The Sins of Homicide II: Stolen Pride

Written by Hayley Douglas

Wrapping the jacket tighter around himself, Austin Torque walked down Hill in a brisk trot. Snickering, he remembered being told never to be caught outside this late.

'Moms always did know best.'

Too bad for her she was six feet under for shooting up one too many times.

The leather kept most of Austin's warmth in, but in the biting wind, his fingers still stung with the cold of the chill December air. It was a damp cold, worse in his mind. Then again, everything was damp in Baltimore, with the Inner Harbor so close.

Humid, even in the one of the driest seasons of cold or heat. Of course, no one in Baltimore noticed it, much less complained about it. Too caught up in their own lives to see that, even when no rain fell for days, that it was still moist outside.

It was the coldest day of the year, Austin knew that it had to be. The leather was doing nothing for him now, the laughing wind had curled inside the collar, and he shuddered.

He looked around solemnly, wondering where everyone was this night.

'Not here, those lucky fucks...'

Giving up, he let his ebony hands let go and instead he shoved them into his pockets. His button-less jacket now hung open, and he suddenly realized what a mistake that was. Colder then before, he cursed into the night air.

Then, he heard a loud sound, and before he knew it he was reeling, and then another one, louder. Austin felt his chest explode as he went flying backwards.

The concrete was colder then ice, as he lay there, staring up, he felt the blood seep out slowly. Cold. It was so very cold.


"Bayliss, your up." Naomi shouted, holding up a phone.

Looking up from a case file, a phone to his ear, he grimaced.

"I'll get back to you, Ms. Macavena, yeah, thanks."

"Line two, Tim." He smiled back up at her with false gratitude and hung-up on the would-be informant. It was busier then it was last week, if you could believe that. The phones rang and rang, but there were only so many detectives to answer them.

Throwing a glance around the squad room, he grimaced when he only saw Munch sitting down. Stivers and Sheppard, Ballard and Gharty, he did not know where Meldrick was...yep, that left Munch.

He took his time jotting down the information, holding his breath as people walked in and out of the doors. As he was about to give up and call out to Munch, Meldrick walked through, whistling, and went straight to the board, and rewrote a name in black.

Thanking God, Bayliss called out, "Meldrick, want to go on a call with me?"

"Why not, Bayliss, as you see, I have just closed the Paterson case, and I am /very/ pleased with myself." Meldrick replied, refastening the overcoat's buttons that he had just undone.

"That's great," Tim answered, casting a sidelong glance at Munch, causing Meldrick to chuckle.

"I see we've gotten over that day with the backend of an ME's van."

"I'm still driving." Bayliss snorted.


The car ride was long, and very quiet. Meldrick did not seem to mind as much as Bayliss did. There was something Tim had been meaning to ask Meldrick, but felt that it might ruin the peacefulness they had kept so far. He swallowed the feeling down and decided to feed his curiosity.

"How's Mike?"

Meldrick went instantly rigid, and Tim winced. Lewis took his time looking over, but, stiffly, he eventually made it so that he looked at the driving detective.

"He doesn't talk that much, I don't know how he's doing, Tim. I'm not the best person for these sorts a things," he answered rapidly.

"Maybe he needs to see someone?" Bayliss asked, frowning slightly as he thought it over.

"That's what I'm thinking, but he won't be willing." Sighed Meldrick, beginning to fidget a lot more.

Bayliss swallowed and kept his eyes on the road. He knew too much about this sort of thing, more then he wanted to. Sometimes he felt like the only person in the world that had suffered so much, in /that/ way.

The only problem was, was that Mike was so...complex. Tim wanted to help, but he was not sure if talking to Mike would help any, or just get memories to resurface. Was it worth a try? Yes, Bayliss had to admit that Mike had usually been there when he needed it as much as can be expected.

"Maybe I can talk to him." He offered.

"I don't know if that would help either, Timmy. He's pretty...different."

"It does that to you..." He said, then immedeantly realized his slip.

Meldrick looked over at Bayliss, but said nothing. What did Tim mean by that? It was beginning to hit Meldrick, that Bayliss was more interested in Mike's condition then what he thought was natural. Could there be some ulterior motives?

Bayliss was saved from explaining himself as they came to Hill.

Squad cars and the ME's van were already parked along the road, creating a small barrier of its own. Rain was beginning to fall, and the bent over Dr. Griscom held an umbrella over white hair.

As soon as Bayliss opened the door, the chill hit him, along with several, fat, drops of rain. The sky was overcast, making Bayliss wish to death that he had remembered /his/ overcoat, as Meldrick had already made his way to the perimeter set with crime scene tape.

It was not the most brutal death he had seen. The body laid sprawled on its back, hands wide at its side and legs bent at the knee. He had died where he dropped. Blood trickled from a wound in his chest, staining the green shirt a dirty brown.

"Hello, Doc." Called Meldrick, swaggering over to the man, who always seemed to wear a lab coat.

"Good morning, Detective Lewis, Bayliss." He replied, standing up straighter with a groan as another gust of cold air hit him full in the face.

"What have we got?"

"Two gunshot wounds to the heart, loss of blood, hypothermia. All of these are possible, but the gaping wounds suggest the first two."

"/Two/ wounds?" Meldrick asked, bending over to get a closer look. It only looked like on really large gunshot wound, like from a shotgun or high-powered rifle.

"Yes, I thought it was one at first too. But really it's two shots perfectly overlapped." Griscom said, placing his hands over one another in demonstration.

"That's one hell of a shot...another sniper?" Meldrick asked.

"Could be...Have the crime scene techs found anything yet?" This from Bayliss.

"They're looking right now, I take it the body is done with?" Asked the ME, hugging himself for warmth. Bayliss nodded and went in search of the uniforms that were scattered along the street.

"Which one of you is in charge?" Bayliss asked, coming to a particularly large group, that was shifting through the grass and discarded bricks for shells or forgotten ammo.

"Uh...that would be Rodriguez," a female officer said, looking up from one pile.

"Thanks, where would he be?"

She motioned to a lone man inside an alley behind them. Meldrick moved to talk to him, and Bayliss let him go, trying to sort out the crime in his head.

"Officer Rodriguez?" Meldrick asked, coming up to the handsome Latino. He smiled and nodded, holding out a gloved hand.

"That would be me?"

"Detective Lewis, Homicide. Found anything?"

"Actually, I just picked this up," Rodriguez answered, pulling a bagged shell casing from a bigger bag, ".55 caliber. Guy meant /business/."

".55," Meldrick whistled, "thought those were street-outlawed?"

"That ever stop anyone before, amigo?" The young man asked with disdain. Meldrick shook his head wearily.


Mike lay on his small couch. Meldrick had ordered that he stay put, which was not such a bad idea because his shoulder ached with the process of healing. It was sore, the bullet having passed through muscle, but thankfully, not through any major organs. Not that the fact made it any less painful.

Shifting on the cushions, that had been Meldrick's bed the nights before. It was not just his shoulder that ached, but thinking about that brought back memories, memories more painful then any physical pain.

Meldrick being here helped. His gentle waking each morning to tell Mike he was going to work reminded him of Annie, when he thought someone had really cared for him.

Being alone gave him a lot of time to think, Mike realized. Having dragged himself to the kitchen after Meldrick left, then straight to the couch as exhaustion struck. He fingered the carton of orange juice that rested precariously on his bare chest. Well, not all bare, there was a large bandage wound tightly around his chest, all the way so that it covered the exit wound to the side of his shoulder blade.

Mike breathed out, then in. He could smell something different now that he was not thinking about much of anything. Dipping his head to the side a little, he sniffed the couch tentatively. It was definitely a pleasant smell, and he groaned and buried his head deeper back into the pillow. Meldrick's smell. Nice.

His eyes flew open as soon as the thought flashed through his mind. He sat up suddenly, spilling orange juice all over the floor in front of the couch.

"Fuck!" He hissed.

As he sopped up the mess as best he could with a paper towel as his thoughts reeled.

The kiss on his boat that evening. What had he really felt when Meldrick placed his soft lips...soft? Where did that come from?

"You're a fucking mess Kellerman," Mike said through clenched teeth, " way."

It was possible though. Mike irritably chunked the satiated lump into the trashcan before collapsing onto the couch again, then groaning as various bruises and abrasions protested to the rough treatment.


There was not much the crime scene had shown them. Eventually, the scene technicians found the other shell, not far from the one Rodriguez had located.

They were indeed .55 caliber shells, fired, and at least from what Ballistics had figured, from a custom single shot rifle. If the killer was as meticulous as most assassin types, then it was most likely a military rifle, since the ammunition was military issue.

Bayliss knew that these men were serious, they would kill until their demands or requests were met.

After placing several calls, with more to go, he found out that no one had called any major businesses or federal buildings, threatening to kill if so and so would not do what they asked.

As he went down his list of activist groups, charities, and corporations, he began to wonder just why he had ever thought being a cop would be an adventure.

"Stevenson Law, how may I help you?" Asked a very pert voice on the other end.

"This is Detective Tim Bayliss, I was calling to ask if you have received any obscene phone calls in the past couple of days, or weeks?"

There was a pause and the woman on the other end called out to, what Bayliss assumed was, another receptionist.

"I'm sorry, sir, neither Cindy or myself have received any kinds of calls of that nature."

"How about your boss?" Bayliss asked, crossing out yet another name on his list.

"All calls go through us, Detective."

"All right, thank you."

Bayliss waited politely for the other person to hang up, then did the same. He looked over at Lewis, whose feet were up and had a phone to his ear.

Catching Bayliss's inquiring glance, he shook his head and hung up the plastic receiver he was holding.

"Great, I didn't get a thing, what about you?" Meldrick asked, pulling his feet down to sit up.

"Same, but I still have a lot to go, guess that'll be my lunch hour." Lewis frowned.

"I want to go check on Mike for lunch, I'm sure I have the same amount as you, but I need to see how he's holding up..."

"I may be the primary, Mel, but I'm not Gee. Do whatever, all I know is that I don't want anymore overtime this week, I haven't slept more then three hours at a time this week," Bayliss said, picking up the phone and yawning to punctuate his sentence.

"I'll be right back, wait if anything comes up," Meldrick said as he shrugged into his overcoat.

Bayliss nodded as he heard another receptionist answer the phone of another law firm.


"Hey Mikey," Lewis called as he entered the boat.

Mike sat on the couch, seemingly asleep, but he moaned a little.

"You okay?"

"Stop asking me that," Mike slurred, sleep still clogging his brain, "I'm fine."

Meldrick came over and stopped when he smelled something very strong and very orange on the air. Looking around, he could not identify the source.

"What's that smell?" He asked, slipping down next to Mike.

Mike sat up immedeantly and reached for the coffee table, pulling it closer so that it covered the damp spot on the floor.

"Uh...nothing." Mike shrugged and scooted away from Meldrick, like he had so often. Meldrick frowned and tried to pat Mike's back, but Mike gave him a look as soon as he reached for him that made him stop dead in his tracks.

"I wish you would talk to me Mikey," Meldrick said, exasperated.

"Why," Mike gave a half-hearted snort, "You never did."

Swallowing, Meldrick knew it was true. Mike had always been upset, since the first few months of their partnership, that Lewis never shared anything. But, now seemed to be the worse time to bring it up, since Meldrick so desperately needed Mike to talk to him.

"Because I wanna help you here."

"Well, you can let me OD on pain killers, I would love you for eternity for it..." Mike replied in a flat voice, rubbing the area around his shoulder.

"That's not funny, Mikey, I don't want you to take more of that stuff then need be."

"Meldrick..." Mike rolled his eyes, and looked away.

Silence ensued. Meldrick bit his lip, trying to think of something, anything to say or do to break the cocoon that Mike seemed sheltered in.

He had not been lying to Bayliss when he had told him Mike was different. No more was the man that would talk forever about nothing and give a mischievous smile at a given chance, not now anyway. Mike was quiet, and only spoke when spoken to, or when he saw it necessary. Ironically, Meldrick saw a portion of himself in there. Hurt so bad by the harshness of life that you separate yourself from those around you. Meldrick felt a sense of vague empathy, although he hoped he would never know what Mike was going through.

"I'm trying so hard...," Mike said suddenly, startling Meldrick out of his thoughts. When he did not go on, Meldrick spoke.

"What are you trying so hard to do?" He asked softly, inching closer to Mike.

"To get better, but I don't think I ever will."

Mike said it as if he was all right with it, as if it were his destiny. Meldrick swallowed, again fumbling for something to say.

The boat rocked, still, in their silence. Decorated with woods and earth tones, Meldrick never really concentrated on the face that Mike was neat for a single man. A tan couch, wood coffee table, wood cabinetry, beige carpeting, it was all coordinated. It was soothing, but, unfortunately, Meldrick was having trouble being the same to the man who needed him most.

"I'm trying too, Mikey." He whispered.


Meldrick walked back into the squad room, looking worse then he did when he had walked out. Bayliss gave a grim smile and swallowed the sandwich he had run across the street for.

"Let me guess, he still isn't talking?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah," Meldrick said, looking at Bayliss, wondering if he should tell him. He decided that he might as well.

"The first half of my lunch break was spent in awkward silence, then I made Mike and myself a sandwich, followed by my other half of lunch spent in the same silence."

"You didn't talk at all?" Tim asked, incredulous, throwing the wrapper to his French Dip in the garbage.

"We talked some," Meldrick grumbled, "Not that it did any good."

Bayliss gave another sympathetic look, before Naomi caught his attention.

"The ME's done with his report," she announced, handing Meldrick a pink slip in the process.

Glancing down, Meldrick read the tight cursive.

-Barbara, wants to talk over dinner. -

Barbara, his wife that he had been neglecting. Meldrick felt a sense of guilt flood him as he thought of now two reasons why he was being a bad husband. One, he was openly in love with another person, and two, he was spending almost all his free time with that person.

He pursed his lips and shoved the paper into his pocket. They would talk over dinner. Realizing he rarely ever left his overcoat, Meldrick followed Bayliss out the squad room door.


Josh Blevan caressed the cool metal that lay on his knees. The gun, and such a simple word for something so great and complex as this, was Josh's most prized possession. Well, next to the fire helmet and picture that adorned the mantel of his dark apartment.

Bare save for a couch, two tables, and a chair, the apartment gave off a sense of insanity. Something that Josh felt very comfortable with. It was simple, cold, and the only color was the yellow in the helmet.

He stood, and brushed his fingers across the top of smooth surface of the Arson helmet. Something that had been so close to Mike, on his head, that beautiful head.

Josh closed his gray eyes, shuddering as the pleasure of memories splashed over him, leaving him weak-kneed. This was effecting him too much, the joy he had in this man he had broken so nicely.

Then there was the picture, more or less taped to the stark, white, plaster wall. He had torn Meldrick off and burned it with a Bic lighter, only satisfied when he felt the sting as the flames seared his fingertips. Mike smiled down at him with that dimpled, happy smile that made Josh react in the most obscene in ways.

It was becoming downright impossible to go through one day without thinking of the brilliant blond hair, off set with stunningly blue, blue eyes.

"Tell me that you need me..." He aimlessly hummed, a dark smile spreading over his features, too handsome for someone so evil.

