Tulips 1:
He Doth Protest

Orithain

September 1998

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, they belong to John Woo and Alliance. But since the show has been cancelled, I'm keeping them! If anyone wants to sue, they can have my debts.

For once Li Ann wasn't the last one to arrive for the meeting. When she came in, she found the Director and Mac waiting but no sign of Vic. The Director did not look pleased. When Vic walked in moments after Li Ann, Mac glared at the two of them suspiciously. Despite Li Ann having called off her engagement to the older man, Mac still reacted jealously to any suggestion that she and Vic might have been together.

Never one to back down, Vic returned Mac's glare with interest even though he had no idea what had set the other man off this time. "If I might have your attention?" The Director placed a hand on each of the men's shoulders, curling her nails in to get their attention. Mac suddenly wondered if it had been such a good idea to take the middle seat when he arrived first, even if it had prevented Victor from sitting next to Li Ann. It made it far too easy for the Director to get hold of both men simultaneously. At least when they were separated, he had a 50-50 chance that she would pounce on Vic instead of him.

When she felt Vic and Mac were suitably cowed, the Director moved on with the briefing. Handing a file to Mac, she began, "The man in the top photo is Louis Quince, or Louis Quinze as he prefers to be called. As you might guess, he's a somewhat rabid Francophile, and it seems that he's set in motion a plan to embarrass the government in some way." Li Ann, Mac and Vic all stared in absolute amazement at a picture of man dressed in the style of Louis XV of France.

"You've got to be kidding," Mac burst out. "This guy couldn't walk down a street without being hauled off to the nearest psycho ward!"

"I never joke." Mac subsided under the Director's cool stare. "The other man in the next picture with Quince is Antoine Ledoux, his partner. The only information we've been able to get is that they're planning to steal something important to this country. That's where you come in, Mac."

"You want me and Li Ann to get inside this group - there is a group, isn't there? - and--"

"Not quite. Quince despises women and would never have one anywhere near him. Li Ann will be working from the outside, trying to figure out what exactly Quince is planning to steal, in case the two of you don't find out in time."

"The two of us?!" Mac exploded mere moments before Vic echoed him.

"Yes, Mac, you and Victor will be working together on this one," the Director purred. "Quince prefers to work with couples since he's insanely jealous of Ledoux. Does either of you have a problem with that? If so, get over it. You are now a couple, and you will act like it."

Mac's mouth opened and closed several times, but nothing came out. Vic was somewhat more successful, even managing to ignore Li Ann who wasn't even trying to hide her laughter. "What exactly do you mean 'act like it'?"

"I mean, gentlemen, you will do whatever is necessary to convince Quince that not only are you the greatest thieves in history, but you are also completely devoted to each other."

Vic and Mac stared at each other in horror. "No, uh uh, no way. I am not kissing Ramsey. It's not going to happen. Just shoot me now and get it over with."

"That is not an option, Victor. You will do as you're told, or you'll wish you were dead by the time I'm done with you." She then moved on with the instructions. "You'll make contact with Quince tonight at a bar he frequents, Le Fraternité. The address is in the file. Do dress appropriately. Come, Li Ann."

Li Ann stopped for a moment at the door. "Hey, guys, don't forget to get lots of pictures. Everyone should have plenty of honeymoon photos," she snickered.

"AARGH!!" Vic's primal scream caused Li Ann to leave quickly.

"Uh, Mansfield? . . . Vic?" Even Mac was a bit daunted by Vic's bellow. "You do realize that we don't have any choice here, right? I refuse to ever again wake up to find the Director in my bed. And trust me, you don't ever want to experience that. Black widows are NOT supposed to come in human size."

Vic actually growled. "And you being in my bed is such an improvement?!!"

"I've never had any complaints before!" Mac was insulted.

"I don't want to know!" Vic screamed. He visibly got hold of himself before speaking again without looking at Mac. "Pick me up at my place at 10:00 tonight. That'll give us plenty of time to get to the club." He stormed out of the room without another word. Even Dobrinsky got out of his way as he headed out.

