A/N: I have to admit that I’m kind of amused that everyone seems to think this story is heading towards being a shipper fic, with the pairings being Alex and Mike, and Bobby and Carolyn. Some people actually seem a little panicked over this. I admit, I envisage Mike and Alex as being a very feasible pairing, but although I can imagine Carolyn would be attracted to Bobby, I don’t think I would ever actually write them into a relationship. Two profilers do not a good pairing make. They’d psychoanalyse each other to death!

As far as the shipper aspects of this story goes, I’m only going to say this – once this story dives into the fast lane, Alex and Carolyn will be nowhere in sight. This is not a shipper fic, it is about Mike and Bobby, and their learning to accept each other as brothers, for better or worse. And, as you know, with my stories it usually turns out to be for worse. There will be blood spilled before I’m done.

The next morning

Mike awoke the next morning to the rejuvenating aroma of fresh coffee. He lay still in bed for a long minute, enjoying the pleasant smell, before finally rousing himself and heading out of his bedroom.

Carolyn looked up with a smile as Mike emerged from his bedroom, tugging a robe around his shoulders.

“Hey, good morning. How are you feeling?”

“Good,” he confirmed, his attention too fixed on the brewing coffee to notice the doubt that flickered in her eyes at his answer. “Is that coffee ready?”

“Almost. So, you slept okay? No… disturbances?”

This time he looked up at her, hearing the scepticism in her voice.

“Yes, I slept okay. Why?”

She hesitated, and then spoke tentatively.

“I sat up for a while last night, after you’d gone to bed. I heard you cry out a few times. I just wondered whether you remember having bad dreams.”

Mike answered her with silence, wracking his mind for any memory of nightmares, but there was none. When he looked back at her, his smile was genuine, and reassuring.

“I don’t remember having bad dreams,” he told her. “If I did, it’s gone now.”

Carolyn nodded in satisfaction as she poured a cup of coffee for him.

“Okay, then. Now, tell me, how’s that hand?”

Mike looked at his right hand thoughtfully. It was no longer bandaged or splinted, but he was under strict instructions from his doctor and his physio to be extremely careful with it. It was healing well, but it would be all too easy to slip and do something idiotic that would result in damaging it even worse than it already had been.

“It hurts,” he said finally, “but it’s tolerable.”

“Well, you know what your doctor said. While it’s hurting, you know it’s healing.”

“I know,” Mike agreed quickly. “I’m not complaining. At least I can use it again.”

Carolyn nodded.

“Just don’t try to overdo it.”

He flashed her his cheekiest grin.

“Aw, no hanky panky, then?”

Carolyn found herself having to fight the urge to smirk.

“Hanky panky? Mike, sweetie, don’t make me smack you.”

He chuckled and turned his attention to picking up the cup of coffee with his healing hand. Before leaving Mt Sinai, his assigned physio had told him to make as much effort as he could to use his hand for very basic tasks – like picking up a cup of coffee. It was not only to increase his capability with the healing appendage, but also to ensure the muscles didn’t atrophy through non-use.

It wasn’t easy, and it did hurt, but it was a hurt he could cope with.

“When are you going to work?” he asked, his gaze still fixed on his hand.

“In about an hour. Alex said she’d pick me up.”

Mike did look at her, then.

“She’s still at Bobby’s place, right?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Could you give them a call? See if Bobby wants to come around here.”

She arched an eyebrow at him.

“You’re suggesting that we leave you and Bobby alone together? After what happened less than a week ago?”

Mike scowled. “We’re not going to get into any trouble, and if we leave here, the farthest we’re likely to go is the coffee shop around the corner. I just want to talk with him. And after yesterday, I’m surprised you even have to wonder about that.”

Carolyn felt her face redden as the truth of his words struck home, and she smiled apologetically.

“I’m sorry, you’re right. I’ll call them now.”

A few minutes later, it was all arranged. Alex would bring Bobby to Mike’s place when she came to pick up Carolyn to go to work, and the two brothers would spend the day together.

