A HUNTING WE WILL GO
A/N: Once again, I find myself writing a trilogy. When I began "Trapped", I never envisaged where it would lead. Now, for anyone looking at this, if you haven't already read through "Trapped" and "A Small World", I strongly suggest you do so before starting this one. Otherwise, there is a fair bit that might not make sense. I won't lay out lengthy explanations here. All questions are answered in the two preceding stories.
Dedication: For Elliot, because he asked for it. Read into that what you will.
Disclaimer: The usual.
Rating: T, for now. It may change later, because I have some inkling of where the muse wants to take this.
Summary: Three men, a remote cabin, surrounded by nature. What could possibly go wrong...?
He fell forever. At least, it felt like he did. He supposed, later on, that the fall really only lasted a few seconds at the most, but it felt like forever.
Everything seemed to slow to a crawl, like the slow motion footage you often saw in the movies. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he though heard someone shouting, and it amazed him that he even had time to process that information.
He felt branches whipping against his face, arms, legs, chest; and at some point his mind registered pain as his head struck something hard and unyielding. It didn’t knock him out, though he saw stars that blinded him momentarily.
His body hit solid ground almost before he was aware of it, but there was no further pain. Instead, a cold numbness spread rapidly through his body, from the top of his head down to his very toes. He tried to breathe in, only to get a lungful of dirty water that sent him into a violent choking fit, and in the midst of that dirty water, he tasted coppery blood.
His fingers twitched slightly. That was all the movement he could manage, and even that was involuntary.
Distantly, he heard voices shouting again, but the words made no sense to him. It was all just a jumble, and he had no strength to even try to make sense of any of it. All he knew was that cold numbness that was quickly enveloping his entire body.
Darkness closed in, and the last thought that passed through his mind as it overtook him completely was a single name.
Two weeks previous
“That is not the look of a happy man.”
Mike Logan looked around at the new voice that resonated immediately behind him, only to scowl and return his attention to the Scotch on the bar in front of him. It was the same glass he'd been served upong arrival at the bar, and it still sat untouched in front of him, waiting for him to take his first sip.
“Don't you have someone else to bother, Stabler?”
Special Victims Unit detective Elliot Stabler couldn't resist a smirk as he settled onto the barstool beside Mike.
“I will in half an hour, when Olivia, Munch and Fin arrive. Until then? You're it, Logan.”
“Go to hell.”
“Lighten up, Logan. Have a drink, why don't you?”
Mike let out a frustrated snort, and started to turn away. Elliot chuckled, and caught him by the shoulder.
“I'm kidding, Mike. C'mon, finish that off, and I'll buy you a Whiskey.”
At that, Mike grimaced.
“No, thanks. I don't drink Whiskey.”
“Since when?” Elliot retorted. When Mike didn't answer, Elliot shrugged. “Fine. I'll buy whatever you're drinking.”
He started to signal for the barman, but Mike caught his wrist to stop him.
“I don't want another drink. I just want to be left alone. Seriously, Stabler. Do you mind?”
Elliot hesitated, all banter fading from his features as he finally sensed that something really was bothering Mike.
“Problems with the new captain?” he asked quietly. “Word is he's kind of a tight-ass. Uh... Old school, I think was the exact phrase I heard.”
Mike scowled into his glass.
“That's not it. I'm okay with the new captain. Well, so far, anyway.”
“Hm. You're lucky, then. We hear Goren's having all sorts of problems with him.” He paused, and then added under his breath, “Hardly a surprise there, either, with a freakshow like that...”
Mike looked around sharply at Elliot.
“Why don't you take yourself right the hell out of this bar, before I take exception to your presence, and decide to knock all your damn teeth out?”
Elliot held his hands up defensively.
“Hey, take it easy, Mike. No harm meant. I was just offering a sympathetic ear. That's all.”
“Sure. Next time, don't bother. Not if you're only going to bad-mouth Bobby. He doesn't deserve it.”
