A/N: I probably really shouldn't be posting this yet, since I am still in the middle of Blind Trust, but I figured, what the hell. That, and I'll see what sort of a reaction I get to this. Yes - Bobby-angst will ensue, but this story is also more meant to focus on Mike as well.
This is effectively a focus piece for Bobby and Mike's relationship. Since authors are so diverse in their opinions as to whether the boys would be best buds or the best of enemies, I decided to try my hand and see what eventuates. Needless to say, there will be misery and suffering involved. You have been duly warned.
Also, the tagline is borrowed from the Australia horror movie Wolf Creek, which is based on the Ivan Milat backpacker serial murders.
Dedication: For Mike, by special request.
Disclaimers: The usual. I don't own anything from the Law & Order franchise, unless you count my season 1, 2 & 3 DVDs. Don't sue. I have no money. I'm making no money out of this. I only wish I was.
Rated: T, for mild level violence and angst. Compared to Blind Trust, this is a cake walk.
Somewhere in the Bronx
“I really don’t think this is such a great idea.”
Mike Logan rolled his eyes in exasperation as, not for the first time, Bobby Goren expressed his misgivings about their escapade.
“Look, do you trust me or not, Bobby?”
Bobby hesitated in answering, much to Mike’s growing irritation.
“Do you want an honest answer to that?”
Mike came to an abrupt halt, and Bobby had to duck quickly to the side to avoid walking straight into him. The older detective turned to face Bobby, his expression hardening fractionally.
“You were the one who expressed a wish to go and get yourself shit-faced tonight, Goren. I just offered to show you the best place to do it. You wanna wimp out now, and go home and read a book, or something? Be my guest.”
Bobby shook his head, deciding it probably wasn’t the best moment to point out that at no point had he said he wanted to ‘get shit-faced’.
“I was kidding, Mike. I trust you, okay? Really.”
Mike grunted as he began walking again.
“You suck at making jokes. Don’t do it.”
It was Bobby’s turn to roll his eyes as they continued walking along the dark street. For someone who came across as such a tough guy, Mike Logan definitely had his sensitive moments.
This little adventure, if it could even be called that, had begun that morning. Neither Alex Eames nor Carolyn Barek had been at work that day, having organised a day off for what Carolyn had described as ‘some serious girl activities’.
To Bobby’s way of thinking, that probably meant spending the day at a health spa, getting some heavy duty pampering. Mike’s mind had been further into the gutter. Throughout the course of the day, he had offered increasingly lewd opinions as to what the women might have been up to, opinions that Bobby was sure either Alex or Carolyn would have cheerfully shot him for voicing.
In the end, though, what it meant was that Bobby and Mike had had to team up in order to go out chasing after leads on their current cases. It had been a long, fruitless day, and at some point Bobby had expressed a wish for a good, strong shot of whiskey before heading home that night. At which point, Mike had enthusiastically claimed that he knew a little place that served the best whiskey in New York City. It was a little out of the way, but worth the effort of getting there… if Bobby was game.
Bobby had readily agreed, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and now Bobby was starting to wonder whether his brain had been on temporary leave when he agreed to Mike’s suggestion.
‘A little out of the way’ had turned out to be somewhere on the east side of the Bronx, in a decidedly seedier part of town. Mike seemed to know exactly where he was going, though, so Bobby said nothing more.
After what seemed an age, Mike finally turned into a dark doorway and led the way into a bar that even Bobby, with his awesome powers of observation, would have over-looked. It was a well-lit place, though not overly bright, clean and fairly cheerful by all appearances, and completely at odds with the questionable location.
“Mike! Hey, long time no see! Where you been?”
Bobby followed Mike over to the bar as the bartender called out a cheerful greeting.
“Hey, Zach. I’ve been pretty busy, not much time to get over to this side of town, you know? How’s it going, anyway?”
“Ah, not too bad. Business has been a little slow lately, but it’s not so bad. It helps to get visits from familiar faces, though.” Zach’s gaze flickered across to Bobby. “Especially when those familiar faces bring new faces with them.”
