Disclaimers and Notes: Don't own 'em and not trying to make any money here. Got this idea from WWOMB plot bunny list. Though I'm pretty sure it was supposed to be a slash bunny, sorry, mine is gen. Of course, with a good imagination you can make it pre-slash.

Deaq glanced over at the passenger's seat of the black Mercedes. Good thing the seats were dark leather. Maybe the blood wouldn't stain it before they could get it cleaned and maybe it wouldn't even show anyway if it did. But why was he thinking about that right now? Oh yeah, so he wouldn't have to think about the man sitting in that seat. His eyes were drawn to his partner before he could properly redirect them. It's not Van's blood, he reminded himself as he took in the vision of darkened, drying blood on his partner's face, arms, and clothes.

Hostage situations were always tricky, and it wasn't even a case. It had just been really bad timing. Van needed bread, so they stopped at a convenience store. Unfortunately, it was being robbed at the time. Two gunmen, a clerk, a customer, and Van were the ingredients to a disaster. The gunmen had freaked out when Van entered the store. Van's reflexes were in fine working order or else he would have been in the morgue right now. The shot took out the front window and was Deaq's cue to act. The resulting standoff had Van emerging as the only survivor from inside the store.

The clerk was the catalyst for the final shootout. The man had a weapon stashed under the counter, and while the perps discussed the cops that had magically appeared outside, he finally managed to get to it. It was a fatal mistake. He missed; the perp did not. Neither did the uniformed officer that took the next shot. The remaining perp grabbed for the customer and used her as a shield. With the gun at her head, Van wasn't going to make a move. But somebody did. IA would have to sort out who fired that shot. It wasn't Van who never pulled his weapon. It damn sure wasn't Deaq himself. It wasn't the perp. A gun happy cop put that bullet through that poor woman and the maniac that held her. Van rushed to catch her before she hit the floor. Another shot, this time from the perp as he fell, sliced through the woman's throat. A curtain of red actually obscured Deaq's view of his partner for a long moment. She was dead before Van even got her lowered to the floor, but Van was too freaked to figure that out. He was trying to stop the blood flow and calling for an ambulance.

It had taken Deaq a good five minutes to convince Van to let her go. He was cradling her in his arms, one hand over the wound in her throat. Deaq shivered. He'd never seen so much blood before. Van's once blue shirt was a shade somewhere between purple and black as the blood coated and soaked into it. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was Van's face, his blood-covered, anguished face. Or so Deaq thought.

When he finally got through to his partner, and managed to pull Van away, he thought everything was going to be all right. He was wrong. He led Van outside. Once there, Van sank down to the sidewalk. Deaq sat down beside him, whispering words of comfort and dabbing at the blood on Van's face with some procured paper towels. Then the words that changed everything.

"Hey, guys, this woman is pregnant. Well, was pregnant."

"Fuck," Deaq had sworn. He hadn't taken much notice of her really. She'd looked a little chubby to him, but pregnant had not registered as a possibility. He looked at Van then and was shocked by what he saw. Nothing is what he saw. Van's normally expressive face was blank, his green eyes empty. No, anguish he could handle. Blank was the worst part, he realized now as he drove Van home.

Van was still blank as he sat stiffly in the passenger's seat. He should have let the paramedics check him out. Okay, Van wasn't technically hurt, but this nothingness wasn't normal. He could be in shock or something. Van had shoved the paramedics away from him though.

In the two hours they were stuck there in that parking lot, Van had avoided everyone. Even Deaq. Even Billie when she arrived. Anyone that came close got one hand thrown up at them, and then Van retreated further away. Billie had finally arranged for Van to give his statement later. Deaq had asked Van several times if he needed anything. Did he need Deaq to stay with him? Did he need something to drink? Did he need to talk to the department shrink? Did he need to sit down, lie down, walk around, anything at all? Van only shook his head and moved away. When Van had reached the very edge of the parking lot, damn near in the street, Deaq had given up.

Yellow crime scene tape was rolled out and strung up, the coroner's wagon had taken away the bodies, and Deaq had given his statement. He collected his partner without a word, just an open car door as an escape route.

Deaq looked at the leather seat again. It was much easier to contemplate than what he was going to do with his silent, vacant partner. Not to mention that it was easier than realizing just how close he'd come to losing said partner. It could have been Van's blood. It could have been Van in that coroner's wagon. Damn. That was the last thing he needed to think about.