It was true though. He was undoubtedly good-looking, the soft brown hair with blond highlights whispering through its wavy mass. Grey eyes peered from dark lashes, always wearing a look of deep amusement at whoever was standing in his vision. Pronounced cheekbones and a richly defined jawbone proved how thin he really was. Thin, but no less muscular, he made up for his childhood scrawniness with leaps and bounds.

Shuddering at the thought of his...less then perfect childhood, Josh let his eyes slide closed.

Ages ago, he had been a 'normal' person, a child, an innocent. Being a child of divorcees, his mom winning a dirty custody battle, he soon acquired a stepfather. Beighleigh Blevan. An older man then his twenty-nine year old mother, he had a demand for strict discipline.

Beighleigh had been a Corporal in the Marines, and, having he himself brought up with daily beatings, took his frustrations in life out on the small child. Hard and brutal blows centered on his face, more often then not causing concussions.

Josh sighed heavily, leaning against the wall that held the mantel. Sometimes he felt trapped in the life he had made for himself, and others, he felt grateful for it being there. It was what he did best, he reassured himself sometimes. Pulling a trigger, and running were not hard objectives. Plus, as time had recently shown him, it could have bonuses.


Mike looked around the boat before rolling his eyes up and popping out a contact. One of the secrets he had never told Meldrick was that he wore correctional lenses. Mike had thought it a game at first, seeing how long he could keep something from a supposedly 'veteran' Homicide detective.

It was almost laughable now, since the plastic case he washed them in during the night hours lay in plain view on the small sink's rim.

Not that his eyes were any less blue without them, though. He put the small disc in its appropriate side, and then repeated the process. Squinting, he reached for the pewter colored wire-framed glasses.

Looking into the medicine cabinet mirror, he cocked his head to the side, smiling at how different he looked with them on.

Changing into contacts was not his intention for the day. But, a serious bout of pain induced depression had made it impossible for them to stay in at first, with the sparse, helpless tears, and then his eyes too dry for them to rest comfortably against his lens. The glasses were his last resort when it had become too painful to bear.

Meldrick was going to flip, and then berate himself endlessly for never knowing it. Mike, frankly, could not wait. With a snicker he backed out of the extremely small washroom, and flicked off the light.


Meldrick Lewis seriously considered walking to the nearest, hardest wall and slamming his head into it, repeatedly, until his brain dripped out of his ear. Instead, he sat at his desk, staring straight ahead into space, until the man in front of him became worried.

"Meldrick?" Bayliss asked. When he got no response, he passed a hand in front of the man's eyes.

"Meldrick?" He repeated. Finally, Lewis blinked and focused in on Tim's face.


"You sort of...phased out a second ago. Are you all right?"

"No. What I want right now, Timmy, is for you to take that handy-dandy service pistol, and blow me away," Meldrick intoned, slouching forward until his head rested on the desk's blotter, "I swear you won't get caught."

"Uh huh, in a squad room of uniforms and /Homicide/ detectives? I think that would be a classic dunker, I can hear them now, Meldrick...'Yeah, did you hear about Timmy Bayliss just up and shot a fellow detective in the middle of the /Homicide squad room?' "

"Damn..." Meldrick muttered half-heartedly. Bayliss let out a worried chuckle and looked back to the paperwork.

Staring at the scratched surface of a blotter was not all that interesting, so Lewis found himself fiddling with paperclips and pencils so meticulously placed by a detective in the second shift.

"Bayliss," Meldrick said suddenly.


"What would you do, I mean, if you were in my place, with Mikey?" He asked, looking up expectantly, sending a destroyed paperclip off the edge of the metal desk and into the trashcan.

"I don't know, Mel," Bayliss breathed audibly, "I think he should see someone who knows a little more about this then we do."

"Pfft, yeah right, can yous honestly see Mikey talking to a shrink 'bout this?"

"No. Hey, what? Do you want me to talk to him?" Tim asked after putting down the pen he was using and leaning over farther.

Meldrick seemed to think it over, and just as he seemed to like the idea, it suddenly struck him that Mike still thought the Mahoney thing was his fault. Talking to Bayliss, a direct result of the conflict, no matter how involved when he had been taken, might be a little too fast.

"I dunno, Tim, I mean when you got should of heard the way he babbled about it being his fault. I almost started believing his sorry ass."

The look Bayliss suddenly gave him made Meldrick frown deeply.

"What?" He asked, defensive.

"You and Mike haven't discussed what went down with the Mahoney shooting?" Bayliss asked, almost in awe. Meldrick's mouth hung open for a while before he snapped it shut defiantly.

"Tim he was /raped/! There's no need for me to be bringing up a raw subject like that."

"Oh, so you're going to wait for it to resurface later, and rear its ugly head? Okay, I see."

"I ain't needing this..." Mumbled Lewis, looking at his watch, "I already told you, me and Mikey aren't really talking at all, much less about specific subjects. One thing before another, okay?"

"Look, he needs to see somebody, Meldrick, this can really turn out worse down the road," Bayliss suggested, "I mean, I don't think it does either of you any good being silent. Have you talked to him at all, about anything?"

Meldrick thought for a little bit, straining to think of something so he did not look like such an idiot. Bayliss just looked on with an encouraging gaze; a slice of pity could be detected. Meldrick thought briefly of lying, but that too would take some doing.

"I think, right after, we had a conversation on where his dresser should go, when we fixed his room" Meldrick offered lamely, but it was the truth, "That was the only 'real' conversation we's had."

"I'll get a list together of people I know," Bayliss stated in a don't-you-dare-argue-with-me tone of voice. Meldrick just nodded, hoping that tonight he could talk Mikey into saying something.


Barbara waited patiently at the small corner table. She smiled at Meldrick as he walked in, and received a fond smile in return.

"Hi, baby," He said, taking a seat next to Barbara. It was evident, that he was nervous about something, and she took a deep breath before replying.

"Do you love me?"

Meldrick's mouth dropped open, and he stuttered aimlessly.

"Babs...honey...what-what do you...what'cha trying to tell me?"

"It's an honest question Meldrick, please."

"Yes! Of course I love you!"

"Then, am I the only one?" She asked, trying to look sincere and loving, but the pain was that much harder to conceal now that she knew he did love her, at least a little. The pain worsened as he looked away, without answering.

"Oh, Mel..." She breathed.

"I'm so sorry, Barbara," He said, trying to grasp at her hand, but he could not find it. She reached over and took it firmly in hers.

"Who is it, I think I know, but I want to be sure."

He looked up then, his eyes seemingly darker, as if he was working something out in his head. She held her breath, almost certain whom he was going to name. She just...needed to hear him confess, to make her feel like she was doing the right thing.

"It was..." He could not say it.

"Meldrick, I love you," She whispering softly, "and I always will. I'm your superwife remember." A tear welled up over her eyes, and he looked away again.

"It's Mikey...he's the one, I'm so sorry baby...I'm so sorry," He finally said, blushing and trying to pull his hand away from her hand, that held tight.

She looked down at the table and took a deep breath, more tears dripped down, making small puddles on the cheap vinyl that covered the small surface. She had known it, and she did not know it would hurt this much to hear it from his own lips, like he had stabbed her heart and twisted the blade clockwise, and then counter-clockwise.

"Oh, Mel...I'm the one that should be sorry."

"For what, baby?"

"I couldn't keep you," She whispered.

"That's not true, you been there for me, and I'll always love you for it!" Meldrick admonished. Barbara smiled weakly, and tightened her grip, squeezing it reassuringly.

"I know, but what are we going to do?"

"There's nothing to do. I need someone, Barb, and Mikey can't be it."

"Why not?"

"He's," Meldrick paused to find the right word, "not /like/ that, baby. I need you to come home to."

"Meldrick, you haven't been coming home to me," She reminded him. He swallowed and nodded.

"But," She continued, "I'm here for you, Meldrick, whenever."

"You have no idea, Barbara, how much you mean to me..." He leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes as if he had a terrible headache.

"Does Mike know how you...feel, about him?" She asked next. Meldrick snorted.

"He would kick my ass across the bay, hon."

"So it's unrequited?"

He opened one eye, and looked at her, a small grin creeping across his face.

"You been readin' them smutty, sappy novels again?"

Barbara laughed despite the tears that snaked down her cheeks.


"I'll be in Baltimore a few more days," a tall man said into the payphone, "Got some more business to take care of," a pause, "You know it isn't like that baby...I love you, too. Tell Jason to go to bed. Bye, sweetheart." He smiled and hung up the phone, and turned around the smile disappearing as he stared down the barrel of a very large gun.

"I'm glad she knows you love her," an oddly familiar voice sneered.

His eyes widened as the man's finger tightened on the trigger.

He did not even hear the gun go off.

Later in the squadroom... ~

"Bayliss, come take a look at this," Terri Stivers called out, waving a case file in the air. Tim looked up with a puzzled look on his face. He had lost sleep mulling over the Torque case in his mind and was not in the best of moods.

Besides having almost no sleep, the coffee pot empty when he reached it, and the fact that there was nothing new with the case, he was having a right 'ole jolly day. He stood and made his way over to Terri, who looked apprehensive to say the least.


"I just pulled another murder, Leonard Kebernson, killed with a .55, just like your Hill shooting."

"You think they're connected?" He groaned, sinking down into the chair. This was one less thing he needed today, it was already complete.

"Besides the fact that his face was blown to pieces at point-blank instead of across the street, yeah. There's one other thing though..." She frowned, opening the file where it was obvious months were missing. Bayliss's eyes widened.

"Just like in Torque's file."

"Yeah, the catch is, I know what happened in that month, I was on the case from Narcotics," She replied. Taking a seat across from Bayliss.

"Go on." He prodded.

"Austin Torque, Leonard Kebernson, Douglas Turow, and Ronald Mill were all taken down in a rock house raid. But, having connections with the Mahoney organization, they cut a deal."

"What kind of deal are we talking about? Immunity?"

"Yeah," She nodded, "They give us some incriminating evidence about Luther, we let them go back home to their families. So they did, and we got the evidence. Unfortunately, we couldn't arrest him on those charges, but if he had been brought to court, we could have used it against him, but things happened like they know."

"Someone's killing the leaks, why? Whatever they got wasn't enough to go on anyway." Bayliss mused.

"I didn't notice it at the time, but it did mention another family member in the business, other then Georgia. Since Luther was our main concern, I let it go. There is evidence somewhere that another Mahoney exists, these men have the evidence up here," she tapped her temple.

"The other member, that ordered the hit on Mike. Catalina?"

"There wasn't a name, just mention of her, a her, yes."

"I take it these tapes and files are missing, too?" Terri nodded; a grim smile crossed her face.

"Falsone requisitioned them before he was brought down, they haven't been returned from records as of yet."

Bayliss sighed, and rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to fight off the inevitable headache that was about to envelop him in its not so loving embrace.

"Meldrick, what about him?" He asked, looking around the squad room.

"I don't know, Timmy, this could really eat him up. He and Kellerman, it's kinda hinky..." Terri said. Bayliss looked over at her again.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, hinky. The way he's been at Kellerman's back so hard lately."

"Huh? Are you saying-"

"I'm not saying anything, Bayliss, just that...the relationship is...different, at least it looks like that to me," She said quickly.

"You think Meldrick and Kellerman are sleeping together."

"You said that, not me," Terri said, a smirk showing as she looked around the squadroom quickly.

"Well, what /do/ you think?"

"I think...that it's hinky, that Meldrick might be /watching/ Mike's back, a little closely," Bayliss laughed and she smiled.

"Nah, not Meldrick."

"You never know."

"He's married, though," Bayliss remarked, realizing his mistake when Terri just shot him a look.

"What should we do about the information, Tim, on a different subject?"

"Let's wait until we get something solid. Thanks Terri, this information should help us."

She nodded and waved him off as she walked to the coffee room. Bayliss hoped to God that he was doing the right thing. Meldrick did not take well to being left out of the loop.

Meldrick and Kellerman? Yeah, right... right?


Meldrick fell out of the couch, cursing as he hit the floor. Then he heard it again the sound that had woken him out of a sound sleep. Having come home late, he had fallen instantly asleep.

A piercing, scream filtered through the walls of the boat. Meldrick stumbled to his feet and ran to the back room.

Opening the door, the scream became instantly louder. It was a mind-numbing scream that made Meldrick chew heavily on his lip.

Mike was indeed sleeping on the floor, and for some reason, Meldrick could not figure out why he had never noticed it before. Mike's hands grasped at the bedclothes tightly, scratching at the floor, pulling himself across it. Meldrick had no idea what to do.

"Mikey." He whispered, making his way across the small space. The sweat dripped down Mike's brow as he through his head back and screamed again. He had torn the bullet wound open, and the wound bandage was dark in the low light.

Reaching out, he put a hand on Mike's arm. Mike violently pulled away and stopped screaming, but instead started shaking uncontrollably, and curled into a tight ball with the sheets wrapped around his body.

"Mikey, c'mon answer me..."

There was no reply as the man shook, a moan escaping the raw throat, so strangled, Meldrick knew it had to hurt. He stepped closer and knelt down to the floor. The man he loved so much was so broken, and so out of reach.

Meldrick placed his hands on Mike's shoulders and held him tightly. The shaking was subdued, and the shock knocked Mike into consciousness.

"No. Don' hurts. No more," He breathed, taking deep breaths and coughing terribly. Meldrick could not tell if he was talking to him, or Josh. He assumed both, and rubbed the shoulders.

"Mikey, it's me, Meldrick. I'm here," He said, sinking down even farther to hold the man.

"God, help me. What's wrong with me?" Mike asked, speaking to the floor. Meldrick swallowed and laid down next to Mike's turned back.

"Maybe you should see someone, Mike, someone who's dealt with this before." Mike snickered and coughed again.

"See someone who will give me a lot of sympathy and tell me to lick my wounds..."

"No, these people are trained and stuff like that, c'mon, give it a try."

Mike did not reply, just began to shiver. Meldrick noticed that the temperature in the room was lower then in the living room.

"How come you never told me you were sleeping on the floor?" Meldrick asked, bringing a blanket from a pile a ways away from where Mike was huddled.

"I wanted you to have the couch, you need your sleep, have work," Mike droned, spreading out underneath the blanket.

"Jeez-us, Mikey, you've been shot through the shoulder and..." he could not go on.

"Raped?" Mike whispered.

"Yeah, you need it more then I do, Mikey. Don't you have a bed somewhere?"

Silent again, Mike stared at the ceiling. Meldrick had returned to his place beside him, pulling at his tie that he had forgotten to remove before going to bed. Mike chuckled when a particularly funny thought hit him.

"This is like a slumber party now," He whispered, then ruefully pointed out, "you just forgot your sleeping bag."

Meldrick smiled and retrieved his sheet from the couch, laying it out on the ground.

"How'wa bout a sheet, Kellerman?"

"Whatever." Came the sleepy reply, "my throat hurts, Meldrick."

"You was screaming as if someone was about to kill you man, must have been one hell of a nightmare..."

"Yeah, it was...more of a memory really. Can I talk to you instead of some high-priced if-it-rains-I'll-drown-because-my-nose-is-so-high-up shrink?"

