Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Getting to Know You

Alice Shepherd parked the car and took one last strengthening breath.

She tried not to think about how silly she might look, how she might look like a woman running after a man, but damn it. Why should she make herself lose an opportunity to spend some private time with one of the few men she'd met in her life who she admired?

After the firefight in the courthouse today, her feelings for Andrew Banks had jelled. She had kept her attraction for him buried for as long as possible while she was on official duty guarding him, but he had risked his life to save hers for the second time in as many days. She could no longer keep the fire she had burning for him from raging out of control now.

She glanced at her watch. Was it only three hours ago that Banks had faced the assassin down? She could still remember the feel of the killer's arm across her throat and the gun he held pressed against her head. And then Banks had stood up, unarmed and told the assassin to leave her alone and take him instead.

Oh God, she took another breath, what a man! His actions, his ideology his looks, all combined to make her libido run wild. She could feel her nipples twinge and a glow of desire rise through her body when she thought of him.

Just the day before he had saved her life for the first time, asking for her gun, and then shielding her with his body until he could draw the fire towards himself so she could get away.

Lord, the feel of his big, strong body leaning over hers as the machine gun bullets flew around them had made her mad with longing. Last night, when she was home, alone, the memories of his act of bravery had permeated her every waking moment, and even her dreams.

For a second, the flight of fantasy she had indulged in before she got out of bed that morning flashed across her mind. God! She had almost made her headboard bang against the wall because both her hands were moving so violently between her legs. Even so, she had kept her admiration for Andrew Banks hidden for most of the day.

After all, she was an NYPD cop and was guarding the man while he was testifying for a special Congressional Committee. It wouldn't have been right to show how turned on she was.

But now, well, after he saved her life again today, and the fact that he was ending his testimony tomorrow and she might not have the chance to see him ever again changed everything. Now was the moment to make her move to be with him, even if it was just for one time.

She nodded to herself and gathered up the bags holding Italian food and two bottles of good wine and left the car to walk to his apartment. Having spent most of his nineteen years as a career army officer in third world countries helping native peoples fight communism, he had lived away from the luxuries and comforts of the US. He had mentioned once, in passing, that he hadn't had great Italian food in ages, so, as a surprise for him, Alice had bought the best Italian take-out in New York City.

Happily, she recognized the patrolman on guard duty in front of the building. This officer had proven to be alert and helpful in his job of watching out for trouble. Not like the last man assigned there.

He knew her by sight and waved her into the building with a small smile. Walking up the steps, she once again went over what she'd say to Banks – Andrew – Andy – Drew? No Banks, right, she'd still call him Banks.

As she got nearer his floor, she wondered who might be with him as a bodyguard, Harley Gage or Mickey Kostmayer? She had been forced to leave Banks with both of them and Robert McCall after the shooting had been over. As the NYPD Sergeant on duty she had to do all of the paperwork and report to her superiors.

She hoped Harley was not there now. He had been with Banks for almost a full day yesterday and had also spent additional time doing legwork and gathering info. His work had helped them unwind all of the evidence to find who was trying to kill Banks to make sure he wouldn't talk to the Congressional Committee. Harley had worked hard and Alice hoped he was getting some well earned shut-eye before guarding Banks tomorrow, on his last day of testimony.

She wasn't very sure what she thought about Gage. Banks liked him – a great recommendation and so did Mickey Kostmayer. Mickey had even gone so far as to say that Harley was a good man to have on your side. And Robert was allowing Gage to share his apartment. Three good men vouching for him, yet Alice still didn't care for the man.

There was something strange about the vibes Gage aimed at her whenever no one was looking. When he had put his arm around her that once, she had a visceral reaction, akin to a cold blooded lizard wrapping it's tail around your neck. Ugh! Maybe she was picking up the residue of the time he spent in prison? Cons gave off bad vibes around cops.

She hoped that Mickey Kostmayer was here now. Then she wouldn't have to worry about being embarrassed. Mickey was an okay guy. They had worked together and she trusted him. He was shrewd enough to understand why she would show up at the apartment tonight. She could even invite him to dine with them. Mickey's instincts were good and he would decide whether to stay or go.

She got to Bank's floor and forced herself not to primp or smooth her hair. She wanted to look nonchalant, just as if she had simply decided to bring take-out to eat after what had happened. Which was true. It was just that she also wanted to be with Banks, the best man she had ever met. He believed in the truth and unlike most men, was living his life as his conscience directed. Her sense of humor rose up for a moment. All of that was true but on top of it, to tell the truth, she found him to be very good-looking, very attractive. Yep, she had the hots for that man, but bad.

