors expect him to be awake tomorrow. I love you, Mum."

"I love you, Jeff. I'll see you, tomorrow. I'll see you both tomorrow. Good night, Jeff."

"Good night, Mum." Jeff rang off, then went to the refrigerator to look for something to eat. He made himself a small sandwich with meat and cheese, but only ate about half of it, having little appetite. Then he headed upstairs to bed. Jeff showered, brushed his teeth, and used the toilet, then went into the bedroom, changed into his pyjamas and got into his and Marty's large bed. The bed seemed so empty without Marty there, and tears came to Jeff's eyes. He took Marty's pillow and held it in his arms, breathing in Marty's scent, and tried not to cry. Images from earlier that day filled his mind, and he kept seeing Marty fall over and over again. Eventually, he fell into a fitful sleep, Marty's pillow crushed in his arms.

Anna Randall walked towards the ITU waiting area of Central London Hospital, and spotted her son, Jeff, talking to two police officers. She gasped and hurried towards the group. "Jeff? What's happened? Is Marty..." her voice trailed off in a panic.

Jeff turned and saw his mum, "Mum! I'm so glad you're here!" He rushed towards her and gave her a hug.

"Jeff?" Anna asked, looking at the two police officers.

One of the officers came forward, "I'm D. I. Lawrence Montgomery, my partner and I are investigating the shooting of Marty Hopkirk. He's recovering ma'am, you shouldn't worry. We were simply interviewing Mr. Randall as an eyewitness to the shooting, we didn't get an opportunity to do so yesterday."

Anna nodded, "Thank you, officer."

Jeff turned to the officer, "Is that everything? Or do you need..." he paused.

"No, that's everything for now, Mr. Randall. We have your details, so we'll contact you later if we have additional questions."

Jeff nodded. The two officers walked away. Jeff looked at Anna, then gestured her towards a nearby group of chairs, where they both took their seats.

"Jeff? Tell me what's happened? How is Marty?"

Jeff took his mum's hand, then said quietly, "He's, he's all right but..."

Anna's eyes widened in fear.

Jeff looked up at the ceiling, then said, "I expected him to be a little better, to be able to talk to me at least, but... he still has a chest tube, and he's still on a ventilator. He looks so pale and weak, mum! And I couldn't... I couldn't contact him this early morning, he was unconscious."

Anna nodded, the said, "Wait, what happened? You said he was shot..."

Jeff nodded, and ran a hand over his face, "Yeah, in the back. He was fortunate, there wasn't any damage to his spinal cord, but the bullet went into his lung, which is why..."

Anna nodded, "The chest tube and ventilator?"

"Yeah," answered Jeff.

"Well, that's normal, Jeff. It shouldn't scare you. The doctors want to make sure he's getting enough oxygen and that his lung doesn't fill with fluid."

Jeff looked at his mum, who'd been a nurse as long as he could remember, "Mum, the doctor explained that to me but I..." he left off, took a deep breath, then said, "I don't understand why he's on a ventilator, or why I couldn't contact him this morning."

Anna reached out and took Jeff's hand, "Oh, honey, I've never understood the way you and Marty... can communicate," she quickly made a shushing gesture, waving off Jeff's protest, "I believe you, I believe in you both, but I've never understood it. But if he was unconscious this morning, that may be why you couldn't reach him."

Jeff nodded, "His nurse said something about him having a rough night. Then they tried to remove the ventilator and his..." he paused, trying to remember, "his O2 sats dropped, so they put him back on it."

Anna nodded. "I'll speak to his doctor. Now, what happened? How did Marty get shot?"

Jeff quickly explained about the kidnapping, the botched money drop, and the shooting.

Anna nodded, slowly, then said, "How are you doing?"

Jeff looked at her, then bit off a sharp comment, before saying, "I'm worried. He was worse this morning, and I thought he'd be better!"

"Give it time, Jeff," she began to stand up, "Do you think the doctors will let me see him?"

Jeff nodded, "Come with me, I'll walk you to the nurse's station and we'll explain you're family. Hopefully, they'll let us both see him again."

Anna nodded. Jeff stood and let her to the intensive care nurse's station. He got the attention of the nurse, then introduced Anna.

"She's your mother?" the nurse asked.

Anna leaned in over the counter towards the nurse, "I raised Marty from the time he was fourteen, nurse. And when he and Jeff became partners, Marty became my son... in a manner of speaking."