"Thought you would never ask, Mikey," Meldrick replied, settling down again, and marveling over the fact that he could spread out, comfortably on the floor. His legs relaxed and he continued to stare at Mike's turned back.

"I think, that if I went, and got some movies from Blockbuster, I would be a lot happier..." He joked.

"C'mon, Mike..."

"Ok, ok. I just see it, happening over and over, and sometimes it's bad, and sometimes not so bad. But every time he's right there...over me, smiling," Mike shuddered now, and Meldrick swallowed, "In some, he has that camera of his, and it keeps flashing. Over and over until I think I'm going crazy...Meldrick?"

"Right here, Mikey."

"Then I wake up. I can't sleep again, and I hurt from tossing and turning so much. Every night, I just don't think I screamed until now."

Mike looked over at the body next to him, a blue-ish tint due to the rising sun that sent early morning light through the window. Meldrick stared back, a sorry look on his face. He could not say anything, and Mike doubted if he could, whether it would mean anything or not.

"Sometimes," Meldrick begins, "When I dream about my childhood days, growing up in the projects, I remember the bullets that would break our windows and how we would all huddle on the floor. Everybody, my moms, grandmoms, even Anthony would be there, just scared out of our lives. When it would stop, we would go out carefully, see how much was damaged, clean up, and look forward to it again the next week...or night during the summer days. I wake up screamin' when I venture that far back..."

"Me?" Mike snorted, "I grew up in Brady Bunch land. Mom was loving; dad was there and played ball on weekends. Greg and Drew were...dysfunctional, and Lindsey was a sister to all of us. Our neighborhood had a crime watch for gods sakes, it was almost sickening, but thanks."

"For what?"

"For telling me something about you," Mike breathed, and sank down into the warm blankets, letting his eyes flutter closed.

Meldrick stayed up until he heard the soft breathing signifying sleep, before kissing his palm, then placing it on Mike's temple. Smiling as Mike stirred a bit, Meldrick, too, closed his eyes to sleep.

It was the best sleep he had gotten the whole week.


Bayliss looked around the squadroom, and his eyes fell on an amazing sight. Lewis. Early. If that was an oxymoron he did not know what was. Lewis was early today. Tim /knew/ that Gee was wondering what was going on, but Bayliss was going to find out.

Pushing back in his chair, he made a beeline for the solemn man.

"Whoa, hey Lewis..." Bayliss said, suddenly wondering if this was a good idea after all.

"Hey, hey, hey, Timmy, how be you today?" He said in a less then enthusiastic voice. Normally Bayliss would attribute it to him being out of bed before normal times, but he saw something beneath the surface.

Something was wrong. Tim sat down on the edge of the desk and crossed his arms, a smile tipping the corners of his mouth.

"I'm good, but, I was wondering about you...seeing that it is seven thirty in the morning. Oh, jeez, Meldrick. Did you forget that work starts later then eight thirty?"

Meldrick snorted and looked just passed Tim.

"I did not forget, I waited long enough as it was this morning."

Bayliss's eyebrows raised, slightly, as not to draw attention. This was fun, it should not be, but it was. Holding back a laugh, he expelled a breath.

"Oh... really?"

"Yeah, I sat on that boat until Mike started moving, then I left."

Bayliss's mood vanished.


"I can't be in the same room with him anymore, Timmy, this is driving me insane... I-"

"What is, Meldrick, what is driving you insane?"

Meldrick just stared straight at his blotter. Bayliss could tell what was up, now more then ever, but he could not tell what. This whole thing was driving Meldrick to... coming to work early. This was serious, and as funny as it seemed at the back of his mind. It was not, could not, be funny if Meldrick was acting like this.

"Tell me, Lewis, I want to help. You /and/ Mike."

Meldrick looked down and sighed, then his eyes skittered across the squadroom.

"Mike used to sit over there," He jutted his chin to the space, "across from me. I felt it then, but it was so deep in the... back of my mind. Then he sat farther away, then farther, then he was gone. As he got farther, I felt the pull, I felt the.../need/ to have him by my side again. No one compared to Mikey, no one."

"Well... then you compare someone to Falsone, the suspects we bring in here would look like saints."

"I mean before we knew he was dirt. Falsone, my partner? Not Paul, Mikey was."

Bayliss nodded, 'I'm with you so far, Meldrick', he thought.


"Yeah, Mikey was always there for /me/, I think that he put himself behind me automatically. He...he... would chew off his arm so I could eat."

"/Where/ did you get that?" Bayliss asked with a chuckle.

"I think Munch was talking about some book. 'Bout pirates eating their friends. What?" He asked looking up to find another bemused half-grin.

"I don't know how you, in your right mind, would let Mike get partnered up with that man."

"Thanks, Timmy, you sure make me feel all better..." Lewis mumbled, staring incredulously at Bayliss.

Someone pushed through the doors then, sending a young uniform to the ground. Meldrick dropped the pen that he was holding and stood.

"Mikey! What-"

Mike looked angry as hell. Angrier then hell, his face soured at the sight of Meldrick.

"I don't appreciate what you did this morning," He hissed, pulling a hand through his blond hair that had obviously been neglected in his haste. Meldrick just opened his mouth, then shut it.

"I go to sleep, I closed my eyes, thinking that when I woke up that you," He poked a hard finger in Meldrick's chest, making Meldrick stumble backwards, "would be there. Oh, no. I wake up, I look around, and you're gone."

Bayliss blinked at the slight implications of that outburst. Maybe Terri was not wrong in her assumptions after all. Mike took a breath then and noticed, for what was obviously the first time that Bayliss was standing there. He gave a small smile and put his hand out, unsteadily.

"Hi, Bayliss, how's the back?"

"Mike, it's not giving me too much grief," Bayliss stuttered a little, taking the hand and wincing at how weak the hold was. Mike looked back to Meldrick and the smile faded.

The squadroom was growing quieter. Everyone had heard some version of what had happened to Mike. It was obvious that his left side sagged and that every movement caused enough pain that he winced often.

Terri Stivers stood behind and to his left watching with a slight hint of worry. Ballard and Gharty held coffee cups and watched, making their own assumptions. Gee, well, Bayliss knew he was watching, but he could not see him. Uniforms looked up from forms they held in their hands. Not all was quiet; the phones still rang in their bleating fashion.

All the while, Meldrick stood under the gaze of ice blue eyes.

"You, me. On the roof," Mike whispered harshly, standing aside. Meldrick nodded, still not meeting his eyes. Bayliss stood back, and let Lewis pass.

Mike looked around the room with something of longing, and turned to follow. Tim waited exactly ten seconds, until the squadroom became animated again, before slipping out. Terri gave him a knowing look, and he shrugged.



"Don't you dare say a word, Meldrick. I don't know why I'm so mad at you, but the thought of you leaving me... it scares me. I'm already scared enough, God fucking /knows/ I hate being this way. I hate thinking that he'll come back to my boat and take me again. I don't need to be scared like that, to feel like your fucking l-leaving me."

"I'm not leavin' you, Mikey," Meldrick whispered, trying pleading with his eyes without actually looking into his.

"I wanted to get up that morning and have you there. We... I don't know, Meldrick, we got somewhere last night, and I wanted to talk about it... but when I got out of the bedroom, you were long gone," the voice had softened and was becoming strained with the need to get the point across.

Meldrick looked up; the blue eyes were no longer angry. They looked at him with something close to terror. Lewis felt lost; he reached out and put his arms around Mike, arms and all, who stood rigid in his arms.

Through deep breaths he tried to speak, but his breath hitched so terribly and his body shook. He was trying to talk, but he shook so much. Meldrick just nodded, pretending to understand the mumbled words that were spoken near his neck. He held so tight to him, the left arm slack and the right one trying to hold on, but it would not. It slipped down and Meldrick found himself holding the full weight of his former partner.

They both slipped down, Meldrick's legs crossed and Mike on his knees, leaning into him. They sat on the roof that way for a while then, just letting the moment fade slightly. It was extremely uncomfortable for Meldrick, who just bared it. The tar smudged into Mike's jeans, and into his slacks, but they stayed there. The wind blew Mike's hair, longer in the past week, against his cheek, tickling.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered, putting more weight off of the injured shoulder.

"There...ain't no reason in the world to be, Mikey."

"I just embarrassed you in front of... everyone."

"I'd have to feel embarrassed to be it, wouldn't I?" Meldrick asked, reaching up hesitantly to feel the blond strands. Soft as silk. Mike coughed a little then, shifting from his knees, onto his bottom so that now they sat side by side on the roof.

"I'm tired," He said, reaching up to swipe at his eyes, but Meldrick's hands were already there. His fingers on Mike's cheeks, the thumbs wiping away the tears. Mike looked up, feeling... that feeling again.

It was dead silent, save for the breeze that was always coming off the Chesapeake and through the metal links of the fence, dragging loose asphalt across the roof. Mike opened his mouth to say something, but only a strangled catch came out.

That was when it happened. Meldrick leaned down and pressed a chaste kiss to Mike's lips, slightly open.


Mike closed his eyes, warmed by Meldrick's touch. So this was what the looks were. Those long, long looks that had made him squirm. Now he squirmed, but not to get away, but to reach up and feel the jaw that had beckoned him for so long, no matter how he wrote it off. The stubble scratched, just like he thought it would. Meldrick, moaned, just like he thought he would. When had he thought so much about this?

It was not a kiss anymore. More like them leaning together, to feel the feel of someone else there. But Mike broke the moment. His hand came away, and suddenly pulled away.

"I', you can't..." He pushed himself up, laboriously, and stood. Meldrick had seen that uncertainty before, and he had never wanted to see it again. Mike's hand, that had found his, was still there though. Meldrick stood and shook his head.

"You're more then worth it, Mikey," He said, squeezing the hand.

Mike looked down at it, and swallowed.


The hand came away, and Mike panicked, backing away before turning completely and pushing through the door to the roof. Meldrick watched, and shook his head, bringing his hand up to his lips that still burned where Mike had been.


Mike stumbled down the stairs, his hand on his lips. Bayliss, passed without notice, had seen it all. He turned to watch the blond man, in a sweater and jeans, now dirtied by the tarred roof, run from something that had been so perfect. Tim was blown away, and was... well, mildly confused, too.

Meldrick pushed open the door, and Bayliss turned, knowing showed in his hazel eyes. Lewis just watched Mike go then turned to Tim.

"Well, Timmy, now you know," His voice wavered.


Stivers sighed as Meldrick and Tim walked in. Kellerman was not anywhere, but the silence was still lingering.

"Bayliss, we need to talk about the Kebernson case, I'm getting really bad vibes from this."

Meldrick came to stand by them, and pretended to listen to there animate conversation, but Bayliss could tell the difference.

"I'm thinking that there's hits ordered on all the men involved on that raid, and immunity that had been served. I think, that this new... Mahoney is looking to clean up Baltimore, then take over the drug trade."

"What else did you find?" Bayliss asked, pulling a chair for her.

"I've been looking, to see if what I thought was right. Well," she nodded, closing her eyes for a few seconds, "The whole east side drug trade has been slipping for the past two months, and starting this week, the west side has been slacking, too. I can't figure it out, if he or she is driving all the business away, or what?"

"A month?" Meldrick whispered, "She's been here a month, planning everything, for Mikey, for the drug trades."

"Statistics are going down. Narcotics doesn't know whether to celebrate or get worried. I'd be worried, as a Homicide detective anyway. I'm also starting to think that she's hiding mass amounts of bodies somewhere," She smiled, "but that's only hopeful thinking."

"She planned the hit on Mike for a month," Meldrick repeated, "Mikey resigned almost a month before the kidnapping. More than, more like six weeks."

"What are you getting at, Mel?"

"You are saying Terri, that it wasn't due to our drug raids that the drug stats went down so far?"

"I'm thinking it... oh-my-god..." She whispered. Meldrick nodded. Bayliss looked from person to person.

"Okay," He said, "Maybe I'm a little slow, I don't know. But are you trying to say-"

"I'm saying Bayliss, that Georgia pulled out before it went down. She stopped her business transactions. She was setting us up."

The trio stood, facing each other. Meldrick sighed, and gave Bayliss a look.

"I gotta go find Mikey."


Mike ran back to the boat, at full speed. His shoulder screamed, and his chest burst in the chill air that scraped painfully against his throat. 'Don't! Stop! Can't run anymore!' His mind screamed. He leaped onto the deck, ducked into the door, and slammed it home.

He sank to the floor, knees drawn to his chest and panted, sucking in breaths. Mike thought it was amazing that he had anything left in him to sit there. He knocked his head against the door a few times, wishing he could back up the time.

He felt dirty, like he... like Meldrick did not deserve someone like him. Torn up and spit out, a murdering, lying, piece of scum. He repeated the thought over and over in his head. Not to mention that Meldrick was... oh god...Meldrick was married! Barbara, how could he do this to Barbara. Sweet Barbara, Mike slammed his head against the door again.

Yet, it had felt so good. To feel wanted again, to feel like /that/ again. To know, after being scared out of his mind, that Meldrick was still his. He felt his lips again, and berated himself. He was no good, not for someone like Meldrick.

He heard the clump of someone on the deck and moved as Meldrick opened the door. Meldrick looked down at Mike, and expelled a breath.

"I thought...I didn't know what to think. I didn't think," He whispered, holding a hand out to Mike.

Mike considered it, and then took it, allowing himself to be brought up. Meldrick stood, with the hand a while longer before releasing it. They stared into each other's eyes, quelling their deepest feelings.

"We need to talk."

Mike blinked.

"Yeah, it's time to talk."

Meldrick motioned to the unmade couch, and Mike went to sit down. Then he ventured to the kitchen and grabbed two beers.

"Terri, she found something on these murders that have been popping up in Baltimore," Meldrick began as soon as he sat, "two so far. Austin Torque and Leonard Kebernson, shot with a .50 caliber weapon, but one was point-blank, one was aimed at from a distance of approximately forty-three feet."

"So?" Mike asked, rolling the unopened can in his hands, feeling the coolness against the searing heat he felt just being in the same room as Meldrick. It was more embarrassment then anything else. He swallowed and tried to pretend like nothing had ever happened.

"So, these men were mixed up with Luther Mahoney," at this Mike grimaced and looked away, "they had incriminating evidence about the existence of another Mahoney, and, we think, they are the only ones that got close enough to the family to know about her. What I really wanted to tell you was that, Terri thinks that it wasn't the drug raids that we did that caused the drug statistics to decline, Mike, we think, that Georgia pulled out in the end. She was making room for a new boss, and this one is covering all her bases."

Mike shook his head.

"It just won't /end/ will it? We can kill three of them, and there will always be /one more/ that will rise from the smoke and bite me... us, in the ass. I thought that leaving would stop it. I thought that if I were no where /near/ a badge, that maybe, just maybe, I could live my life in peace. But they came and found me, I didn't want to be found."

"Nobody wants what that sick freak did to you, Mikey, nobody. I wish I could skin him, one layer at a time, then pour alcohol over every inch of his non-deserving body, and none of the good stuff either. He would get that water-shit"

Mike snorted, "He'd probably get off on it."

Meldrick shuddered and made a funny gesture with his hands.

"What was that?" He asked. Meldrick looked up.

"What was what?"

"That thing, stupid, that you just did with your hands."

