Hold Me
Written by Hayley Douglas



"Here we go, got a coat now. Now we can... walk," Meldrick rattled nervously, shooting glances to his shivering partner every few moments. The blonde man stared at the ground and wrapped his arms around himself, tighter. Meldrick pushed his arms into the sleeves of his overcoat and stepped quickly away from his car.

He came up to Mike and stood at his side, waiting for him to start moving. The blue eyes were distant, like he was in deep thought, and was ignoring the man beside him. Meldrick sighed and waited. Finally, his partner took a step forward and then another, and soon they were walking down a street. It was silent for a long while, and they just walked together. Mike shivered and Lewis looked up at him.

"What?" Mike asked coldly.

"Nothin'," Meldrick felt the heaviness of Mike's Glock in his hand and shoved it in his pocket. Kellerman snorted and rubbed his arms in a futile attempt to get warmth to his bare skin. He sighed and began to pull off his overcoat to give to Mike.

"Look! I don't want your damn coat okay!" Mike seethed, stopping and grabbing Meldrick's arm, "So just... drop it."

"Okay," Meldrick replied, putting his hands in the air. Mike let his gaze fall over the hands and then back to Meldrick's face. Lewis looked away from the conflicting pain he saw there. He lifted a hand and patted Mike's back lightly. Kellerman pulled violently away from the touch and his eyes narrowed.

"Mikey, you can talk to me you know..."

"Oh yeah?"

Stung, Meldrick nodded. Mike jutted his jaw and cocked his head to the side, content, then started back down the street. Lewis stayed in one place, watching the bent figure continue to walk away from him. He winced at the harsh words and debated whether to follow. Mike stopped and turned, his arms dropped from his sides.

"Are we going to walk... or what?"

Meldrick shrugged and shifted his weight uneasily, a few beats of silence passed.

"Look, Meldrick, I'm sorry. I don't feel so hot right now--" Kellerman began, raising a hand to his head to rub at his temples.

"Don't apologize, man. I just want you to tell me what's going on, you know."

"I already told you, on my boat."

"Uh huh, but I want to hear it again. I wasn't... wasn't really listening, Mikey," He explained, raising an eyebrow in a pointed way. His partner looked away and nodded, so he picked up his gait and moved to stand by him, "So you goin' to tell me or what?"

"It's a lot of things, all rolled up into one. I feel like I can't think through all the mess in my head."

"It's all jammed up, yeah, yeah," He said softly. Mike nodded and walked slowly.

"I don't know which one made me do it though. Whether it was my dad, or every cop thinking I'm dirty."

Meldrick stopped at a corner and surveyed the streets as Kellerman continued talking avidly. Both streets looked too dangerous to go down, so Meldrick pushed Mike back the direction that they had just come. Mike looked confused for a second, but as the reached the street and turned down the waterfront drive, he shrugged it off.

"So, after Luther Mahoney went and capped it off, I went home and thought. Thought about everything--"

" 'Cept me," muttered Lewis.

"Huh?"

"I said, you thought about everyone except me. I mean, I'm your partner, man, I told you about Crosetti. You know that's the worst thing you can do to me. I just... you must not have been thinking about me, your partner, while you planned to put this gun to your fool head," Meldrick remarked patting the large pocket that the Glock lay in. Mike swallowed and gazed at the pocket.

"I'm sorry."

"Huh? About what?"

"About Crosetti, Meldrick, Jesus youíre thick."

Lewis snorted and followed Mike across the street to walk along the wrought iron fence that stood between them and the water. He watched his partner shiver again, and he wondered briefly if it was because of the cold, or because of the night's events. It could have been both, but Mike was different right now. Openly depressed over his life when he used to be so happy. Did Homicide do it to him? Seeing the bodies everyday?

"Is it Homicide, Mikey?"

"What do you mean?" Mike asked stiffly, looking out over the bay.

"Are you so depressed because of all the death and pain we murder poh-leece are surrounded with everyday?"