Shaking off her sense of giddiness, she pushed the bell. Trying to look simply friendly she smiled, hoping to greet Mickey and Banks with a casual expression.

The door swung open and she knew her face fell in disappointment. There stood Harley Gage, disheveled and unshaven.

He flashed that unsettling grin and opened the door wide to let her in.

Hoping her voice didn't register her profound disappointment that he was there, she said, "I'm surprised you're still on duty, I'd have expected you to be sleeping, getting ready for the next shift with Banks." She looked around the apartment, "Where is he?"

Gage stood a little too close to her. "Nope, after all that shit went down, Robert wanted to talk to him some more, you know agent to agent. Robert wants him to stop hiding under the Fifth and talk. He feels really strongly about the government not working with Organized Crime to get its dirtiest jobs done. Because he's still weak from being shot last month, Robert took Kostmayer along for muscle."

"Why didn't you go with them?"

"Robert told me to come here and get some rest. I guess he wants me alert for tomorrow. No sense in getting sloppy just because we stopped one line of assassins who were after Banks. Other people might still be gunning for him."

Her heart jumped. "Is Banks safe?"

Gage eyed her and put on a look, something between a smile and a smirk. What the hell was going on in that guy's mind?

"If it isn't safe in Kostmayer and McCall's company, it ain't safe anywhere on earth. Don't worry Alice, he's is safe." He turned his head away but Alice could see that he was grinning.

She tried to remain calm, but the thought that Banks was still in danger nearly made her faint. She felt a line of sweat on her brow. "OK I just wanted to check in. Tell Kostmayer I was here and—"

"Would you want me to tell Banks you were looking for him? That you wanted to see him?" He was staring at her, smirking, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. Could her desire for the man be showing that clearly?

Alice felt herself flush, or blush. He could tell what she wanted with Banks. She just knew it. Heat washed over her face and she felt her nipples twinge again.

"Don't bother. I'll see him—"

"You got a thing for Banks? You like him?" Gage asked, staring at her. A sour feeling rolled in her gut.

"What are we, in High School?" she said, making sure to have her disdain evident in her voice. "I'm an adult, and if I'm interested in anybody for any reason, it's not a topic for gossip."

Gage shook his head. His expression contrite, "No, sorry, it's just that I've known Drew for a long time and this happens a lot, that women are hooked by his charm." He shook his head, "Sorry Sergeant, it's just that I respect you and hoped that you wouldn't be affected by the false vibes he puts out."

"What do you mean false?" Alice was getting annoyed. Was Gage calling Banks a liar?

"Not false, that's not the right word." Gage shook his head and shrugged, "No, Banks's is a right-on guy. He's every bit as heroic and brave and truthful as any man alive, more than most. I'd swear to that." He looked down. "I meant that women get the wrong idea about him, not that he does anything to make them attracted to him—"

Alice felt her face go hot, that meant she was blushing furiously. Damn her light skin! "OK, I'm leaving now," Alice said, "I don't need to hear anything else. I'll be back at dawn to help accompany him safely to the courthouse."

Gage had rushed to stand in front of the door, he had a strange expression on his face and Alice couldn't read it. "Sergeant Shepherd, wait, please. I haven't expressed myself well, I get tongue-tied in front of beautiful women. Wait up a sec!"

Against her better judgment Alice was interested in what he had to say. She stood one step back from the door. "Okay, Gage. Talk."

Gage sighed, hard. "Look, I admire Banks, he's a hero and a patriot. He's admired because of what he stands for, a good and decent, caring person. And he is a great guy, but," Gage seemed to think over what he was going to say, "I admire you too and I don't want you to be embarrassed, and I don't want Banks to feel bad that he might be the reason for you to feel uncomfortable."

He wasn't making any sense and suddenly, Alice wanted to get out of there. "What are you trying to get at Gage, just spit it out already."

"Banks isn't interested in women, OK? " He looked her straight in the eyes.

"What? You mean" Alice never expected that. "Banks is a homosexual? He can't be, he's so –"

"He's a great, good, decent man who's a hero in my mind," Gage blurted out. "And If you think any less of him just because he's gay, then you aren't the woman I thought you were!"

He sounded very angry.