“You’d both better behave yourselves,” she warned him lightly. “If you guys pull another stunt like that last one…”

“What will you do?” Mike retorted. “Handcuff us to our beds again? No nurses to look after us now, Barek. You and Eames would have to do it all yourselves.”

She smiled sweetly at him, patting his cheek condescendingly as she walked past.

“Mike, if you put us in that position, I guarantee that there’ll be polaroids this time, and you and Bobby will never live it down.”

Mike cringed, and decided his best course of action was compliance.

Alex and Bobby arrived an hour later, and it was more than a little curiosity that the women stood back and observed their partners’ interaction. Upon walking into the apartment, Mike greeted Bobby enthusiastically, slinging an arm around the other man’s shoulder and leading him through into the kitchenette for coffee.

“C’mon,” Carolyn said with a wry smile. “I think we can trust them to behave themselves.”

Alex looked amused as they retreated out the apartment’s door.

“What you mean is that you’ve already threatened Mike this morning.”

“Hell, yes. Told him the next time they pulled any dumb ass stunts, there’d be polaroids taken.”

Alex snorted with laughter.

“I never thought of that. But then, Bobby was too busy promising me that they’d stay put in Mike’s apartment for me to have the chance to threaten him. He knows I’ll kick his ass clear into next week if he does anything like that again.”

“They value their lives too much to even dare,” Carolyn retorted, and both women laughed.

“You know,” Bobby mused as he and Mike sank into individual armchairs with fresh cups of steaming coffee, “I’m a little surprised they were willing to leave us alone. After last week…”

“Don’t question providence,” Mike advised him. “Just be grateful that they trust us.”

Bobby stared at him for a long moment before a grin broke out across his face.

“What did Carolyn threaten you with?”

Mike scowled.

“Never mind. Just know that the word Polaroid was used. And wipe that smirk off your face. You were included in that threat.”

Still Bobby chuckled softly.

“They can’t stop us from going out anywhere. I’d like to know what, exactly, they think we’d do. And as long as we stay in Manhattan…” He paused, eyeing the walking sticks that they each were still required for moving around. “And it’s not like we’re going to be going very far, anyway.”

Mike saw where Bobby’s gaze was directed, and grabbed his walking stick up from the floor.

“I’m telling you, the day I can ditch this thing, I’ll be a happy man.”

Bobby smiled wryly.

“And you thought your bullet wound was a clean through-and-through. You nearly lost your leg.”

Mike grimaced at the memory. He had assumed the bullet had gone cleanly through his leg. What he hadn’t known was that the bullet had chipped off a fragment of bone which had, in turn, nicked an artery. It had been a very slow bleeder, though, and in the anxiety of trying to repair the damage to his perforated lung, the internal damage to his leg had been missed altogether.

It had only been when his blood pressure suddenly bottomed out during his transfer from St Barnabas to Mt Sinai that it was realised there was still a serious problem. An emergency scan on arrival at Mt Sinai had finally pinpointed the problem, and it had only been the skill of the surgeon assigned to Mike’s case that had prevented Mike from losing the use of his leg.

The irony was that the blood poisoning that Bobby had suffered from his leg wound was less severe than originally thought and, consequently, Bobby would be rid of his walking stick a good week or two ahead of Mike.

“C’mon,” Mike said with an impatient growl, pushing himself up from the armchair. Bobby looked up at him, puzzled.

“Where are we going?”

“Anywhere. Just as long as it’s out. Get your ass up out of that chair, Bobby.”

Rolling his eyes, Bobby lifted himself up awkwardly and followed Mike out of the apartment.

They didn’t go far. Ultimately, neither had the energy to go far, and so they ended up in the little coffee shop just around the corner from the apartment building. Comfortably ensconced with their preferred variations of coffee, silence reigned for a while before either man spoke.

“How do you think it happened?”

Bobby looked up at Mike, baffled by the ambiguous question.

“How did what happen?”

“Your… I mean, our dad getting together with my mom.”

It was with some effort that Bobby restrained himself from answering that query with a joke. Mike was serious, and making a joke of it would have been uncalled for.

