A HUNTING WE WILL GO
A week later
Elliot Stabler paused in the door of the bar, blinking at the sudden feeling of dejavu that he was experiencing. Here it was, another Friday night, the same bar, and there was Mike Logan at the bar once more, like some bizarre, hulking fixture.
Shaking off his surprise, and letting curiosity take over – he was still in the dark over Mike’s strange remarks the previous week about his brother – Elliot made his way over to join Mike at the bar.
“You know, if I hadn’t actually seen you leave this place last week, I’d think you were becoming a permanent fixture. And damn, Logan, you’re even wearing the same suit!”
Mike didn’t bother looking up from his drink, although Elliot couldn’t miss the smile that quirked his lips.
“If I didn’t know any better, Stabler, I’d think you were stalking me. And for the record, I’ve got two of these suits.”
“Why am I not surprised?”
“Screw you, Stabler.”
Elliot laughed, then. It was blatantly obvious that Mike was in a markedly better mood tonight. He wondered whether he was in a good enough mood to risk raising the question that had been hanging in his mind all week.
“Is there something on your mind, Stabler?” Mike asked suddenly, startling Elliot back to reality. “Or do you just like staring at other men? ’Cause if you do, you’re in the wrong bar.”
“I could deck you for that,” Elliot remarked amiably as he signalled the barman and ordered a drink for himself. Mike snorted into his drink.
“Except, you’re perfectly comfortable with your sexuality, and don’t feel the least bit threatened by my insinuation. You want to hurry up and say what you want to say? I’m busy.”
“Oh, yeah,” Elliot agreed, his voice heavily laced with sarcasm. “And you look it, too. Here to meet your brother again, are you?”
He didn’t intend for the question to sound accusatory, but that was how it came out regardless. Elliot braced himself in anticipation of some form of rebuke and he was surprised when, instead of snapping, Mike chuckled and swung around on the barstool to face him properly.
“Has that been bugging you all week, Stabler?”
The amusement in Mike’s features only served to raise Elliot’s levels of irritation, and he found himself biting back in growing aggravation.
“It hasn’t been bugging me, Logan. I was just curious. Last I checked, that wasn’t a felony.”
Mike’s grin widened.
“Let me guess. You want to know why, when I told you I was meeting my brother, I then left with Bobby Goren. Right?”
All he got in answer was an annoyed grunt, and he laughed softly.
“What do you think it mean, Stabler?”
Elliot looked sharply at Mike. The other detective was enjoying stringing him along way too much. Glowering, he picked up the drink that had been set in front of him, and stepped away from the bar.
“Why don’t you go to hell, Logan? I don’t give a damn about your petty little secrets. I was just trying to friendly.”
Again, Mike laughed, not the least bit thrown by Elliot’s deteriorating mood.
“I’m sorry. Come back. Look, you want to know the truth? When I said I was waiting for my brother, I was talking about Bobby.”
Elliot nodded, returning to the bar.
“So Olivia was right. You meant you were waiting for a brother cop.”
Mike raised an eyebrow slightly and, if anything, the amused look on his face increased.
“No… I meant I was waiting for my brother.”
Elliot froze, the glass halfway to his lips. After a moment, he lowered back to the counter.
“You… and Bobby Goren? No fucking way…”
It was said a little louder than necessary, and nearby a few conversations halted for a moment and several pairs of eyes turned towards them. Mike threw a threatening glare in their general direction before returning his attention to Elliot.
“Thanks a lot, Stabler. This time tomorrow, it’ll be all around the NYPD that we’re lovers.”
Elliot couldn’t quite contain a smirk. That was one rumour that would have interesting repercussions.
“Yeah. Sure you are. Asshole.”
There was no acrimony in his words, and Elliot chuckled softly as they came back to the original topic of conversation.
“So… You’re seriously telling me that you and Goren are brothers?”
Elliot sat there in silence, trying to decide what he could say that wouldn’t result in a fist to his face. Finally, Mike gave in and decided to cut his fellow detective a break.
