A/N: This is an expansion of the incident mentioned briefly in the final chapter of ‘Trapped’. While I was sick over the weekend, my muse took a fancy to writing this out. And so, here it is.
A new chapter of 'A Small World' will be posted within the next day or two, I promise. But this begged to be written...

The Starbucks Incident

Bobby Goren sat up in his hospital bed, watching through half-closed eyes through the open door as the nurses gathered at the desk outside his and Mike Logan’s room went over their duty roster. It was routine. Every afternoon, immediately after all the patients in the ward had finished lunch, the nurses would gather at the desk and discuss who would carry out what duties for the afternoon.

Over the last three days, one of the nurses had been assigned to sit at the duty desk, for no other reason than to keep an eye on the two detectives, and make sure they didn’t leave their room unsupervised. When Mike had dared to complain, he had been told in no uncertain terms that he was lucky they hadn’t simply been locked in. As it was, having a nurse sitting there virtually all day watching them like a hawk was no better than if they had been locked in.

Today, both Bobby and Mike hoped fervently that that afternoon would prove to be different. There had been no nurse there constantly during the morning shift, and the two of them had behaved themselves according to the expectations of both the hospital staff and their captain and partners. They hoped that the lapse in concentration would spill over into the afternoon, giving them the golden opportunity that they had been eagerly waiting for.

Bobby continued to watch without looking like he was watching, as the head nurse assigned tasks, and each nurse headed off one by one to begin the assigned task. Finally only the head nurse remained and, once she had finished her paperwork, she headed directly for his and Mike’s room.

Bobby didn’t move, except to glance up at her casually as she walked in.

“Finished your lunch, I see,” Nurse Palmer commented. Bobby nodded placidly.

“Since you threatened to spoon-feed me if I didn’t, I figured it was probably a good idea to try and finish it.”

She smiled, a tad smugly.

“Wise choice, Robert.”

She looked past him to Mike’s bed. By all appearances, the other man was sleeping soundly, his chest rising and falling rhythmically with deep, long breaths.

“Why don’t you follow Michael’s lead?” she suggested in a softer voice. “Try to have a sleep?”

He nodded.

“I will.”

She smiled approvingly at him and, with a last look at both his and Mike’s chart to make sure they had both gotten their medication on time, headed off to deal with her other duties.

“Is she gone?”

Bobby smiled wryly as Mike opened one eye cautiously.

“Yeah, she’s gone. The coast is clear.”

Shedding all appearances of exhaustion, Mike threw the bedcovers off and swung himself around to get up.

“I hate her calling me Michael. Goddamn witch.”

“She only does it because she knows it pisses you off,” Bobby pointed out to him. “It’s her retaliation for us acting so infantile.”

“Hey, we’ve gotta get our kicks some way,” Mike argued.

“Well, I’d like to go on record as saying that I still think this one is going to come back to bite us in the ass,” Bobby warned him as he, too, began to climb out of bed. “The doctors threatened to restrain us the last time, remember?”

“That was only because we nearly collected another patient and those two nurses. I told you we should have gone to the gym instead, but no. You wanted to re-enact that entire scene from Days of Thunder.”

Bobby had to smile at the memory, despite the trouble they’d landed in as a result.

“Anyway,” Mike went on as he pulled on his robe and slippers, “if they’d just let us have a lousy cup of coffee, we wouldn’t have to do this. That whole no caffeine rule is a crock. Is there anyone in sight?”

Bobby paused, peering down the corridor as he tied his own robe around him.

“No, no one’s around.”

Mike nodded.

“Okay, let’s do it.”

Bobby led the way, slipping out of the room, and hurrying down the corridor towards the lifts, with Mike right behind him.

“It shouldn’t be as easy as that to get out of that place,” Mike said with a mock-disgusted shake of his head as he and Bobby paused on the footpath outside Mt Sinai Hospital after walking right out the front entrance of the hospital – past two reception desks, five nurses, a doctor, two ambulances and a police van.

The pair of them made a sight, leaning on individual canes for support, and wearing pyjamas, robes and slippers, and they were attracting more than a little attention from amused passers-by on the street.

“Their security sucks,” Bobby agreed, not even trying to fight the amused smirk on his face. “So, now what?”

“There’s a Starbucks half a block away,” Mike mused. “I overheard Carolyn and Alex talking about it.” He paused, looking left and right until he spotted a familiar neon sign. “There it is. Let’s go there.”

