On their wedding night, it was Denny who moved for consummation. In a way, this was not much of a surprise: considering that it was Denny, considering how much he enjoyed being outrageous, and considering the aggression and pervasiveness with which he pursued sex.

What was somewhat more of a surprise (or at least would have been up to season three) was that Alan quashed the motion. Although Denny's specific suggestions fell well within the comfort zone of Alan's own perversions, recently it had become more fun to pretend to fend off Denny.

There was a time he might have told himself that was to avoid taking sexual advantage of someone who has… (Alan could never voluntarily finish that thought.) But that would be like the ball claiming to dodge the bat for the bat's own good. More likely it was what his father had said when he applied to law school: that Alan only chose to pursue things that were patently beyond his reach.

Quite possibly true, Alan had conceded upon later rumination. Although the specific in question then would have been neither the diploma nor the career in law, but rather his father's admiration and respect.

Between leaving for the Supreme Court and the return from Nimmo Bay, it had been almost a 24 hours day. Neither of them having the inclination to start off their marriage with a squabble over such a pedestrian issue as sex, Alan distracted Denny with some patter about firearms: the one issue that potentially excited Denny even more than sex. Eventually they settled for a brief soak in Alan's in-suite Jacuzzi--with gardenia bath salts--before popping into matching striped pajamas and their respective sides of the bed.

Nevertheless, two hours later, Denny awoke Alan with a nudge.

"Alan, I want to see it. Pull it out." Denny elbowed him again.

As an intellectual fact, Alan knew that the elderly required less sleep, yet it kept slipping his mind that that should apply to Denny until each sleepover five AM.

"Go to back to sleep." Alan rolled over to face the wall.

"Come on. You show me yours, I'll show you mine."

Alan pulled the covers over his head. A schoolyard game and 'the elderly' were a most dissonant mix.

"It's my wedding night, and I deserve it. I want it now, Alan. I want to feel it. Get to know it. Hold it in my hand." Denny flopped out his palm like bleached, white hot-dog bun.

"Your wedding night ended five hours ago." Alan observed. "Maybe in the morning." Appeasement hadn't worked for Chamberlain, but what the hell, it was worth a try when there wasn't all that much to lose. "Now let me get some sleep. One of us still has to work." Alan thought the jab might be enough to let Denny know he meant it.

"I'll divorce you for alienation of affection," Denny warned.

"Alien or not, you have my affection and you know it."

"It's community property. What was yours is mine." Like a bulldog, the more tenacious the harder one tried to yank a toy away, Denny tugged at Alan's waistband.

Alan squirmed to the side. "You have lots. Let me sleep."

"I want yours," Denny said. "Pull it out. You don't have to do anything. Just lie there and think of Boston. Tell me where it is."

"Denny, playing with firearms in the dark while undoubtedly still slightly tipsy is not the best idea you've ever had."

"I can think of worse. Lots worse." Now Denny had the covers lifted and was blowing morning breath in Alan's face.

That was all too true. Alan gave it up. "In the safe. The combination is Shirley's birthday."

Denny scampered over and within thirty seconds had was sitting cross-legged with the pistol in his silk-striped lap.

Despite himself, Alan was nearly wide awake, and he sat up in bed. Unbelievable. Although he couldn't remember to put on underwear, Shirley's birthday was at Denny's mental command.

"Nice." Denny turned the piece over in his hands. "A police special." He caressed it like a lover and an unexpected pang of jealousy tweaked at Alan's heart.

"It's courtesy of a client who will no longer be needing it."

"You lose?"

"I kept him out of jail. His job and license went with the plea. All things considered, we chalked that up as a win."

"You should have called me. He'd still be out there to protect and serve." Denny cocked the gun and pretended to fire at the TV screen.

"I find that an exceptionally unreassuringly thought."

"So did this baby kill someone?"

Denny looked like he wanted to either eat it or mate with it. Alan wondered if Denny even knew which.

"That would have been a matter for the jury, had it gone that far."

"Oooh!" Denny's eyes flew wide. He stiffened, then went limp.

"I think I can sleep now," he said. He put the .38 in its case and locked the safe.

Instead of lying down, he lit a cigar. The mellow Russian ones he preferred after sex.

"Oh no! Alan bolted upright. "You're not going to do that in bed!"

"Actually, I did it while I was sitting on the floor," said Denny mildly. "But at my age there's not much volume. I don't think it'll get on the sheets."

"Uggh." That mental picture was singularly unappealing, but Alan had always believed that true love was in spite of, not because.

Clearly, this must be the truest of loves.

"I could sleep in the other room," Denny said.

"No. Just, for God's sake, put out that cigar. If I'm destined to end up burning in flames--and I certainly concede that very well might be the case--I intend to make it worth my while and not anything as commonplace as the smoking in bed variety."

Denny set the cigar in the middle of the ashtray and turned out the light. At the window, the sky was morphing from cityscape black to a tentative grey. Dawn would be breaking soon.

"Alan, I'm really glad I married you."

Alan left a pause for effect more than any faux suspense. "Me too," he said when the time was right.