Kudos: Many thanks to my excellent beta Lou, for the eagle eyed spotting of typos.
Notes: This bunny has been languishing in my bunny book for all of this year, in fact ever since I noticed that Curtis was going oh so sexily grey in Phoenix (the first time I saw it) and the impetus finally came when I discovered my first grey hair just before Christmas.
Sam was so firmly involved in reading up on the latest developments in Bosnia that it took him a while to realise that Chris was staring at him.
Five minutes later, Chris was still staring. He put the file down with a sigh. "Chris, what's wrong?"
The look he gave his partner was doubtful to say the least. "Uh huh. So why are you staring at me?"
Chris flushed and glanced down at the file lying open and ignored in his lap. "I'm not." Sam watched him for a long moment, but let the obvious falsehood slide. Whatever was bothering his partner, Chris was far too impatient to let it fester for long. Sooner or later, and probably sooner knowing Chris, he'd spill. And Sam would be waiting when he did. If there was one thing that Sam Curtis was good at, it was waiting. He'd had a lot of practice. Of course, waiting didn't always result in getting what you were waiting for.
He stifled a sigh and, with an effort, dismissed such maudlin thoughts from his mind.
It took all of two minutes until Chris was staring at him again. It was rather difficult to ignore since Chris was only about a foot away. Sam was fully prepared to admit that his living room wasn't quite as spacious as his partner's flat but even so there was enough room for both the sofa he was reclining on and a couple of armchairs, neither of which was occupied by the American. That, he thought wryly, would be too easy. No, Chris appeared to prefer sitting on the floor rather than on something actually designed for sitting on. Yet another of his partner's many foibles. Like staring at him.
"Do I have something caught between my teeth?"
Chris blinked slowly. "No."
Very informative. He let out a long breath. "So, why are you staring at me? I'm getting a little paranoid here, Keel."
"I'm not staring."
This time Chris didn't flush or look away but continued... staring at him. There really was no other word for the frank appraisal he was giving Sam and Sam shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
"Do you know you're going grey?"
He blinked and then coloured. "Yes, I know I'm going grey but thank you for pointing that out anyway," he snapped. He knew his response wasn't particularly gracious but Chris had hit upon a rather sore point. It wasn't that he minded going grey per se, it was inevitable given his dark colouring, but the other implications of growing older weren't ones he was particularly comfortable with. Losing his edge. Slowing down. Not being up to being a CI5 agent. Getting his backside kicked instead of kicking other people's.
Chris didn't seem at all put out by his show of bad temper. Instead he gave another of those long, slow blinks he appeared to be specialising in at the moment and continued his slow perusal of his partner. "I like it," he announced suddenly.
"I like it. You know, it's kind of... distinguished."
God save him from his partner's attempts at 'tactful'. 'Tactful' was not a particular forte of Chris'.
Unfortunately, God wasn't listening.
"You know, kinda sexy..."
Maybe that should be fortunately God wasn't listening...
It was back to his turn at blinking, like a surreal tennis match, batting surprise back and forth. His partner thought his grey hairs were 'sexy'. He took time to process this thought but unfortunately his mouth didn't wait for his brain to finish analysing the statement before it decided to step into the breach.
"If you think grey hair is sexy you must think Malone is bloody irresistible then."
Thankfully his partner didn't take offence at either the statement or the tone it was delivered in, giving a throaty laugh that by rights should have been banned under any weapons treaty worth its salt.
"Malone's grey hairs are just... grey. Yours, however, are sexy."
There was that statement again and it wasn't any less surreal the second time around. Completely nonplussed he merely grunted and buried his head back in Bosnia.
"Like red speedos..."
Okay, Chris obviously wasn't going to let the matter drop and so he tried for facetious.
"You think about Malone in red speedos? I hate to disappoint you, Chris, but I don't believe that Malone wears red speedos. I don't believe he ever has in his entire life. And I really worry about you if your imagination can conjure that image up."
Another one of those should-be-banned-if-life-was-fair laughs. "You can be reassured as to my sanity. I've never thought of Malone in speedos, red or otherwise."
"Well, that's a relief."
Chris gave Sam a long, slow and distinctly amused look. "It wasn't Malone I was imagining."
"Not in red speedos." Chris paused a beat before adding, "Or fatigues come to that."
Fatigues? This just wasn't fair. By rights it should be Chris' turn to blink in confusion and here he was instead, blinking yet again while Chris merely watched him with an irritatingly smug smile on his face. While he was on the subject, those dimples should be banned too.
"Fatigues?" he ventured cautiously, wondering how the hell fatigues figured in anyone's equation.
"Hmm mm. And I've definitely never considered him in deep red shirts or loose grey sweaters. Or tight jeans."
Reality had obviously checked out of his flat for the duration of this particular conversation.
"You've never considered Malone in any of those?"
"And why, precisely, should this reassure me of your sanity?"
Chris treated him to another blast of those dimples. "Because I think they're sexy too."
Blink. "Like red speedos?" he asked slowly, wondering if it was too late to completely scrap this conversation and talk about something considerably less complex. Like the current situation in the former Yugoslavia.
"Yep," Chris agreed cheerfully. "And grey hair."
Back to the grey hair. He opened his mouth again, probably to come out with some snappish and borderline inane comment, but Chris then did something that completely short circuited his brain. His partner reached up and stroked gentle fingers through his hair, just behind his ear, all the while giving him an intense look that reached more parts than a pint of Heineken.
"Hair like dark silk..." Chris added softly, rolling the words around in his mouth as though savouring something sweet.
He was drowning, pinned by that gaze. His partner leant infinitesimally closer, such a subtle move that Sam was left wondering if he'd imagined it.
"And green eyes..."
Blue, he thought dazedly but he couldn't vocalise the thought. There was definitely something swirling around in his mind about blue eyes and sexy...
"Did I mention that I find green eyes incredibly sexy?"
He finally found his voice, managing a strangled, "No."
That smile deepened mysteriously. "Well," Chris breathed. "I do."
"Oh..." The sound and the thought accompanying it were abruptly cut off when a mobile yet firm mouth settled over his and he was lost.
It appeared that the old adage was true - good things come to those that wait.
Suddenly, growing older didn't seem quite so bad.
Summary: Chris notices something about his partner and comments on it.