1A/N: Regretfully, I own none of the LO:CI characters.

Once Upon A Time

Setting: Major Case Squad, February, 2001

Captain James Deakins let out a long, deep sigh. It was an involuntary reflex, but reflected his exasperation, disappointment and frustration, nonetheless. He leaned back in his chair, pensively tapping his pen on the cluttered blotter before him. Det. Anderson stood, heading for the door. Deakins decided on one last-ditch attempt.

"Paul, are you really sure? Why don't ya' just give it a few more weeks – see if it gets better?"

"I'm sorry Captain," Anderson shook his head negatively, "It's been four months –and if anything, it's only gotten worse. The guy's impossible!"

"I'll have a talk with him," Deakins offered.

"I've tried talking to him," Anderson snapped – then quickly reminded himself he was speaking to his superior officer. He lowered his voice, "I really am sorry, sir. I just can't do it anymore."

The noise of the blinds rattling against the door as Anderson firmly closed it drowned out the bang of Deakins' fist upon his desk.

"Well, there goes his sixth partner in less than twenty-four months — now what?" he asked himself. He grabbed for the half full, luke-warm mug of coffee at the corner of his desk and gulped down two Exedrin as he pulled Goren's file from the drawer.

Deakins wasn't sure what bothered him more: another partner leaving Bobby, or that fact that he had to be the one to call Bobby into his office again and break the news. He concluded they were equally as bad. He absent-mindedly leafed through Bobby's file as he thought to himself, "I just don't get it – he's my best Detective; he's bright, he's got the best solve rate, he's...he's..."

He couldn't finish the thought.

The Captain knew there were a dozen other great attributes that Goren possessed, but the "negatives" somehow always worked their way in. "Oh, who am I kidding? He's a cocky pain in the ass – but he's brilliant. I'd get rid of a hundred 'Andersons' before axing Bobby."

Deakins had only one choice. Get on the phone to Personnel. Then call Bobby into his office. He grabbed the receiver and dialed, almost feeling guilty at summoning the next candidate to his inevitable future demise with the Major Case Squad. He called Bobby into his office. He hated seeing the look on Bobby's face every time he broke the news; sure, Goren always acted aloof, as if it was expected and he didn't care, but Jimmy knew better: it hurt.

xxxxxxxxx

Bobby stood, eager to get out of the Captain's office and back to work. Deakins tore the page off his note pad, extending his arm across the desk, handing it to Bobby. "Here's the name of your new partner – Personnel just got this one in."

Bobby tucked his leather portfolio under his arm as he walked back to his desk, glancing down to read the paper.

A small smile crossed his lips. "Detective Alexandra Eames." His smile, just as quickly, faded as he thought to himself, "Who am I trying to kid? I might as well tell Deakins to get Personnel back on the phone, 'cause no matter how much as I hope, she'll never last."

THE END