"No," Alice said, confused. She didn't want to say that when Banks looked in her eyes the other day, she felt a deep attraction pass between them. "I meant that he didn't act like he was gay."

"And what does that mean?" Gage's voice rose, his face enraged. "That he has to swish around and can't be a real man if he doesn't go for woman? He's a hero and just because he's gay doesn't make him any less of a patriot! I've been though hell with that man and he's a stand up guy who risked his life for me more than once. I won't listen to anyone insult him!"

"No! No," Alice protested. Wow, Harley was very upset, "I didn't mean any insult! Really, it's just that it's a surprise to me. That's all."

Gage's voice softened, "Sorry , I guess I feel a little protective of him. Banks is the one who taught me to respect gays. Before, I had my prejudices and it wasn't until I met him that I learned that a man can be gay and a great man too."

Alice's energy dropped out of sight. All of a sudden the bags she was carrying felt too heavy. She put them down. "No, I didn't mean anything as an insult. It's just that he seems – I don't know – so magnetically attractive to me. He gave off these vibes. I thought he might be interested in me too." Alice felt like a fool. "I guess it was stupid, wishful thinking on my part."

Gage smiled and then sighed deeply. "Yeah, that's why I said false vibes. Women can sense that he's decent and can't help but fall for him. Happens all the time."

"Oh," Alice said, an empty feeling took over.

"And he gets so upset when he has to reject them. He can see that they're humiliated. Look, it's not well known that he's gay. It's nobody's business. He's been involved with one guy for fifteen years and in all the time I've know him, Banks has never cheated. He's faithful on top of all his other good traits." Gage smiled a bright grin. "Like I said, Banks is one stand-up guy."

Alice sighed, "He does seem like a really good person." Then she examined Harley for a second. For a straight man to defend a homosexual with such fervor, well that's a damn admirable trait. "You seem like a stand-up guy too."

Harley shook his head, "Banks is the best. But I need to say this, some people know about his sexual preference, that's one of the reasons the government is going after him this hot and heavy. Some bigots in the government want to ruin his reputation any way they can, just to get him out. The homophobic bastards!" His voice was bitter.

"I never knew –"

Gage looked away, but Alice could see Harley was upset. "For this whole Congressional investigation to come down on Banks, on making him the one to testify, of all people." He took a shuddering breath, "Once in – well I can't tell you the name of the country, it's classified – a call came in that a group of schoolgirls had started out to get to safety behind the lines of combat. No one had heard from them and the Intel was that they were lost, or dead – or worse, taken by the communist and…" Harley shuddered, "Anyway, the minute he heard it, Banks stood up and loaded his rifle, ready to head out. He didn't think twice, he just stated he was going to find them." Gage shrugged, "He was going to go, no backup, nothing! I looked around and no one volunteered to go with him. I couldn't let him face the jungle alone, so I had to go along. He has that effect on people."

"Wow," Alice breathed, "you two went out to find them alone?"

"It was hot as hell, the air so thick you could cut it with a knife, but I followed Banks for five miles of hard going until we got to the place the girls were seen last, and before long we found them."

"Wow." Alice couldn't think of anything else to say.

Gage smiled, "Yeah, wow. Banks has a talent like that. Two of the girls were hurt and I did some quick medical stuff." Gage seemed to be embarrassed, "Nothing much, a few stitches and antibiotics. I was so upset by the state of the little ones that all I could do was pick two of the weakest up and strap them onto my body to carry them back home. We never would have gotten back if Banks hadn't kept his wits about him and led the way to safety."

Alice could almost picture Gage, tired, dirty and sweaty, strapping little girls to his body to carry them over miles of steaming jungle. She was in awe.

"Sergeant, Alice," Gage said, looking up at her with a soulful expression of sorrow, "Drew's reputation and life's work are on the line now, he's under tremendous pressure. I hate to ask you to, but… could you just not act as if you're interested in him? If Banks thinks he's made you fall for him, I think it would be just another source of tension for him. You should have seen his face when he told me how you picked up a machine gun and fought like a freedom fighter yesterday. He respects you and admires you so much."

"I see," Alice wished that she had just gone home and stayed there after filling out all the paperwork. Now even if she just tried to be friendly with Banks, he might misconstrue her actions and then he'd think that he would have to tell her that he was a homosexual.

God, she felt terrible. Worsening the pressure on Banks wasn't her intent. She'd just go home and meet them the next day stand guard until they got to the safety of the courthouse, never letting on that she was so attracted to him.