"You mean...this," Meldrick did it again.

"Yeah, what is that?" Mike looked up, a smile just barely gracing his features.

"Blue eyes," Meldrick whispered. But the eyes darkened as soon as Mike understood where this was headed.

"Don't..." he whispered.

"Why, Mikey? Tell me what's wrong." Meldrick scooted closer, taking the forgotten can out of Mike's hands and setting it down on the coffee table. Mike watched the can, as if it were extremely interesting.

"I'm a murderer. It's wrong, to do the things I did, and get off," Mike confessed, his shoulders haunched down.

"You're no murderer, Mikey."

"Bullshit, were you in the same room that I was when I shot Mahoney? His gun was down."

Meldrick saw it, despair in Mike's eyes.


"No! It's okay, I'm okay with it now," a tear slid over his eyelid, "I know that I killed someone, just like any scum I broke in the box. It took losing everything for me to realize that, and now I do."

Meldrick blinked, his mind blank.

"W-w-what do you want me to say?" He asked, "Do you want me to tell you, that you, Michael Scott Kellerman, are a murderer, and I should march you right into the Box with cuffs on, and bring it /all/ the way down?"

"Yes, that is exactly...what should have happened."

"Then, Mikey, why are you sitting here, with me?" Meldrick asked, the blue eyes closed.

"Because...I need you," Mike whispered.

"To what? Tell you that you're a murderer! There, you are a murderer! No better then the scum I put away e-ver-y-day!" Meldrick yelled, poking Mike in the chest.

It was silent then. The ropes that held the boat to the dock could be heard creaking. Mike closed his eyes and muttered the last thing Meldrick ever wanted to hear.


Meldrick regretted ever saying a word. He dropped the hand and stood in front of a man he loved.

Mike's chest rose and fell, hitching more often. He did not cry this time; he held it back, lazily blinking his eyes. His head leaned until it rested against his chest.


"No! It's okay, it is," He repeated. Meldrick could not see his eyes, and he panicked. It was that tone again. World-weary. Meldrick could tell he was trying to smile, reassure me.

Meldrick did not know what to do, so, he ran. He backed up until he hit the door, and then turned, pushed through it, and ran.

Mike watched him go, feeling his heart break slowly. He got up, and closed the door.

It was then that the phone rang. His cell phone that he hardly ever used. Walking over to it, a bit unsteady, he picked it up.


"I've been dreaming about you," a voice he knew too well whispered. Mike's blood ran cold.

"Oh yeah?" He squeaked his grip on the phone tightening.

"/Oh yeah/, Mikey."

Mike cringed at the man's pet name for him. It was too close to Meldrick's... Meldrick called him that. For some reason, he did not feel. The whole moment was surreal for him. He looked behind him at the open door, feeling his breath escape his lung.

"Are you there still?" The cold voice asked.

"Yeah," Mike whispered.

"Good, because I wanted to hear that voice again. It would be better though, if I could see you again. You wouldn't want that though, would you?"

"Maybe if you killed me this time."

"That's just the thing, I couldn't. I still have your helmet, Mikey. Right here," Mike could hear rustling.

He stared straight ahead at the wall of his boat. Mike's stomach twisted and fell to the vicinity of the floor, causing a gagging reflex. He choked, and gasped for air.

"Are you okay, Mike?"

"No, I'm not okay you son of a bitch!" Mike yelled.

"Anything I can do to help?" Josh sneered.

"You bastard. You think you're so tough. Well, I'm just like you! I'm a murderer too. I killed someone, I am a sleaze bag just-like-you!"

"What ever gave you that idea?" The voice changed to slightly sympathetic. Mike squeezed his eyes shut and drew a ragged breath.

"He-he told me so."

"I'm so sorry, Mikey." Is sounded genuine enough.

"Yeah, right," Mike scoffed.

"Oh well, I have to go now. Until next time, love."

Josh disconnected, and Kellerman pushed the 'power' button. Mike blinked, and the reality of it came rushing back to him. He heard Meldrick standing behind him, and could practically hear the questions forming in his head. When had Meldrick come back? He turned, the phone clutched in his hand, and threw it against the wall just behind the man's head.

Mike took no joy in watching the sleek black phone crack and break against the plaster. Nor did he exactly revel at the thought of Meldrick being back.

"Who was that?" Meldrick asked in a whisper.

Mike dragged his eyes, still painfully dry, from the mess and to Meldrick's eyes. In a flat, even voice he declared.

"I just had a nice conversation with my rapist."


"He's flipped, Babs, completely gone," Meldrick said, watching Mike sleep on the couch.

"Meldrick, honey, what did you do?"

"How-? Never mind. We were mad, we were stressed and I don't know how it happened, but suddenly there I was, calling him a murderer to his face."

"Oh, Meldrick," Barbara breathed.

"I know, I know. I hoped that I didn't have to ask you this, but he needs help...real help."

"I agree, baby, just drop him off at my office at...hmmm...nine looks good."

Meldrick held his breath before saying the next words.

"I'm scared, Barbara."

"I know, don't worry about it. I'll see what I can do," She cooed.

"I still love you, you know.'s all so much, and Mikey...I need your help on this. Bar-"

"Meldrick," She interrupted, "I'm here all right?"


Mike snickered as he stared up at the ceiling. He was a little angry that Meldrick had sent him to a head doc. When he realized it was Barbara, he /knew/ Meldrick was scared. Scared enough to send his secret lover to his wife. That made him try and even out for the drive, but Meldrick would have none of it.

It was a comfortable couch. Cool, brown leather that was soft and worn. The room was done in mossy greens from the carpet to the tiled roof.

"Why do you laugh, Mike?" Barbara asked, sitting in a straight chair to his right, her hands free of any note taking material.

"Because, you see it so much in movies, and then one day you find yourself there."

"See what? Where?"

Mike sighed, letting himself relax. It was obviously going to be a long session.

"You see how the person is troubled, they come and lay on a couch and pour their hearts out to someone. Then, you find yourself on the couch, ready to get psycho...psycho..."


"Yeah, that's it."

"Why is it funny then?"

A /long/ session.

"It's sort of ironic, I guess."

She nods and he observes her caring face, taking it in, the eyes, the brow, and he knows. He knows that she knows. Mike blushes and looks away. Barbara laughs and reaches out to touch his shoulder. This action causes him to nearly jump out of his skin, and she mentally logs this as well as his other movements.

"What caused you to...change so suddenly. Meldrick, he described a total change in character for you?"

"You would too if your rapist called you..." He whispered, wrapping his arms around himself. Barbara's eyes widened at this.

"He called you?"

"Oh yeah...he was pretty decent, too."

"Hmmm, I get a feeling that's not all."

"It isn't... we... jeez, how can I...?" He looked down.

Barbara sighed and reached out again, keeping her hand steady as he tried to pull away. She smoothed his hair, shushing his attempts to explain.

"I know about you and Meldrick, the basis of your relationship."

"That's just it, there is /no/ relationship anymore," His voice became shrill, "I blew it...again."

Barbara sighed and took his hand; reassured that he tightened his hold on her. Psychology was a very...tedious science. No two people had the exact same thought patterns, but luckily for her, most people gave off the same 'vibes'.

"Hmmm. What happened? I mean, I need to know what has happened in your life to get you to this stage of... I think, obvious depression."

"Okay, I'll start...I'll start at what I /think/ was the beginning," Mike whispered, dropping his head to his chest in a repeat of the earlier move.


"What you have, my dear detectives, is," Gee laughed, but a smile was missing from his face, "is absolutely...nothing! No leads, no evidence, no suspects, nothing."

Bayliss and Lewis stood, respectively, in front of his desk, praying that their day did not worsen. Gee smiled now, but rather evilly, causing both detectives to squirm under his authoritative gaze.

"Tell me what your plans for this case are, Bayliss?"

"Well, sir, we are still trying to track down the gun, and..." he trailed off.

"Forget it," Gee sighed, "I'm putting you both back in rotation."

Bayliss and Lewis exchanged glances.

"What about the Kebernson case, it's at least /possible/ that they're connected, Gee." Meldrick said, running a hand through his hair.

"Same weapon, there are even some connections from way back-"

"That, Detective, we have /no/ evidence of, going back to my saying that you. Have. Nothing."

"C'mon, Gee, at least let us work it a few more shifts. There's something deeper going on here, it goes all the way to before the squadroom shooting."

Gee sat back down in his leather chair. He took several deep breaths and let the silence punctuate his every deliberate move. Finally, he straightened up and leaned forward, speaking very clearly.

"You have three days to bring in evidence for this case. I have already wasted too much man-power on a cold case, capice?"

"Yes, sir."

"Thanks, Lieutenant."


Bayliss and Lewis sat in the coffee room, all of the information on the case spread out on the table. Lewis read and re-read the autopsy report, calling out points to Tim as he did.

"No doubt he was in the drug business, had traces of all sorts of illegal substances. Marijuana, some scant amounts of coke, and a bit of heroine," Meldrick iterated, shaking his head.

"Yeah, but that doesn't tell us if he sold the goods or just...uh...had more recreational uses for the products," replied Bayliss, tapping something on Torque's criminal history, "In February of 1998, Austin Torque was brought in for possession of narcotics with intent to sell. They got off of him, three point four grams of rock cocaine /plus/ baggies bearing the Mahoney insignia. Then the files take a road trip, and this...silence... leads all the way up to traffic tickets and all that yadda yadda."

"So when he was brought in on drug charges, they...?"

Bayliss looked up and sighed. Lewis's eyes narrowed and he jutted his chin.

"What aren't you tellin' me, Timmy?"

"Look, Terri, she looked into her case, I mean /really/ looked. She came up with the names of four drug dealers who could leak information about the Mahoney family."

"And all this in addition to what Terri was talking about, with Georgia Rae setting us up?"

Bayliss nodded.

"I still don't know how she did it, Meldrick. Whether Georgia called everything off, or just let it downshift for later. One thing for certain, is that this new Mahoney is cleaning up the mess that Luther made."

Meldrick groaned and downed the rest of the cold coffee that had been sitting, neglected, on the table.

"There is /nothing/ here Bayliss. What do you propose we do?"

"Terri mentioned four names, two of which are dead. I think, as terrible as this sounds, that we should wait until another dies."

"Bayliss, if that happens, we have one more chance, one more person. After that, this... person, whoever is doing this, could jus up and disappear."

"Who said the choices we make are easy, Meldrick?"


"...he was screaming it, but I don't think he knew what he was saying. I asked him to call me a murderer, and he did. I just wasn't prepared for such a... loud reply."

"Ah, so he indulged your wish. Why, then, were you so devastated?"

"Because, when you tell yourself... when you think it, it sounds a whole lot different then when someone tells you. It was like that in the box with Frank. I had told myself everything that he said to me, but when he said it...I dunno, it gave it new meaning."

"This makes sense, go on."

"Then he turned and ran, I thought he would leave. That's when the phone rang and it was...him, Josh. I was...numb, I guess, and it didn't really register in my head that I was talking to my /rapist/."

"Your fight with Meldrick, it caused... heartache?"

Mike looked down again, trying to look everywhere but at her.

"Yeah," He whispered, "For the first few moments I thought he meant it...but I knew it stupid. I think..."

"It's stupid to think that Meldrick doesn't love you, yes," Barbara replied, taking this to become blunt and a little scathing. Mike looked up in something resembling shock, then swallowed.

"What did Josh say?" She asked now.

"He said," Mike began slowly, "that he dreamed of me, that he wanted to hear my voice again."

"Huh, I think he's the one that needs these sessions."

"Yeah, was later in the phone call that I got really scared."


"Because, I told him that I was a murderer, too. He sounded surprised, and then, hell, even sympathetic. For a few seconds I felt like he was the only one that really knew what I was going through, like he was the only one that cared. That scared me. It wasn't that he knew my phone number, I expected that, but that he knows what happened to me, and then he feels he has the right to feel with me... and that I let him do these things to me."

Barbara nodded, her hand clutched desperately now. He began to breathe a little heavier and she reached to stroke his hair once more.

"I'm so scared that I'll let him kill me next time... just let him take me away."


It was nine thirteen, and Meldrick was three minutes late for their meeting at Kooper's. She scribbled more notes about Mike in the small notebook that she had purchased and sighed.

A waitress found her table, and waited until she was done before asking her order.

"A cup of coffee, black, would be the perfect thing," She smiled at the young woman before going back to the paper.

'Extremely reliant on being accepted, or loved. He has a healthy fear of abandonment that I will pursue in our next session together. For now, I will say he is frightened that he is letting someone he loves slip away, and someone he hates come closer. He does indeed love Meldrick, but he is also having a hard time coming to terms with himself about the love of two males. I have witnessed this before (Pach Case), and the best way to get through this is simply wait until they tell you why they want to go forward this way, and why they haven't yet. Go from there, and we'll let the rest unfold. My diagnosis so far, clinically depressed with an abandonment complex.'

She closed the book, and looked at her watch. Nine twenty-four. Barbara sighed, and leaned back in the padded chair. Her coffee came, and she thanked the waitress. As she blew on the surface of the black liquid, she felt hands on her shoulders. Not bothering to look up, she smiled.

"You're late."

"I know, baby, and I'm sorry. I wanted to see if Mike was okay. He's asleep, again, he's been doing that a lot, sleeping."

He came around and took a seat across from her. He looked tired himself, his suit was less then crisp, and his tie was loosened down to his second button.

"Tough case?" She asked, holding out her coffee. He regarded it, before taking it and drinking some of it.

"Oh, Barbara, you have no idea how tough this case is. The reason I'm sticking with it is that it goes way back, and its connected with the Mahoney's. Everything is so... confusing now."

She smiled, even her husband was looking to get help from her, although she used to always complain that he never told her a thing, but when he got would have to slam a door in his face to get him to stop.

"This Mahoney 'thing', it is the root of all evil," she agreed, "even Mike's condition is partially due to this shooting and all the events afterward."

Meldrick nodded, looking down at the table.

"He is what we came here to talk about, right?"

"Yes, I felt it necessary you know some things about him right now. Meldrick, honey, do you trust me?" She asked, seriously.

He nodded again, swallowing. She knew he anticipated what was coming next.

"Then I think, that it would be the best thing for him, if you kept the romance on the back burner for now. It's too much for him. He's you said, confused. He was brought up believing you grew up, married the opposite sex, had two children and lived happily ever after. Mike is trying to accept this, himself /and/ you." She stopped now, letting the silence slip between them.

Meldrick looked a little lost then. He looked up at her, biting his lip. The restaurant around them could not permeate his thoughts.

"If you... think that it will help him, then I am more then willing to call it off-"

"No, baby, not call it off. Just put it on hold until we can get past the rape, and the abuse. He needs to go through things one at a time," Barbara smiled now, "you would call it off if it meant he would get better?"

"I want 'Mikey' back. Hell, Babs, we still have ghosts in our own closets we haven't talked through yet. I still want to sit down and talk to him, but I don't know how...that's why, I'm trusting you with him. I wouldn't let any other shrink in the US of A tell me to stop what we have going."

She nodded, reaching to take back the cup from him. What these two men had, was true love. They were willing to get passed the hurt they had caused each other, which she would also dwell on, and still want to be together. One of the questions she had though was whether Meldrick would be able to hold himself in check for however long it took.