The nurse nodded, then said, "Of course, Mrs. Randall, it's just..."

"No, 'it's just' about it. Let me see him, please." Anna said.

Again the nurse nodded, "Mr. Hopkirk is recovering nicely, the doctors are removing the ventilator. As soon as they are done, you can both see him. All right?"

Jeff looked at the nurse in shock, "But this morning he was unconscious! And the doctors told me they couldn't remove the ventilator. I don't understand... not that I mind if Marty really is doing better," said Jeff.

The nurse looked at the chart in front of her, then at Jeff, "All I can tell you is that he's stabilised in the last hour and the doctors are going to try removing the ventilator again. Anything else and you'll have to wait for the doctor."

Jeff nodded, then he and Anna walked over to some nearby chairs. A few minutes later, the student nurse Jeff had met the previous day walked up to them, "Mr. Randall?"

Jeff stood, "Yes. How's Marty?"

"He's doing much better. And who's this?"

Anna stepped forward, "I'm Anna Randall. Jeff's mum. But I raised Marty from the time he was fourteen and..."

The nurse held up a hand, "That's quite all right, the doctor gave me your name as to be treated as family." She stuck out a hand, "I'm Emily Russell, I'm a student nurse here at the hospital. Now, I'm not sure how much your son has told you..."

"Everything that he could, but I'd like more details, and maybe to speak to his doctor," answered Anna.

The nurse nodded her head, "We've removed Mr. Hopkirk from the ventilator, and he's much stronger. He still has the chest tube, though. But his recovery will still be a long road, and he'll need the help of his family and friends. Right now, he's still too weak and in need of constant care to move to the main ward, so he'll be staying in intensive care. But I can take you both to see him right now if you like."

Jeff and Anna both nodded, then followed the nurse to Marty's room. The nurse opened the door and both entered. Jeff walked to the head of the bed, and sat on the chair there, then lightly grabbed Marty's hand and held it. Anna took a chair from the side of the room and brought it over near Jeff and sat down as well.

"Marty? Marty, it's Mrs. Randall-Mum, I'm right here, Marty, with Jeff," Anna said urgently.

Jeff reached forward with his other hand and stroked Marty's forehead, "I'm here, Marty, I'm here," he mumbled, quietly.

Marty opened his eyes then, and looked up at Jeff, then Anna. "Jeff? Mum? Wha... What happened?"

"You were shot, Marty, don't you remember? You were kidnapped by Tanner Colzone and you were shot, Marty," said Jeff.

Marty's eyes widened, and he looked at Jeff, "I was shot? I don't remember, Jeff. Were you there, did you see..." Marty's voice left off, as he looked up at his partner.

Jeff simply nodded.

"Oh, Jeff, I'm sor..."

"Don't you dare apologise, Marty! It was Tanner Colzone's fault, not yours. He shot you!" Jeff stood up as he spoke, then he pursed his lips and stopped talking for a second, before sitting down and saying, "Marty, you need to focus on getting better. I need you, Marty!"

Anna nodded her head, and put a hand on Jeff's arm, helping him settle down with her touch, "Marty, we both need you, and we both love you."

Marty looked at them, then nodded, "I know, I love you too. Jeff, I..." Marty left off, then said, "It's starting to come back. Colzone kidnapped me..."

Jeff nodded, "That's right, Marty."

"And Kathy. He had Kathy too, because she was with me at the park. Jeff, where's Kathy? She didn't get hurt, did she?"

"She's fine. She escaped, even before the drop where everything went pear-shaped. She's with Bill and Gina."

Anna looked at Jeff, questioningly, but Jeff gave her a "later" gesture. Marty, meanwhile, nodded at Jeff, "Yah, that's right, she got out through the venting system."

Jeff nodded, then he tightened his grip on Marty's hand, "Marty, Do you know how much I love you? I was so scared, Marty."

Marty sighed then, and said, "I know, Jeff. I love you, too. I'd hold you if I could... it must have been awful..."

Jeff nodded, "You collapsed in front of me. There was so much blood, Marty," he shook his head, "But you're going to be just fine."

Anna nodded, "You were very lucky, Marty. The shot missed your spinal cord entirely. The damage to your lung will heal. Marty, I'm so glad you're going to be okay. You know I love you, don't you?" She reached forward and covered Marty and Jeff's hands, which tightly gripped each other.