Mike grinned, and introduced his drinking companion.
“Zach, this is Bobby Goren. We work in the same office. Bobby, Zach here has been providing the best quality whiskey in the city for as long as I can remember. Zach, two whiskeys, please.”
“For that glowing appraisal, the first one’s on me.”
Bobby looked bemusedly at Mike as Zach turned away to get their drinks.
“I’m not an idiot, Bobby,” Mike retorted in a low voice. “Not even Zach knows I’m a cop, and I was coming here regularly while I was on Staten Island. This place serves great whiskey, but it doesn’t pay to let yourself forget where you are, and this neighbourhood is not that keen on cops.”
For some reason, Bobby found himself reassured by those words more so than anything else Mike could have said. Smiling faintly, he settled properly onto the barstool, and willed himself to relax and enjoy himself for once.
Mike hadn’t been wrong. The whiskey was good. Perhaps not the absolute best that Bobby had ever had, but definitely some of the best that he’d ever gotten in any bar. That, combined with the friendly atmosphere, and Bobby found himself relaxing in a way that hadn’t happened for a long time.
“You look like you’re enjoying yourself,” Mike commented in amusement while Zach saw to other customers. Bobby smiled faintly. He had a nice buzz going, just enough to leave him feeling comfortable, but not so much that he was outright drunk. He was having a good time, much to his own surprise.
“Yeah, I am,” he admitted.
“Told you it was worth it,” Mike said with a chuckle as he waved to Zach and indicated another round of drinks for the two of them.
“Am I gonna get lumped with the bill for this, though?” Bobby asked, smiling wryly.
“We’ll split it,” Mike reassured him. “That’s the other bonus. Zach only charges a fraction of what you’ll pay for the quality stuff at other places.”
Bobby frowned, feeling a slight hint of something not quite kosher.
“How can he manage that?”
Mike shook his head decisively.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell. If there’s something going on here behind the scenes, I don’t wanna know about it.”
After a moment’s consideration, Bobby decided that was probably for the best. A fresh glass was set before him, and he sipped at it, rather than simply chugging it back. He wasn’t sure just how many glasses he’d gone through, but he suspected he was nearing his limit. A glance off to his side told him it was the same for Mike.
“Better make that the last one,” he warned, and hid his amused grin at Mike’s disappointed groan behind one large hand.
“Don’t wanna go,” Mike grumbled, staring sulkily at the now empty glass before him.
“C’mon,” Bobby murmured, dropping a selection of bills on the counter and urging Mike out of his seat. “I know this great all-night coffee shop back in Manhattan. Serves the best coffee…”
With reluctance, Mike allowed himself to be hauled up and out of the bar, calling out a jovial goodbye as Bobby guided him out.
Zach smiled wryly to himself as the two men stumbled out of the bar. He liked Mike, and had been pleased to see him again, and although his companion had seemed a little on the brooding side, a few whiskeys had served to lighten the mood nicely. Shaking his head, he walked over to where they’d been seated, with the intention of clearing the empty glasses. He was surprised, though, when his gaze fell on a cell phone, obviously left behind by either Mike or his friend.
Shaking his head and chuckling to himself, Zach slipped the phone under the counter. Sooner or later the owner would realise it was missing, and come back for it and maybe, just maybe, have a few more drinks in the process of collecting it.
Someone called for a drink from the other end of the bar, and Zach went to serve them, the phone already light-years from his mind.
“So you liked it, right?” Mike asked as Bobby guided him along, while at the same time trying to keep a straight line himself.
“I liked it,” Bobby conceded. “It’s a great bar. Pity about the neighbourhood.”
Mike chortled, and then looked around.
“Need a taxi.”
“No kidding,” Bobby muttered. “You think you can stand up on your own?”
“Sure,” Mike announced, and pulled away from Bobby only to stagger a couple of steps and tip over sideways. He would have gone sprawling on the sidewalk if it hadn’t been for the brick wall that he fell against.
