A/N: This is just a short update, but I wanted those who are reading it to know that it isn’t being forgotten. It’s just really hard finding time to write at the moment. So, really, this is just an interlude chapter.

I have to ask this, though… and I know I may regret it… but which would you all prefer? That the trouble be of the boys’ own making, or that it be the result of OC interference? (OC, being Other/Original Characters) Please let me know in your reviews. I can’t guarantee how it will go, but I’m still interested to know what you folks are hoping for.

Elliot arrived at Bobby’s apartment that evening, just after five-thirty. He wasn’t taking any chances at being left behind. He needed to escape far too much to risk it. Mike opened the door for him, and ushered him through into the living room. Bobby was sitting on the edge of a large recliner, packing what appeared to be assorted tins of food into a backpack.

He looked up as Elliot came in, and spared the SVU detective a smile.

“Stabler. All set?”

Elliot nodded in answer. He felt like he ought to be thanking Bobby for allowing him to come, but at the same time instinct warned him not to start offering platitudes just then, and God knew he didn’t want to piss Bobby Goren off any more than he suspected he already had.

“Yeah,” was all he said in the end. Bobby zipped up the backpack, and sat back.

“Okay, then. Uh… there’s takeout in the kitchen, if you’re hungry. Just help yourself. Mike ordered too much, even for him.”

Elliot tried to suppress a grin, and couldn’t quite manage it.

“I’m good, thanks. I ate before I came over.”

“Well, waste not, want not,” Mike said flippantly, and disappeared into the kitchen. Bobby shook his head in bemusement.

“Guy eats like a damn horse. I don’t know where he puts it all.” He paused, noticing that Elliot was still standing, watching him in silence. “Sit down, Elliot. I’m not going to bite.”

Elliot grimaced, and dropped into the nearest chair. He was feeling hopelessly uncomfortable, and if the trip was going to be a success, he had to get what was bothering him out in the open before they got on the road.

“Listen… Bobby…” He hesitated fractionally, saw no objection in the other man’s eyes, and went on quickly. “I need to say something. You probably don’t want to hear it, but just hear me out. Then, if you want, I’ll keep my mouth shut for the next three days.”

“Go on,” Bobby told him quietly, watching him with a piercing gaze.

“Okay. I just wanted to say that I really do appreciate you letting me come along, and I’ll do my best to stay out of your way, so you and Mike can do whatever it is you’ve got planned. I promise, you’ll hardly see me.”

Bobby’s expression was inscrutable as he stared at the other man. Elliot felt increasingly nervous under his intense gaze, and was starting to think that maybe he just should have kept his mouth shut, when Bobby finally relaxed and smiled.

“It’s okay, Elliot. You don’t need to do that. And you’re welcome to come with us, really. I… I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that that wasn’t the case. And anyway, we’ve all got to help each other out when we can… right?”

Elliot grinned, feeling a weight lift off him. He allowed himself to relax finally, and settled back a little more in the chair.

“Right. So… You guys find out who opened their big mouth?”

“Oh yeah,” Mike said with a chuckle as he emerged from the kitchen with a noodle box in hand. “Turned out it was Danny Messer, from Mack Taylor’s CSU team. Nosy son of a bitch was in the bar that night, and he overheard us. He asked one of the other guys in our squad if it was true, and… Well, you can guess the rest.”

“Snowball effect, huh?” Elliot wondered.

“Oh, yeah,” Mike confirmed, and Bobby smiled ruefully.

“And it crashed right into our captain’s office.”

“He was really that pissed about it?”

“Not about us being brothers,” Bobby corrected him. “It was more over us not telling him. And he did have a right to be angry over that. We should have told him.”

Elliot nodded, biting back the urge to make a smart ass remark to Mike about Staten Island. Given that he wouldn’t have even been going on this trip but for the consideration and sympathy of his fellow detectives, it would have been both inappropriate and ungracious. Instead, he deliberately restricted himself to a neutral remark.

“So, the captain’s okay with it, then.”

“Yeah,” Mike confirmed. “He’s okay with it. He actually seemed kind of relieved, like maybe he thought it’d keep us both out of trouble.” He snorted, still amused by the thought. “He can’t have talked to Deakins if he believes that.”

Bobby smirked, but didn’t comment. Rather, he glanced pointedly up at the clock. It read ten minutes to six.

“Are you done yet?” he asked Mike, eyeing the noodle box his brother held. Mike eyed the remains of the box, and then shrugged.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Okay, then. Let’s get this show on the road.”

At approximately the same time as the men were leaving Bobby’s apartment, Alex and Carolyn were sitting cosily in Carolyn’s apartment with a tub of ice cream between them, and some unspecified action movie on the television. Neither was paying much attention to the film, and the topic of their conversation revolved almost exclusively around their current love interests.

“So, I hear Bobby treated you like royalty last weekend,” Alex remarked with a grin. Carolyn couldn’t help herself. She smiled like a Cheshire Cat.

“I can’t complain. God, Alex, the man is absolutely divine! I can’t believe you’ve never tried jumping him!”

Alex snorted with laughter.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I love him, but not like that. I do, however, want details.”

Carolyn raised an eyebrow coyly.