Bobby raised an eyebrow.

“We’re in our robes and pyjamas, we’re standing in full view on the street, and we don’t have a dime between us. They’ll probably think we’ve escaped from the psych ward, and call 911.”

The grin that lit up his friend’s face told Bobby that Mike was not going to be dissuaded.

“C’mon, Bobby… Oh… shit, it’s Deakins!”

Bobby looked around, and his eyes widened as he spotted Deakins coming from the opposite direction. So far, the captain hadn’t sighted them, but that wouldn’t be the case for much longer. And once he did see them, all hell would break loose.

“Go,” Bobby hissed, wheeling around as fast as his healing body would allow, and propelling Mike in the direction of Starbucks with a firm shove.

Mike went, not needing to be told twice. Bobby kept close behind him, expecting any moment to feel Deakins’ hand on his shoulder, and hear his captain’s voice angrily demanding to know what the hell they thought they were doing. It didn’t happen. When they finally dared to look back, just outside Starbucks, Deakins was nowhere in sight.

“I guess we can kiss our chances goodbye of getting back before anyone notices we’ve gone,” Mike said ruefully.

“We are dead men,” Bobby lamented. “Deakins is going to kill us, the nurses are going to kill us, our doctors are going to kill us, and Alex and Carolyn are going to kill us.”

“Well, in light of our pending doom,” Mike decided, “there’s only one course of action open to us.”

“Unconditional surrender?” Bobby suggested without much hope.

“Coward,” Mike retorted. He pushed the door to Starbucks open, and unceremoniously shoved Bobby inside.

In retrospect, Deakins knew he shouldn’t have been surprised to walk into Bobby and Mike’s room to find them gone. As soon as he saw there was no nurse at the duty desk, keeping an eye on their room, he knew. And yet, he still clung to the hope that perhaps there was a valid reason for their absence. It was a slim hope, but he clung to it anyway.

Turning, he spotted one of the senior nurses approaching, her attention on a clipboard in her hands.

“Excuse me,” he said, stepping into her path to get her attention. “Kerry, isn’t it?”

She looked up, and smiled warmly at him.

“That’s right, Captain Deakins. What can I do for you?”

“You can tell me that there’s a legitimate reason why my detectives aren’t in their room.”

Kerry stared at him blankly for a long moment, and then the blank confusion gave way to a look of outright dismay.

“Oh no… Not again…”

She darted past him, and looked into the room, confirming for herself that the two men were gone.

“Great,” Deakins growled. “I thought you were going to keep an eye on them?”

“We’re short-staffed at the moment, Captain, and since they’d been so cooperative the last few days, we thought we could trust them!”

“Fatal mistake,” Deakins said. “Will you let the other nurses know? I’m going to go and check in the gyms.”

Nurse Kerry nodded.

“I’ll let them know. We’ll start with a search of this floor, and then if we don’t find them we’ll keep going up floor by floor until we do. Don’t worry, we’ll find them.”

Deakins grimaced as he headed off towards the first of the gyms. He was going to kill them both…

Two hours later, and there was no sign of either Mike or Bobby anywhere within the confines of the hospital. Deakins was just discussing options with the hospital staff outside the guys’ empty room when Alex and Carolyn arrived.

“What’s going on?” Carolyn asked, frowning. Deakins hesitated just fractionally, wondering whether it was fair to drop Mike and Bobby in the deep end with their partners. A moment beyond that, he decided he didn’t care.

“They’ve done it again,” he told them ruefully.

Alex and Carolyn strode into the room, took in the empty beds, and then strode back out again.

“Where are they?” Alex asked hotly.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” the head nurse told them. She looked even angrier than Deakins, the women noted with little sympathy towards their errant partners. “They’re not in this hospital.”

Carolyn looked up at Deakins, and beyond the anger, she caught a glimpse of genuine fear in his eyes. She could understand that. She was feeling it, and she was sure Alex was, too. Bobby and Mike had been behaving incredibly immaturely over the last week and a half with their antics, but it was hard to believe that even they would pull a stunt like this just for the hell of it.

On the other hand, though, the alternative possibility was much, much worse.

“I’m going to contact the One-Eight, and the One-Nine, and see if they can spare anyone to do a foot patrol of the area surrounding the hospital,” Deakins said, bringing Carolyn back to reality with a start.