“Look, we found out after that thing that happened about ten months ago, when Bobby and I were trapped in that building together. One of Mack Taylor’s little protégés ran a DNA comparison on our blood work by mistake when they were analysing the evidence from the car that we were transported in. Taylor gave the results to Deakins, and he decided we had a right to know. So he told us.”
“So…” Elliot mused. “Mother? Father?”
“My father, and Bobby’s mother.”
“That’s freaky, Logan. You’re blood-related to that head-case…”
A moment later, he grunted in pain as Mike’s hand slid across his shoulders, and locked onto the back of his neck in a vice-like grip. When he spoke, it was in a deceptively friendly tone that belied the threatening strength in Mike’s grip on his neck.
“Bobby’s not a head-case, Elliot. He’s just really, really smart. He’s also my little brother, so don’t ever disrespect him in front of me again, okay?”
Elliot gasped as Mike finally released his grip on him, and went back to nursing his drink as though nothing had happened.
“Damn, Logan,” he muttered, gingerly rubbing the back of his neck. “A bit over-protective, aren’t you?”
“Maybe, but like I said. He’s my little brother, and he’s never had anyone to stand up for him before. Let’s just say I’m doing my little bit to make up for lost time.”
“Tell me something. Does your new captain know?”
“Not yet,” Mike replied placidly.
“He’s gonna hit the roof when he does find out,” Elliot pointed out, and Mike smiled faintly. He and Bobby practically lived in anticipation of that explosion.
“Probably. But we haven’t done anything wrong. There’s no police against family members working in the same squad.”
Elliot grunted again as he sipped at his beer.
“Your captain might not see it that way, my friend.” He paused, and then asked wryly, “So, what, you two are best buddies now that you’re brothers?”
“No,” a voice spoke behind them, and Stabler jumped a little in surprise, though Mike didn’t so much as flinch. “We were friends before we found out. Knowing we’re brothers just…”
“Cemented things,” Mike suggested when Bobby hesitated. Bobby smiled and nodded, taking up the seat on the other side of Mike.
Elliot paused, eyeing the two with interest, his keen senses taking in small but significant details that anyone else might have overlooked. He could see the regard the two men had for each other. He could see it in the simple way that Mike signalled the bartender and ordered a drink for Bobby without having to ask what he wanted. He saw it in the way that Bobby reached across and snagged a fresh bowl of peanuts when Mike ate the last of what was in front of him. And he saw it in the way that Mike slung an arm affectionately around Bobby’s shoulders as he said something to him in a low, conspiratorial voice.
Most of all, he saw it in their faces, in their eyes, and in the way they smiled at each other with what could only be described as brotherly love.
For just a brief moment, Elliot felt a flash of jealousy that he couldn’t begin to explain, and then it was gone. Feeling out of place in their company all of a sudden, Elliot slipped off his barstool and picked up his beer.
“I’ll see you round,” he said as casually as he could, and ambled off before either Bobby or Mike had a chance to say a word.
“You think he’ll go straight to his buddies and blab?” Mike wondered as he watched Elliot manoeuvre his way through the growing crowd of off-duty cops, to an empty table on the far side of the bar.
“Why should he?” Bobby asked. “It doesn’t affect him. And like you said, there’s no policy against us working in the same squad. He’s got nothing to gain from spreading the news.”
Mike conceded with some reluctance.
“I’m taking Carolyn out tomorrow night,” Bobby announced, abruptly changing the subject. Mike eyed him with a grin.
“You finally got off your ass and called her, huh?”
“I know,” Bobby sighed. “I’ve been procrastinating. But with everything that’s happened over the last few months… I just didn’t feel like being around anyone much, and she doesn’t deserve to have me take out my frustrations on her.”
“Fair enough,” Mike agreed. “So, where are you going?”
“A friend of mine owns a little Italian Restaurant. The food is great, and it has a nice big dance floor.”