Marty nodded, then his expression changed to one of extreme tiredness, and he closed his eyes, then opened them.

Jeff noticed, then said, "You look very tired. We'll go so you can sleep, all right? But Mum and I will be back, we'll be here for you."

Marty nodded, then he let go of Jeff and Anna's hands, and reach up with his own and lightly touched Jeff's face, "I love you."

Jeff melted into the touch, then said, "I love you, too," before leaning forward and lightly kissing Marty's forehead.

Anna smiled, then leaned forward and lightly kissed Marty as well. "I'll be here for you both, Marty. I love you, sweetheart, sleep well."

Marty nodded up at her, then closed his eyes. Jeff and Anna quietly left the room.

Outside Marty's room, Jeff turned to Anna, "Are you hungry, Mum? Would you like to get something to eat?"

Anna nodded, "Yes, Jeff, I'd like that. I didn't really get a chance to eat much on the train. And Jeff, maybe you could explain about Kathy?"

Jeff nodded, "Let's find a restaurant outside the hospital then, Mum. Marty will probably sleep for a few hours and..."

"You want a distraction from worrying about him. I understand, Jeff."

Jeff looked at Anna in surprise, then nodded, grateful that his mum understood so well. They left the hospital and drove to a nearby restaurant, where Jeff filled Anna in on everything that had happened, including Gina Smith's remarks on the phone.

Jeff took another bite of his meal, then said, "I dunno Mum. Gina and Bill have been friends of ours since uni, and it was a shock to hear her blame us for Kathy being kidnapped. She's our god-daughter for Christ's sake, Marty wouldn't have had her get hurt for the world. And neither would I. I just don't understand how Gina could be so cruel."

Anna nodded, "It sounds like she was just upset, Jeff."

"Mum! Kathy was home, safe and sound in bed, when I spoke to Gina. She must have had some of those feelings down deep. It hurt Mum! It really hurt. I mean, I know that a lot of people don't approve of the relationship Marty and I have, but... she's a friend!"

Anna reached across the small table and gently took Jeff's hand, "Jeff, please, don't..."

"Don't what? Don't get upset?"

Anna clucked her tongue, "Give her time. She'll realise Kathy's all right, and that it was Marty who got hurt. She'll come around, Jeff. And if she doesn't, well, she wasn't a good friend, anyway, was she?"

Jeff nodded, and looked off in the distance, then looked back at Anna, "How are you doing with your meal, Mum? I... I want to see Marty again."

Anna looked down at her nearly empty plate, and nodded, "Almost done, Jeff. And I want to see Marty too. Let's finish here and go back to hospital."

Jeff nodded. Then finished eating, and Jeff paid the waitress, then they left the restaurant and returned to the hospital. Jeff enquired after Marty at the intensive care nursing station, and was told Marty was still asleep. He and Anna sat in the waiting room for awhile before eventually being allowed back in to see him. Marty had regained more colour and looked much better the second time Anna and Jeff visited him that day.

A few days later, Jeff and Anna returned to the hospital. Marty was still in intensive care, but his chest tube had finally been removed. They checked in at the nurse's station then walked to Marty's room. Jeff opened the hospital room door and let Anna in, then followed her. Marty lay in the hospital bed, propped on his side with pillows. He was very pale, but to Jeff he looked healthier, now that the chest tube was out. Anna walked over to Marty and sat on a chair near the head of the bed, Jeff followed and stood next to her.

"Marty? Marty, it's Mrs. Randall-Mum. I'm here, Marty."

Marty opened his eyes. They were clear blue, and he became very alert and tried to sit up when he saw Anna and Jeff. "Mum? Jeff?"

"We're right here, Marty," said Jeff, as he took Marty's hand, "How are you feeling?"

"Better, Jeff. They've taken the tube out of me chest, it makes it easier to really sleep."

Jeff nodded.

"Oh, Marty, I've been so worried," said Anna, "But I'm so glad you're going to be okay."

Marty nodded, "I'm fine, Mum."

"Oh, Marty!" said Anna, "Couldn't you be more careful? You could have been..." her voice trailed off and her lip trembled, "Maybe you and Jeff should think about getting proper jobs once you're out of here Marty."

Marty looked at her and rolled his eyes.

Jeff looked at his mum and said, "Not now, Mum, this isn't the time for discussing it. Besides we have 'proper jobs' Marty and I own our own business, it doesn't get more proper than that."