"No! I was /fine/ until this Arson thing came up," Mike looked back to him, right in the eyes unlike earlier when he had been avoiding them studiously, "I was a good detective until this. I was... then this comes along, and- and my life is ruined because of Roland and his bribery."

"You still a good detective, Mikey," Meldrick said firmly.

Chuckling, Mike looked up into the clear stars and rolled his neck to the side and closed his eyes. Meldrick looked around them, letting his natural cop instincts push through while Mike went off in his own little world for a moment. There was nothing going on around them. Sure, the horns on ships and tankers pushing there way through the bay, some close to shore and others farther out.

"You heard that guy, Meldrick," Mike whispered, "he didnít want to talk to me because I was 'dirty'."

Slowly Lewis turned back to him, letting his eyes sweep over the street once more. Mike held on to the cold wrought iron, but it was so tight that his knuckles were white and his arm trembling.

"It was beyond your control, there ain't nothing you can do about the way people are going to look at you."

"How am I going to work as a cop, if people aren't going to talk to me, or they think I'm dirty?" Mike relaxed his grip on the cold iron, pulling his hands back to reveal red splotches. Meldrick shrugged and sighed, turning to lean against the well-made fence.

"One man ain't Baltimore, Mikey, you know that. People are going to see you, they're going to recognize you, but they won't be able to place you. There's nothing you /can do/ about it."

"Except put a bullet through my head," Kellerman replied bitterly, pulling his arms back into the coat when they got too cold to keep out of shelter any longer. He immedeantly wished he could take what he just said back, but instead shrugged. Meldrick tensed beside him, and moved the pocket that held the gun a little further away from the man.

"Uh-uh, I don't want to see you trying that again, okay? I need you man, can't you see that?"

"Not really, I mean, how much caring can another man see in another /man/?" Mike pondered, shifting to continue down the street.

"I ain't going to even dignify that with an answer, Kellerman."

Mike laughed, quickly, but it was enough to show Meldrick that walking out in the freezing cold might not have been such a bad idea after all. He twisted to follow the man, standing under his own sports jacket. Walking in silence, each man questioned his motives about walking in the cold weather.

Meldrick wondered briefly if Mike would have really pulled the trigger. But he knew Mike was not a coward, it would not have been lack of courage that had stopped him. If anything had, it would have been sheer uncertainty. Lewis was not so sure that Mike was the optimist he had thought him to be anymore, but maybe the Kellerman he used to know would think about what good things could happen. He did not know, but he was glad that he had gone to his boat.

Mike would look over at Meldrick every few seconds and wonder if his partner was as upset as he really looked. He did not think that his partner did not care, he knew Meldrick did, but he had just felt so sick of it all and he still did. He must have really scared his partner though, enough for Meldrick to not even let him go back into his own house for a coat, but instead spreading his own over his shoulders. 'Aw,' a sneering part of his brain though, 'isn't that sweet?' Shaking his head, Mike looked over at Meldrick again, before looking down the street.

Meldrick pulled the coat tighter around him and stuck his hands in his pockets. They brushed across the rough handle of the gun, and he had a flashback of Mike's shaking hand as he kissed the barrel. He looked over at the other detective and blinked as he tried to imagine Mikey putting a gun to his head like that. Problem was, he did not have to imagine it because it had happened. He felt their whole partnership change now, and Meldrick closed his eyes against it. Things could never be the same, not now.

'He's mad at me', Mike thought, cursing himself. If anything, he could get down on his knees and swear he would never do it again. He regretted the snide comment about having any other guns and rubbed at his arms some more.

Their footsteps were solemn in the silence, each man wanting to say something to make it better, but neither knowing what to say. Mike wanted to take it back, but could not. Meldrick was still reeling from the fact that he had not noticed it. Finally, Lewis said something, the only thing he could think to break the silence.

"You ever sleep with a man?"

Mike choked.

"What? Wait a minute, I thought you weren't going to /dignify/ that with an answer."

