A/N: OK, first off, this is a sequel to my story "Nightmares and Hooker Boots," and if you haven't read that, some parts of this one aren't going to make any sense. A quick and dirty summary: 10 years ago, Alex was in Vice and Bobby was in Homicide. Alex happened to have a run-in with a serial killer, and she only survived because Bobby happened to be staking out the area and came to her aid. When Alex called her Vice partner to tell him about it, he told her that he had bad news: her husband (I named him Michael) was killed while responding to a robbery. Bobby was gone from the serial killer scene before she got the news, and although he knows she's a widow, he doesn't know the timing of Michael's death or how she remembers the two events as connected. Bobby has nightmares about that night where he sees Alex getting hurt or killed and him not able to help.

A/N 2: This is pretty much unlike anything I've written before, and I'm not really confident that I like it. It was actually supposed to be focused on Bobby's nightmares, but well . . . it took on a life of its own. As I've said before, smut isn't my strong suit, and this story demanded quite a bit of it, even though it wasn't really explicit. So I guess I'm considering this fic an experiment . . .

A/N 3: Parts of this came out sounding a little too similar to B. Cavis's story "Waking Hours" for my comfort, so my apologies in advance - no plagarism or offense intended!


It's Friday, we've been working on these forms for over three hours (god, I hate the extra work that goes along murder cases), and I can't stand it any longer. Wishing I could plant a fist in the face of the criminal who brought about all this paperwork, I drop my pen and rub my eyes, then look up at my partner.

He's not even pretending to write anymore, just sitting there holding onto his pen like it's a lifeline. I check my watch for the third time in twenty minutes. Yep, still way past my bedtime, and his too. "Bobby," I say, reaching over to touch his hand. He raises his head, looking like he's forgotten I'm even in the room. "Come on," I tell him. "You're tired. Let's go home and get a few hours sleep while we still can."

He stares at me blankly, then glances down at his watch. "Eames, it's only -"

"It's past midnight," I interrupt. "And that means it's way past time for all overworked detectives to be in dreamland."

A strange look crosses his face, as if I just mentioned a secret he didn't think I knew, but I mentally overrule that impression because really, what was in that sentence that he would be secretive about? He's just tired and drained from this case.

As if to reinforce that conclusion, his head starts to droop and I realize that he's dozing off. That tears it; I have to get him out of here now, because if I let him go much longer I won't be able to move him and he'll wake up in the morning with his desk blotter imprinted on his cheek. I stand up and lean over both our desks so I can get my face near his as I try to read his expression. "Bobby," I say, "you're falling asleep sitting up. I'm not letting you stay here without me, and I'm not staying here any longer than I already have. So come on."

When I tug pointedly on his hand, he sighs and puts down his pen, stretching out fingers that must be cramped from being locked in that position so long. "It's really past twelve?" he asks skeptically.

"Yes." At least now he's listening and responding to what I say, I decide. I smile at him and straighten up, preparing to gather my things while I watch him out of the corner of my eye.

A second later, I'm glad I was looking, because watching him stand up is like watching someone try to balance a piece of half-cooked spaghetti on one end. Great, so not only is my partner exhausted, but if he doesn't even have the energy to stand up; he probably hasn't bothered to eat since we started this case - which means his muscles are on vacation. "You ducked out of lunch today," I remind him pointedly. "When was the last time you actually had a meal?"

He looks away and shrugs. "Not hungry," he mumbles as I hand him his coat and take the opportunity to study his face again. He looks like the thought of food disgusts him, which is unusual; usually when he doesn't eat it's just because he's just apathetic and forgets.

Actually, the look on his face now reminds me of a picture my brother-in-law took of me while I was pregnant. I'd been in the kitchen with my sister when she happened to take some raw hamburger out of the fridge, and he'd managed to snap a picture of the look that appeared on my face right before I sprinted for the bathroom to throw up.

However, my partner is definitely not pregnant, so he has no excuse. "I didn't ask if you were hungry," I tell him sternly. "I asked when you last ate. So answer the question."

Even before he opens his mouth, I know I'm not going to get a straight answer out of him. "Eames -"

"Oh, shut up," I say, exasperated with his reticence but not really bothering to be angry. I pull on my coat, but he just stands there holding his. Sometimes I wonder if, like a shark, he alternates turning off halves of his brain to rest them. Right now, the movement half appears to be non-functioning.