"A detective business," pointed out Anna.

"Yes," Jeff responded, then he felt Marty's hand returning pressure on his own. "Marty?"

"I'm fine, Jeff."

Jeff shook his head, "You're not. But you are getting better. I've been so worried, Marty."

"Jeff..." Marty looked at him, then he repeated, "I'm fine, Jeff. Don't worry so much."

Anna lightly touched Marty's forehead with her hand, "Well, I suppose we are all very lucky that it wasn't worse. Jeff tells me you were shot in the back, Marty. Do you have any idea what could have happened? You could have been paralysed, you could have even died. Marty, I love you, and Jeff loves you, don't you realise what losing you would do to him? To me?"

Marty nodded, held Jeff's hand, and said, quietly, "I know how much I love Jeff. And he loves me. To lose him... It would be very hard, maybe even impossible for me to cope with that."

"I feel the same way about you, Marty. When you collapsed out there, I..."

Marty looked up at Jeff, "I know."

Jeff sighed, and held Marty's hand.

Just then the door opened, and a nurse popped her head in, "Mrs. Randall, Mr. Randall? I'm sorry, but we need to change Mr. Hopkirk's dressings and give him a sponge bath. You'll need to leave for about an hour, and then you can come back, all right?"

Jeff and Anna nodded at the nurse and voiced their agreement.

"I'll give you a few moments alone with Mr. Hopkirk, and then you really must leave," replied the nurse.

"Marty, I'm going to stay with Jeff until you're released from hospital..."

"Mum!" said Jeff, exasperated.

"No, Jeff, you need me. You said so, and I can tell you haven't been sleeping or eating well. I'm staying," her tone brooked no argument. She turned back to Marty, and said, quietly, "I love you, Marty, make sure to do what the doctors tell you and you'll be all right." She leaned forward and lightly kissed his forehead. Then she quietly left the room.

Jeff moved closer to Marty, and laid his hand on Marty's forehead, and flooded him with his feelings of worry and love. Marty returned the telepathic contact with his own feelings of love for Jeff. Then Jeff leaned forward and kissed Marty on the mouth. Marty returned the kiss, moving as close as he could, whilst on the bed.

"Oh, Jeff, I do love you," Marty said, as he pulled out of the kiss.

Jeff nodded, "I know. I love you, too. Get better, Marty, please."

"I will, Jeff. I'm fine. Still sore, but I will be fine, I know it."

Jeff nodded, "Goodbye, Marty. I'll be back later today."

Marty nodded, then settled in on the bed and closed his eyes.

Jeff quietly left the room. Anna was waiting outside the room, as was the nurse. The nurse took her trolley with a basin of water, clothes, and dressings and entered the hospital room.

Outside Marty's room, Jeff and Anna made their way to a nearby and very familiar waiting area. Over the last few days they had both spent a lot of time in that same waiting area, waiting to see Marty when he was asleep or the nurses were changing his bandages or when he was eating, but for the most part they had been in Marty's hospital room, talking to him and encouraging him, or even just being there providing silent support.

"Mum? I'm going to get a coffee from the canteen, would you like one?"

"That would be very nice, Jeff," Anna answered.

Jeff nodded and left. A few minutes later, a red-haired woman in a doctor's coat approached. She walked past the waiting area to the nurse's station. Anna heard her enquire after Marty at the nurse's station, and then she came over to the waiting area and sat next to Anna.

"So, how do you know Marty then?" Anna asked, quietly.

"Hum? How do you know...? Who are you?" asked Gina Smith, as she looked at Anna.

"I'm Anna Randall," Anna stuck out her hand and Gina shook it.

"Doctor Gina Smith," Gina responded.

"Oh," said Anna.

Gina raised an eyebrow at Anna, "I'm a friend of your son's, Mrs. Randall. And I'm a doctor here, so I was hoping to see Marty."

"Why did you wait so long? And why were you so insensitive to my son? He told me what you said to him. It was very hurtful, Mrs. Smith."

Gina winced at the title, then replied, "I did try to see Marty earlier, but he was always sleeping, or having his wound cleaned. And I've been on a very busy rotation at the hospital. But you're right, I do owe Jeff an apology."

Anna nodded, and the two women sat in silence for a few minutes.

"May I ask you something?" Gina said, then she rushed on, "How long have you known Marty? Or about his and Jeff's... relationship? I think I'd have a very difficult time of it if my daughter..."