Mac stared after him, a faint smile appearing on his face. "Well, well, isn't that interesting," he mused.

Promptly at 10:00 Mac, dressed in skin-tight jeans that looked like they'd been painted on and a loose silk shirt unbuttoned to his navel, knocked on Vic's door. Mac's jaw dropped at his first sight of his partner. Vic was wearing black leather pants even tighter than Mac's jeans, if that were possible, and a matching vest. His bare chest told Mac why Vic wore one earring; the other was in his left nipple. Mac felt his mouth go dry.

He dragged his gaze up to meet infuriated green eyes. "Not. One. Word." Vic ground out. "Let's get this over with." The incensed ex-cop stalked down the hall to the elevator with Mac trailing behind. Oh. My. This is going to be interesting. Mac admired the view as he followed Vic.

The ride to Le Fraternité was accomplished in silence, Vic's glare silencing Mac every time the younger man opened his mouth. As he was parking the car, Mac finally spoke. "If you keep that attitude, no one is going to believe we're together. But someone might call 9-1-1 to try to avert a homicide," he ended dryly.

"Don't worry about me, Ramsey, I'll keep up my part." Mac could have sworn he actually saw sparks from Victor's eyes. Vic jumped out of the car and headed for the entrance to the club, only slowing as he neared the door. When Mac caught up, Vic sighed angrily and moved in close to him, worming his way under Mac's arm and sliding his own arm around the other man's waist. Mac actually stumbled a bit in surprise before following Vic's lead and resting his hand on the older man's warm flesh under the loose vest. Thus linked they entered the bar.

Pausing just inside to let their eyes get accustomed to the dim light, the two men got the once over from nearly everyone inside. On his own each man got his fair share of attention, but together they were impossible to ignore. Mac tightened his grip possessively and glared around, staking claim to Vic. For his part Vic leaned his head against Mac's shoulder and brought his other arm around to encircle the younger man. Having made it clear that they were together, the two agents moved up to the bar.

Drinks in hand, Vic and Mac leaned back and surveyed the crowd. Mac's attention was caught by a platinum blond head in one corner, and when the man turned, he nearly crowed with victory. It was Antoine Ledoux. He murmured his discovery in Vic's ear and moved off to intercept the blond before Vic could say anything. Vic watched Mac closely, certain that this was a very bad idea.

No sooner had Mac approached Ledoux than Quince appeared at his side, dressed somewhat less flamboyantly than in the picture they had seen. Despite his silks and satins, he appeared quite ready to kill Mac for coming near his lover. Vic took one look and nearly ran across the room. Strangely, he didn't hesitate for a moment, not even to laugh to himself at the idea of Mac being attacked by someone who looked like Quince.

Coming up between Mac and Quince, Vic attached himself to his partner, slinging one arm around his neck and rubbing his body suggestively the length of Mac's. Meeting Mac's stunned gaze, the older man leaned in and kissed him. Intended to be quick and superficial, just enough to allay Quince's jealousy, Vic was shocked to find himself deepening the kiss. What the hell!? This is Mac! What am I doing? I like women not men! Initially paralyzed with surprise, Mac chose that moment to respond to the kiss. His tongue darted forward to tangle with Vic's, and his arms tightened around the other man. Vic's thoughts fragmented, then I like Mac. I want Mac. Oh. My. God!

Mac had no idea what Vic was thinking, but Vic's body was telling him what he was feeling. Mac pulled back from the kiss to stare into Vic's eyes. Meeting that green gaze, Mac suddenly realized that for some time now he hadn't been trying to keep Vic away from Li Ann, he'd been keeping Li Ann away from Vic. Brown eyes widened in shock, Mac froze.

"Who are you? And what did you want with my Antoine?" The voice broke the agents' paralysis. Keeping his arms wrapped tightly around Vic, Mac turned his head slightly to meet Louis Quince's suspicious glare. "I'm Mac Ramsey, and I was told you were looking to hire someone of my talents. I didn't see you, so I was going to ask Mr. Ledoux for an introduction."