“We’ll search the hospital again,” Nurse Palmer said. “Just in case we missed them in the first sweep.”

“Those idiots,” Carolyn muttered as the staff scattered to start a new search, and Deakins hurried off to make the calls. “They’ve really gone too far this time. Where the hell could they be?”

“I don’t know,” Alex said angrily, “but when we find them, I’m going to kill Bobby myself. He should know better than this!”

“I’d like to say the same about Mike, but I can’t,” Carolyn confessed. “I bet this was Mike’s idea, though.”

“Don’t you believe it,” Alex growled. “Remember, the wheelchair race was Bobby’s idea. I wouldn’t put it past him to have planned this. Damn them, I know they hate being cooped up in here, but why do they have to behave like such idiots?”

“And just wait until this gets back to the guys at the squad,” Carolyn added. “They’re gonna love this latest stunt.”

Alex bit down lightly on her lower lip, and Carolyn could see the fear she was feeling reflected in Alex’s eyes.

“What if it isn’t a stunt, Carolyn? What if something is really wrong? Maybe one of Joey Baker’s people came after them…?”

“Don’t think like that,” Carolyn murmured, though the same fear clutched at her heart as well. “They’re both fine, I’m sure of it. It’s just another stupid prank. That’s all.”

Alex scowled as the anger returned.

“Whatever they’re going right now, I hope they’re enjoying themselves. Because when I get my hands on them, I’m going to kill them!”

Carolyn nodded as she followed Alex back up the corridor.

“You and me both.”

“You see?” Mike told Bobby with a smug grin as a second round of venti-sized mocha lattes and fresh bagels were brought over and set in front of them by a very amused Starbucks staff member. “Told you we could pull it off.”

Bobby smiled wryly.

“Then why does it feel like we’re having our proverbial last meal?”

“Because Deakins will probably want to flay us alive by the time they catch us up. Just enjoy it, Bobby. We might as well.”

“Hey,” one of the staff members asked as he approached, “you guys wouldn’t be Bobby Goren and Mike Logan, would you?”

Mike and Bobby exchanged wary looks.

“We might be,” Mike answered cautiously. “Who wants to know?”

“Well, it’s just that we got a radio out back that picks up the police band. Someone called Deakins just put an APB out on the two of you.”

Again, the two men exchanged rueful looks. Shaking his head in weary resignation, Bobby held up his latte in a mock toast.

“Here’s to freedom.”

“Freedom?” Mike queried, a single eyebrow raised quizzically.

“Yeah. Because when Deakins gets a hold of us, we can kiss ours goodbye.”

One Police Plaza

“Hey, Jackson,” King asked as his colleague strode into the Major Case bullpen, a grin plastered all over his face. “What’s so funny?”

“Get the chart out, King,” Jackson told him. “They’ve done it again.”

King’s eyebrows shot up.

“Again? What have those idiots done now?”

“Just grab the chart. Everyone’s gonna want to hear this.”

Minutes later, the whole squad was gathered in the bullpen, eagerly awaiting news of Mike and Bobby’s latest exploits.

“Okay,” Jackson told the squad, “here’s what we know so far. When Deakins went to Mt Sinai after lunch, Goren and Logan were gone. They started searching for them right away, but as of five minutes ago, they were still AWOL. Word is, they’re nowhere to be found inside the hospital.”

“They skipped out altogether?” someone asked. “Ballsy.”

“You have no idea,” Jackson retorted. “If they really have left the hospital, then wherever they are, they’re in their pyjamas. Deakins had Barek and Eames confiscate their clothes two days ago just in case it occurred to them to pull some dumb shit like this.”

Laughter rippled through the group at the mental image of Bobby and Mike on the lamb from the hospital in their pyjamas.

“They’ve been missing for two hours, now,” Jackson went on, “and Deakins put out an APB on the two of ’em five minutes ago.”

The entire group roared with laughter at that.

“Oh, man,” someone choked out in between breathless guffaws. “Deakins is gonna draw and quarter them both!”

“Are you kidding?” someone else retorted. “It’s not Deakins they have to worry about. It’s Barek and Eames!”

“Anyone else wanna bet who gets at them first?” Baker laughed. “Deakins, or their partners?”