Anna nodded, understanding what Gina was saying. "I've known Marty since he was eleven. He and Jeff met at school and became friends. Both had lost their fathers, you know." Anna looked off into the distance, then continued, "Marty..." Anna paused, thinking, then said, "Marty went through something horrible, traumatic, when he was fourteen. I took him in, and raised him."

"You raised him?" asked Gina.

"Yes," said Anna.

"Well, what happened to him? What was so traumatic?"

Anna looked at Gina in shock, and sputtered before saying, "I think you should ask Marty that. Or Jeff. If they want you to know they'll tell you."

Gina looked at Anna strangely, "I didn't mean to pry, but you offered..."

"I was trying to explain. Marty and Jeff have been mates for a long time, and Marty lived under my roof from the time he was fourteen. That's all."

"Oh. And he and Jeff?"

Anna sighed. "I... I walked in on them one morning when they were seventeen. It was obvious what they'd been doing and I... at first, I was... worried. My first thought was Marty might have been hurting my Jeff. But they made it very clear they loved each other and they both wanted..." she paused, flushed, and added, "each other. I suppose it's never easy to find out your child is sexually active, Doctor Smith."

Gina nodded, "So did you get angry? Tell them it was wrong?"

"No. I had a split second to make up my mind. I love my son, Doctor Smith, and I love Marty. I accepted them both. I told them flat out that I accepted they were gay and in love, but I also told them I thought they were too young to be having sex."

Gina nodded.

Anna took a deep breath, "There's nothing wrong with Jeff and Marty, Doctor Smith. They love each other. And they've been together for fourteen years. I've known a lot of couples, like anyone, I suppose, but Jeff and Marty have something special. And I wasn't about to reject my son, or Marty for that matter, because the two of them had fallen in love."

"I didn't say... I mean, I didn't mean... It's not that I think..." Gina sputtered.

"As their friend, you should accept them, Doctor Smith."

Before Gina could say anything, Jeff returned to the waiting area, two coffees in his hands. He immediately noticed Gina sitting next to his mum. "Gina? Gina, what are you doing here?"

"I came to check on Marty, Jeff. And... and to apologise to you. I said some horrible things to you on the phone. I know it wasn't your fault Kathy was kidnapped. And she's perfectly okay now. Anyway, I'm truly sorry, Jeff."

Jeff nodded, "Thank you. And thanks for coming to see Marty," he looked at his watch, "We should be able to see him in about half an hour or so, can you wait with us or do you have rounds?"

"I can wait. I'm not on duty for another hour. I came in early to see Marty and to speak to you."

Jeff nodded, handed Anna her coffee, then sat next to her. "One thing, Gina. Marty's been in hospital for three days now. Couldn't you have come by a little earlier?"

Gina paled, then she said, "I tried, but they wouldn't let me in to see him. And I have been really busy with my own patients. But I am sorry, Jeff, I should have apologised in person earlier. I know that. I suppose it took me a little while to realise that Kathy really was okay."

"And she is okay, isn't she? No after effects?"

"Not even a nightmare," said Gina.

"Well, that's good. She's a strong little girl."

Silence descended on the three. A little while later a nurse approached and told them they could now visit Marty Hopkirk, and Gina, Anna, and Jeff made their way to Marty's room.

For the next few weeks, Jeff spent as much time as he could at the hospital, providing support while Marty had physical and respiratory therapy. Anna was there as well, giving Jeff her support as well as comforting and supporting Marty. However, after two weeks she needed to go home and left to return home to the north of England. Jeff continued to see Marty though.

Then, about a month later, Marty had finally been cleared to leave the hospital. Mrs. Randall had returned to Northern England a few weeks prior, and Jeff was left to help bring Marty home on his own.

Jeff opened the door, moving to help Marty, but Marty complained, "Jeff, I'm all right, you don't need to help me."

Jeff shook his head, "You're not very steady on your feet yet, Marty," he answered, helping Marty to stand, then turning, he shut the door.

Once the door was shut, Jeff rushed over to Marty, steadying him with an arm around his waist, "Let's sit you down, then, Marty, come on. I've made up a bed down here on the sofa, so you'll be comfortable during the day."

Marty looked at Jeff and raised an eyebrow, then nodded and leaned on Jeff as he grimaced in pain, "That might not be a bad idea, my legs and back..."

"Sore, eh?" responded Jeff.

Marty nodded.