Mike nodded approvingly.
“She’ll like that.”
“Mm. I suggested a little place we could go to afterwards, for coffee, and maybe some dessert, but she said she’s taken care of that. She said we’ll be having dessert back at her place, where it’s more private. I’m not entirely sure what she has in mind, but she mentioned something about chocolate body paint and edible lingerie…”
Mike nearly choked on the peanuts he’d just put in his mouth, and it took a solid thump on the back from Bobby to set him right.
“You okay?” Bobby asked and, in his eye-watering state, Mike missed the mischievous gleam in his brother’s eyes.
“Yeah… But damn, Bobby, I don’t need details like that! She used to be my partner, remember?”
Bobby smirked in satisfaction at his brother’s discomfort.
“So, maybe next time you’ll remember that I don’t need a detailed description of Alex’s lingerie.”
Mike chuckled, then, recalling that particular conversation with amusement. Poor Bobby hadn’t been able to look straight at his partner all morning. Of course, Mike had suffered for it, because when Alex had eventually learned why Bobby wouldn’t maintain eye contact with her, she’d taken it out on him by way of a solid fist to his upper left arm. It had been numb for the better part of the afternoon.
He’d apologised profusely to her, naturally, and had reaped the benefits that very same evening. That time, though, all the details had stayed exclusively between himself and Alex.
“Okay,” he conceded. “Point taken. Seriously, though, Bobby, treat her nice. She deserves it.”
Bobby nodded in sincere agreement.
“I know she does. And you know I will.”
“Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t hurt to say it, either.”
“No,” he agreed. “It doesn’t. So… are you ready for next weekend?”
At that unwelcome reminder, Mike snorted loudly.
“Still not looking forward to it?” Bobby queried in amusement, and his question drew a dirty look from Mike.
“Hey, what’s not to look forward to? Bugs… poison ivy… wild animals… poison ivy… lack of civilisation… and did I mention poison ivy?”
Bobby had to laugh. If he didn’t laugh, he probably would have punched him.
“Mike, I talked to Deakins yesterday. He assured me that poison ivy doesn’t grow in that particular area. You’ll be perfectly safe, I promise.”
“I’ll hold you to that, Bobby. And just so you know, if you’re wrong and I so much as see the damned stuff, I’m gonna roll you in it.”
Bobby sighed, then. He was seriously looking forward to getting away for the weekend, just him and Mike, and it deflated his enthusiasm a little that Mike didn’t want to go.
“Look, it’s not going to be anywhere near as bad as you think it will be. You’re going to enjoy it, really. The cabin’s near a lake. It has it’s own private pier, and…”
He trailed off as Mike slung an arm around his shoulders, and gave him a brief but reassuring hug.
“Relax, Bobby. I’m not that down on the idea. I’m sure we’re going to have a great time. And, it’ll just be the two of us, which is what’s important. Considering the last time we spent significant time alone together, we were locked up in a fucking cage together…”
Bobby smiled in relief at Mike’s apparent acceptance.
“Okay. I, uh… I’ll be back in a minute.”
Mike watched as Bobby made his way through the crowd, heading towards the bathroom. He waited carefully until Bobby was out of sight, and well out of hearing range, before turning back to his drink and muttering under his breath, “All I can say is thank God it’s only for two days.”
When Mike arrived in the Major Case squad room on Monday morning, he expected to be confronted with a very smug Bobby Goren and, if that were the case, he had a story or two of his own to brag about. He knew Bobby had had a good time with Carolyn on Saturday night, at least while they’d been out. Bobby’s friend Lewis had been at that same restaurant with a date of his own, and had seen them dancing together. He had reported back to Alex who had, in turn, told him. The word was Bobby and Carolyn had given a whole new meaning to dirty dancing, and had come just one step shy of getting themselves thrown out of the restaurant… regardless of the fact that Bobby was friends with the owner.