“No,” Jackson said, grinning widely. “Let’s take bets on how long it takes to find them!”

That suggestion was met with unanimous approval, and the next several minutes were spent taking names and bets. They were so caught up that none of them noticed Ron Carver had walked into the bullpen, and was standing there watching the activity with bemusement.

When the detectives finally began to disperse, Carver approached Jackson.

“Something tells me this is not exactly work-related, Detective.”

Jackson grinned shamelessly.

“You’d be right about that, Counsellor.”

“Can I inquire as to what it is about?”

“Sure. We were taking bets on how long it takes to find Goren and Logan. They’ve gone AWOL from the hospital.” He checked his watch. “Two hours and eleven minutes, now.”

It was with difficulty that Carver kept a straight face.

“Captain Deakins won’t be happy.”

“That, Mr Carver, is a very big understatement. The captain’s furious. He’s already put out an APB on them.”

Carver made a strange sound that seemed somewhere between laughter and choking.

“I can believe Detective Logan would pull off a stunt like this, but I thought Detective Goren would have had more consideration.”

“Ordinarily, you’d be right, but keep in mind they’ve been stuck in the hospital or over a month now, and they’d have to be developing some serious cabin fever.”

“Mm, perhaps, but I certainly would not like to be in their shoes when they’re finally apprehended.”

“You and me both, Mr Carver. So… Care to place a wager on when they’ll be found? We’re taking ten dollar bets, and the pot’s going towards doing something for Goren and Logan.”

“Such as…?”

“We haven’t decided yet, but we figured that they’d need something after the captain and their partners get through with them.”

Carver allowed himself a small smile, and pulled out his wallet.

“Don’t put my name down, Detective. Just consider this a donation to the cause.”

Jackson grinned and cheerfully accepted the twenty dollar bill from the ADA.

“Consider it done, Counsellor.”

Mike and Bobby were just polishing off a third round of lattes and bagels when the young beat cop walked in. Mike alerted Bobby with a slight nod of his head, and both men froze, hoping to avoid being seen. They’d chosen the most incongruous corner to hide in, but even so they were pretty damned obvious in their pyjamas and robes.

With clear purpose, the rookie marched to the counter and ordered two black coffees and two bagels to go. Then, he turned away – directly towards where Bobby and Mike sat.

For several seconds, the uniform just stared at them. Then, realisation dawned, and a grin lit up his face.

“I think you’re busted, guys,” the young man who had alerted them to the APB said as he walked past. Still grinning, the beat op walked over to their table.

“You guys have gotta be Detective Goren and Detective Logan.”

“Gee,” Mike grumbled, “what gave us away?”

The cop ignored Mike’s sarcasm.

“Have you guys got any idea of the shit that’s been hitting the fan out there? Your captain has guys from the One-Eight and the One-Nine out looking for you! Man, you guys are in deep shit.”

“I don’t suppose we could convince you to pretend you never saw us?” Mike asked with little hope.

“Well, I could, but…”

“Here it comes,” Mike muttered. “Okay, kid. What do you want?”

The young man smiled apologetically.

“I don’t want anything. I was going to say that you’ve got two partners who are just about going out of their minds with worry. Don’t you think maybe it’s time you went back to the hospital?”

Bobby and Mike looked at each other, both men suddenly feeling very embarrassed. The truth was, it hadn’t occurred to either of them that Alex and Carolyn might have been afraid for their safety.

“Kid,” Mike said wearily as he pushed himself up, “you’d make one hell of a good negotiator.”

Thanking the staff for their generosity and their patience, Mike and Bobby reluctantly allowed themselves to be escorted out and back to the hospital.

“They were where?”

Alex and Carolyn exchanged glances as they came around the corner to find Deakins bellowing into his cell phone.

“Really? All right. Thankyou, Lieutenant. And thank your officers for me, as well.”

He snapped his phone shut, and looked around at the women.

“They were half a block away, in Starbucks.”

“Starbucks?” Alex echoed incredulously. “They had us in a total panic… for a lousy cup of coffee?”

“Apparently,” Deakins confirmed, fuming.

“Do we even want to know how they paid for it?” Carolyn asked. “Neither of them had any money.”

“Compliments of the staff,” Deakins answered. “And I don’t want to know how they pulled that off. They’re on their way back up now. I know you both want to step into them, and I don’t want to sound childish, but me first. You’ll have your chance after I’m through with them.”