Quince remained suspicious. "Who are you that I would want to hire you? Who told I wanted to hire anyone?"

"I told you, I'm Mac Ramsey. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, you'd better go do some research before trying to hire someone in my profession. I'm the best. I was raised and trained by the Tangs. As for how I heard about you, I still have my sources, even over here."

"I don't believe you. You were trying to pick up my Antoine!"

Mac loosened his grip on Vic enough for the other man to turn around in his arms to face Quince and Ledoux. "No offense, but with this in my bed, why would I want to go looking anywhere else?" I must have a death wish; Vic is going to kill me for this.

Vic felt Mac's tension and guessing the cause, decided to tease him a bit. He relaxed his body so Mac was supporting him and turned his head just enough to be able to bite Mac's throat. "And don't you forget it, lover. I don't share." He shifted forward slightly in Mac's arms, allowing the light to fall fully on his face for the first time.

Getting a good look at Vic, Quince relaxed. As Ramsey said, any man who had that was not going to be looking elsewhere. In fact, if Quince hadn't been so much in love with his Antoine, he would have been envious of Ramsey. The man's lover was obviously accomplished as well as beautiful. "In fact, M. Ramsey, I have heard of you. Your name was given to me as someone who might be able to perform a certain task I require."

Mac had to clear his throat before he could manage to speak. That little love bite of Vic's had really gotten to him. He hoped Vic would stay draped over him for a while longer since he really didn't want to display his reaction to the whole room. God knows what Vic's going to have to say about this later. He has to know how I'm reacting. As tight as both our pants are, I'm the next thing to inside him right now. "It's possible, Mr. Quinze. But I don't come cheaply. My friend here is accustomed to the finer things in life."

Still trying to deal with the shock of finding himself attracted to Mac, Vic was not pleased to hear himself described as a gigolo. Deciding to make the younger man pay for that remark and have some fun at the same time, Vic gave a full-body wriggle, ending with Mac's cock perfectly positioned between his ass cheeks. He took hold of Mac's hands and drew them up his own body, bringing them to his nipples. After a moment of frozen surprise, Mac got into the game, stroking then pinching the hardened buds. When he tugged gently on the nipple ring, Vic moaned involuntarily. The sound made Mac painfully hard, and he thrust against Vic. Both were startled when Quince spoke, having momentarily forgotten him.

"I can see you have other things on your mind, M. Ramsey. Perhaps the two of us might meet for lunch tomorrow to discuss business? You could meet me at my hotel."

"That would be fine, Mr. Quinze, except there will be three of us," Mac responded indicating Vic.

Quince frowned. "Decorative as your companion is, I wish to discuss business. You must learn to separate business from pleasure, my young friend."

"And you must learn not to make snap judgements." Mac's smile was more a baring of teeth. "Victor is my partner."

"How very romantic. Nonetheless,-"

Vic interrupted him. "Not romantic, Mr. Quinze, pragmatic. Mac and I are business partners as well. I plan our jobs, he performs them. And as he said, we're very expensive. Until tomorrow." Vic's smile was no more friendly than Mac's had been. With cold nods, the two men walked away.

"Beauty and brains," Quince mused aloud. "Ramsey is indeed a fortunate man."

"I don't trust them," Antoine pouted.

"Ah, my darling, you are simply unaccustomed to someone more beautiful than yourself. But to me, you shall always be my most beautiful angel." Quince kissed Antoine's hand with a flowery gesture. Dobrinsky, standing unnoticed in the corner, wondered if he would be able to keep his dinner down.

"Do you think he bought it?" Vic was saying as he and Mac left the club.

"For a while there, I thought he was going to try to buy you! And yes, he bought it. He'll pay just about anything to hire us now." As they reached the car, Mac hesitated. "Vic, about what happened." Before he could say anything else, Victor was attached to him like a limpet, seemingly trying to remove his tonsils with his tongue, not that Mac was complaining. When they separated to gasp in much-needed air, Mac was beyond speech. Vic sighed.

