Y'all. I'm back. Who knows for how long... but Cracker Jack's review was pretty much the saddest thing I've read all week, so... you win! Black is back. It was never over. Thanks for sticking with it, if any of you are still out there ;) . Enjoy...

James was really getting tired of the smell of chloroform. The pull of duct-tape against his skin was losing its appeal too. If he was being totally honest with himself, the whole kidnapping thing was really not at all as exciting when you were the person being kidnapped. He'd have to keep that in mind in the future!

No wonder Black... dear God, James couldn't get over that. What a name. No wonder "Christopher" was always so upset when James bound and gagged him and tossed him in the trunk- it really wasn't comfortable at all. In fact, it was smothering, and James's eyes were beginning to water from the dust.

He pressed the pads of his fingers together and arched, stretching the fiber of the tape that bound his wrists. Something tore. Too easy.

James wiggled a hand free, ripped the tape off his mouth, and gagged at the rush of musty air down his throat. In about thirty seconds he had worked his arms and legs free. Turning himself in the cramped trunk was more difficult, but he took the time to search his pockets for a tracking device. Empty.

With a shrug, he pulled his leg back to his chest, and kicked out sharply at the tail light. The metal rang back at him, and he froze. The car began to slow. James knew that his captors were likely looking back towards the trunk, so he lay still, bringing his arms and legs back together in the feeble hope that the duct tape had remained somewhat intact. Then the car picked up again. His banging had been covered by the quiet hum of a motorcycle engine in the distance.

James gave it one more minute, just to be safe.

A second kick shattered the light- he shoved his arm through the opening, popped the trunk, and pushed up with his shoulders.

The sudden braking of the car sent James flying out into the street, and he scraped across the asphalt. His head slammed against the divider.

Shadows appeared at the edges of his vision, and he watched, pleased by the effect, as sparks of light danced in front of his eyes. They were on a deserted road, surrounded by fields. Very pastoral. Ahead, he saw the doors of the car thrown open, and two figures lurched out of the front and started towards him. His head dropped down. Well, he certainly deserved an A for effort. He really should have thought his escape through. Chloroform was, sadly, definitely more effective than he'd realized. Black always seemed to wake up after only a couple of minutes, just in time to foil his latest plot.

No, not Black. Christopher? Christopher... He wondered what Christopher would do without him. James couldn't deny that he hoped there wouldn't be another enemy to match him. They really had worked well together, and there was a part of him, a quiet voice in the back of his head, that wanted Christopher to have no other equal.

As his consciousness slipped away, James heard a gun ring out twice, and darkness descended. He breathed out. He was gone.

Christopher slid off his motorcycle, leaning it against the divider. His nostrils filled with the coppery scent of fresh blood as he pulled off his helmet. He couldn't help the slight shudder that ran through his body as the syrupy liquid pooled around his shoes, coagulating in the sun. White had made it a surprising distance from the car, if the smears of brown that dotted the roadway matched the gaping tear in that pristine coat, or the still-bleeding collection of deep scrapes that it revealed.

Edging closer, Christopher kneeled down beside him. His hands were gentle. With careful motions, he wrapped an arm around White's torso, turning him over onto his back.

He was rewarded with a quiet gasp of pain.

"Wake up, buttercup," Christopher smirked, sitting back on his heels. White's eyelids fluttered.

One hand clenched and unclenched, and Christopher realized he hadn't thought to check whether his adversary was armed. If, at this point, they were still adversaries. No! No. Of course they were. They always had been, nothing had changed. It would have been... ungentlemanly, really, to kill him, laying there helpless on the roadside. Unconscious, likely drugged. That was the opposite of sporting.

"Wha?" White slurred, blinking lazily up at him. Christopher's smile split his face, and he moved quickly to hide it, covering himself with a derisive chuckle.

"Couldn't even save yourself from a pair of low-level goons? You really have gone soft, White."

The man was silent for a moment. Then a soft smirk appeared on his blood-spattered face. "...n' you?"

Christopher raised his eyebrows. "Does it look like they gave me much trouble? Two shots, two dead goons. You do the math."

"Mn... I meant here. Or have you just been... waiting for me to wake up?"

Christopher swallowed. "It wouldn't really be a challenge to kill you at this point, you're so far gone."

Metal flashed, and before he could even finish mentally cursing his own name, White was holding Christopher's own gun to his forehead. White grinned.

"I could say the same to you." Then his smile faltered. He flicked the safety back on, and set the gun on the ground, lying back against the roadway. "Well, as you can see, I'm not out of the running yet."

Christopher stared. His mouth could have been hanging open, he wasn't quite sure.

"Go ahead then," White mumbled, gesturing towards the gun. "Finish me off."

Christopher made no move to pick the weapon up. "Any idea who they were working for?"

White shook his head.

Christopher picked up the gun, dusted it off, and slid it back into his jacket. "Me neither. Get up, then."

White arched an eyebrow. "So I owe you now?"

Christopher smiled. "No- we're even. Everything's back to normal." He did his best to ignore White's scoff. "We've just got a common interest."

"I suppose we have," White acquiesced, "Christopher."

Christopher extended a hand. "Pleasure to meet you... Sir."


"Pleasure to meet you, James," Christopher replied, and James took his hand.

"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

THANKS FOR READING! So... this fic was always intended to be slash. This should be a satisfactory conclusion to the short story if you're not into that! The future plotline takes a turn for the mildly romantic. That said, anyone that's still reading after... years... (or is just starting this fic!) deserves everything they want in life, so if you're really opposed to that, let me know in the comments, and I can continue platonic adventures for a couple of chapters before splitting off into a new fic!