It was hard not to smirk, but both women conceded and fell back, deferring to their captain.

A couple of minutes later, Bobby and Mike emerged around the corner from the lifts, flanked by no less than five orderlies, and being led by their respective doctors and Nurse Palmer, all of whom were taking it in turns to well and truly rip into the errant detectives.

When they sighted the thunderous look on their captain’s face, both men instinctively tried to stop only to be propelled forward once more by the orderlies behind them. As they came level with Deakins, he pointed to their room and spoke in a tone that was laced with fury.

“In. Now.”

They went, neither daring to utter a sound.

Alex and Carolyn decided not to follow the captain and their partners back into the room, but ultimately it didn’t make any difference. Deakins’ angry shouts could be heard clear throughout the ward.

“You think we’ll even need to bother with them when he’s done?” Carolyn mused. Alex didn’t take her gaze off the closed door of their partners’ room.

“I don’t plan on yelling at them.”

Carolyn raised an eyebrow sceptically.


“No.” Alex’s hand dropped to her belt. “You know what they say. Actions speak louder than words.”

“You’re not going to shoot them…?”

A small smile touched the corner’s of Alex’s mouth.

“No. I think we can come up with a better, more practical way than that to keep them in their beds. And it might just teach them a lesson in the process.”

Carolyn finally realised what Alex was getting at, and a grin lit up her face.

“C’mon. Let’s go talk to their doctors, and Nurse Palmer.”

“Of all the thoughtless, idiotic stunts you’ve pulled so far,” Deakins ranted at them, “this takes the cake! What in the name of God were you thinking? Were you even thinking at all? Do you have even the slightest idea of the trouble you’ve caused? Of the worry you’ve caused?”

“Uh, yeah,” Mike mumbled. “Look, Captain, we’re sorry about that…”

He cringed and fell silent when Deakins turned the full force of his glare onto him.

“Don’t, Logan. Don’t sit there and make a token apology when we both know you’re not sorry. And I suggest you don’t try it with your partners, either. You two have a hell of a lot of ground to make up with them, and with me, before we’ll trust you again. I hope you know that, and I hope it was worth it. All this for one lousy cup of coffee…”

“Actually,” Mike said tentatively, “it was three cups… each… and they were mocha lattes.”

Deakins stared at Mike incredulously, and then looked around just in time to see Bobby groan and slap his hand over his eyes.

“And bagels,” Mike added. “We got bagels!”

Deakins clenched his jaw as the absurdity of the entire situation suddenly hit him. Only a moment ago, he’d been furious with them. Now, suddenly, he was fighting against a powerful urge to laugh.

“Am I likely to be getting a bill for your lattes and bagels?” Deakins asked, struggling to keep his voice even as his expression neutral. It would be bad… very bad for discipline if he were to suddenly start laughing now.

“Nah,” Mike answered him. “That was all complimentary.”

Deakins looked to Bobby, who still had his face pressed into his hand. Apparently, he felt Mike was only digging them deeper into their graves. Bobby looked up at Deakins warily.

“He, um… He told them we were undercover as patients here… and that it was their patriotic duty to provide us with coffee.”

It took a monumental effort on Deakins’ part not to choke on that revelation. As it was, he began to edge towards the door. If he didn’t get out of there soon, he was going to start laughing in front of them, and that would be disastrous.

“Oh, and I gave your cell phone number to two of the girls there,” Mike added, flashing Bobby a wide grin. Bobby gaped at him, momentarily forgetting that Deakins was even there.

“You what!”

“Hey, they thought you were cute,” Mike said with a shrug. “God only knows why. But don’t worry. Eames has your cell phone at the moment, so if they try calling you, they’ll get her, and she’ll put them off pretty quick.”

Bobby only groaned and buried his face in his hand once more.

Deakins sucked in a long breath. It was time to clear out of there, before he lost what little remnant of self control he still had.

“I have to get back to the squad. And I swear, if either of you so much as blinks in the wrong direction, I’ll give your doctors permission to restrain you after all! Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” they answered simultaneously. Deakins nodded and, sparing them a final threatening look, he strode out of the room.

“Well,” Mike said tentatively, “that could have been worse.”

Bobby grimaced.