"I'm warning you now, Meldrick. I have no idea how long it will take me to get him functioning again, /if/ I can, even."

Meldrick took a deep breath, and rolled his shoulders.

They ate together, talking over what he should and should not do. Hold Mike, do not initiate any sort of sexual activities. Talk to him, but not about Mahoney or any related topics. Last of the many others was, when he cries, do not stop him.

Meldrick knew it would tear him apart to watch Mike like that, and not to go to him and stop the pain. But, he was more then willing to do it. For Mike, he thought, it was all for Mike.

"I should go now," Meldrick said later, reaching down to kiss her on the cheek, "He also has nightmares now."

"That's probably best, Mel," She replied, smiling at the light press of his lips.

He swallowed and walked out of the restaurant. Leaving her to cry over the nearly empty cup of coffee.


Her stiletto heels clacked over the metal catwalk. Sharp 'tings' rang out over the dark, indoor car lot that was not empty, although it seemed to be. Every now and then, you could hear a small cough that gave away one or more of the armed guards that kept stationed throughout the garage.

Catalina Mahoney's elegant dress caused the people to turn and stare; her demeanor was no less demanding then that of Josh Blevan. Her skin looked like it had never seen a blemish, much less the dark and dangerous back alleys and chop shops.

The truth of the matter was that she had grown up in this environment. She knew it and thrived in it, using the stupidity of many criminals to get her way in the end. Running her hand along the thin metal railing that ran the length of the catwalk, she remembered how her uncle would smile at her growing intelligence.

Much to his astonishment, she did not ignore all of his workings. Instead, she grew up on his dirty money, getting an education, and planning for the day that she would confront her mother with her ambitions.

Having taken quite a blow from the death of her brother, Georgia had agreed to let her run the business that seemed to grow everyday. Her mother was not stupid, she knew the police would begin to work a case to end the Mahoney riegn. Catalina's brother had sealed that fate, dying nobly for the survival of his sister, who had sworn to take care of everything.

Surprisingly, she had lost her mother in the deal as well. Her blind anger at this had put the seal on all of her plans, and she knew Baltimore had yet to see something as fierce as her.

When Catalina finally came to the end of the catwalk, she rapped pertly on the door, waiting to hear the muffled admission. When it did, she turned the knob and stepped in.

"Ah, Catalina Mahoney, our esteemed entrepreneur," Came an aged voice.

The room she had stepped into was a glaring opposite to the grimy outer walls of the facility. It was tastefully decorated in deep ebonies and blacks. She realized now, that all of the mob bosses liked to keep things either Oriental, or dark.

The man behind the rather large desk, was indeed Baltimore's leading Mafioso.

"I do suppose you heard of Falsone?" She asked, taking a seat without it being offered to her. She nodded to the two bodyguards that stood at either side of Rich Kartelso. Kartelso sighed and nodded.

"My cousin, he wasn't always as discreet as we would like to think."

"Well, Richie, it was actually my fault. That's why I'm here, I called him at the precinct house."

He took this in, nodding his head. The deep gray hair that was trimmed by the most expensive barber in all of Baltimore that only took clients and made house calls instead of you dropping by, was slicked back. It gave him the feeling of being younger then he actually was.

"Goodness, me," He burst suddenly, "Where /are/ my manners? Would you like some brandy, Cat?"

"Yes, you have the best spirits in town."

He smiled proudly and stood to make his way over to the bar, beginning to talk on the way over.

"What do you think I should do about Paul. I think he needs that time in the penitentiary if you ask me, but that's only me." He took out two crystal glasses and poured them each a fourth of amber liquid.

"He needs the time off, I agree, the cocky bastard, but I think he'll be to my aid later," She said, her brow furrowing, "I never did expect my mother to die. She left so many of my questions unanswered."

Rich nodded and gave her the glass of brandy, finely aged. He leaned against the desk and sighed.

"It was a loss to the organized crime industry, as was your uncle. I have hopes for you, Cat, hopes for you yet."

"You weren't too old when you picked up the torch. How did you fare?" She asked, taking a sip of the liquid, smiling pleasantly as it warmed her insides.

"Not well, at first, I'm afraid. My brother, Kit, he left in a rather unsatisfying tangle. Took me a long while to sort out all of the little knots he had formed. But you, dear, seem to be faring nicely."

"Ha, I have my hands tied twenty out of the twenty-four hours of the day. I had to force myself to come here, appealing to my civil side," She smiled, taking another sip.

"You /did/ come here to save Paul!" He laughed.

"Why is that so hard to believe?" She asked, setting down the near empty glass.

"I always caught the drift that you disliked him..."

"He was a weasel among rats."

He sighed and reached to tip her chin up. She blushed at his touch. Rich had adopted her the very day her mother had died, calling her and meeting her at the funeral. Even people who did deeds like the ones she performed everyday needed people to love.

"Amo il modo la vostra scintilla degli occhi." He whispered.


Meldrick stood over Mike's sleeping form, sighing he dropped to his knees in front of the couch that he was sleeping in, curled up into a ball. Then, reaching out, he touched Mike's hair fondly, feeling the strands part and filter through his fingers.

He leaned over, and put his lips on Mike's forehead. Lightly, not enough to wake the man.

"I love you, man," Meldrick whispered, dropping his hand. Mike's brow crinkled and he muttered something unintelligible before lapsing into a quiet snore.

Nodding to himself, Meldrick stood and went to find some place decent to sleep. He found himself in Mike's bedroom, pulling down the wall bed that /was/ there. He remembered sleeping in while Mike had been gone. It was not made, but he did not mind. Slipping in he became comfortable surrounded in the scent of Mike, and fell asleep.

Mike's eyes opened as the sound of thunder reached across the bay and to his ears. Sighing, he got up and looked around the room illuminated by a small lamp that was standing in the corner. Meldrick had gotten home, he noticed as his eyes fell on the familiar overcoat and hat.

As another clap of thunder made itself known, Mike pushed off the couch and opened the door to a gust of wind that sent him stumbling. He pushed through the door, closing it behind him, and looked out onto the bay. Lightening flashed across the sky, and he hurried to check the ropes and moorings.

Meldrick had heard the same clap of thunder and had gone to see what was going on outside. He came out on the deck, and watched Mike check and recheck everything on his boat. Mike smiled slightly as he past Meldrick and climbed up into the top of the boat.

When he did not come down, and the wind got stronger, Meldrick shrugged and climbed up the ladder to join him. He sat in the captain's chair, watching the storm come in. Meldrick closed the door behind him, glad to be in side again, even if it was a small little alcove that covered the steering wheel and controls.

"I used to do this all the time," Mike said, swiveling around in the chair.

Meldrick looked out the windshield to see a bright flash of light in the horizon.

"It's quiet up here." He said lamely, coming to take a seat in the second chair.

"Yeah, right. Wait until the storm've never been on my boat in a storm have you?"

"Nope," Meldrick replied, becoming a little wary of his situation.

"It isn't that bad, but it is your first time." Mike smiled evilly; nodding to the windshield as the first drops of rain splattered it.

"Uh, huh..." Now he was really worried.

"Oh, it isn't /that/ bad."

Then the waves took one side of the boat and tossed it softly against the dock. Meldrick bit his tongue to keep from vomiting, and Mike just smiled.

"C'mon, Lewis, let's get you inside before you can't climb down."

It was a good thing that they decided to leave then, because the entire sky ripped apart as Mike slammed the cabin door shut. He giggled when he saw the strung out look on Meldrick's face, and turned to lock it.

Meldrick was just happy to see Mike smile again, but it was obviously forced. Even he could tell that Mike was still struggling. He was sure though, that Barbara would help him.

"You little dog," I bet you dragged me up there just to see my face.

"Maybe, but you have work tomorrow... go to sleep, Meldrick."

"Will you stop worrying about /me/?" Lewis sighed, going to sit down on the couch, "Any ways, you have another session with Barbara tomorrow, and the next day and the next day."

It was Mike's turn to sigh, and he found himself on the couch as another wave hit. Meldrick coughed, trying to clear his quickly nauseated head. Mike chuckled again.

"There's some pills in the kitchen if you want to make that sick feeling go away..." Mike whispered, shifting to lie down on the cushions.


Needless to say, Meldrick did not sleep that night. The bottle of stomach settler stayed near, and eventually emptied into Meldrick's open mouth. He swallowed the chalky pink liquid.

After a while, he snuck out to the living room to watch Mike sleep. He did sleep, too. Moving only to move his hand that seemed to fall asleep as well. Meldrick just sat on the small armchair, his knees curled under him. The lightning flashed, the thunder rumbled, but it seemed to calm Mike.

His attempts at sleep were in vain, though, and when he finally felt reassured that no nightmares would penetrate Mike's being, he went back to the bed, and stared up at the ceiling, counting the flashes of lightning.

Mike was dreaming though. These were the quiet ones, which snuck up on you during a good dream that you could get into. He was dreaming of going out on a call, back when he and Meldrick were partners. It seemed that the case was in the car, they just kept driving and driving. It was a good dream, to Mike; because they were talking and laughing, having a good time like they used to have.

But, as the came around the city for a second pass, Meldrick's driving record proved to be terrible even in dreams as he veered sharply to the left, into the concrete barrier. Mike was thrown from the car. He landed, and skidded, across the lanes of traffic, surprisingly light. It was all so surreal, yet had a base in reality.

In the dream, he felt his shoulder ache again, as did all the bruises Josh had given him. Meldrick was limping over to him, shouting his name. But, he could not for the life of him call back. He just lay on the concrete, watching as Meldrick appeared overhead, worried. Then, he heard sirens. They kept fading and coming back. Mike blinked up, and felt his chest slowly deflate. Meldrick looked stricken, grasping at his hand and yelling at him to hold on, hold on, please hold on.

But Mike let go. He let his eyes close in the dream, felt the pain go away, and was a peace with himself. Funny, though, how he could still hear Meldrick calling to him. Feel the paramedics feel for a pulse, and then tell Meldrick that he was dead.

He could feel them lift him into a body bag, heard Gee talking to Meldrick, and the zip that was so familiar. The tear that trickled down his cheek when he realized this was it.

Mike sat up suddenly on the couch, feeling a bead of sweat trickle down his brow. A quick glance around told him that it was early morning. He took several deep breaths, trying to get his heart rate down to normal.

He stood, a little shaky, and made his way to his bedroom. Mike nudged open the door, and was relieved to find Meldrick, asleep despite himself, on his bed. He closed the door, and entered the bathroom, opting for a hot shower to calm his nerves.


Meldrick went inside before Mike did. Barbara stood and smiled.

"How did yesterday go?" She asked, letting him take her hand and kiss it.

"Good, it went a heck of a lot better then the day before. I think he laughed, but I couldn't tell if it was genuine or not."

"I can't believe you stayed the whole night on his boat during the storm...or did you have someone to cuddle up with?" Her question circumvented what she really meant to ask. Did you keep your promise to me?

"No, I was up more then half the night. I think lightning and I have a connection, I began second guessing the flashes," He replied, a little stung at her accusation.

Nodding, she smiled and reached for her notebook.

"I'm glad things went well, Mel, but if we want a full hour, I'll have to start right away."

Mike gave a half-grin when he came in, waving over his shoulder to Meldrick. Barbara motioned for him to sit down, smoothing the linen blazer that sat on her shoulders. Complying, he came over and took his seat on the couch.

"Tell me, Mike, how do you feel about yesterday? After the session?"

"Amazingly, better, doc," Mike lied, stretching out on the leather.

She gave a slight chuckle and tossed the notebook back to her desk.

"C'mon, Mike, give me something here..."

"I really didn't feel that different, my phone's still broken and in pieces. It's even in the same place it fell. I can't believe that I talked to that freak."

"Yes, you did. Tell me this as well, have you ever been married?"

Mike regarded her for a second; his brow crinkling, figuring at which direction the conversation was going.

"Uh, yeah, once. A long time ago." He swallowed.

"Ah, so what happened?"

"It was a great marriage for about a year, and then things started to...change. She would be home late, and late for a detective means...two, three in the morning. I would ask, she would say that it was a sample at the lab that was holding her back. I was so in love that I... couldn't see what was happening." He stopped for a moment, just staring straight ahead.

"What did happen?"

"I," his voice cracked, "went to bring her dinner at the office, Chinese, it was our favorite. When I got there, the hallways were dark, and the janitor was working. I guess they didn't hear me coming. I pushed through the door to the lab, and found her, and... some punk kid that played in a band," he paused again, taking a few deep breaths, "Do you know what I said?"


"The kid had already brought her dinner, so I just stood there and said, 'I guess you won't be needing dinner, honey'. She broke my heart, and the real kicker is, that /she/ left /me/. I didn't even have the balls to kick my own cheating wife out."

He blew out a sneering breath and laughed bitterly. Barbara nodded, thinking over this.

"I think I see what happened. What about after that, any relationships at all?"

"There was one." Mike phrased carefully, hoping his voice did not give away any of the true feelings he felt, "Julianna."

"What happened with this Julianna, Mike?"

'Should have known I'd end up telling her anyway.' Mike thought, shifting uncomfortably. Those wounds were still open, still bleeding almost. He did not blame her, though, for leaving. Mike knew it was not only because of him, but also the allegations that she had been asked to lie on a report, then fired for not doing so.

"She left, too. They all do eventually, though Meldrick was the only one to come back. I wouldn't call what me and Jules had, a 'healthy' relationship-"

"I wouldn't call what me and Meldrick have as a 'healthy' relationship, Mike. My husband /is/ in love with another man..."

"Oh, yeah," Mike blushed, "I forget sometimes that my life isn't the only screwed up one. I told her, about Mahoney, at that time she was the only one I could trust to talk too, and I needed too so much. Then, shit at her work happened, and she was fired. Julianna split town, and I haven't heard from her since."

"So, she left you, too?" Barbara asked, some realization coming over her features.

"Yeah... yeah, she did."

"Who else has left you, Mike?"

Mike closed his eyes, and let his breath hitch.

"Meldrick. He left me, and he thinks that every thing's fine because he came back. I can't just forget that feeling when I found out that he didn't want me anymore. I won't, ever."

Barbara bit her lip. She reached out and took his hand, it did not move. They had reached another stage in the treatment. He was tired now, and that could prove even more dangerous then when fighting did not seem to be getting anywhere, but you kept trying.

"You have to trust him, Mike. You have to, or he won't be able to help you."

"I did trust him, then. I think, that he's trying too, but I just can't forget. Please, don't ask me to try and forget."

"I won't Mike, but I am asking to trust Meldrick. I think he would like that too."

He shrugged then, like he wanted to, but he was not going to make any promises.

"What would help, Mike?"

"I don't know, nothing that I used to do helps."

"What have you tried?"

"The storm, storms used to calm me, but I still had another nightmare-"

"You did?" She asked alarmed.

"Yeah. I tried sailing, but I can't with my shoulder like this. If Meldrick drives a boat as bad as he drives his car, I'm not letting him near the wheel. Drinking, for a while, but hangovers don't quash memories as good as they used to."

"What about a vacation?" She asked, trying to think of something that might help.

"Yeah, right, where would I go?"