"Whatever's in here smells great!" Gage said bending down and poking in the first bag.

"Huh? Oh, Banks said he likes Italian food, so I thought I'd bring some."

Gage looked up at her with a mischievous, boyish look on his face.

"I haven't eaten since this morning and there's nothing in this apartment. Banks and Kostmayer won't be back till late and, well, would you mind if – ?" He smiled and waggled his eyebrows.

He looked sweet. Alice smiled back, Gage had a definite boyish charm. "No go ahead and have it. It's too much for me to eat and to tell the truth, I don't feel like dragging it back to my place."

Gage dug into the bag and brought out the garlic bread.

"God this smells like heaven." He looked at her and shrugged. "Let's put this out on the table and have dinner. I know I'm no Andrew Banks, but I can be a good dinner companion." He smiled a thousand watt smile.

"We might as well eat the food," she sighed in agreement.

Gage lifted up a bottle of wine and went for a bottle opener right away. He filled two juice glasses almost full and waited, holding the wine until Alice had taken off her coat. Then he handed it to her with a bow, and they clanged their glasses together. "Thank you for agreeing to have dinner with me," he said.

Alice was surprised to see his eyes fill with tears. Gage had on the saddest smile she had ever seen, "It'll be the first time I've accompanied a lady at dinner in over two years."

She didn't know what to say. Mickey had told her that Gage had been set up by the Company to take a fall and had spent two years in prison. It must have been awful for him. She sipped the wine, then helped empty the bags of food onto the table.

Once they sat down, Gage stared at her over the table for a moment. Alice saw his face crumple and tears flowed down his face. He looked profoundly embarrassed.

"Excuse me," he said and started to get up.

"Please don't leave, what's wrong?" she asked, "What's the matter?"

Harley stared at her, the tears flowing down his face, more tears coming. "God, it's just that you look so much like Julie," his voice choked, "My ex-fiancée."

"Oh, I'm so sorry." Alice felt her emotions brimming over.

Harley shook his head and gave a bitter smile, "Don't pay any attention to me." He took a deep shuddering breath, "I thought I was over this by now. She left me after the trial."

Her heart lurched. "Left you?"

"No, no, that's a terrible way to put it, I didn't mean that." He sighed. "Julie stuck by me through almost everything. She never wavered in her belief in me, that I was innocent of all the charges." He smiled at Alice through eyes filled with tears, "But when I was convicted with all that evidence, well who could think it was all manufactured, Julie was crushed." He let out another deep, long, shuddering breath, almost as if he could pull himself together with it. "I made her leave me when I was sentenced to twenty years in prison. I didn't want her to wait. I made her leave me."

Alice felt a lump of emotions in her throat, but she cleared her voice. "Maybe you two can get back together now that you've been given a full pardon?"

Harley smiled such a sad smile that Alice felt as if she would cry. He shook his head. "No, Julie went back home to her parents. About a year ago, I heard that she had married her high school sweetheart. He had waited all those years for her to return."

"Oh gee," Alice felt terrible for him.

"I had some research done. She's expecting their first child any day now." He picked up a paper napkin and dabbed at his eyes, "I don't want to ruin her happiness or the happiness of her new family. I didn't let her know I'm out." He covered his eyes with his hand, "and I never will. I want her to be happy. It's just so hard for me not to contact her. I'm such a selfish bastard. I miss her so much!"

Heart aching, Alice sat quietly while he got himself together.

"Sorry," he said, "I guess it's all been more upsetting than I thought. OK!" He wiped his eyes and smiled brightly again as he looked at the food, "Enough with my sob story, let's eat this wonderful food! Alice, drink some of the wine, it's delicious."

Alice sipped at the wine and began to serve the food out onto plates. She glanced at Harley a few times while they both began to eat.

Still loaded with raging hormones, Alice felt strange. She was going to have to rethink her first impression of Gage. It looked like her intuition was completely off lately. She had thought that Banks was at least a little sexually interested in her and now she saw how wrong she had been about that. Gage certainly was loyal and adamant about keeping Banks's good name healthy. His devotion to his friend was admirable. He also was considerate of the happiness of his ex-fiancée, even though it meant his own suffering.

What a great guy. Gage was growing on her.


Harley looked at the clock on the wall. He'd better get up. It'd been twenty minutes since Alice had left and he was still naked, sprawled on the couch where she'd left him.