“You think he’s finished with us? He won’t forget this one, Mike. Just wait until we get back to work. We’ll be lucky if he doesn’t dump the entire squad’s paperwork in our laps…”

“Hush,” Mike hissed. “Listen. Do you hear that…?”

Bobby listened, and a moment later he heard what Mike had heard. It was the very distinct sound of their captain roaring with laughter as he hurried away down the corridor.

“We got him!” Mike said with a relieved grin. “We’re home free, Bobby.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Bobby murmured. Mike looked around at the sudden apprehension in his friend’s voice, and his stomach flip-flopped at the sight of their partners walking into the room.

“Um… Hi…?” Mike ventured as Carolyn walked around to stand on his left side. She didn’t crack a smile.

“You jerk, Mike. Both of you! Do either of you have a clue just how badly you scared us?”

Bobby looked at Alex, guilt written all over his face.


“Don’t,” she said softly. “Just don’t. There’s nothing you could say that could make this situation any better.”

Bobby sank back against his pillow. Alex looked from him to Mike, disappointment and anger in her eyes.

“We’re not going to yell at you. There’s no point. We’re not going to harp on what a stupid thing it was to do. We hope you both know that by now. What we will say is how incredibly disappointed we are in you both.”

Mike and Bobby exchanged rueful looks. Alex’s quietly spoken recrimination was far harder hitting than anything said by Deakins, their doctors and the head nurse.

“We’re sorry,” Bobby told her softly, sincerely. “We really are. We didn’t mean to scare you… or anyone else.”

“What, exactly, were you trying to do?” Carolyn asked. “Explain it to us, because we sure as hell don’t get it.”

At that, Bobby fell silent, looking pointedly at Mike. The whole escapade had been Mike’s idea. Let him explain. To his credit, Mike didn’t object.

“We’ve been in the hospital for over a month now,” he said quietly. “Before that… while we were trapped in that cage… it looked like neither of us was ever going to get to go home. I guess… We’re just being the biggest pains we can be in the hope that maybe they’ll get sick of us and let us go home as soon as possible. I guess that’s all it amounts to. We just want to go home.”

Alex and Carolyn looked across the beds at each other, suddenly understanding their partner’s anxieties.

“And we can understand that,” Alex conceded. “But if that’s what you really want, then you’re not doing yourselves any favours. Every stunt you pull only means you have to stay here that much longer. Don’t you get that?”

“Hey, we’re bored out of our friggin’ minds here!” Mike argued. “We’ve had to create our own entertainment, you know?”

“So…” Alex said thoughtfully, “what you’re saying is that you’d do it all again?”

“Well, maybe not that, exactly,” Bobby said quickly, throwing a warning look in Mike’s direction. Alex nodded. She was, Bobby thought uneasily, just a little too calm in response to that revelation.

“Okay, then. I think that we can help you guys to do the right thing.”

“What do you mean?” Mike asked, frowning. Alex looked over at Carolyn, who raised an eyebrow questioningly.


Alex nodded.


Before either man had a chance to react, the women pulled out their handcuffs and, seconds later, Carolyn cuffed Mike’s left hand to the bed rail, and Alex had cuffed Bobby’s right hand.

“Hey!” Mike burst out in protest, tugging futilely at his cuffed hand. “No fair!”

Bobby appeared speechless, staring at his cuffed wrist in open-mouthed disbelief.

“Now, maybe you’ll both stay put,” Alex said, stepping away from the bed. “Carolyn?”

Carolyn nodded in agreement, and walked around to join Alex by the door.

“You’re going to just leave us like this?” Mike asked incredulously.

“You have a problem with that, Mikey?” Carolyn asked in a deceptively sweet tone.

“How are we supposed to eat?” Mike complained.

“Go to the bathroom?” Bobby added.

“Or have a shower!” Mike threw in, a note of desperation in his voice.

“You’ll just have to negotiate that with the nurses, won’t you?” Alex said. “We’ll see you later, boys.”

With that, both women stalked out of the room.

“I don’t believe this,” Mike growled.

“Believe it,” Bobby muttered sourly. “I told you this would come back to bite us in the ass.”

“You saying you regret it now?” Mike asked. Bobby smiled wryly as he eyed his handcuffed wrist.

“No. Not yet, anyway.”

Neither Alex nor Carolyn were surprised to find themselves called into Deakins’ office upon arriving in the bullpen the next morning. Though they knew that neither Bobby nor Mike would have dared complain to Deakins about their underhanded tactics, it still would not have taken long for word to get back to the captain.