"Look, Mac, I have no idea how it happened, but I am attracted to you. I still think you're incredibly irritating, but I want you, and the evidence would seem to indicate that you want me too." He grinned and petted the bulge in Mac's pants, causing the younger man to groan. "But, uh, I'm not sure what to do - God, I don't believe I'm saying this! - I've never done this with a man before."

"Just keep going as you have been, lover. You nearly made me come inside the bar. If it feels good to you, it will to me too." I'm going to kick myself for this later. "Are you sure you want to do this, Vic? I don't want to push you into anything."

"Actually, I was kind of hoping to push myself into you, Mac."

Mac groaned and pulled the older man into another near-lethal kiss. "Drive, Mansfield. I want to get back to your apartment quickly."

Vic grinned again and slid into the car. Mac climbed in on the other side, pushing his seat as far back as it would go. As soon as Vic pulled out, Mac slid to his knees on the floor and reached over to unfasten Vic's pants. "What the-" "Just drive, Vic. I'll keep myself entertained." As he spoke, Mac freed Vic's weeping erection, and carefully bracing one hand on either side of Vic, leaned forward to run his tongue the length of it. Vic nearly screamed at the first touch, hips arching up in search of more.

Mac chuckled, causing Vic to moan at the vibrations. "Just keep your eyes on the road, Mansfield." Mac lapped at Vic's cock, licking his balls then tracing a line up the underside with the tip of his tongue. He drew the head into his mouth and sucked lightly, probing the slit. Vic was moaning almost continuously as Mac teased him. Having broken nearly every land speed record, Vic pulled into the parking lot of his apartment building. When he felt the car stop, Mac sucked Vic in to the root. The sudden pressure and warm wetness was enough for Vic, and he came screaming Mac's name. Mac kept up the suction until Vic became too sensitive and pushed him away.

Vic curled a hand around Mac's neck and drew him up for a deep kiss, tasting himself in his lover's mouth. Although he had done this before with previous, female lovers, it was the first time that he tasted Mac mixed with his own flavor, and he thought he could easily become addicted. Mac tucked Vic back into his pants and pushed himself up. "Come on, Vic, out of this car. We're not nearly done yet." Then he hesitated, looking at Vic cautiously. "Are we?"

Vic sighed in exasperation. "How many times do I have to tell you that I want you? Are you trying to change my mind?"

"Hell no! I want you so bad, Vic, but I don't want you to wake up tomorrow hating me. This whole thing has been kind of sudden. I mean you were royally pissed off just this afternoon at the idea of pretending to be lovers. Now look at us."

"Mac, I'll admit this has all happened pretty fast, but only because I've been refusing to admit it to myself for months. Once the barrier collapsed, everything, all the wanting, came pouring out. Now would you please come with me. I want to see you in my bed again, naked this time, wanting me."

Mac took him at his word, nearly dragging him to his apartment and straight into the bedroom. Too excited to draw out the undressing, Mac was stripped within moments and lying on Vic's bed. As Vic went to join him, Mac stopped him. "Do you have anything we can use as lube, love?"

Vic pulled a jar of KY jelly out the night table with a grin. Knowing Li Ann, Mac didn't ask any questions. He held out his hand to Vic, drawing the older man into an affectionate embrace. Vic wasn't content to lie still for long; he wanted Mac too much for that. Vic began to lick and kiss his way down Mac's body, stopping to explore in depth any area that caused a strong reaction. By the time he reached Mac's chest and latched on to a nipple, the younger man was writhing on the bed, unable to lie still.

Mac stroked his lover, caressing all that beautiful skin, tugging on the nipple ring that he was becoming very fond of, drawing one finger teasingly along the length of Vic's renewed erection. He raked his fingers through the silky softness of Vic's hair as the older man engulfed his cock. Unpracticed, Vic still took enough to draw a groan of pleasure from Mac. He sucked hard, caressing it with his tongue until Mac pulled him off with a cry.