He grinned to himself at the thought of not only Bobby, but Carolyn as well getting so carried away in such a public place. The other point, though, was that they really did seem to like each other, and Mike sincerely hoped it worked out for them. There was a part of him that suspected they would probably drive each other up the wall profiling each other, but he was hardly one to judge on who made a good pairing.
He reached his desk, and came back to reality to realise that, contrary to the usual bustle and noise that filled the bullpen on a Monday morning, he was surrounded by almost complete silence. Looking around slowly, he realised that although the detectives present appeared to be focused on their individual paperwork, most were watching him out of the corner of their eye. Even Wheeler was glancing surreptitiously at him with a look on her face that he could only describe as being incredulous.
It was then, as his gaze went to Bobby and Alex’s conjoined desks, that he realised Bobby wasn’t there. Throwing Wheeler a slight frown that immediately caused her to drop her gaze, he sauntered over to Alex.
“Somebody die?” he asked, and promptly kicked himself at the realisation that maybe, just maybe, somebody had. Alex, however, allayed that fear when she smirked up at him.
“You’re busted, Mike. Captain Ross knows. In fact, I think most of the NYPD knows. And he is not happy.”
Mike felt his stomach knot up at her words, and he glanced over at Ross’s office. The shades were drawn, making it impossible to see what was going on inside.
“Ross hauled his ass in there as soon as Bobby arrived, nearly half an hour ago. He only stopped yelling about ten minutes ago.” She paused, the smirk fading quickly to make way for a worried frown. “I don’t know what’s worse. The yelling, or the silence.”
Grimacing, Mike turned to head for Ross’s office, without even bothering to remove his jacket first.
“Mike, I wouldn’t,” Wheeler warned him quickly. “Captain Ross hates to be interrupted.”
Mike flashed her a dark look.
“That’s my brother in there, Wheeler. I promised him I’d back him up, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
And, squaring his shoulder resolutely, Mike marched over to the office, rapped once on the door and went inside without waiting for a response.
“Ballsy,” someone commented, once the door swung shut after him, and Alex smiled faintly at the admiration in the responsible detective’s voice.
“What do you expect?” she heard someone else say. “Logan’s old school. He knows the meaning of loyalty. The guy’s a good cop. If you ask me, Goren’s the lucky one, having a guy like him for a brother.”
Alex grinned and, feeling more relaxed than she had since Bobby had first disappeared into Ross’s office, returned her attention to the work at hand.
Mike wasn’t entirely sure upon entering Ross’s office whether the look on the captain’s face got worse or got better. All he knew was that he hadn’t seen an expression like that since fronting up to Van Buren after punching out the councilman. He glanced at Bobby, and though his brother looked a little on the pale side, the relief in his expression at Mike’s arrival couldn’t be mistaken.
“Sorry I’m late,” Mike stated calmly, more calmly than he was feeling right then. “Traffic was a bitch this morning.”
With that, he strolled casually around and sat himself down in the chair beside Bobby, stretching out his long legs, folding his arms across his chest and regarding Ross with his best ‘do your worst, I don’t give a fuck’ expression. Ross stared back at him piercingly for several seconds before speaking in a snarky tone that was disturbingly reminiscent of Alex.
“I just have one question for you, Logan. Were you ever going to bother letting me in on this?”
Mike looked over at Bobby, and then back to Ross.
“Honestly, Captain? No.”
Ross let his breath out in a sharp hiss.
“Why the hell not?”
“Frankly, sir, because we didn’t believe it was an issue. There’s no policy against two brothers working in the same squad, and we were working here together long before we found out that we were brothers. So we figured, why should it make any difference now? And it hasn’t.”
Ross regarded Mike incredulously.
“Did you two rehearse this? That’s just what Goren said, almost word for word.”
“We’re just on the same wavelength, Captain.”
A frustrated sigh escaped Ross, and he tossed his pen onto his desk in annoyance.
“When I started here as captain, I asked for just one thing. Keep me in the loop. Did you really mistrust me that much?”