"Why /don't/ you go sailing, it can't be that hard can it?"

Mike shrugged again.

"I'm afraid to try. Meldrick would have a shit fit if my arm got sore, and I said I couldn't get us back to the marina," he chuckled at the idea.

"Later, then. Plan for it, and when you feel better, you can travel the seven seas."

Mike raised an eyebrow, and chuckled.


Stivers chewed on her lip and stared intently at the Kebernson case file. She thought about whether or not to call him. Reaching for the phone, then pulling her hand back just as quick, her decisions changed

Finally, she bit down hard and dialed the number she had once known so well, but now, had nearly forgotten. The phone rang twice before he picked up.

"Pesop, Narcotics."

Stivers swallowed.

"Tom, it's me, Terri," She said weakly. There was silence over the other end.

"Terri Stivers? My old partner Terri Stivers?" His voice was incredulous, tinged with the slightest bit of hurt.

"Yeah, Tom, I know it's been a long time-"

"Ha, try a whole damn year, girl! How the dicks in Homicide treating you?" He asked, his voice light. It was as if he had pushed aside the past conflicts in a heartbeat. Terri was happy for this.

"It's great, Tom. Everything is working out," She replied, relaxing into the office chair.

"I assume, then, that it's business as usual, then?" He asked, the hurt coming back into his voice. She sighed and closed her eyes.

" you remember the Mill case?"

"Uh...the heroine dealer that was a slave to two masters? How could I forget, he was the one that helped rack in all that evidence, right?"

"Ronald Mill. I was wondering if you've heard from him."

She heard the shuffling of several papers, then a drum roll that was muffled by a blotter.

"That's a real coincidence, he just got back in town. At least, that's what Kenny told me. The others are back, too... were back...Torque and Kebernson were aced."

"We know, that's why I was calling. Any particular reason to come back from the permanent vacation we told them to go on?"

"I don't know, Terri, there's only been The Rumors," She could hear the smile over the phone.

"What? You don't trust The Rumors anymore, Tom? Remember all the cases we had to build on some jacked-up junkies word?"

"I know, I know... how could I forget?"

They both stayed silent for a long while.

"God, I've missed you, Ter-"

"Tom... what we did... partners should never do," She smiled wistfully, "especially with one /married/ partner."

He groaned, "Okay, here's what's up on the streets. They came back, supposedly, because they were being fed rumors, the subject of our discussion, that there was no one in Baltimore heading up the drug cartels. Our yos probably came down here to take their pickings."

"Huh, but instead they're getting capped," She chose her next words carefully, "What do you think it could mean?"

"Don't know, isn't any word on the street about the 'why' yet. Obviously there is someone in town that just doesn't want to be bumped off."

"Oh. Any thing else?"

"Well... nah, nothing... yet," Tom replied, unsure.

"Talk to me, Tom."

"Okay, Organized Crime had something about three years ago, just happened to resurface. Richard Kartelso is rumored to be the overall mob boss in Baltimore. OC is going crazy trying to build a case against the guy, but half the time they don't even know where he is."

"What does this have to do with Mill?

"Nothing, but the Mafia always goes where the money is. It's the nineties, babe, illegal substances are the poison of choice."

"They're branching out to the drug business."


"Great," she sighed, "and you guys didn't have enough problems already."

"Me? My hands are clean. Clements and Royce got the Mafia cases, right boys?" He yelled over the phone. Stivers heard some loud moans and smiled.

"Jeez, sometimes I miss you guys."

"Really? I'm touched," He sneered in good nature.

"Sometimes... okay, not even half the time, but it's the little bit that counts."

"You're a bitch, Stivers," Tom laughed.

"You'll always be my big daddy, Tom."

"Yeah right, see ya babe. Call me?"

"Sure, bye."

Terri disconnected, feeling better then she did before she placed the call. Smiling, she stood, and walked to the coffee room, deciding to enjoy her lunch today.

Meldrick was sitting with his head on the table, and if she did not know better (which she did not) she would say that he was sleeping. Terri tried to stifle the giggles when she thought of the many reasons why Meldrick would be so sleepy.

She walked to the refrigerator and grabbed her lunch. Tuna salad sandwich, an apple, and two Diet Cokes. Meldrick stirred when she set out her things on the same table, but did not wake.

Halfway through her lunch, Bayliss walked in, looking haggard.

"Jesus, Meldrick," He sighed when he saw the man.

"Shhh, Timmy, he's trying to catch up on the sleep he missed last night," she advised nodding to herself. Bayliss took one look at the grin she wore, and chuckled.

"Oh, Terri..."

"What? The guy wants to get a little too recreational, isn't my problem," She said innocently, taking another bite out of her sandwich.

"You still think they're sleeping-" Bayliss was cut off by the passing of a uniform, who looked at them oddly when the room became silent all of a sudden. Tim slipped into the chair next to her and started again.

"You really think they're sleeping together? Mike and Meldrick?"

"Oh yeah, I always got the feeling that partnership was a little hinky..." She bit her lip and tried to take a sip of her Coke to disguise her laughter.

"Did Mike ever ask /you/ for a hug?" He asked then, remembering a certain time when Mike was still the happy-go-lucky kid they all knew.

"No, why? Did he ask you?"

"Yeah, he did. Then I asked him if Meldrick and he hugged a lot-"

"And what did he say?" She asked, her smile widening.

"He asked me what was a lot."

They just let their eyes meet then, before completely dissolving into fits of laughter. Terri and Tim had to halt the mirth, for Meldrick again stirred. This time seemingly coming closer to the realm of the living.

"He did?" She gasped/

Bayliss nodded, but quickly sobered.

"No. Not Meldrick. I've known him for a long time. He's a ladies man if there ever was one. Mike, too."

Terri nodded, but Tim could tell that she did not believe him.

"So, you have anything on the Kebernson case?" He asked, reaching over to pick a bit of tuna that stuck precariously to the side of the wheat bread.

"Hey! I'm warning you, Timmy, keep your hand off my sandwich. Yeah, I got a little something, maybe enough to extend that deadline of yours."


She sighed and put her sandwich down.

"Not really, mostly...rumors."


Josh sat quietly. Her mood could not be discerned from just looking her in the eye. She smelled slightly of power steering fluid, so he guessed that it was something that had to do with Richie. His long-time acquaintance.

"One glorious day in the future, Josh, I hope to settle down with all that I have gained and worked for, and just watch."

Catalina spun in her office chair, acting very much like child. Josh let something akin to a smile grace his lips.

"The day will come, Cat, dear."

She sighed, her face showing the exhaustion. Having not slept fitfully in many days, deep circles penetrated the perfect make-up.

"I hope, I wish, I dream, Joshua. There were so many things they left...knoted, as Rich put. He says hello, by the way," Josh nodded his acknowledgement, "So many are dependent on me."

"I find it amusing that none of them know you exist," He put forward, her smile deepened.

"Some of the more intelligent ones, I know they suspect something. Thankfully they keep it to themselves."

"Yes, quite."

Catalina laughed then, a rather rare occurrence. It was a pity, since her bell-like voice lost all the coldness it may have ever developed when mirth took over.

Running a hand through her hair she sighed.

"I keep forgetting all the fun there is in being sneaky, though. What is going on with Kellerman these days?"

"Mike," Josh genuinely smiled, "Mind games for now. Though, he seems a little broken now, I would love to see how far I could go before he snapped."

Catalina nodded, thinking for a moment.

"He's seeing that Detective's wife for psychiatric help." She said in a light tone.

"Oh, fun. Let him build it all up so I...we can tear it all down," he spat.

"Jealousy killed the cat...or was that curiosity?" She shrugged it off.

"I'm not jealous of Barbara Lewis, I'm jealous of /Meldrick/ Lewis, who holds my Mikey's heart in his hand. No matter, he won't be much competition."

She stood and walked around her desk. Something was on her mind, he concluded. Catalina came to a stop in front of a picture of her and her mother.

"Mom was only fourteen when I was born. By then, Uncle Luther was working his way to the top. You would think that she had learned her lesson, but, Junior was born three years later."

Josh had no idea why she was telling him this; he knew all he needed to now to do her work. Despite his thoughts, he listened raptly.

"We were brought up in the Projects, like every black family I know of. I think I recall the Lewis building. It was torn down a few years ago. Once Luther got to the top, that all changed. Suddenly, we were in private and travelling across the county. We were living in that lap of luxury you always hear about. Uncle Luther, though, he never let us forget where we come from. "When I finally got old enough, I told my mother my plans. I don't recall her exact reaction, but I know she was proud that I did not shun my family."

She paused for a long while, the silence was comfortable and she stood with the picture in hand.

"And the rest you know..." She finished, turning around to face him.

Josh did know, he knew all of it. How Catalina had to prove her loyalty to Luther by killing the competition to his standards. How she was there for her mother when he died, and how they began planning the inevitable comeback of the most feared drug family.

It was quite a history.

"Sorry, to say my life wasn't half as...gratifying," He related.

"Oh? Do tell."

"That is for another time," he replied stiffly. She shrugged and returned to her chair.

"Business then? I wanted to ask you what you thought of Falsone.

Josh raised an eyebrow and crossed his legs.

"Him? Well.... not as professional as you would like. A real, how can I say this, fuck up?"

Catalina smiled fondly. Green eyes twinkled in fun.

"My, my. Such a way with words..."

"If it gets the point across."

"Indeed! But really, I'm entertaining thoughts of a gallant rescue of Knight Weasel. Seeing how it was my stupidity that resulted in his arrest."

Josh pursed his lips and frowned. A squad car could be heard as it roared by outside the window of the third floor office.

"Really, Cat. Let him rot for ten to fifteen."

"No, no. I think we could use him in the future, with Kellerman perhaps," She mused, trying to sort out plans.

Josh wanted to object. Kellerman was his problem, and really /his/ only. Yet, he kept his mouth closed, pretending that it did not bother him in the least. Catalina saw right through him and nodded.

"I know how you feel about this, but you said it yourself, you won't be able to pull the trigger on our blond friend. Your games are only temporary," She reminded him sternly."

"Yes, Ms. Mahoney. Then, I say, do what you see fit."

"I will, Josh, believe me."


"Mike," Barbara said softly after a moment of silence, "I'm going to ask you a few very important questions, and I want you to answer completely honest."

Mike looked up, puzzled, from the couch. He got up on one elbow.

"Isn't that what I've been doing?"

"I don't know, Mike. You have the choice to lie if you want to," She replied, matter-of-factly.

"I have the right to remain silent?"

"Yes, you have the complete right."

"Then I wave the damn right," He cursed in mock tones, smiling, "By the way, I haven't been lying, so I won't start now."

"Hmm... then I'll start with this. What is it, exactly, that makes you hate the experience with Josh?"

He thought it was a simple enough question, and right away he thought of the pain that he had gone through in that amount of time.

"Well, it fucking hurt for one. You try having a good time when someone is getting off on beating the crap out of you."

"No need to be defensive. I know the physical pain is always what comes to mind first, but in these cases, I find emotions are the real downfalls."

Mike nodded.

"I don't really remember everything I was thinking. Just that I wanted someone to come, and help me. Then, after I thought that would never happen," Mike shrugged, "I wanted him to kill me."

Barbara took this into account. She had had only two previous rape cases, and through all of them, the victim was in some sort of depression. She had also seen /depression/. Mike wasn't maniacally depressed, but he could easily get that way. Her brain processed all of this and stored it away for later use.

"Have you ever entertained ideas of suicide before?" Was her next question.

Mike hesitated here. Not wanting to lie, and not wanting to tell her, he stayed silent for a small period of time.

"Yes," He replied shakily, looking down at the floor.

He felt her strong grip on the bottom of his chin, and allowed his head to be pulled up.

"Don't look away from me, Mike. I need to see /you/, your eyes, to make proper diagnosis. You are no less valued because of what happened to you. Meet people's eyes, tell yourself that they cannot tell just by looking at you."

His eyes grew shocked.

"Yes, I do know that's what you fear the most. People being able to tell what has happened to you. Marking you as 'raped'. Labels."

The whole session was rather uncomfortable for Mike. He had never needed to feel like he should hide his feelings in front of Barbara, but he had been. This was rather shocking, not only because of his secrecy to Mrs. Lewis, but to himself. Now that she had said it, he found it to be rather true.

Mike just wanted to get better. For him, and for Meldrick.

"It was a while ago," Mike said, addressing the suicide issue, "I guess I didn't start at the beginning yesterday. This was the actual beginning, because after I held a gun to my head, Meldrick never looked me straight, I mean /completely/, in the eye again."

"I recall him telling me something about troubles at work..." She let go. In reality, Meldrick had related the whole story in a fit of depression months ago when he was on suspension and highly agitated.

"Yeah, that's all I was, troubles."

"That is not true. I think that even then he was fighting with these emotions that he had been feeling for you. It must have been as confusing for him, as it is for you now."

"I guess. Truth is, it's not /that/ confusing. Just... well," He sat up in the couch, "I was brought up to believe that being homosexual was wrong. Bad. You would go to hell for your transgressions. So, I'm really wondering what my parents are going to say. /If/ I tell them, that is."

"Which would be a very... interesting thing to do now wouldn't it?" She asked, frowning.

"My dad would literally kill me. God, he would...I don't know. It wouldn't go over too well."

They both chuckled.

"What else is on your mind, Mike?"

"I don't know. The fact that I /still/ don't have an idea what I'm going to do now that I'm not a cop anymore."

"There are many options. You could go back to school, get a degree."

"Yeah, and go through that hell again? I don't know, maybe..."

She outright laughed at this. She, too, remembered the years of high school hell, and then college. Barbara did not know the extent of Mike's education, but he obviously knew enough to succeed in being a good, no superb, detective.

Meldrick /did/ talk, but usually only to her. She had vowed never to repeat the things she had been told, and she was not going to start now.

"What about being a P.I.?" Barbara thought aloud.

"You mean a mall cop? Yeah, I can see it now, flashing around that piece of paper," he spat.

She shrugged, smiling thoughtfully.

"I know, I know. I take what I can get right?" He said later.

"You don't know, Mike. You might like being your own boss."

He looked up at her, his eyes wide with new insight.

"Yeah, baby, yeah," he said evilly.


Meldrick stood as a sharply dressed man entered the squadroom with two uniforms standing behind him.

"Kartelso?" He asked, holding out a hand. The man smiled charmingly, and took the hand.

"Call me Richard, or Rich."

Meldrick nodded and led him to the interview room, talking all the way.

"Some weird things goin' on in Baltimore, Mr. Rich. See, we got some hotdog out on the streets shooting up some ex-junkies."

Richard nodded, taking this all in. He walked into the brick room, wincing at the drowning blue that the whole room was done in. It had a lamp hanging over the one, circular table with a set of handcuffs attached, but it was off.

Another man was already in the room, sitting in one of the chairs. Detective Lewis motioned towards the hard steel chair that faced the other, he was assuming, detective.

"This is Detective Tim Bayliss, another one of our esteemed murder po-lice."

"Hi, I'm going to assume you know why you're here," Bayliss said, relaxing in his chair.

"Well, actually I don't, Detective Bayliss. Some officers show up at my home, ask me to take a trip downtown. I come, and here I am. Detective Lewis here," Rich turned slightly in his chair to see the other man, "mentioned something about a killer shooting people."