“Stay,” Bobby ordered, and reached into his pocket for his cell phone. It only took half a minute of searching for him to realise it wasn’t there. “Damn… Must’ve left it in the bar. Mike, give me your cell phone.”
“Left it at work,” Mike mumbled. “Figured if I left it there, I couldn’t get a call-out over the weekend.”
“Brilliant,” Bobby sighed. “Deakins is going to kill you on Monday. Okay, I’ve gotta go back and get my cell. Will you be okay there for a minute?”
“Sure,” Mike answered. Bobby eyed him doubtfully, and then decided he had little choice. If they were to have any hope of getting a taxi, he needed his cell phone.
Bobby turned to head back to the bar, and walked straight into the tall, heavily built figure that had materialised behind him.
“S… Sorry…” Bobby stammered, taken well and truly by surprise by the sudden, unexpected appearance of this human mountain. “Didn’t see you…”
“You boys look a little lost,” the newcomer stated, eyeing first Bobby and then Mike with acute interest. The man was tall, even taller than Bobby, with dirty blond hair that was one step short of being a buzz cut. In his current state of mind, the only discernible feature that Bobby was able to pick out right then was the way that the man’s nose was mashed almost flat, probably from being broken multiple times.
Bobby drew back a little, eyeing this stranger with suspicion. He was not quite so drunk that he couldn’t recognise a potential threat, and in Bobby’s slightly fuzzy mind this man presented a very clear threat.
“We’re not lost,” he said, willing his voice to stay steady, and not slur. His words were met with an amused grin that had no warmth or friendliness in it whatsoever.
All of a sudden, Mike was at Bobby’s side, looking stone-cold sober. Only a slight waver in his stance belied his lack of sobriety.
“Really. We’re not lost, buddy.”
“Mm. I couldn’t help but wonder. See, I figured you had to be lost, because I wouldn’t have thought that a couple of cops would be stupid enough to be caught in a neighbourhood like this after dark on purpose.”
Bobby and Mike exchanged glances. There was no mistaking the threat by then.
“Well, you don’t need to worry,” Bobby said in his best placating tone. “As soon as we can get a taxi, we’ll be gone. You won’t see us again.”
A chilling smile spread across the man’s face.
“I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you boys let us give you a ride?”
Bobby took a couple of slow steps back, but his retreat was abruptly halted by the sudden appearance of another man behind him. Both detectives looked around, more than a little alarmed by this time, and quickly realised that all avenues of escape had been effectively cut off as half a dozen men emerged out of the shadows, surrounding and hemming them in.
“Thanks for the offer,” Mike said coolly. “But we’re fine, fellas. Really. We’ll be outta here before you know it.”
The big man who had originally accosted them glanced downwards. Mike and Bobby followed his gaze, and quickly spotted the gun that was trained on them. They looked up again to find their assailant grinning cruelly at them.
He nodded towards the road, and for the first time the two detectives noticed the car that sat at the curb, lights dimmed and the engine idling. For a third time, they exchanged glances. Each knew, without it having to be said, that to get in that car would most likely prove fatal.
“You really don’t want to do this,” Mike said in a remarkably steady voice. It really was amazing, Bobby reflecting sombrely, the way that pure fear could sober a man up. Their assailant looked at the two of them in open and malicious amusement.
“No? Why not? You boys think you’re something special? That your bosses might actually miss you?”
“Oh, they’ll notice,” Mike said dryly, “if only because they’ll be royally pissed off that we’re not at work.”
Bobby swallowed hard in relief, thankful that Mike had the sense not to blurt out that they were part of the high profile Major Case Squad. More often than not, in a situation as highly charged as this, that kind of information tended to be a burden rather than an advantage. Flat-nose’s grin widened and he motioned once more to the waiting vehicle.
“Step up to the car, boys. We need to frisk you both before we take that little ride.”
Bobby walked slowly over to the car, with Mike close behind him. As they were patted down, and their weapons, wallets and police shields removed, they watched each other out of the corners of their eyes, each trying to gauge what the other was going to do.