Wait, did I just analogize my partner to a fish? Well, it's his own fault; the only reason I know that fact is because he mentioned it to me out of the blue earlier this week. "You going to put that on?" I ask him now, pointing to his coat. "Or do I have to dress you, too?" It's a cheap shot, but it works - he puts on the coat.

"Good boy," I tell him, taking hold of his arm, partly to lead him and partly to support him in case he stumbles. "Let's go."

He doesn't say anything, just nods and picks up his portfolio, then allows me to pull him toward the elevator.

I lean him against the elevator wall and give him a look that says I expect an explanation. When he doesn't obey, I try it out loud: "Talk to me, Bobby. What's going on with you lately?"

"Nothing," he says, entirely too quickly for my taste. "Just got caught up in the case."

He's such a liar, I think. I know him well enough to know something's gotten to him. Out loud, though, I just say, "Yeah, well, the case is pretty much closed now, so try relaxing for once."

The elevator stops in the lobby and before I can move, he's out the doors and heading for the building exit. He won't get far, I realize with a smirk as I remember that he takes a subway line that only runs from our stop during commuter hours. And commuter hours definitely don't include midnight. "Bobby!" I call after him as he goes through the front door. "Your train -" He's gone before I can finish the sentence. Who knew someone so tired could move so fast? With a sigh, I follow him out of the building and down the sidewalk.

He knows I'm there, but he's pretending he doesn't, and that's just fine with me for the moment. Just because I'm watching out for him doesn't mean I can't be amused at his impending confusion at not finding his train. When he heads down the steps into the station, though, I move a little faster, grabbing his arm before he can swipe his Metrocard and lose two dollars. "Don't waste your money," I tell him.

He obediently puts the card back in his wallet, but looks at me in confusion. "Waste? What?"

Friggin' idiot. I love him dearly, but dear god he can be so dense sometimes! "Yes, waste," I reply tiredly. "It's late-night hours, genius, and your train only runs from this stop during the daytime."

"Oh."

Well, at least I've managed to get him to stop moving. "Come on," I say, taking his arm and trying to lead him up the steps to street level.

Mumbling an apology - probably just as a precaution, since he doesn't seem to know what he's done, but he can obviously tell I'm irritated - he lets me pull him along behind me.

"Don't apologize," I sigh, deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt. "That's what I'm here for."

"To keep track of my commuting schedule?"

That was humor. Humor is a good sign. I smile and shake my head. "Nope. Just to keep track of you."

"You don't need to -"

"Obviously I do," I cut in, looking pointedly to the subway station we've left behind.

"Sorry. I'm just -"

"Tired," I finish for him. "I know you are. So am I. That's why you're coming home with me."

He stops walking and stares at me as if I just invited him to an orgy involving me, Carver, Nicole Wallace, and two sheep. "I . . . what?"

"You're coming home with me," I say again, keeping my voice firm so he doesn't think he can talk me out of it. "If I leave you to yourself, you're going to either pace your apartment or just think about this case all night, or both, and I need you awake and alert tomorrow morning. So you're coming to my apartment, where I can make sure you actually close your eyes for a few hours."

"Eames . . ."

"Don't bother arguing," I say in the authoritative voice I usually only use when telling my teenage nephew for the umpteenth time that no, he can't hold my gun, no matter how "cool" he thinks it is. "Come on, just accept it," I add as I unlock my car. "We can stop by your place in the morning for you to shower and change."

"But I -"

"Bobby, you know I'm right. So shut up." I soften the words by smiling a little and reaching up to pat his cheek before I let go of him and head for the drivers side of the car.

His response is a grunt, which I decide to take as an assent.

Two minutes later, he's leaning against the car window, only semi-conscious, and we're headed up Broadway toward my apartment.


It's not until I've opened the door to the linen closet in my apartment and pulled out two blankets that he finally gets around to speaking again. He tries to take the bedding from my hands, and looks confused when I won't give it up. "What's wrong?" he says blearily, trying again to get them away from me. "You can go to bed. I can . . . I can take care of myself out here."

He thinks I'm going to make him squeeze onto my couch, which is a pretty tight fit even for me? And even if I were tempted to be that selfish, I owe him a lifetime of favors for his saving me, multiple times over; he can have the bed as often as he needs it as far as I'm concerned. Poor guy must be even more delirious than I thought he was if he doesn't realize that. I take a firmer grip on the blankets and move back a step. "These aren't for you. You get the bed, I'm taking the couch."