Elliot blinked in astonishment at Mike's vehement defense of Bobby. Like everyone else in his squad, he knew that Mike and Bobby had gone through some fairly intense situations together in recent months... Hell, just about the entire NYPD knew how Mike and Bobby had been trapped together in a condemned building, and how they had barely survived. Even so, it still surprised Elliot that someone like Mike Logan was so willing to jump to the defense of someone like Bobby Goren. He couldn't imagine two men who were more different in their personalities than those two.
“Sorry,” Elliot murmured, sensing it was time to back off, and apologise. He'd had been a difficult week himself, and had no wish to finish it off by getting into a fight with a fellow cop. “That was a dumb-ass thing to say, and I didn't mean it.”
Mike sighed, then, and slumped back against the bar.
“Sorry. I didn't mean to snap, but I get fed up listening to people having a go at Bobby, when they've got no right. Who gives a damn if his methods are unorthodox? He gets the job done, and he's got one of the best solve rates in the NYPD.”
“New captain making it hard on him, huh?” Elliot guessed. Mike nodded.
“Yeah. I don't know that it's that he doesn't like Bobby as much as he doesn't seem to know how to take him. And man, he likes to be hands-on with our cases.” Mike sighed and shook his head. “It's just been a hard couple of months. And, what with having to break in a new partner...”
“Yeah, how's that going?” Elliot asked, grateful for an opportunity to shift subjects. Mike grunted in reply.
“I suppose she's okay... Pretty green, though.”
“She's not Carolyn,” Elliot said simply, and Mike grunted again, finally picking up his glass and taking a sip.
“Tell me about it.”
Elliot glanced around at the sound of the door opening, to see his colleagues had just entered the bar.
“Listen, why don't you come and join us? A little bit of company wouldn't go astray. You can get drunk and bitch about your new captain and your new partner all you like, and I promise it won't go any further.”
A small smile touched Mike's lips.
“Thanks, but I'll pass. I'm just waiting for someone, and then we're going somewhere else.”
“Someone else, as in someone of the female persuasion?” Elliot wondered with a grin. Mike chuckled at that.
“Hardly. Actually, I'm waiting for my brother.”
Once again, Elliot was caught completely by surprise. He had to admit, he didn't know all that much about Mike Logan, but he was sure he'd never heard anything about him having siblings.
“Yeah, Stabler. My brother.”
“Sorry, man. I didn't know you had a brother.”
At that, Mike couldn't resist a smirk. It was, perhaps, one of the best kept secrets in the NYPD, that he and Bobby were brothers. Not even the new captain knew about it yet. Indeed, now that Carolyn Barek had moved on to a new assignment, Alex Eames was the only other person in the Major Case Squad who knew the truth.
Outside the squad, in addition to Carolyn, the only ones who knew were Mack Taylor, from CSU; their recently retired captain, Jimmy Deakins, and his wife Angie; and Horatio Caine, from the Miami Dade Crime Lab. Outside of that select group, no one else knew.
It wasn't that he and Bobby were deliberately trying to keep it secret. They just hadn't seen a need to advertise it to everyone in the NYPD. Of course, once word got out, Mike had no doubt it would spread very quickly, and a not-so-small part of his dreaded what would happen when their new captain found out.
From the moment he'd started as the new captain of Major Case, Ross's mantra had been 'keep me in the loop', and in this instance both he and Bobby had most certainly not done that. They'd discussed it before Ross started, and had decided between themselves that it was their own business, and not something they should be compelled to disclose. Ross might not see it that way when he found out, but the bottom line was that they were not under any specific obligation to tell him.
“Something funny you want to share?” Elliot asked in bemusement, his voice breaking effectively into Mike's contemplation. Mike smiled and shook his head.
“No, it's fine. Sorry. Just... musing. You go, join your friends. My brother won't be long.”
“Okay, if you say so. But if you change your mind, we're right over there. Your brother's welcome to join us too, if he wants.”
To Elliot's puzzlement, Mike's smile widened.
“We'll pass. Thanks.”
Mike watched as Elliot headed off to join his fellow SVU colleagues. It wasn't that he didn't want to accept the invitation, but he knew damned well that the last thing Elliot and his buddies would want would be for Bobby to join them. Damned if he was going to put Bobby into a position like that, where he would be left feeling uncomfortable, and out of place.