"Changed my mind. Be truthful now, we /soul/ partners now. No more secrets, right?"

"Whatever."

"So did you?" Meldrick asked earnestly. Mike just looked at him and blinked.

"No. I never slept with a man, thought about it though... once, once Meldrick."

"Really? Mikey the Dog thought about another man /once/?"

Kellerman frowned and nodded, hoping the embarrassment was not so clear to see on his face. "Who?"

"It was after Annie cheated on me. I wanted to hurt her, so I went out to a gay bar," Mike gave a smile, "and hit on the first guy who sat down next to me. I don't think he knew what to say. Then I realized just what I was doing and got out of there. I think he knew I was fake the whole time, but God... I just wanted to get back at her for cheating on me so bad, guess I was desperate. His name was... Kevin, I think."

Meldrick nodded, looking about the storefronts and benches, and coming to one, he sat down on it. Mike followed and sprawled on the metal.

"How about you? You ever sleep with a guy?"

"How'd we start talking about this, we ain't even drunk," groaned Meldrick.

"Hey, you asked me first. Fair's fair, so spill it."

"I didn't sleep with him, just... talked and talked and then there we were, across the table--"

"Kissing?"

Lewis nodded, shifting uncomfortably. A breeze pushed through the cold night and a leaf skittered across the road. Both men watched it with humorous fascination. "I don't know what it was. I was a horny teenager, and I'd had too much to drink. Freaked my roommate out when she came in. Swear to God, she never did look me in the eye after she walked in on that little interlude," he shook his head, and suddenly was not so uncomfortable talking about it.

"At least you didn't expect to," Mike reassured him, "I went straight into that place with a plan and everything, and I would have done it, too if I hadn't seen my cousin on the dance floor--"

"What? You saw family in a gay bar?"

Mike nodded, "Yeah, got me thinking you know."

"I know what it is about you, Mikey. You're so lonely you think too much, and when you think, everything goes to disarray."

Kellerman looked up at him, shocked that Meldrick would say something like that, but not particularly upset about it.

"What's wrong with Dr. Cox, you guys seemed happy when we were watching Brodie's little movie?"

"She's fine, I just don't think our relationship's the greatest, right? I want it to work, but I don't feel like working on it right now."

Sighing, Lewis rolled his head over to look at his partner, whose head was leaning back to look up at the sky. The street lamp behind him flickered and it caught Mike's attention for a second, before the clear eyes turned back to the sky.

"Can we go back now?" Mike whispered, mumbling more then asking.

Meldrick looked over at Mike, wanting to say no, but what would walking /really/ do for them?

"Sure, Mikey, we can go back."

Kellerman stood and looked around, his eyes coming to rest on the bay. Smiling, he sighed.

"I thought, once that fun was my god. But I'm not so sure anymore. Have you ever just wanted to die?"

"Sure, lotsa times. Just don't mean I put a gun to my head every time."

"I thought I was the only one..."

"Of course not. We Homicide, Mikey," Meldrick stood as well, tentatively putting a hand on Mike's back, "We see the lowest of all human capabilities. C'mon, you've seen Bayliss sometimes. /He/ was the one I thought was suicidal, but in he would come every morning."

Mike nodded and stepped closer to Meldrick.

"Jesus it's fucking cold."

Meldrick rubbed Mike's back and smiled, "Then let's get back to that tub of yours, huh?"

"Are you sure you want to go there?" Mike gave a small smile, "Something about lumpy air?"

Lewis gave a weak laugh and pushed Mike in front of him playfully. "Lumpy air... that was, I don't know where that came from."

"That's good," sighed Mike, looking back, "because I don't know where half the things you say come from."

"Y'know, I don't remember half the things I was saying back their on the boat."

Mike shrugged.

"I can't believe I almost killed myself. What would my dad have said then do you think?"

"I dunno, he sounds like he cares about you..."