Jeff helped Marty to the sofa, which had been pulled out into a double bed, and once he was sitting down, Jeff looked at him, leaned in, and kissed him, full on the mouth.

Marty responded, putting his arms around Jeff and pulling him forward, kissing him back.

Jeff groaned, and pushed Marty onto the sofa bed, "You all right?"

"Yeah," said Marty, huskily, "Oh, god, Jeff..."

Jeff nodded, covering Marty with his body, kissing him and running his hands up and down Marty's body. Marty pulled Jeff close, kissed him, and held him tight. Then Marty undid Jeff's tie, pulled it off and dropped in to the floor.

Jeff, meanwhile, was working on Marty's clothes, pulling off the comfortable sweatshirt Marty had worn at the hospital.

Marty began unbuttoning Jeff's shirt, then moved forward and licked his chest. Marty found Jeff's right-hand nipple and he began to lick and suck at it.

Jeff groaned, then moved to Marty's chest, kissed it, and licked and sucked one of Marty's nipples.

Marty groaned, then sent to Jeff, Take me, Jeff. Please. It's been a month, and... I want you so much!

Jeff nodded, and sent back, Yea, I'm prepared for that Marty. I sussed you'd want to. I don't want to hurt you, that's all.

I'm not gonna break.

Jeff nodded, flooded Marty with his feelings of love and concern, then his hands made short work of Marty's trousers and pants. Marty laid back comfortably on the sofa. Jeff knelt next to the sofa, moved his head to Marty's penis, took it in his mouth and licked and sucked.

Marty moaned, then pulled Jeff closer with his hands, running his hands up and down Jeff's now naked back.

Jeff continued to run his tongue along Marty's penis, pleasuring his partner, who was now hard in his mouth. As he did so, he flooded Marty's mind with his feelings of love and even let some of his fears through.

Marty responded by calming Jeff's fears and flooding him with his own feelings of love.

Jeff responded to Marty's thoughts and feelings, and continued his actions, as his own penis reacted and also began to get hard.

Finally, Marty came with a yell and a moan.

Jeff slid off Marty, and swallowed. Then he moved to a nearby end table, opened a drawer and took out a small jar of massage oil, before moving back to the sofa bed. He lightly touched Marty, How are you feeling, Marty? Do you want me to make love to you, or are you too tired and sore?

Make love to me, Jeff. Nothing you could do could ever hurt me. I want you and I need you. Now! Marty turned over, giving Jeff easy access to his rear.

Jeff poured some of the massage oil into his hands, knelt next to Marty, and began to rub the oil on Marty's shoulders and back, gradually working his way down Marty's back. When he came to the fresh pink scar caused by Marty's bullet wound, Jeff paused, and tears came to his eyes.

What? What's wrong, Jeff, I can sense... Marty left off.

Jeff carefully bent down and kissed the scar, then lightly touched it with one hand, This was so close, Marty. So close. If I'd lost you...

Didn't happen.

I know. But, god, Marty...

Marty sighed, reached out with one hand, and tried to grab Jeff's hand, but he couldn't quite reach backwards that far, so he turned on his side, groaned a bit, and reached out for Jeff. "I'm here, I'm all right, Jeff."

Jeff nodded, tears in his eyes.

Marty took Jeff in his arms, cuddled him and kissed him. Jeff responded, holding Marty tight.

Jeff, please, take me now. I need to have you in me, Jeff. To make love with you.

Jeff nodded, slowly, tears still in his eyes.

Marty let go of Jeff and lay down on the couch on the soft blankets and duvet that Jeff had used to make the sofa into a bed.

Jeff moved to the side then gently straddled Marty, he slicked his hand with the massage oil, coated his own penis, stroking it until it was again ready. Then he coated Marty's opening with oil.

Are you ready, Marty? You're not too sore yet, are you?

I'm fine, Jeff. Enter me. Please.

Jeff nodded, then gently entered his partner. Jeff made love to Marty with smooth strokes, 'til finally he came. Then he pulled out and knelt on the floor next to Marty.

Marty rolled back on his side and sighed, then he opened his arms. "Come here, Jeff."

Jeff nodded, and lay next to Marty. They held each other closely, cuddling together on the sofa bed, under the duvet, warm, safe and happy. Marty lightly kissed Jeff's hair, then his lips. Jeff returned the kiss and held Marty close. The two slowly drifted off to sleep.