Right at that moment, Bobby wasn’t sure that it was possible to be more afraid. The last time he had been in a situation similar to this with Mike, he’d had the advantage of knowing personal information about each of their potential assailants, and he had been able to use that to his advantage. He had no such knowledge now, and he suspected that any attempt to talk their way out of trouble would result in a serious beating.
While he still had all his senses intact, Bobby had no intention of doing anything that would end with either or both of them being physically harmed.
On the other hand, nor could they allow themselves to go with these men. Once they were in that car, their options would be severely limited, if not non-existent. No, whatever they were going to do, they had to do it now, before they were herded into the car.
Mike watched Bobby in tense silence. Unlike when they had been trapped together in the prison, there were no saving words from the boy-genius this time. Not that Mike had really expected Bobby to come out with some miraculous mini-speech that would save their sorry asses, but you just never knew.
In this instance, it was a negative. Bobby had nothing in that library that he called a brain that could save them. Not this time. This meant that if they were to escape whatever fate was in store for them, they had to act and it had to be now.
Bobby realised what Mike was going to do a split second before he actually did it. In the space of an instant, Bobby had to decide – fight alongside Mike, or do nothing.
He had never been one to resort to physical violence willingly, even when it appeared to be the only way out. That wasn’t to say that he couldn’t fight – he could, and quite adequately, thankyou. He just preferred not to.
The real question was did they have another option open to them? It took Bobby just that split second to decide no. It was time to fight.
Reacting together, in a move that could almost have been choreographed, Mike and Bobby threw themselves backwards, deliberately smacking the backs of their heads against the faces of the men directly behind them. There were a couple of pained grunts, a startled exclamation, and then the rest of the men were on them.
Mike thought they were actually doing pretty good. From the moment the fight really started, he and Bobby fought together with ferocity and a focus that belied their previously drunken states.
Never underestimate cops when they’re backed into a corner, Mike thought with more than a hint of smugness.
He drove his knee into the groin of one man, and put his elbow squarely into the mouth of another, and finally managed to break free of the rumble. He stumbled several steps away, but before he could get far, a harsh voice interrupted his flight.
“That’s right, look at the fucking pig run. Doesn’t even give a fuck whether his buddy gets a bullet in the head.”
Mike turned back slowly, and his breath froze in his throat at the sight that met him. Bobby had been dragged to the ground and pinned there by four of the six or so men, his arms wrenched painfully behind his back. Flat-nose had the barrel of his gun pressed hard against the back of Bobby’s head. He was no longer smiling, and when he spoke, it was with open malice.
“Get the fuck back here, or he dies right now.”
Mike looked at Bobby and though he couldn’t see the other detective’s face (Bobby’s face was being pushed brutally into the sidewalk), he could guess what Bobby wanted him to do.
He couldn’t do it. Even though he knew it was the logical, procedural thing to do, Mike could not bring himself to turn his back on his colleague and friend, even under the guise of going to get help. He knew, beyond any doubt, that the instant he turned his back on them, the bastard would put a bullet in Bobby’s head. That was a scenario that Mike simply couldn’t live with.
Willing himself to breathe evenly, Mike gathered his courage and walked back to their assailants.
“That’s it,” Flat-nose said, like he was trying to entice a wayward puppy. “C’mon back.”
As soon as Mike was within reach, he found himself thrown roughly to the ground beside Bobby, his arms pulled tightly behind his back. He managed to turn his head slightly, and found himself almost eye to eye with Bobby. Instead of the accusations and betrayal that he expected to see, though, he saw instead gratitude mixed with regret.
Fresh anger flooded through Mike, and he struggled instinctively against the hands that pinned him down. Bobby took his cue from him, and did the same.
“Looks like we’ve got to teach a couple of pigs how to behave properly,” Flat-nose said with a harsh laugh.
Mike heard the sharp ping of a silencer, and could only look on helplessly as Bobby jerked violently, the bullet hitting him in the left thigh. A second later, there was a second shot, and it was Mike’s turn to jerk at the ugly sensation of a bullet striking his right thigh.
A second beyond that, something hard and blunt struck Mike across the back of the head, and everything faded to black.
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