He absentmindedly stroked his cock and got up to go to the toilet. Alice, although not as young as he liked them, had been a great lay. Almost ferocious in her needs. He chuckled as he washed his dick, balls and underarms. He had sized her up from the first moment he had seen her. Older chick, cop to boot, no husband, no attachments. She looked like she'd be a tiger in bed. Probably because guys were turned off by strong women, she was almost certainly stuck with doing herself and was as frustrated as he had been with the lonely joys of masturbation during the years he had spent behind bars.

He had been indoctrinated into the sex life in prison that first night – but it took seven of them to hold him down and ream him. After that, when all seven turned up with their throats cut or their necks broken, no one had bothered Harley Gage in the joint again. He had mostly kept his sex life between him and his right hand. The few times he had to act like a fudge packer, he did it only to reaffirm that he'd wipe the floor with any man who tried to screw with him. And even then, he had only ever been a pitcher, never making a guy go down on him.

As he dried himself off, he reminded himself to buy condoms. He knew he was clean, from prison medicals and he'd guessed that Alice was too, but it was stupid to risk VD and making unwanted little Harleys whenever he had chances for free pieces of ass.

He'd been out of the hole for a few weeks now, and had almost maxed out any credit he had by paying for hookers. Alice had only been the third free nookie since he'd gotten out.

He'd found out women were fine with giving it away, but it still took time and money and bothersome effort to get them to trust you enough to spread 'em. Harley just didn't have the patience to talk women out of their panties these days.

But Alice. Ahhhh, sweet Alice had been delivered to him on a platter, already wet and willing for someone to slip her one. She wanted Banks, but old Harley had sweet talked her into accepting a hot long Gage special!

He heard the front door open. In a second he heard Kostmayer's voice call out "Gage!"

He kept the towel in his hand and ambled, naked as a jaybird, into the living room.

Kostmayer and Banks both had their guns out and locked on him as he walked in. Then they both pointed their weapons up and away when they saw he was fine.

"What the hell is going on here?" Kostmayer growled, "The room looks like a tornado hit it."

Banks chuckled, "I thought I smelled poontang, and from the smug look on your face, Harley, looks like I was right?"

"What'd you do idiot? Did ya send out for it and have a hooker come here? We're supposed to keep this place secure!" Kostmayer looked around, his face set in disgust.

Harley chuckled, "I didn't have to send for it, but some was delivered. Don't sweat it Kostmayer, security is as tight as ever." He dropped the towel and looked around for his skivvies.

Banks nodded to a corner of the room, "Your shorts are over there, lover boy."

"What the hell are you talking about Gage?" Kostmayer went to the couch and looked at the mussed cushions, "If you had a hooker in here and security's been breached. I'll whack you myself."

Harley took his time picking up his pants to put them on. "No breach of security boy, get your knickers out of that twist. All that happened was that little Alice begged for old Harley's white rabbit to take a dive down her hole."

"Aww noooo," Banks exclaimed.

Kostmayer looked from man to man. "Gimme a break, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Come on, Kostmayer," Harley grinned, "It's true, Sergeant Alice had herself a good time riding on this Harley."

"Damn, I thought she had more class," Banks said.

"What? Alice? No! Fuck, I thought she had more taste than to even let you touch her," Mickey said.

Harley looked at Kostmayer. "Come on, you saying you never had a piece of that ass?"

"No, I work with her. I don't screw women I have to work with." Kostmayer growled, "It's policy." He shrugged, "OK, it's McCall's policy, but it's a good one."

Banks collapsed in a chair. "Damn it."

Harley made certain to keep an innocent look on his face. "What's with you Banks?"

"Damn, I was working on her myself, giving her the knowing stare, the extra smile of interest, looking deep into her baby blues," he shook his head, "I guess it's been too long since I had an American woman. I thought Alice would need me to put in more work in order for her to give it up."

"I guess you're out of practice with anyone but Third World women. Huh Drew?" Harley had tried to keep the smugness out of his voice. But he couldn't.

"Damn." Banks shook his head, "She would have been my first blonde in a decade. I was looking forward to her too."

Harley made his voice innocent. "Hey Banks, if I had known you were interested I would have put her off."

"Shit, I don't believe it," Kostmayer yelled, "Alice isn't the type to do this."

"If you've never had her, then you don't really know, do you?" Harley trumped him.

"Alice? Nawww," Kostmayer shook his head. "What went down?"