"Red light," Van's voice scared the hell out of him.

He slammed on brakes. Yeah, he'd almost run a red light. He'd better pay attention to the road. "So you are in there?" he asked as he waited for the light to turn green.

But he didn't get any answer. A few minutes later, he pulled up in front of Van's Venice cottage. "You need me to come in?"

He shook his head.

Deaq got out of the car anyway, suddenly needing to be there whether Van wanted or needed him there or not. He circled the car quickly so he could walk side by side with Van as they made their way up the walkway and front steps. Van had his keys in his hand, but the hand was shaking. Deaq took them and opened the door. He followed Van inside and put the keys on the table in the foyer. Van said nothing. He went into his living room and stopped just before the couch. He looked down at himself, and Deaq saw the tremor that ran through him.

"Do you need me to stay?"

Van shook his head again. He turned and headed down the hall. Deaq was right behind him.

"You sure?" Because I don't think I want to go, he added in his head.

He nodded this time as he turned on his shower.

"Okay. I'm going to go then." Ask me to stay, Van, he urged silently.

Van nodded again though as he started to strip off his ruined clothes.

"See you tomorrow then." Deaq left the bathroom without a reply. His feet dragged as his head and heart argued stay or go. He wanted to stay. Van needed him to stay. He just wouldn't admit it. Hell, he needed to stay. He just didn't want to admit it either. Give me a reason, Van. Come on, I need a reason. Need you to give me a reason.

He was at the front door before he heard it. The sound was unmistakable. A choked sob, and a failed attempt to stifle a sad, angry scream. He froze. He closed his eyes and gave thanks, though to whom he didn't know or care. God, Van, himself, whatever, didn't matter. He had his reason. He turned back. The bathroom door stood open, just like he'd left it. Steam rose over the shower curtain. He reached out and pulled it back. His heart seized in his chest as he took in the sight of Van huddled under the hot spray, his knees drawn up to his chest, his arms wrapped around them, his head down.

"Van, do you need me?"

"Yes." Van looked up and Deaq was relieved to see emotion, even the terrible sadness he saw, in Van's eyes again. "I'm sorry, Deaq. I do."

"It's okay, partner. I got you."

Several hours later, Deaq tucked a blanket around Van and plopped himself back down in the chair next to the couch. His partner had finally fallen asleep. There hadn't been much talking really, not after Van's recount of the events and recriminations of his own actions. He felt he should have done something, thought that he could have stopped it before—before she had been killed. Deaq reassured him that he had done all that he could have done. If he'd drawn his weapon, it just would have happened sooner, and maybe Van would have been dead too, he told him. After that, they just sat in silence, watched a movie, drank a few too many beers probably and were just there. There for each other actually. Like partners should always be. Van needed him, and he was there. He needed to be there, and Van had let him stay. If the tables had been turned, Van would be there for him, though he wasn't sure he'd be able to let Van stay. In that way, Van was stronger than him. His father had once told him that it took a strong man to admit his weaknesses. Well, that was something to think about.

Bacon, that was the aroma that woke him. "Damn it," he muttered as he lifted his head from the back of the chair slowly. His neck protested. Great, he'd fallen asleep in Van's living room chair. He was going to be aching all day now.

He didn't need to look for Van on the couch. He knew his partner was the reason for the wonderful smell that woke him. He heard the clink of plates and chuckled. His partner was cooking. That was interesting. Then again, not too many people could mess up eggs and bacon. Maybe he shouldn't be too impressed.

Maybe he should even be worried. He should check on Van's mental state, he decided. He got up, groaning as his back joined in the protest started by his neck. He stumbled more so than walked over to the kitchen. "Van?"

Van turned from the stove. He wasn't exactly looking happy, but he was functioning. "What?"


"Do you need me?"

Deaq wondered if Van realized what he had said or how he said it. Was he just curious about why Deaq called his name or—the question, did he realize? "Yes, I do," Deaq answered quickly before he could talk himself out of it.

"It's okay, partner. I got you." Van lowered his gaze for a moment then looked back up at him. "Thanks, Deaq."

Deaq nodded the cleared his throat. Enough of this. "You're burning my bacon."

Van smiled and shook his head.

Yeah, Van was going to be okay. That's all Deaq needed to know.