"But . . ."

In contrast to my opinion of the past hour, right now I'm glad he's only half coherent. If he were in full control of himself, he'd be putting up a lot more of a fight as I push him to the bedroom. "You're bigger than me; you get the bigger sleeping space. Besides," I add when he opens his mouth to protest, "I don't think you could stay awake long enough to make up the couch."

"I'm not that tired. I think I'm just going to -"

"Oh, no you're not." Putting on my bossy face, I point to the bed that fills most of my bedroom's floor space. "Bed, Bobby. Now."

He blinks at me and hesitates for a second, then sighs and sits gingerly on the edge of the bed. "But this is your . . . I'm going to get your bed dirty."

"That's a pathetic excuse. You're not any dirtier than I am. In fact, you might be cleaner. Now, I want to get some sleep, so would you just stop arguing?" Ok, so maybe I'm a little cranky. I haven't gotten much more sleep than he has in the past few days; I think I'm entitled to a little bitchiness.

His eyes stay on me for a few more seconds and I can sense that he's trying to decide whether to obey. Finally, he nods and pulls off his shoes. "If you're really sure . . ."

"I am. And I'm warning you now," I add, knowing he just gave in way too easily, "I'm a light sleeper. If you get up and try to start pacing or whatever, I'm going to come in here and knock you out. Got it?"

"Yeah."

"Good." Nodding in satisfaction, I leave him and go back to the living room to create my makeshift bed. Why, oh why didn't I spring for that sleeper sofa when I had the chance? Oh, well. A little too late to worry about it now. With a sigh, I take off my shoes and head for the bathroom, where my pajamas are hanging on the back of the door.


A hoarse yell makes me sit bolt upright in bed - well, couch - a few hours later. I wait tensely for it to happen again, but the only noise I can hear now is Bobby's breathing in the other room, and it strikes me as being much too fast. I know he sometimes has nightmares . . . is he having one now?

As I throw back the blankets and jump to my feet, I wonder what he dreams about. My nightmares are almost always about the night Michael was killed and I almost died, but Bobby and I don't really talk about the events of that night . . . other than the occasional joke he makes about the boots I had on when it happened. Bobby doesn't know that I became a widow on the same night, and I don't particularly want him to find out. He'd manage to feel guilty about it, no matter how irrational that was.

In my nightmares, the terror usually stems from that the fact that Bobby's not there to save me, or that I manage to get him killed along with myself. Sometimes Michael will be there, just watching me. Sometimes I'll see him reaching for me as I feel the knife penetrate my body.

A pained groan drags me back into reality and I realize I've been standing here daydreaming while Bobby's in my bedroom suffering through . . . something. "Bobby?" I say softly as I tiptoe toward the bed. I get the feeling that he's not going to be fun to wake up.

There's no response to my whisper, and I move closer. He groans again then, startling me, and starts to thrash around under the blankets. I ease back a step and wait until he stops moving before advancing again. "Bobby," I try again, a little louder this time.

"Alex, no!"

For a second I think he's woken up and is trying to get rid of me, but then I notice that his eyes are still closed and he's shaking his head back and forth as if he's trying to convince something in his dream not to happen. Well, at least he doesn't call me by my last name in his dreams, I think to myself.

I wonder what role I'm playing in his mind tonight. Perhaps he's reliving a dangerous case; we've had a lot of those and a fair number of them involved me, personally, being in danger.

He's whimpering now and damn it, I don't like hearing him like this! Bobby Goren doesn't whimper. I've got to wake him up. I put one knee on the bed as I lean closer to him and say, "Goren!" Who knows, maybe the name switch will make a difference.

His eyes flicker open, then slam closed again and he starts to moan. "No, no . . . god, please . . . no, no . . ."

Damn, the whimpering was bad enough, but hearing him try to plead with some evil nightmarish entity brings me to a whole new level of discomfort. "Bobby!" I'm almost shouting now because I want so much for him to wake up and stop scaring me.

He shoots up to a sitting position. I end up on my ass on the corner of the bed as I throw myself backwards to try to keep his body from slamming into mine. As I watch, his eyes open again, and this time they stay open.

At least, until they land on me. Then he squeezes them shut and shakes his head violently, muttering, "No . . . go away . . . you're not . . ."

"Bobby." I've lowered my voice again, not wanting to scare him, and as I speak I keep my eyes on his face as if I could will him to return to consciousness.