He heard the door open again, and knew without looking that Bobby had arrived. He could tell from the way a very brief moment of silence fell over the bar, before conversations resumed. A grimaced flickered across his lips. Six months ago, he wouldn't have noticed such a thing, and wouldn't have cared if he had. But now, he did notice, and it seriously pissed him off.
There was movement beside him, and he finally looked to see Bobby had seated himself on the barstool that Elliot had vacated only a couple of minutes before.
“Hey,” Mike murmured, and Bobby nodded in wordless greeting. Mike hesitated only a moment before asking the question that had been weighing on his mind all evening. “How's she doing?”
“She's more settled now,” Bobby answered quietly, without hesitation. “She's still not happy about it all, but she's starting to accept the treatment. She, uh... She asked when you were coming to see her.”
“I'll go see her on Saturday,” Mike promised. “I would've gone with you tonight, but Ross wanted those damned reports before I left.”
“It's okay,” Bobby reassured him. “I told her you'd be up there to see her when you could. Um... Did you talk to Alex?”
“Yeah. She's not pissed at you, pal, so much as disappointed. You've gotta try talking to her more, Bobby.”
Bobby sighed and rubbed a hand over his face.
“I know. I admit it, I'm an idiot. But I was just fed up with everything, and I wanted to get out of there before I blew up at someone. Particularly, Alex.”
“Fine, I get that. But telling Ross he can fire you? What the hell were you thinking? You know, you almost didn't have a partner to come back to, because you damn near gave Alex a heart attack! Idiot.”
“I didn't mean it, Mike.”
“Maybe not. Lucky for you, Ross seemed to understand that. Last I heard, he was on the phone to Deakins, asking about the best way to deal with you. But be aware that he's still gonna chew you out when you go back in to work tomorrow.”
“I'm not worried about Ross. I'm worried about Alex.”
“Yeah, well, don't be. I said I'd talk to her, and I did. Just make sure you have coffee and pastries for her tomorrow morning. And when I say coffee, I mean the good stuff.”
A weary smile flickered across Bobby's face.
“No problem. Maybe you can do me a favour in the near future, and give my partner a few lessons in partnership protocol. I swear, you'd think she was twelve sometimes. Doesn't know a goddamn thing...”
Bobby raised an eyebrow in amusement.
“Don't tell me you're still sore about the fight with the FDNY? That was your own fault, Mikey.”
“Bite me, Robert.”
“You're the one who insisted she'd done everything she could.”
“It's not that,” Mike grumbled. “Well... not just that. But... you know, Ross is her rabbi?”
“Mm, I'd heard.”
“So how am I supposed to know that anything I say to her won't get back to him?”
“You want her to prove to you that you can trust her?” Bobby asked. “Maybe you need to show her that she can trust you.”
Mike looked away, scowling.
“You're not helping.”
“Sorry, but this is something you've got to figure out for yourself.”
Shaking his head, Mike slid off the stool.
“C'mon, let's get outta here. I need coffee.”
“How many drinks have you had?”
Bobby smiled wryly.
“No reason. Lead the way.”
Throwing Bobby a weary look, Mike led the way out of the bar.
“Something got your interest?” Olivia Benson asked with a wry smile as she noticed Elliot's attention elsewhere. He nodded towards the bar.
“Isn't that Bobby Goren, over there with Mike Logan?”
“It is,” Fin confirmed. Elliot frowned and continued to watch as the two men talked at the bar for a couple of minutes before finally leaving together.
“Problem?” Olivia wondered.
“No,” Elliot said, though the frown remained on his face. “But... Logan said he was waiting for his brother. Why the hell is he leaving with Goren?”
“Brother?” Munch echoed, his head coming up at Elliot's words. “Logan doesn't have a brother.”
“According to him, he does,” Elliot answered. “He told me he was waiting for his brother, but it was Goren that he... left... No way...”