“I really don’t know,” he answered quietly. “I know Dad played the field pretty widely after Mom got sick… I don’t remember him going after other women until she got sick… but I guess he did before I came along.”

“Maybe he knew about me,” Mike speculated. “Maybe that’s what scared him into keeping it in his pants, at least for a few years.”

Bobby nodded, taking a long swallow of coffee.

“Maybe. You think your mom might have threatened him with a paternity suit?”

“If she did, it wasn’t for the money. It’s strange, though. For all the crap she used to throw at me when she was drunk, she never hit me with that.”

“She might have done, if your dad had left because of it,” Bobby pointed out. “But he didn’t, did he? He stayed until he died.”

“Yeah,” Mike agreed. He gave a soft, bitter laugh. “Maybe it’s the one thing she was willing to take sole responsibility for. Stupid, drunk old cow.” He looked back up at Bobby, a haunted look in his eyes. “Would you think less of me if I told you that I still wish she’d died instead Dad?”

“No,” Bobby answered sincerely. “I understand. When… When Dad left, I was angry at Mom. I blamed her for him leaving, and for a long time I wished she’d died. I honestly thought if she was out of the picture, then Dad would come back. I didn’t understand until a long time after that he wouldn’t have come back, no matter what.”

Mike regarded Bobby curiously.

“You admit that he beat on you when he got smashed, but you still wanted him around?”

Bobby scrubbed at his face with his good hand.

“It was a toss-up, Mike. I had Mom, who was a violent, paranoid schizophrenic, or Dad, who was a violent, abusive drunk. At least with Dad, it was easy to gauge his moods when he came home drunk. I wasn’t always successful in judging things with Dad, but I at least knew that things would get more or less back to normal once he’d slept it off. There was never any guarantee that Mom would get back to any semblance of normal. With Mom, she could go from completely sane to off the rails in a matter of seconds, and there was never any knowing what might set her off. And if I was smart, I could stay out of Dad’s way. If he didn’t see me, he didn’t think about me. Whereas Mom would come looking for me, to beat the demons out of me.”

Mike sighed and slumped back in his seat, and raised his cup to Bobby.

“Here’s to crappy childhood memories, and the wonderful parents that gave them to us.”

He took a long swallow, and thumped the cup back down, not waiting for a response from Bobby.

“It sucks, you know.”

“What does?”

“Not knowing your own story. How you came to be… came to exist. I want to know, Bobby. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. I want to know how my mom ended up straying, when she was such a staunch Catholic. And it totally sucks, because the only people who could clue us in are both dead. I mean, it’d be pointless asking your mom, and I couldn’t do that to her anymore than you could. That just leaves my mom and your… I mean… our dad, and they’re dead. There’s no one left to ask who’d know.”

Bobby remained silent, his gaze fixed on the now empty cup in front of him. What Mike had just said wasn’t entirely accurate, but he was loathed to speak up and correct him. The truth was, there was one person still alive and – theoretically – in his right mind, and that was his older brother, Richie. Richie was nearly eight years older than him, which would have put him at approximately age six when their father supposedly hooked up with Mike’s mother. It was just old enough that Bobby suspected Richie would remember.

He stayed guiltily silent, though, wanting above all else to avoid any sort of contact with his older brother. As much as he respected Mike’s desire to know the facts, he couldn’t bring himself to go down that path again by bringing Richie back into his life. Nothing, but nothing, was worth the grief that would bring.


Bobby heard Mike’s voice, but it didn’t register in his conscious mind. He continued staring into his empty coffee cup, lost in his grim memories.

“Hey, Junior!”

Bobby’s head snapped up, and he stared at Mike incredulously.

“What did you call me?”

“Sorry, buddy,” Mike apologised with a wry smile. “Just trying to get your attention. What were you thinking?”

Bobby’s mind literally froze, unable to come up with any sort of decent reply. For several seconds he sat there, staring at Mike with his mouth half-open. Then, in a response that was pure panic, he launched himself out of his seat and fled.

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