Bobby shifted uncomfortably.
“With all due respect, Captain…”
“No, Goren,” Ross interrupted sharply. “There was no respect involved here.”
Bobby grimaced. Little though he liked it, he had to concede there.
“Captain, we didn’t deliberately keep you in the dark,” he said, choosing his wording more carefully. “We’ve never tried to keep it secret. It’s just that we never thought it was necessary to advertise the fact.”
“Up until now, hardly anyone knew,” Mike pointed out. “Not just you, Captain.”
Ross nodded. He conceded to that point. The rest of the squad was just as stunned as he had been.
“Tell me straight,” he said carefully, in a deliberately low voice. “Before now, who knew?”
Mike and Bobby glanced warily at each other, but Bobby answered honestly.
“Eames, Barek and Captain Deakins and his wife… and Mack Taylor and Stella Bonasera from CSU. Sir, we really didn’t try to keep it secret from you. It really just didn’t occur to us that it was something you needed to know.”
Ross sighed again. As much as he wanted to stay mad at the both of them, he could see the sincerity in their expressions, and hear it in their words. They really hadn’t meant to hide it from him. It was just a fact that they hadn’t bothered to publicly advertise.
“You two clowns are going to give me an ulcer,” he grumbled, and had a hard time not smiling in response to the grins that lit up the faces of his detectives. “And for the record, you’ve done a hell of a job keeping this under the radar for, what is it… ten months now?”
“Something like that,” Bobby murmured. He could feel the knot of tension in his gut slowly starting to ease off finally as he realised Ross was finally beginning to accept their argument.
“I’m going to have to add this to your files,” he muttered, scrawling a note for himself on the pad in front of him. “Does each of you want me to list the other as your official next of kin contact?”
Again, Mike and Bobby exchanged glances. Up until now, the next of kin contact for Mike had been Don Cragen, and it was listed as Jimmy Deakins for Bobby. A faint smile was exchanged between the two as it occurred to them that, for the first time in either of their lives, they had an actual blood relation that they could each legitimately put down as their next of kin.
“Yeah,” Mike answered quietly. “We’d like that, Captain. Thankyou.”
Ross glanced up, intrigued by Mike’s tone. From the moment he’d arrived in Major Case, he had to admit he’d expected trouble. He’d heard plenty about both Bobby and Mike from other colleagues, much of it less than agreeable, and someone in particular had warned him that it was trouble to have the two of them in the same squad. He’d been pleasantly surprised to discover that wasn’t the case at all, but he’d been baffled all the same at how two men who were such completely different personalities could be such good friends.
After a while, he’d decided not to question providence, but it had lingered in his mind nonetheless. And now, finally, he had his answer.
“Well,” he said finally, sitting back and regarding them with open amusement. “I suppose I can stop worrying about whether you’ll make it back alive from this little camping trip you have planned next weekend.”
A grin lit up Bobby’s face at the light attempt at a joke.
“I don’t know about that. Mike seems to think I’m leading him to his doom.”
“I don’t do camping,” Mike said flatly, when Ross threw him a quizzical look. The captain grinned openly, then.
“It’s not so bad, Logan. I do it with my sons all the time.”
Mike grunted, but didn’t argue. Chuckling softly, Ross motioned towards the door.
“Go on, both of you. Get back to work. I’d like you to clear your paperwork before you go away next weekend, so if something does happen, God forbid, it doesn’t all get dumped in your partners’ laps.”
“Touching,” Mike retorted as they got up.
“Oh, and Logan,” Ross added. Mike paused, looking back at him questioningly. Ross’s eyes glinted evilly.
“Watch out for the poison ivy.”
A dark look settled onto Mike’s face and, muttering something under his breath that neither Bobby nor the captain particularly wanted to hear, pushed past Bobby out the door. Bobby hesitated, exchanging a rare grin with Ross, before following his brother back out into the bullpen.
Back Home Law and Order: Criminal Intent Main Page Next