Fin snorted derisively. “I hope you're not suggesting that Goren and Logan are brothers. Because if you are, then I'd be inclined to suggest you should be going home to sleep, and not sitting here drinking with us.”
“Seriously, Elliot, they don't even look alike,” Olivia pointed out in amusement. “Just forget about it. When Logan said he was meeting his brother, he probably just meant a brother cop.”
Elliot conceded with reluctance, his eyes still fixed on the door through which Bobby and Mike had exited only a minute before.
“Maybe,” he murmured, but the tone of his voice told them all that he didn't really believe it.
“By the way, I was talking to Stabler before you arrived,” Mike remarked as he and Bobby walked up the street. “I might have mentioned that I was waiting for my brother.”
Bobby raised an eyebrow, and smiled faintly.
“Elliot Stabler? From the Special Victims' Unit?”
“The one and only.”
“And you told him that you were waiting for your brother.”
“And then I turned up.”
Mike couldn't help smirking.
“So... basically, what you're saying is that the fact that we're brothers will probably be all around the NYPD within forty-eight hours.”
“Try twenty-four,” Mike corrected him. “Just be ready for the explosion from Ross.”
Bobby nodded amicably.
“Fine. Just don't even think about leaving me to deal with that on my own. He doesn't like me as it is. I don't need him thinking I've been deliberately keeping secrets from him.”
Mike laughed softly, and clapped Bobby reassuringly on the shoulder.
“Relax, Bobby. You know I'll back you up. And it's not that Ross doesn't like you... He just doesn't know what to do with you.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
Mike laughed again at his brother's predicament.
“What can I say? This is something you have to figure out for yourself.”
“Hilarious, Mikey,” Bobby grumbled. “C'mon, move your ass. That one drink is starting to affect your brain.”
Mike smirked, but opted for silence as he followed off down the street.
“I'm telling you, it's a good idea!”
It was Mike's turn to frown as, a half hour later, the two brothers sat in an all-night coffee shop talking quietly.
“Bobby, I told you already. I don't like camping. All that nature... If you want to get away for a while, what's wrong with booking a hotel room in Vegas, or maybe Reno?”
“It's not the camping you don't like,” Bobby retorted. “It's the memories from that case, and I told you that I'd show you what poison ivy looks like. Besides, it won't be genuine camping out, like in a tent. Captain Deakins offered us the use of his cabin up in the Catskills. It's fitted out with all the luxuries, including cable... if you really don't want to go outside.”
“What about LA? We could go to Disneyland...”
“I just don't like camping!” Mike protested. “I don't care if it's in a cabin or not. Being that far away from any form of civilisation is not a good thing. Didn't you ever see Deliverance? Do you want to end up like Burt Reynolds?”
“Burt Reynolds?” Bobby echoed incredulously.
“Or any of them!” Mike argued, and Bobby couldn't resist a smirk.
“You're seriously worried we might run into homicidal backwoods mountain men?”
“Anything's possible,” Mike grumbled. A weary sigh escaped Bobby.
“Mike, that whole movie was a metaphor. There was no one after them. After that initial incident, they let their paranoia take over, to the point where they killed a completely innocent man. That's what Deliverance is really about. The consequences of letting paranoia and irrationality take over, and failing to think calmly and logically.”
“Whatever,” Mike muttered. “It's still a lousy idea.”
“We agreed,” Bobby reminded him. “This was my choice. It'll be your choice next time, and if you really want to go to Las Vegas, or Reno... or even Disneyland, then that's where we'll go. But this time, it's Deakins cabin in the Catskills.”
“You're really not going to change your mind, are you?” Mike asked sourly, and Bobby couldn't resist a grin.
“Sorry, Mike, but no.”
“You're not sorry,” Mike retorted as he down the last of his coffee. “You just want to see me suffer. Go on, admit it.”
“No, I want to show you that it can actually be fun to get back to nature,” Bobby corrected him lightly.
“Fine,” Mike groused. “But you can tell the captain we want the time off.”
Bobby grimaced at that.
“Thanks a lot, Mike.”
Mike grinned at him unapologetically.
“You're welcome, baby brother.”
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