"Hmm, did he? Because if he did, he told you right."

"How," Meldrick interjected, "is it that Organized Crime can't find your slippery ass, and I just happen to scratch some informants the wrong way and out comes all this information?"

Richard genuinely frowns at this information. His eyes grow dark, and the muscles of his jaw clench tight, before relaxing.

"You know, I don't really know how that happened. I might have to check myself more often now, won't I?"

Meldrick grunted, leaning up against the wall. Bayliss nodded thoughtfully.

"So, getting back to the topic at hand...oh wait. You don't know the topic at hand yet, well, Mr. Kartelso-"

"Richard, I insist."

"Well, /Richard/, we have two ex-drug lords dead right now. Uh, an Austin Torque and Leonard Kebernson. Shot."

"What do I have to do with this, Detective Bayliss?"

"Tim, I insist," Bayliss replies coldly.

"Detective Tim."

Bayliss frowns and stands.

"You? Your name popped right up there, Rich. Richie Kartelso, Baltimore's leading Mafioso. As they always say, the Mafia goes where the money is." He took a deep breath, watching the man's reaction.

"Ha. You think you're such hot shit, Detective Tim? You ain't got nothing on me, or, as I can tell, anything on this case."

Meldrick chose this moment to speak up, sauntering over to stand next to Bayliss, then leaning over to rest his elbows on the table.

"Now that's where you're wrong, Richie. We got several witnesses telling Narcotics that your boys are swarming all over the place in good 'ole Charm City. They feeling a little... monopolized. Only got two people running the trade now. You, and the competition. Everybody else has been run off or," Meldrick shrugs, forming a gun with his fingers, "aced."

Richard just shrugs, leaning forward so that he's almost nose to nose with Meldrick.

"Okay. So I've got some business interests, but I do not have anything to do with any murders."

"Oh come /on/," Bayliss huffs, "Haven't you seen the movies? You're a /mob boss/ you order hits like ordering breakfast."

"That's where /you're/ wrong," He bristles, looking at both detectives.

"Okay, so maybe Timmy's a little off with that. Maybe it ain't /you/ that's calling the shots out on these guys. Maybe it's someone else..." Meldrick said, suggesting something with his tone.

Richard just frowned and looked away.

"Ah, we hit the nail on the, uh, proverbial head here, Mel."

"I think so, Bayliss."

The man they had cornered shook his head and stood.

"I think I'm going to leave now."

Meldrick sighed, and let the man go.

That evening...

Meldrick stood on the deck, pacing occasionally. He was wired. Too wired to sleep, and too wired to go inside and watch the shoot-'em-up movie Mike and he had gone out and rented. He could hear glass shattering and bullets ricocheting, which meant Mike had turned up the volume, again.

Finally, Meldrick turned and walked into the cabin.

"Didn't you get enough of this on the job?" Meldrick yelled.

Mike arched his head back so that he was looking at Meldrick over his forehead. The remote was held in one hand, and a huge Tupperware bowl of popcorn in the other.

"No way," He yelled back, "All I saw were dead bodies and the blotter on my desk. This, this is action."

Meldrick stood, watching the screen before a familiar actor came on-screen.

"Hey, hey, hey, it's my man Samuel L. Jackson," Meldrick smiled, walking around the couch and taking a seat.

Mike rolled his eyes.

"Weren't you even listening to me at the video store? It's the Negotiator, it also has Kevin Spacey," Mike said, pointing to the screen with the edge of his remote.

It was a good movie, but what made it enjoyable, was the fact that Mike was smiling through it, and genuinely, as far as he could tell. His mind wanted to reach out and touch the man that seemed so available now.

The closest he came to physical contact was when he and Mike reached for popcorn at the same time. It was the closest that he would let himself come.


"Huh?" Meldrick looked over at him, the credits were rolling, and they stayed glued to their seats still.

"What's going to happen to me?"

He frowned at the question.

"What do you mean?"

"When I have to go out and do something to keep this tub. I mean, I have some saved in the bank. It won't last forever though, and cutting out on the booze has helped."

"I don't know, what do you want to do?"

"You want the honest truth?"

Meldrick nodded, looking over at the man with rapt attention. He studied the face that was becoming more lined with the passing week.

"I want to be a detective again. I didn't think it would be this hard to walk away, but it is. I can't stand it, because I see you everyday. I know that I can't go back, but I wish I could change everything. For you and for me."

Mike moved over on the couch, and Meldrick blinked.

"I wish I could help you, Mikey, but I can't. You could have taken me and Stivers to trial, and probably won-"

"That's not where I would go back, Mel. I mean before the shooting, when I held the gun to my head."

Mike moved even closer now, and they faced each other silently. He knew he was making a big move, trying to reach out to Meldrick. He wanted to feel normal again, and even like this it was not all the way there yet. Being with a guy, yeah, that's /real/ normal.

"Mikey," Meldrick breathed, clenching his fists into the couch cushions.

"What?" Mike asked, leaning over. Meldrick felt the breath on his lips.

"You can't, don't do this."

Mike looked at him, confused, as he settled back. There was a slight flush rising in his cheeks.

"Why not?"

"Barbara made me promise. She said it might hurt you to get involved with someone now."

He received an evil grin.

"Do you always do what Babs says?" He asked in a low voice.

"Mikey... I try to."

"Then... wouldn't it feel good to just break the rules?"

"This ain't funny anymore, Mike, you need to get some sleep. That's it, sleep whatever it is off."

Mike bent over again, this time close to Meldrick's ear. His hands were on either side of Meldrick's arms, pressing the cushions that were behind him back.

"Maybe I don't wanna..."

He shivered as the voice deepened.

"There is something I do wanna, though-"

"Mikey, stop this now!" Meldrick hissed, closing his eyes against it. 'What you can't see, can't hurt you.' Yeah right. Meldrick wanted to go out and shoot the bunk that thought that up.

"You're not my mother, Meldrick. I can do whatever I want to, preferably without her around."

He put two hands firmly on Mike's chest and pushed the man backwards. He let himself open his eyes, only to be met with hurt and indignant ones. He just stared back; hoping his control over this situation would not diminish into the nothingness that was his brain at the moment.

"That was close, Mikey, real close," Meldrick sighed and put a hand on his forehead. "Don't you know how much it might tear you up if you get into a- a sexual relationship so soon?"

"When did you become such a fucking expert?" Mike spat, sitting up and putting his feet up on the coffee table with a bang.

"Living with a psychiatrist? You pick up a few things, baby."

Mike snorted and reached for some pieces of popcorn that were still left amongst the kernels. His mood had obviously slipped into a more depressing one, and Meldrick was getting a little worried about his actions.

"I thought it was what you wanted, too."

"Don't be upset. If it makes you feel any better, I'll tell you right now how I want to slam you down on that flimsy little bed, and kiss every inch of your pale, white body." Saying it made him shudder and Mike flush, he continued, "But I won't, because I believe you have too much already to think about. To get through."

"So you're doing this all for /my/ benefit? Thanks Lewis, I appreciate it," He mumbled, shoving the popcorn in his mouth and swallowing.

"Here, let me go tuck you in."

"You're real cute, Meldrick, but I think I can manage."

"Do you want me to stay?"

He looked shocked at the question, and just stared at Meldrick like he was a crazy fool. Then sputtering, he tried to answer.

"What- do you- do you /want/ to go?"

"No. But you obviously don't want me here..."

"That's not what I meant, you know that," he breathed, standing and stretching.

"Then I'll watch you walk in that bedroom and go to sleep."

Mike looked down at him and batted his eyelashes, smiling falsely.

"Yes, mommy Meldrick."


Meldrick had been right after all. As Mike sat straight up in bed, sweat glistening on his face, he began to worry. Worrying was not something he did well, but now his imagination was working out several scenes, and none of them nice.

What if he could never touch someone again? What if people could never touch him again? What if Meldrick lost patience waiting for him to come around? What if, what if, what if?

The nightmare began to wear off, but it still left a bad taste in the back of his throat. Throwing the covers off, he padded out of the bedroom, and through the small door that led to the kitchen. He paused to hear Meldrick's soft breathing, and looked over at the man, who lay peacefully on the tiny couch. He winced when he noticed that the man's feet hung off the edge.

Trying to be as quite as he could he got a glass of water, and made his way to the deck. The moon was out, and clouds were drifting in, over, and out. It was never truly dark, though, he realized. The lights from the marina illuminated everything.

Mike did not know how long he sat outside just thinking about possibilities. So long that the chair was beginning to look like a nice place to take a short nap. He forced himself back through the boat and to the bed that seemed like he would never share with anyone.

'Not that I want just 'anyone', and Meldrick would have a hard time fitting on it with me. Not that the couch is any better.' Mike thought idly, slipping back under the covers to stare at the ceiling.

He would never let Meldrick know how much being like this scared him. He had tried to tell him on the rooftop, but that had ended in a sweet kiss, and almost nothing that Mike had planned on saying being said. A kiss though. It was a promise, he thought, that Meldrick would still want him. This satisfied him, and he let his thoughts drift to nothing.

He waited until the ceiling turned blue before closing his eyes to sleep.


"Ronald Mill was found dead this morning." Bayliss said, catching Meldrick's arm as he walked into work.

"Great. How?"

"Guess. He was shot with a rifle; all the rest is the same. Except..." Tim trailed off, looking suddenly unsure.

"Except? Bayliss, don't jerk me around."

Tim held up a small plastic bag that held a torn picture of Mike. Meldrick paled and tugged the evidence out of Bayliss's hand. Torn straight down the middle, and he could see traces of his shirt along the edge.

"It was found stuffed in the guy's front pocket. Meldrick, it was covered in prints."

He shoved the picture back into Tim's hand and stalked to his desk.

"Don't matter. Nothing will come up. We get red names all year, /and/ we won't ever find who did that to Mikey."

"Now it's a confirmed serial killer, we could get the back-up needed to put a surveillance team on Douglas Turow. Maybe the killer will get up-close and personal like in the Kebernson case."

"Maybe, but if he notices all the police around, he'll go the long distance way and then all four will be aced, and then we have four red names. Not to mention Gee on our backs for losing a witness..."

Bayliss and Meldrick looked at each other at the same time.

"We're going have hell if that guy gets to him before we do." Tim said, walking to his desk and picking up a phone.

"Josh Blevan, his name of choice in Mikey's case."

"Whatever. I'm calling Narcotics, you see if Terri has anything. Her beeper number's-"

"I know her beeper number, Bayliss."

Tim nodded as someone on the other end picked up.

"Narcotics. Detective Tom Pesop."

"Hey, Tom, we need to know where Douglas Turow is, you left a message saying you had something."

"Bayliss? Tim, is that you?"

"Yeah, hey, we'll get together this weekend, but I really need to know..."

"I heard that you were shot, are you-"

"I'm fine, do you have anything at all on the guy?"


"A Turow, Douglas."

"Oh yeah," Bayliss closed his eyes in prayer, "I pulled his file recently for Terri, and I've been keeping an ear out all week. Today is your lucky day, guys, he's at the funeral of one Austin Torque, his cousin. First Baptist Cemetery, guys."

"His cousin?"

"Yep," replied Pesop, smiling

"Thank you, Tom, I'll tell you if anything comes up."

"Hey, no prob-"

Bayliss all but slammed the phone down, reaching for his jacket.

"Lewis, you get Stivers? He's at Torque's funeral."

Meldrick nodded and placed his own phone back in the cradle. Within moments, it was ringing and Meldrick held it up.

"Meldrick?" He heard Terri ask.

"Hey, we got a lead on Doug, our remaining survivor, he's at his cousin's funeral."

"Really? I've been waiting for a call all week..."

Meldrick sighed loudly and she laughed.

"Okay, where?"

Meldrick looked at Bayliss who pointed to a space on the map.

"First Baptist."

"All right, meet you there."

He hung up and stood, retrieving his hat from his desk.


There was a small gathering of people, heads bowed and hands clenched. The minister's voice rang out across the cemetery, speaking above the sobs of the women.

Meldrick and Bayliss stood off to the side, not wanting to intrude. Terri had already been there, meeting them in front of the chapel. It did not appear that Douglas Turow would be giving them any trouble.

Bayliss pointed out the target, and they waited, not seeing any reason to interrupt the proceedings.

When the participants threw in various flowers, and the first shovel of dirt was scooped onto the hardwood coffin, they moved towards the minister to shake his hand. As they passed back through the church, some looked at the detectives with a wary eye before bowing their heads.

"Douglas Turow?" Meldrick asked the man they had come for. He looked up with a bit of alarm, but that was soon quelled.


"We have some questions, Detective Bayliss and I are from Homicide," Meldrick pulled out his badge. The man looked stricken.

"If you think I had anything to do with my cousin's death-"

"Sir," Bayliss whispered, "It /is/ in connection to your cousins murder, but you're not suspected of any wrong doing."

Douglas looked disbelieving, but nodded, then waved a hand slightly. He walked to a crying woman and held her hands, kissing each of her cheeks. When he was about to turn, his head drooped even more, and the woman patted his shoulders.

"It's been a terrible week," He said upon coming back.

"Is there any specific way you would like to be taken downtown?" Meldrick asked, noticing all of the other young black men that cast glances in their direction.

"I would rather they think I was giving them up, then to have Momma think I killed Austin. I'll go with ya peacefully."


He looked around the room with a smirk on his face.

"Hey guys, I really like what you've done with the place." He laughed good-naturedly and sat down at the round table.

"Yeah, well, we didn't chose the color pallet for the room, Doug."

The man nodded and smiled again, but it was more then obvious to the detectives that he was nervous. So the room was an interesting blue, it was small though, cramped. The walls closed in and it was dark. It was reverse the methods that the Box had used.

"So, you guys told me that I was here for my cousin?" He asked sitting up straighter in his chair as Terri came in. Doug's eyes fell on her, but he did not say anything.

"Yeah, Doug. Do you remember about a year ago, when you and four other men were brought in on drug charges?" Bayliss asked, sitting down across from him.

Douglas nodded, and blinked a few times.

"Well, we would like to know the specifics of what happened that day."

"All right," he said, shrugging, "Two narcotics detectives knew we had connections with the Mahoney family, she," he pointed to Stivers, "was one of them."

"Oh, where are our manners, Timmy? Mr. Turow, this here's Detective Stivers, formerly of Narcotics, but now hangin' with the murder po-lice."

"Stivers... yeah, I remember, Terri, right?"

She smiled and nodded.

"Anyway, me and my cousin were brought in with some friends of ours that we used to hang out with. Leonard and Ronald, man we were best friends."

"Best drug pals?"

"Nah, we never touched the stuff, not the heavy stuff. A little weed, sure... then. I heard how Austin had some stuff on him. Guess we all just slipped away."

Meldrick nodded and leaned against the wall in his customary manner.

"Now, Detective Stivers didn't participate in the interrogation did she?"

"No, sir."

"Then what did you discuss while being interrogated by the other detectives?"

Douglas closed his eyes and was silent for a few moments.

"They told us we could get off we had anything to take Mahoney down. We all had families then, we didn't want to go to jail, so we ratted out the boss."