His eyes stay closed, although he doesn't appear to be fighting so hard to keep them shut, and one of his hands reaches out tentatively. I think he's reaching for me - at least, I hope he is - and so I crawl forward again and take his hand, being sure to keep my grip loose.

At the touch of my hand, he opens his eyes again, widely now, and stares at me. "Alex?"

I sit up on my knees and give him a sheepish smile. "Hi. You were -"

"Are you real?"

Ok, so maybe he's not quite up to full mental power yet. I can deal with that. "Now what kind of question is that to ask a woman who's letting you have her bed for the night?" I tease. "Of course I'm -"

That's all I manage to say, because a split second later, I'm on my back with him over me. One of his hands is behind my neck because he used it to support my upper body as I went down; his other hand is in my hair, not pulling or twisting, but just . . . being there. "Bobby . . ." I manage to gasp as I look up into his face. His eyes are closed again, and I don't know if it's because he's asleep or because he's enjoying himself.

Either he doesn't hear me say his name or he doesn't care, because a second later, his mouth is on my neck and he's nipping at my skin and I'm trying to think through the haze of pleasure his lips are making me feel. "Bobby," I say again, arching my body to try to get my neck away from him and realizing too late that that movement brings the rest of me in contact with him.

He groans again, and this one sounds pleased, not pained. The hand that was in my hair moves down to take advantage of my body's position, wrapping around my waist and clamping me to him.

He still hasn't said anything to even let me know he's really conscious, let alone what he's doing and why, but given the way he's holding me, I can easily tell that his body is awake and eager. Licking my lips nervously - is this my gentle, shy partner who's never even kissed me, let alone done all the things he's doing now? - I push at his shoulders. "Bobby, stop."

Finally, he says something, although what he says isn't much help: "Alex . . ."

"Yes," I say, seizing on that and hoping he was trying to identify me. "It's me. Come on, you have to let me go now."

"Alive," he murmurs, and I feel his lips on the skin over my carotid artery as he verifies what he just said. "Alive . . ."

"Yes, alive." I give his shoulders another desperate push, but he doesn't budge. Ok, so I'm stuck for the next few seconds until he wakes up, I tell myself. I can handle that. No need to panic. And, at least in the short-term, I can handle it. I know he's not going to hurt me - even in his sleep, I doubt Bobby would hurt a woman - and, well, it's not like I find him repulsive. I just have a few quibbles with the way this is being done . . .

Like the fact that he's kissing me now. That's definitely uncalled for. I don't kiss sleeping men. "Bobby," I mumble into his mouth, trying not to jump out of my skin at the touch of his tongue. "Bobby, you have to stop."

He pulls his mouth away from mine just long enough to say a very firm, "No," then returns to what he was doing.

What the hell? That wasn't reassuring. He's awake enough to respond to my question . . . but he's not awake enough to realize that I'm serious? He seems to have devoted his attention to exploring the skin above the neckline of my top now, and this time, instead of just pushing at his shoulders, I plant my hands on his chest and shove as hard as I can.

It doesn't succeed in getting him away from me, but he does raise his head, apparently surprised by my rebellion, and study my face. "So beautiful," he whispers, brushing a piece of hair out of my face as I stare at him, wide-eyed. "Don't wanna wake up."

He thinks he's dreaming about being in bed with me? I freeze, not sure whether to laugh or scream. On the one hand, he must dream about me often, to seem so unsurprised at me appearing tonight, and that's a thought that makes me want to giggle like a teenager; on the other hand, it means he's really not in a cognizant state of mind, and I can't be sure how much of what I say, including my protests, he's comprehending.

One of his hands suddenly insinuates itself under my pajama top. My mouth - overruling my skin, which happens to be greatly enjoying this treatment - gasps a shocked protest. "Bob . . ."

My attempt to say his name is smothered by his mouth as it lands on mine. He's been holding me and himself off the mattress up to this point, but now he lowers us back to the sheets. His hand under my shirt stays on my stomach, not venturing up or down, for which I am profoundly grateful at the moment, and he pulls back enough to take some of his weight off me, seeming to be content for the moment just to touch me.

I have a second now to try to gather my thoughts, which is easier said than done when you have well over two hundred pounds of sleepy detective lying on top of you, chiseling away bit by bit at your self-control.

Speaking of which, wow this feels nice, points out my id cheerfully.