“All right,” Deakins said quietly once they were seated. “Just tell me one thing. What logical explanation can you possibly give me for handcuffing your partners to their beds?”

They didn’t need to be psychic to know Deakins was more amused than angry.

“We figured it was the best way to make sure they didn’t go wandering again,” Carolyn said with a shrug. “They weren’t going to stay put. They as good as admitted it. We just thought we’d take practical measures to ensure they behaved themselves.”

Deakins regarded her bemusedly.

“By handcuffing them to their beds.”

“Yes,” Carolyn replied calmly, guiltlessly.

“Don’t tell us they complained to you?” Alex asked. This time, Deakins had a hard time keeping a straight face.

“Not them, not directly. But apparently they weren’t too impressed this morning when, instead of a shower, they were given sponge baths by the only male nurse on the floor.”

Carolyn snorted with laughter, while Alex hid a wide grin behind her bangs.

“And then they had to be spoon-fed like babies,” Deakins added, and this time neither women attempted to suppress their laughter.

“Just tell me, when exactly do you plan on letting them off the hook?” Deakins asked, giving up any and all attempts not to let his amusement show.

“We thought we’d let them sweat it out for a while,” Alex told him. “We figure that by tonight they’ll be ready to behave themselves.”

“That’s bordering on cruel,” Deakins told them with a chuckle. Carolyn smirked.

“We consider it justified retaliation. They scared the hell out of us, Captain! For all we knew, they might have been abducted by someone loyal to Joey Baker!”

Deakins’ smile faded. He understood that. It was something that had crossed his own mind more than once during the few hours that Bobby and Mike had been missing.

“I know,” he murmured, “and I know I shouldn’t be defending them… But in their defence, they really didn’t mean to scare anyone. I think it was a case of cabin fever, plain and simple.”

“How much longer do they have to stay at Mt Sinai?” Carolyn asked. “Because you know this is going to happen again. It’s only a matter of time.”

“I know,” Deakins agreed. “I spoke to their doctors last night… after they told me about your little stunt with the handcuffs… and they said that Mike can probably be released to go home at the end of the week.”

“And Bobby?” Alex wondered.

“They want to keep him for another couple of weeks, just to make sure the infections and the blood poisoning have cleared up completely.”

“He won’t like that.”

“He’ll just have to cope. Now, get to work, both of you. And for God’s sake, don’t forget to take the keys to your handcuffs with you tonight when you go to visit your partners.”

Exchanging wry smiles, Alex and Carolyn exited their captain’s office.

The women arrived at Mt Sinai that evening to two rather sullen, but very humbled men.

“What do you think, Carolyn?” Alex asked with a smirk as they observed the sheepish looks on their partners’ faces. “You think they’re ready to behave themselves?”

“I think so,” Carolyn agreed. She walked around to stand between the two beds. “Well, boys? Are you?”

“All right,” Mike moaned. “We give up. We’ll stay put. Just take the handcuffs off, please?”

“What’s the matter?” Alex asked as she pulled out the key to release Bobby. “You didn’t like the personalised service from the nurses?”

“Oh, it was great,” Mike snapped. “You mind telling us whose idea it was for us to get sponge baths from the only male nurse on the damn floor?”

That,” Alex told him, “would be Nurse Palmer’s idea. Now, if you behave yourselves, we won’t have to resort to these sorts of tactics again.”

“Pull another stunt like yesterdays, though,” Carolyn told them both, “and you’ll find yourselves handcuffed to your beds until the doctors are ready to discharge you. Comprende?”

“We understand,” Bobby muttered sourly as Alex gently rubbed his wrist to help return the circulation to it.

“Good,” Alex murmured. “You scared us badly yesterday. Don’t ever do it again.”

“We really didn’t mean to,” Mike argued. “We just wanted a lousy cup of coffee. That was all! And no one would bring us one.”

“Because the caffeine might have been detrimental to you both, you idiot,” Carolyn told him. “With the medication they’ve got you on at the moment, anything could have happened.”

“When you get out of hospital, you can have all the coffee you want,” Alex said. “Just be patient and behave yourselves until then, okay?”

Bobby and Mike looked at each other, and both women missed the look that glinted briefly in their eyes. They could wait… for the moment.


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