Jeff awoke with a start and looked around the room in confusion, it was dark, but he gradually realised he was on the sofa bed in the living room of his and Marty's two floor flat. Marty also lay on the bed asleep. Jeff also knew it had been a nightmare that had awakened him so suddenly.

Marty woke up then, and looked around the room, his eyes wide. When he saw Jeff, he instantaneously relaxed, then reached out to his partner. Jeff nodded and moved close to Marty. Marty lightly stroked Jeff's hair, then said, "What's wrong?"

Jeff shook his head and answered, "Nothing."

Marty shook his head, "Jeff, something's wrong. I felt how scared you were, now what's wrong?"

Jeff sighed, and sat up on the sofa bed, his back propped up on the back of the sofa. "I... I had a nightmare. It woke me up. But I don't really remember what it was about."

Marty nodded, "I'm fine, Jeff. Really."

"I know that, Marty," Jeff answered, then he reached for his partner.

Marty moved to Jeff, embraced him, and kissed him lightly.

As they broke apart, Jeff looked into Marty's bright blue eyes and said, quietly, "Marty, I've been thinking, and..."

"Hum?" asked Marty, his hands lightly touching Jeff's hair.

Jeff took a deep breath, then said, "Maybe, Mum is right. Maybe we should think about giving up the business. Doing something else."

Marty backed away from Jeff slightly, "Jeff?"

"It's not that I don't want to work with you, Marty. I do. It's just..." Jeff reached out, lightly grabbed Marty's shoulders, and said, "You almost died. This time you almost... Marty, you don't seem to understand what it was like, how worried I was, how scared I was."

Marty nodded, "But what would we do? Jeff you could always go into law, but me? I mean, I suppose I could get a bartending job; Michael would surely offer me one at the Harlequin, and there are other places. But Jeff, the whole reason we opened our detective business was to work together. And because I like the work. And I still do, like the work, I mean."

Jeff nodded, "I know. And that's one reason why I've never brought it up before," he reached out and stroked Marty's hair, then returned his hands to Marty's shoulders. "Promise me you'll think about it? We don't have to make any decisions straight away, it'll be a few weeks before you're fit to return to work, anyway. But if we do..." he placed a hand on Marty's jaw, "If we do decide to sell the business, Marty you're not going to ask Michael for a job. Not him, of all people!"

Marty looked at Jeff in shock, "I can't believe you're still jealous of Michael. I swear, I'm not interested in him."

Jeff looked at Marty.

"Right. I won't ask Michael for a job."

Jeff nodded.

The next morning, Marty woke up early. He quietly slipped out of bed and left Jeff sleeping, dressed, then made his way downstairs. Once there, he went into the kitchen and started breakfast, making tea, sausage, bacon, and eggs, and a fresh fruit bowl. By the time everything was ready and on the table, Jeff had awoken and joined Marty in the kitchen.

"Marty, you shouldn't be on your feet, and what's the occasion anyway?" asked Jeff.

Marty finished making toast, and put it on the table with the rest of the food, then he turned to Jeff and said, "Getting out of the hospital, Jeff. And I wanted to do something for you, after everything we've been through and with you caring for me..." he left off.

Jeff moved to Marty, and lightly touched his shoulders, "Marty, it's wonderful, really, and the breakfast looks fantastic, but please, sit down, you are supposed to be taking it easy, remember?"

Marty nodded, then sat at the table. Jeff joined him, and they both helped themselves to breakfast.

About halfway through eating, Marty stopped with the fork halfway to his mouth, and returned it to his plate. His blue eyes bright, he looked at Jeff and said, "I... I don't want to give up the business, Jeff, I really don't."

Jeff nodded, setting his own fork on his plate.

Marty looked at Jeff, then said, "No, really, I want to continue working. I like being a detective, very much, and..." he paused, took a deep breath, then said, "And it really is not dangerous, what the Colzone brothers did to us, they could have done that even if we'd given up the business."

Jeff nodded, then he said, "Marty, it's OK. I don't particularly want to give it up either."

"Are you sure? Are you really willing to stay in the detective business?"

Jeff nodded again, then said, "I'm willing to do what you want. And, I enjoy the work too, Marty, it's all I've known for eight years. I don't want to change to a new career, not really. But I want you to be careful. Please, Marty."

"I will," Marty answered then he returned to eating his breakfast.

Jeff nodded in agreement, then returned to eating his own food.

The End