"You didn't like that?" Vic sounded uncertain.

"God! I liked it so much I was about to come. I didn't think you were ready for that. And besides, I want to make love to you, come deep inside you." Hot brown eyes raked Vic as Mac clutched his ass and thrust against him, rubbing their erections together.

Vic moaned and caught his lip between his teeth. Incredibly long lashes swept down for a moment to hide his eyes. Mac drew one hand under Vic's chin, tilting his head up to meet his gaze. He dropped a soft kiss on Vic's mouth. "If that's what you want?"

"I do. It's just...like I said, I've never done this before. Just take it slow, okay?"

Mac kissed him hard. "As slow as you want it, lover, until you ask for more." He turned Vic onto his stomach, straddling him on all fours while he leaned down to kiss his back. Vic arched up into his touch, moaning. Mac grabbed the lube and coated his fingers preparatory to working it into Vic. He drew one finger along the crevice between Vic's cheeks until he reached the puckered hole, which he gently stroked. When Vic was squirming against him, he slowly worked one finger in, stopping once inside to let Vic grow accustomed to the sensation. When Vic relaxed, Mac pushed in farther, stroking his prostate. Vic yelled and pushed back, fucking himself on Mac's finger. He groaned in protest when the finger withdrew, but it soon returned along with a second. Mac gently scissored his fingers to open Vic and soon added a third finger. When Vic was again pushing back against him, he withdrew and hastily applied the lube to his cock.

Mac drew Victor up onto all fours and pressed against the loosened muscle. He slipped inside, stopping when Vic gasped and stiffened. He murmured soothing nonsense in Vic's ear, stroking the length of his body, until Vic relaxed. Mac pushed forward slowly until his balls were nestled against Vic's cheeks, then pulled back and thrust again. He held Vic's hips tightly as he thrust, brushing his prostate with every stroke. Vic brought one hand to his aching cock, pumping it in time with Mac's thrusts until he came with a scream. Feeling Vic's muscles clutch him as he came broke Mac's control, and he came, seconds later.

After a few minutes, or maybe it was days, Mac pushed up from where he had collapsed on top of Vic. He gently withdrew and reached for Vic who was already turning to him. They lay together for a short time, occasionally exchanging kisses before Mac forced himself to get up and get something to clean them up.

Once they were clean, Mac hesitated at the side of the bed. Vic smiled sleepily and reached a hand out to him. "Stay?" Mac climbed back into the bed, wrapping his arms around Vic who nuzzled against him. Mac smiled to himself at finding out that Victor was a snuggler. With the older man draped over him, Mac followed Vic into sleep.

Mac was the first to wake up the next morning, and for a moment he was disoriented. Then Vic shifted slightly where he was sprawled over Mac, and Mac's memory kicked in. He looked down to see something he'd never dared hope for, never even admitted to himself he wanted, a naked, sated Victor Mansfield in his arms. Vic's eyes fluttered open while Mac was admiring the view, and green eyes smiled up at him. "Good morning."

Mac pulled the other man up for a kiss, saying good morning properly. "Mmm," Vic sighed, "I like the way you say good morning. What time is it anyway?" Mac twisted around to see the clock on the night table, yelping when he saw it was already 10:45. Well, it had been close to 6:00 when they finally settled down for the last time. Both men leapt out of bed, rushing to get ready for their meeting with Quince. Mac was able to borrow a long-tailed, loose shirt from Vic that, worn over his jeans, was acceptable for daywear. Twenty minutes after jumping out of bed, Vic and Mac were ready to go, even having had time for a quick cup of coffee.

They made it to Quince's hotel with five minutes to spare, arriving at the same time as room service. Quince observed the two men as he greeted them, slightly startled at the change from last night, especially in Victor. To see him now, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater, with a businesslike attitude, no one would suspect he was capable of the kind of pure sexuality he had exuded the night before. Quince wasn't sure he could trust someone with such chameleon-like qualities.