That won her an annoyed shove from Alex.

“Don’t hold out on me. I want to know if the graffiti on the wall of the ladies’ room on the twelfth floor is true.”

A bemused smile passed over Carolyn’s face.

“Excuse me, but didn’t you roast Mike not that long ago for sharing certain intimate details with Bobby?”

“Yes,” Alex admitted, “but the difference is I have the next three days to train myself not to gape when I see him again on Monday.”

Carolyn snickered.

“Okay, fine. But you’d better not let on. I don’t want Bobby mad at me.”

“Consider my lips sealed. Now, spill.”

Carolyn thought it over for a long moment before answering in a conspiratorial whisper.

“I can tell you right now that the theory about foot and hand size is absolutely true.”

Alex’s eyes widened.

“Really? That big?”

Carolyn nodded, allowing a self-satisfied smirk to quirk her lips.

“Yes. That big. And… oh my god, Alex… He has got the cutest ass… Not to mention, this fetish for sex in unusual places.”


“Uh huh. Let’s just say that I’ll never look at another treadmill in the same way again.”

Alex couldn’t help it. She choked on the ice cream she’d just spooned into her mouth, and it shot up into her sinuses. She coughed helplessly for a couple of minutes while trying to regain some sense of equilibrium.

“Shit, Carolyn…”

“You asked.”

“I know… More fool me.”

Smirking, Carolyn sat back and idly stirred the rapidly melting ice cream. Slowly, her smirk faded and a concerned look filtered onto her face. Alex quickly noticed and, though she suspected she knew what was wrong, she still ventured a question regardless.

“You’re worried about them, aren’t you?”

Carolyn chewed her lip lightly.

“I know they’re just going away for the weekend, but I can’t help it. That night… They were just going out for a drink together, and we nearly lost them. I can’t help but worry about what might happen with them going all the way to the Catskills for three days.”

Alex tried to smile, but couldn’t quite manage it.

“We have to trust them to take care of themselves some time, Carolyn.”

The other woman snorted loudly at that.

“Take care of themselves. That’s a good one. I know for a fact that Mike is incapable of that, and Bobby really isn’t that much better. Can you imagine them with Elliot Stabler thrown into the mix?”

Try as she might, Alex was unable to stifle the giggle that erupted from her throat, and it came out as more of a snort than a burst of laughter.

“Mikey, Bobby and the infamous Elliot Stabler. What a combination. If there’s anything to worry about, it’s them coming home with bruises from trying to beat each other up.”

“You’re really not worried?” Carolyn asked incredulously, and Alex sighed in defeat.

“Of course I am. But there’s nothing we can do and like I said, we have to trust them to start taking care of themselves some time. It might as well be now. Besides, I already considered following them up there, and decided it wasn’t worth the hell I’d get from the captain and the guys.”

Carolyn sighed heavily, and picked up her glass of wine.

“Well, here’s to the boys. May they all come back in one piece.”

Alex lifted her own glass in response.

“Amen to that.”

They arrived late into the night, after Mike demanded a pit stop to ‘grab a couple of necessities’. In a scene that reminded Bobby greatly of their trip to Miami, while he and Elliot talked outside, Mike trolled through the bodega and loaded up a shopping basket with all manner of junk food. The difference this time was that Bobby didn’t realise what his brother was doing until Elliot commented on the amount of junk that Mike had bought, and by then it was too late.

“Mikey,” Bobby had growled as Mike emerged from the shop with two over-full shopping bags. Mike shrugged, unapologetic.

“You want me to enjoy myself, Bobby? Then you’ve gotta make some concessions. And one of them is junk food. If I absolutely have to go on nature walks with you, then I need to have something to look forward to when I get back.”

Elliot had stayed silent during the discussion, all the while smiling in quiet amusement. Here were two men, both of whom he suspected had grown up having it instilled in them that they only had themselves to rely on, and suddenly they’d found they were not anywhere near so alone as they’d previously believed. He could sense a natural irritation between the two men, but above and beyond that was a much deeper sense of brotherly love.

Bobby and Mike were lucky to have each other, Elliot reflected with just a hint of longing, and he strongly suspected that they both knew it.

“Big cabin,” Elliot remarked as they carried their bags inside. Bobby nodded.

“Yes, it is. Captain Deakins helped to design it himself.”

“Ah… About the sleeping arrangements,” Elliot said, suddenly feeling awkward again. Bobby smiled wryly, too tired to bother with tormenting the SVU detective.

“There are three bedrooms. One downstairs, and two upstairs. All three of them have their own ensuite. The captain found it was easier to do it that way, than have his daughters fighting over the use of one bedroom.”

“Well, I’ll take the downstairs bedroom, then, if no one minds,” Elliot offered, and the other men nodded their acquiescence. As Elliot was heading towards the downstairs bedroom, he could hear Bobby and Mike arguing as they headed upstairs.

“I swear to God, Bobby, if you try hauling my ass out of bed before the sun is up tomorrow, I may just shoot you.”

“You didn’t bring your gun, Mike.”

“Did I specify when, smart ass…?”

Not for the first time, and not for the last, Elliot wondered whether going with the two brothers had been such a brilliant idea after all.

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