"Well," Harley found his shirt and slipped his arms into the sleeves but kept it open. He slumped down onto the couch where he and Alice had done the deed not a half hour ago. "She showed up with an Italian dinner for you Banks. When she saw you weren't here, and I was all alone, well, she didn't exactly weep with sorrow."

"Cut the crap Harley. What happened? I want details." Banks was staring at him, interested in every word.

Harley leaned back on the couch, happy to tell all. "She showed up here a couple hours ago with the food. You weren't here so we sat down to eat it." He grinned, "You know, I schmoozed her, complimented her, told her all about our exploits together."

Banks gave a low laugh, "Yeah, Like what?"

"Well, when we saved that group of school girls and delivered them to safety. She thought that was brave of us."

"School girls? Oh shit Gage, you mean the four prostitutes who needed to get to their next job, got lost in the jungle and we found them? Schoolgirls?"

"They were young," Harley shrugged.

"Right, in their teens, but you'd know more about that than me. I don't have a taste for prepubescent girls like you do."

"Harley has a taste for anything in a skirt," Kostmayer said.

His voice sounds a little bitter, Harley thought with a laugh..

"Jesus," Banks said, "I was really hoping to get together with Alice, she's right up my alley. Mature, intelligent and a hell of a brave woman."

"And white, for a change?" Harley laughed.

"Look Harley, my second wife's been gone for a year now. I haven't had any female company in all that time. In the tribe that I've been living with, all the unmarried females are under twelve years old, and like I said, I don't have a taste for little girls. Damn." Banks shook his head.

"Forget Alice," Gage said, "We have plans for another go round soon."

"I can't believe it," Kostmayer said, "Not Alice, she's a classy woman. Sheesh and not with someone like you, Gage."

"I might take offense at what you said," Gage smiled, "if I wasn't so sure that you're talking out of jealousy.'

"Damn," Banks sighed again, "She was just what I wanted."

"Forget it Banks, she's not your type. You've had a lifetime of small underfed Third World women. Alice is a big ol' corn fed American gal. You're used to small tits and Alice has two of them big jugs, you know? Big fat white ones, what they call them? Yeah, they call them pendulous breasts. Man, light pink nipples as big as nickels. Heavy, full mothers. She was on top of me one time, riding away, and those tits were bobbing around so fast and furious, I thought one of them would hit me and give me a black eye!"

Banks groaned, "Stop it Gage, you're killing me. I've been dreaming of getting my hands around those babies since I first saw her. OUCH!"

Harley leaned back and put his hands behind his head as he spoke. "Ahh, say what you will, there's a lot to recommend about older women. They're ones who know what to do, not like the young untried ones. Older woman may not have the tightest buns, but they know how to work a man to madness. Man oh man, Alice did everything but carry me to the couch. She gave me an A number one, first class blow job before she even stripped my pants off. Then she got me to attention again, right away, and rode me until my eyes rolled up into my head. A damn good lay that one is. She knows what a man likes – and likes it herself."

Harley laughed, satisfied with himself and his tale of conquest. Talking about nookie to your buddies was almost as pleasurable as getting some.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw that Kostmayer had gone over to the table and was sampling some of the food there. He then picked up the two empty bottles of wine.

"Jesus, this answers my question why Alice let you touch her. Both these bottles are empty."

Harley shrugged, "The lady was thirsty."

"The lady was drunk, you shit! What'd you do, get her loaded and then make her do what you wanted?"

"Drop it, Kostmayer, nobody forced anything on her. She did what she wanted to do all along."

"Yeah, right. Like I believe that. Did you let her leave here drunk?"

"What a woman does when she leaves me, isn't my concern. She's a big girl and can take care of herself." Harley laughed, "You're such a male chauvinist pig, Kostmayer."

"I'm a male chauvinist? Lying sack of crap. You're nothing but a bullshit artist Gage, you don't gave a damn about her at all as long as you got yours. Goddam it, if you let her drive drunk, I'll beat your ass." He nodded at Banks, "I'm gonna check that she got home ok. I'll be back by the time you have to leave for the courthouse in the morning." With that Kostmayer grabbed his coat and sailed out of the apartment.

"Sensitive boy, isn't he?" Harley chuckled.

"He cares about his friends, and worries about their well-being Harley. If Alice was drunk and driving… Kostmayer's a good man, there's nothing wrong with that."

Harley shrugged, "Guess not."