Mac was watching Quince closely and seeing the man's faint frown, had a pretty good idea of what he was thinking. The agent slid an arm around his partner, drawing the older man against him. Vic, although initially startled, relaxed into the embrace, smiling into Mac's eyes.

Reading their body language, Quince's suspicions ebbed as he realized the two men were simply not flaunting their relationship, choosing instead to keep their personal affairs separate from business.

"Please, sit down, gentlemen. We have a great deal to discuss." Vic and Mac sat where indicated, eyeing Quince's attire with carefully hidden distaste. Having to face that violently clashing chartreuse and puce over breakfast did not bode well for their digestion. Quince came straight to the point.

As Quince launched into the anticipated propaganda speech, Vic and Mac tuned him out as much as possible, nodding at intervals until he reached the relevant portion. "I have decided to visit on the federal government the same kind of public humiliation they have served us for years." Vic and Mac exchanged baffled glances. "That is where you gentlemen come in. I expect you to prevent the annual tulip festival from taking place. We'll show the world that this government can't do anything right." Although the agents almost expected it at this point, Quince did not emit the maniacal laugh that his melodrama seemed to call for.

Waiting for an explanation, Vic and Mac stared at him blankly before Mac suddenly understood what he wanted. "You want me to steal tulip bulbs!?!" Mac exploded. Vic's expression turned wooden as he tried desperately not to burst into laughter. Mac sounded mortally insulted by the implication that a thief of his caliber would stoop to stealing the local flora.

"But of course, M. Ramsey. How else can I ensure that the entire world sees their embarrassment? You will be handsomely compensated."

Vic jumped in before Mac could say a word. "Very well, Mr. Quinze, you've hired yourself a thief. We will require some further details from you."

"Of course, of course. A fellow patriot will be joining us shortly to provide information and plan the exact timing." Quince was eager to get started now and nearly ran to the door when he heard the knock. He returned in a moment, followed by another man. "This is Mr. X."

You've got to be kidding! Neither Vic nor Mac could believe how ludicrous this was becoming. The Director had to be punishing them for something. As they sat gaping, out of the corner of his eye Vic noticed the door to the inner room opening silently. Turning to get a better look, he saw Antoine just beyond the door, holding a gun! Reacting instinctively, Vic threw himself over Mac, pulling out his own gun even as Antoine fired. Mr. X collapsed to the ground, closely followed by Quince. Vic fired at the shadowy figure, bringing Antoine down.

By this time Mac had squirmed out from under Vic and was checking Quince and Mr. X. "They're both dead."

"Of course they are." Both men spun around to see the Director strolling into the room, followed by Dobrinsky. "Your friend Antoine is an assassin. Mr. X was his target."

"You didn't think that might have been useful information for us to know?" Vic snarled.

"Careful, Victor. Remember, I always know more than you do. If you had needed to know, I would have told you. The Agency wanted Mr. X and Louis Quince dead; they were financing their 'patriotic' activities with arms smuggling. And now we have Antoine as well. He'll be a useful addition to our happy little family."

"So Mr. X," Vic choked slightly at the ridiculous name, "Was an arms dealer?"

"Actually, he was a gardener. He was in charge of planting the tulips. He only side lined in arms dealing to raise money."

Dobrinsky headed out carrying Antoine over his shoulder, and the Director followed them. Vic and Mac shook their heads and went home.

After a night spent alone in his own apartment, Mac was nervous when he reached the briefing room the next morning. He didn't know if Vic would want to continue the relationship they had begun, or if it had been a one-time thing that just grew out of the situation they found themselves in. He had become uneasy when Vic suggested they each go to their own apartments to get some rest after the previous late night.

Steeling himself, Mac walked through the door to find Vic already sitting in the closest chair. Mac's heart sank when Victor refused to meet his eyes. Head down, Mac started to go to the farthest seat when he stopped dead in his tracks. On the table at the place beside Vic's was a single red and white tulip of the variety known as Lucky Strike. Mac turned and met Vic's smile with his own.

END

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