"He thought I was dirty, Meldrick," Mike said stiffly, "I had no one left who trusted me. Except Frank," at that he laughed, "Frank knew I was clean."

Mike stepped down onto the familiar wooden planks of the dock, relishing in the traditional thump. Home, sweet, home.

"Hey! I thought you were clean."

Meldrick hopped down next to him, and swung around in front of Mike.

"You doubted me though. Face it, it made you sit down and think, 'How well do I really know Kellerman? He must have gotten that boat from somewhere right?' "

"What do you expect, Mike? I don't know where you got it and I don't know what you were like before Homicide."

"So you're saying you did?"

Meldrick threw his hands up with exasperation.

"I don't know what you want anymore! Do you want the truth, or me to tell you what you want to hear?"

"The truth of course," Mike yelled back, slinking back and narrowing his eyes.

"I sat down /once/ in the breakroom and said, 'Nah, Mikey wold never do that. He can't he is /good police/' but inside I was thinking, 'I seen the same kind of men do much worse, I've seen them /kill/."

Mike tried to take another step back, but Meldrick grabbed his shoulders.

"Get your fucking hands off of me!" Mike hissed.

Meldrick pushed him back and turned to stalk to the boat. Mike frowned and followed grudgingly.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going to see you in all right," Meldrick replied. Mike laughed and trotted to come stand next to his partner.

"Gonna kiss me goodbye, too?"

Meldrick didn't say a word; he just gave Mike a terrifyingly bright smile. Mike laughed again, and shivered under the brown jacket. Stepping n the deck, Mike sighed. He reached for the door, but a hand on his arm stopped him from opening the door.

"What?"

" 'Night, Kellerman."

"Good night, Meldrick... what?"

"You still want it?" Asked Meldrick.

"Want what? I gotta take a leak, c'mon."

"This," Meldrick said, deadly serious.

Mike felt himself pulled into a tight embrace and kissed, hard. His eyes widened, but he was too stunned to move. Meldrick smiled against him and pulled back.

"Wipe that stunned look off your face, Gilligan, you asked for it."

Mike shrugged out of the jacket and handed it to his partner, keeping his eyes lowered to the deck instead of at his partner's face.

"You goin' to be okay tonight?"

"No," whispered Mike. Meldrick sighed and took the jacket. He looked into Mike's eyes and reached up with one hand and placed it on the back of Mike's neck. The eyes closed and Mike let out a ragged breath.

"Hold me," he said simply. Meldrick nodded and pulled Mike to him, causing the man to stumble a step. Pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth, Meldrick leaned to whisper in Mike's ear.

"I'll always be there for you, Mikey, but this... is going to change everything."

The blonde man in his arms nodded, and Meldrick had to touch the golden strands that seemed to move lightly with every small breeze, so he moved the hand from Mike's neck, up to clutch the back of his head.

Mike surprised him by grabbing his other free hand and pulling it around himself before putting his head on Meldrick's shoulder.

"Are we still going to be partners?"

"Yeah, I wouldn't do that to you, Mikey," Lewis reassured him, tightening the arm that had been placed around the man's waist.

"It scares me, when it feels right to be in another man's arms."

"We're just partners, partners can hug."

Mike straightened up and stepped back. He caught the hand that dropped form his head and tugged on it lightly, then walked into the cabin of his boat. Meldrick followed, pulling off the long overcoat. Inside, he tossed it down, not seeing the Glock tumble out of the pocket as he reached for Mike again.

~

Mike was asleep, but he was still awake, looking down at the peaceful face. He took two fingers and traced the lips before bending to place one last kiss on them. Then, he lifted the arm that was limply thrown over his waist and slipped off the pullout bed.

He dressed quietly, watching Mike the whole time. Meldrick took the Glock and set it on the top of the refrigerator and pulled on his coats. Before leaving, he kneeled down and brushed a hand softly across the pale face and sighed.

Getting up, he wondered briefly what Barbara would say, then decided he really didn't care.

~
THE END
~