"Tell me," Banks leaned back in his chair, "Just so the question doesn't haunt me to my dying day, I gotta know. Was Alice as good in the sack as she seems she'd be. I'm damn disappointed, I have to tell you. I'm more than a little frustrated that you got to her first"

Without missing a beat Harley answered, "I had a two year deficit to make up, you know. Prison is hard on a man who only swings with woman."

Grimacing Banks cringed, "Don't bring that up to me. I'm worried that I'll have a forty year deficit if Congress wants to make an example of me."

Harley shook his head, "They won't. You've done too much for this country. You're a dyed in the wool hero. They wouldn't stick you behind bars for refusing to testify."

Banks shrugged, "It wouldn't be for using the fifth. No, it'll be for that 'Shadow Government' crap they're trying to sell. They might swing setting me behind Federal bars, politics you know. Half the men trying to put me away are too old to remember what it is to be on the line in combat and what it takes to get things done. They've forgotten that you have to do anything to obtain the objective. The other half are too damn young to have ever been in combat or to know what doing a job under fire entails."

Feeling his stomach turn over, Harley looked at Banks, "They wouldn't really put you away, not in the joint? Would they?"

Giving off a bitter laugh Banks nodded, "Well Harley my man, you know all about people working against you, conspiring to put you away in order to get their own agenda up and running."

He knew that well enough but never thought that Banks's freedom was on the line. He had the idea that his reputation was what Congress was after, nothing more. Prison in Drew's future? Regret overcame him. If he had even thought . . . "I kinda feel bad now"



Banks laughed. "Hey, that's the way it goes. She chose you Harley, no need for sympathy for me. I'll survive."

Oh gee, "Well, maybe I pushed her into my corner. A little."

Banks threw a hard expression at him. "What did you do?"

"I kinda put a spin on it, used my best lines and stories on her. She was here to get together with you and I was horny, so I threw water on the heat she had going for you and transferred it to me. You know how it's done. You see a woman hot for another guy, already creaming her pants, so you work it. I talked her into thinking I was just like you. Well, after I told her something that undercut her faith in her own judgment."

Banks banged his fist on a table. "Damn Harley, what'd you say?"

"What I usually say when I want desperately want a female to give up an another man. That you only had the urge for man meat."

"Bastard!" Banks growled.

Harley hurried to finish his sentence, "She had a yen for you, it was written all over her body. Hell, I also had to throw my best sob stories at her or else she would have just gone home disappointed. Sorry Banks. I didn't realize she might be your last pussy stop before the joint."

Harley watched Bank's face go from rage to regret. "I guess it's all for the best. Alice is a fine woman and it wouldn't be right to involve myself with her if I might go to prison."

"Damn, Banks, why'd you go all brave and courageous on me? I feel bad enough. Look why don't you just come out and tell Alice about your wives? She'll see I lied right away and then she's yours for the taking."

Banks sighed, "No, it's all for the best. You're here on the outside and have a chance for a future with her. I might be put away for God knows how long."

"Shit Banks. Who wants a future with her? Hell, she'd probably see through my lies the next time we meet and kick my ass to the curb. I used all my best stuff on her already."

"No, Har, sure as shooting, she'll hate you for lying to her and I don't want that on my conscience."

"Ha, if she's going to hate me, she had to take a number and get in line with all the other women in my life. One more angry female won't make a difference to me."

"No, it wouldn't be fair to her. And – "

"DREW! American women like Alice make their own minds up about screwing. If she wants you, then she'll take you, and will feel virtuous about the fact that she's the woman who'll give you a great sendoff if you have to go inside."

Banks smiled. "I don't know. Maybe." He sighed. "I think I'll wait for the hearing to be over. By then I'll know if I even have a future. That would be better for us both."

"But what if you're put away?"

Banks shrugged, "Then I'll deal with it."

"But you'd want that last taste of pussy," Harley was regretting the whole deal. Although Alice had been a great lay, he didn't like it that Drew might go without for years because of him.

"If I'm sent to jail for doing my duty, following orders and making sure I did what's right, defending the truth – I might not care much about life anymore, much less enjoying a little first class poontang."

Harley felt ill. A man had to be at the end of his rope not to care about poontang. He stared at Banks. Now he wished he hadn't gotten Alice. She would have been a nice going away gift for Banks.

Shit. One of these days he'd learn to curb his natural sexual charm for women.

One of these days.