"What did you tell them, Douglas?" Terri asked in her sweetest voice.

He shook his head and looked from each of the three detectives to the other.

"This is what got Austin killed ain't it?"

They all shrugged, and he let out a nervous laugh.

"Will this help you guys catch his killer?"

"Possibly," answered Bayliss.

"Okay, I'll tell you, but I want you to know that they told me that I would be protected if I ever came back and had more to tell them. I was one of Mahoney's personal enforcers, he sent me to do all of his most important stuff, and I was sometimes his bodyguard. I hated guns, so I wasn't really good at that."

The detectives in the room saw the irony of that, and smiled a little disdainfully.

"He was suddenly very agitated then, like he knew something was going to happen. Luther, I mean. He began making moves, being sloppy, but never enough to get caught. Then he got killed by a detective, uh... Kellerman. I met him once, he seemed like a pretty straight arrow... at the time."

"You met Kellerman?" Meldrick asked alert.

"Yeah, it was before Mahoney was killed. He was asking around on the streets, in plain clothes. Was trying to find out anything that he could. I didn't want to help him, I was nervous enough as it is."

"What did he learn that night?" Terri asked.

Douglas smiled at her, nodding.

"He was hassled by one of my pals, I told him to lay off, but he let it slip..."

"Let what slip, Mr. Turow?"

"Okay, wait a minute. I have to back up here. You guys have no idea what was going on do you? Someone was squeezing out Luther, and he didn't know who. It had him upset."

"All right," Bayliss sighed, "Someone was moving in on Luther's territory, he gets upset, and...?"

"And he orders hits on all sorts of people. My buddy was one of the people that went and did /those/ sort of jobs for him. He told that Kellerman dude, that they were going to kill all sorts of detectives and police officials. I couldn't tell then that he was going to go kill Mahoney, I mean, he just sort of nodded."

"He was out on the streets, asking questions, and your pal told him that his life was in danger?" Tim asked, jotting down the notes.

"Not like that, more like, 'Hey, bitch, you and your pals better be careful up in Homicide, we got eyes on you'."

"I see. All right, what else did you talk about?" Bayliss said, perfectly neutral, but his head was spitting out ideas left and right.

Douglas sighed with relief, he had felt the tension rise in the room when he mentioned the name Kellerman, and had been hoping that he did not get into trouble. Now the both black detectives were eerily stony, and he could not help but wonder why.

"Me and Leonard had been hearing things, about how it was his sister and her daughter that wanted Luther out. But they weren't interested, just in Luther. We gave them all this info on hits and deals and they let us go."

Bayliss nodded and put his pen down.

"Let's say we're interested in Georgia Rae's daughter and that we would really appreciate it if you told us anything you can."

"I was approached by Georgia before Luther was killed. She told me that she would soon be coming in and taking over for Luther. It was like she knew that he was going to die. She told me about her daughter, that she would be the real brains. I didn't ask questions, just listened."

Meldrick moved closer and sat down next to Tim, leaning over the table. His eyes were sympathetic and caring, his voice soft and clear.

"Did she mention any names or anything at all?"

"One, Catalina. That was the daughter's name. I would have told them, but.en he was brought in on drug charges, they...?" Bayliss looked up and sighed. Lewis's eyes narrowed and he j

"How do you think she knew?" Terri asked, standing at the door.

"I don't know. Maybe it was because Luther was getting sloppy, maybe she had Kellerman up her sleeve, I don't /know/. She just knew, and she asked me if I wanted to work for her when everything went down," He answered, shrugging. His voice was getting shrill as he felt those damn walls close in on him, and the tension rise again.

Meldrick blinked, taking the hinted accusation with stride. It was silent for a few moments, but Tim broke the silence, knowing Lewis could never ask.

"Kellerman up her sleeve? What do you mean?"

"I- I was just thinking that that cop that killed Luther might have known more then he was telling us when he came around. He was cool when he heard how Luther was planning hits on police, so I just thought..." He shut his mouth and looked at his hands.

"Just thought what?"

"Maybe he was dirty and trying to see if anyone knew..." Douglas mumbled. One thing he knew, you don't tell other cops that a cops are dirty unless they are IAD, The Rat Boys.

"Do you know anything else, Doug?" Meldrick asked, his eyes narrow.

"Only that Georgia was killed, and that the new Mahoney is in town, and how my cousin was killed the first night back, and how Leonard and Ronald are all dead," he made the list in his head.

"What about the Mafia, anything about them?" Terri asked.

"Hey, this is organized crime, and you aren't organized crime, unless the mob makes room for you. Sure there's mob connections. Just not everyone knows it, and if you do, you don't know who. Can I go now?" He asked, closing his eyes, "I have to leave town before I get aced. Witness protection don't do a damned thing."

Meldrick nodded, swallowing. Douglas Turow nodded to Stivers on the way out.

Bayliss looked over at Meldrick. Fucking kid, now Meldrick did not know what to believe. You could see the doubt in his eyes, but Tim knew Meldrick did not want to believe it. Lewis stood.

"I'm taking a lunch break."


Meldrick was grinding his teeth on the way to Barbara's office. He could turn around right now, and pretend like that interrogation had never happened. He could just never bring it up and let it die.

But that was what Mike was always talking about, him letting things go without talking about him. He knew that Mike was not dirty. God, he had never doubted him like this before. This was stupid, and he knew Mike would never forgive him if he asked.

But, Meldrick had to know. What was he doing on the streets of Baltimore at night?

He came to a stop in front of the small offices of Dr. Barbara Shivers. She had never changed the wooden sign out front, and he was sort of glad. Commitment was never his thing, and if she had acted all hyped up like that... he would have backed away.

The assistants inside knew him well, though. He had once brought her lunch on days that he could, but that routine had ended as his job picked up, and as she had obtained her reputation.

"Hello Mr. Lewis," called Cheri from behind the receptionist's desk.

"Hey, uh, is she done with Mr. Kellerman, yet?"

Cheri looked at her schedule and nodded.

"She should be done any moment."

Meldrick smiled with effort and went to sit down on one of the plush chairs in the green waiting room. Barbara had always like the color green. That's why their first anniversary was celebrated with champagne and an emerald ring. She had loved that ring, and still wore it.

After sitting for a while in the waiting room, trying not to allow the sick feeling in his stomach to grow, Mike came out with a smile on his face. The smile made Meldrick swallow, and he waved at him.

"Meldrick?" Mike asked coming around the corner.

"Hey, Mikey, I was wondering if... you would like to go get some lunch?"

Mike smiled and Barbara poked her head out of her office.

"Mel, I'm glad you're here! I can't make it tonight, so I wanted to know if we could talk now?" Her smile hinted something was up, but Meldrick could not feel reassured, not now.

"Can I listen in?" Mike asked, going to sit down in the chair Meldrick had just occupied. Barbara smiled and stood aside as he entered the room. Shutting the door behind him, her smile widened.

Meldrick looked away, hoping she would not notice his obvious discomfort. He knew she would though, there was no stopping it.

"Meldrick, Mike and I..." Her voice trailed off, "what is it?"

"At work, some bunk knew Mike. He was sayin' how Mike was up Georgia Mahoney's sleeve..."

Her smile faded and she pushed him to a chair.

"You don't believe him, do you?"

Meldrick could not answer her. She let out a disbelieving laugh and threw her hands up.

"You are such a bastard, did you know that?"

"What?" He asked, shocked.

"Mike, he needs someone to tell him that what he did is over. Not for someone to ask him all sorts of questions like this. Meldrick if you ask him if he's dirty, he will be hurt. You... you can't deal with this! You can't do /this/!"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"He is a very sick man, Meldrick. You come here because you want to ask him these... these things? You can't handle /love/ if you can't trust someone!" She yelled.

Meldrick stayed silent, knowing that it was no use to say anything. The words stung though, and he knew it was true. She put both hands on his shoulders.

"Don't you dare mess this up, Meldrick. Don't you dare," her voice cracked, "I sit in the same room, with a man I hate because he took you away from me. I push everything to the back of my mind, so that /you/ will be happy, because I love you! So don't you dare lose him. You ask him those questions, and he you will lose him, and you then will be alone, because I'm not willing to let you do it again."

She let a tear well up over her eyelids. He began to speak but she cut him off.

"He is willing, though. He will take the chance of you hurting him again, and God only knows why. If you do, he will die inside. You are the only thing in this world keeping him together. It's not /me/, you son of a bitch, it's /you/."

"Maybe you're right, huh," Meldrick said back, his voice loud, "maybe I can't handle love!"

Barbara shook her head.

"You can, Mel, /I/ know. You loved me once, remember?"

He nodded.

"Then don't let your doubt ruin this for you. I love you so much it hurts, and I hate what this does to me, and I hate you for doing it. But here I am, and I won't leave you because I trust you to make this work. For you and Mike."

He sucked in a breath and leaned over. She was stiff at first, but she patted his back.

"What if I can't do this, Babs. What if I lose him to this?"

"Don't ask those questions, baby, take him to lunch and trust yourself and him."

He sat back.

"I love you, Barbara, I do."

"I know, go on get him out of here."

Meldrick stood and walked to the door, feeling weak, but that sick feeling had disappeared.

"What did you want to talk about?"

"I'll tell you next time," She sighed, staying in the chair.


"Don't say it. Go."

He swallowed and walked out of the office. Mike was leaning over the counter, flirting with the girl and Meldrick had to smile.

"Hey Mikey, once a dog, always a dog?"

Mike smiled at the girl and turned to him.

"What, some harmless talking and I'm a dog?"

They left the office, and Meldrick told Mike that he would drop him off here after lunch to pick up his car.

"I think this is going to get better," Mike said quietly in the Cavalier Meldrick had stolen in the moment it had taken him to leave the building. He looked over at his lover and smiled, pushing all of his doubts to the farthest reaches.

"Me too, Mikey."


Mike shoved the hamburger into his mouth and bit ferociously into it. Meldrick watched in awe as he drank his Coke. He sensed eyes on him and looked up, chewing.

"What?" He asked around the food.

"I dunno what that sandwich ever did to you..." Meldrick said, reaching across the table to tap the bread.

"Hey! Get your hands off. I'm just hungry, I didn't eat much last night... or last week... or last month." Mike shrugged and bit into it again.

He thought back and nodded when he remembered how Mike would just pick at his plate. Mike sat back and sighed. Right now he wished Barbara had told him what was going on, but if Mike was happy, it had to be good.

Meldrick reached under the small table and grasped at Mike's hand that lay at his side. He closed his fingers around the hand and squeezed.

"I love you," he whispered, "I love you so much, and I'm so afraid I'm going to hurt you."

Mike swallowed the remaining food and ran a thumb over his fingers.

"I- I don't know what to say, Meldrick. I love you too, and I would be lying to say that I don't think about you walking out on me."

"Is this hard for you, me being a guy?"

He looked up at Meldrick, smiling a little sheepishly.

"Actually, not really, not anymore. I mean... it's a little awkward. I can't invite you over for dinner at moms or anything like that, but I do want to be with you. If that means love, then, I guess it is."

Mike shrugged, and Meldrick laughed.

"For being such a lady's man, you sure got problems with romance."

He grinned and squeezed Meldrick's hand tighter.

"I think you can fix that..." he whispered slyly. Meldrick raised his eyebrows and looked around the restaurant. No one was paying attention to them, at least, not yet.

"You better believe it, baby."

"Baby?" At that moment a waitress came to a stop in front of their table and he released his hand.

"Is there anything else you guys need?"

"Nah," answered Meldrick.

"I want ice cream... to go."

"Okay, what kind, cutie?" She smiled at Mike, who blushed.

"Strawberry, please."

"You'd be the type, white boy." Her smile widened and she nodded to Meldrick, who just shook his head in amazement.

"I don't know," Mike was saying, "Why I waste my efforts on the likes of you..."

"'Cause no one else will put up with you, that's why. I'm the only one that can stand the glare of that white face."

"Ha, you're a funny one, Meldrick."

Lewis smiled and waited for the waitress to bring the cone of ice cream to pay for the meal. Mike smiled slyly, and licked at his cone.

What are you planning, Mikey? Meldrick mused, as he caught peeks of that smile.

At a red light he found out, and quite uncomfortably. Mike took the remaining bit of his cone and smeared it on the side of his face. Jumping from the cold, he instinctively reached for it.

"Keep your hands on the wheel." Mike hissed. He swallowed and tightened his hold on the steering wheel.

"I know Barbara doesn't want you to do this, but I have to know what it's like," Mike pleaded. He tried to nod without disturbing the ice cream that was beginning to melt on his cheek.

"Okay, here goes."

"Just do it already, Mikey..."

He prayed to God that the light did not change in the middle of this. 'God oh God oh God...'

Mike's tongue drag over his cheek and he bit his own. He felt his hands fall to his side as he stared straight ahead. When the man at his side finished, he did not pull away, instead lingering at Meldrick's ear.

"It's better on you..."

"How did it feel?" Meldrick asked, surprisingly calm. The light turned green and he raised his hands to the wheel.

Mike was silent for a few moments, then laughed.


"The people in the car next to us are freaking out."


Bayliss did not say a word when Meldrick walked back in, but by the look on his face, he could tell that he wanted to know what had happened.

"I didn't ask, Bayliss."

"Why not?"

"Think about it, you a good detective. Unless Frank was the only reason you stayed afloat..." Meldrick said, coming around to his desk.

"I don't need /Frank/, Meldrick," Bayliss replied, his face screwing up into a frown.

Meldrick nodded, distracted by a pink slip on his desk. It was nothing; he just wanted to look busy.

"So what we going to do about this case, huh? We know about Catalina Mahoney, just not anything other then that she exists. We don't even know who's going around and killing all of these men. Not to mention we got Mafia problems."

"Yeah. I didn't even know we /had/ a Mafia in Baltimore. Used to envy Organized Crime."

"Overflow from New York, can only be so many families in one city."

"I guess," Tim breathed, "but this whole thing gets more and more complicated every day. Starting with Mike's rape. We knew there was a Mahoney involved, but we didn't know what was going to happen. Then all these murders, committed by the same guy that took Mike, at least the fingerprints matched the ones found at the house where we found Mike, but not in any databases."

Meldrick nodded and sighed. There was nothing else they could do at the moment but tell Gee.

"The case is cold, Bayliss, might as well tell Gee."


She got up out of the limousine, patting the weapon she had on her side. Josh stood in the center of the warehouse she had just pulled into. Douglas Turow kneeled before him, bound and gagged on the concrete floor.

"He's been a patient man," Josh called, "Doesn't even struggle that much... what a pity."

"Hmm. Naughty boy, Dougy. Everything could have worked out so well, too."

She smiled fondly at Josh, before reaching for the gun she had just so recently lavished upon. A sleek Beretta 92/96 Brigadier, heavy for a woman of her slight build, but powerful enough to suit.

"Stand back, dear," she murmured to Josh, "don't want to get messy."

She tilted the man's chin up with the gun, and pulled the trigger, frowning when Turow closed his eyes at the last second.

"There's one more thing..." Josh began, but stopped short when the person he was about to speak of made his presence known.

"Maybe you have a heart after all."

Her smile widened and she looked up.

"What would you know about having a heart, Paul?"

The End ~

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