No, no, no. It's not allowed to feel nice. Bobby's my partner! Not to mention the small matter of him still being, well, asleep. I should definitely not be enjoying this.

He has big hands.

So do thousands of other guys. If I need big hands, I can go find a pianist - someone who won't get me fired.

What am I supposed to do now? I'm almost positive that he'll let me go if I put up a serious struggle, something to let him know that I'm not playing around, but my doing that would wake him up, and I can just see his face when he realizes where he is and what he's been doing. He'll be horrified, and that's definitely not something I want to do to him if I can avoid it.

Another option would be to just go with it, seeing as how I've wanted for a long time to try just this - for experimental purposes only, of course. But somehow, making love with a sleeping Bobby doesn't have quite the same luster as making love with an awake Bobby. Besides, he'd still wake up eventually and want to know what the hell he'd - we'd - done.

Finally, I decide to just go with the flow. This may be the only time in my life I get to kiss Bobby Goren, and if he asks questions when he wakes up, I'll just lie. I'm good at that.

And so I don't complain when his hand travels up my ribcage, or when his mouth covers mine again. I kiss him back this time, amazed that he can be so skilled with his hands and mouth while only semi-conscious. God, I wonder what he's like when he's completely awake.

Suddenly, I really want to know what he's like in bed when he's frustrated over a case. Note to self: look into that next time we get a tough one.

His fingers brush the underside of my breast and we both groan. What are we, a pair of horny teenagers?

Ok, well, one of us is unconscious. He gets a pass on this one. Me, I have no excuse except that damn I'm enjoying this and I hope he doesn't stop.

Well, he's not stopping. So far, so good. He's got his tongue in my mouth and his hands on my skin; all is well in the Eames apartment.

Catching me by surprise, he locks his arms around me and rolls over, pulling me with him. I end up sprawled over his chest - a comfortable, though somewhat unbalanced, position - and I put one hand down on the mattress next to his head to steady myself.

"Alex . . ." he mumbles as he moves his mouth down to my chin and then my shoulder, giving me goosebumps all over as he licks and nips what feels like every inch of skin between the two. My shoulder is about as far as he can reach without craning his neck into a really weird position, so he stops there and, still exploring the area with his mouth, moves his hands down to work on the buttons of my top.

I should really stop this before it goes too far . . .

Yeah, right.

He's got the first button undone, but he seems dissatisfied with our positions and I'm busy trying to figure out where I went wrong when he grabs my chin and kisses me, then sits up, pushing me with him until I'm almost upright and, for comfort's sake, I have to shift my position and straddle him instead of lying on top of him.

He's big. I'm feeling him through two or three layers of clothes, and I can already tell that. My mouth is suddenly a little dryer.

"Alex, what do you think you're doing?"gasps whatever remains of my intelligence, sounding like its sensibilities have been assaulted. "This is your partner, the same guy who -"

. . . has an arm wrapped around my hips, pulling me down against him while he kisses me. He's sending delicious little shivers through me every time he moves, and I don't care what my intelligence says, I'm damn well enjoying this while it lasts!

Other than the few times he's said my name and the one groan, we've both been completely silent since I broke him out of his nightmare, and I decide that's a shame. So when he moves to button number four - the second-to-last one - and lets his hand drift onto my newly-exposed skin, I let myself make a sound that's somewhere between a moan and a sigh.

That seems to energize him, because within a few seconds, he's got my top completely off and I'm watching it fly across the room. He lies back and uses both hands to pull my face down to him. "God," he mutters when I pull my lips away from his and sit up a few seconds later, "are you this perfect in real life, too?"

He still thinks I'm a dream. Ah, well . . . at least I'm a good dream, I decide as he raises his hands toward my breasts. I can live with being Bobby Goren's dream woman.

And a second later, it doesn't matter what I am, because his mouth is on my left breast and my god, I think I might be tempted to kill him if he were to wake up now and try to escape.

Besides, someone whose sexual autopilot is this good doesn't deserve to be stuck living in a world filled with mere humans.

"God, Bobby," I breathe as I tangle my fingers in his hair. That's about all I'm capable of saying right now, so it's just as well that he's not answering. Besides, his mouth is busy doing something I like a lot more than just talking, and I wouldn't want him to stop what he's doing in favor of using his mouth for plain old words.

One of his hands drifts down my back to the waistband of my pants, where it hesitates a moment before continuing down on top of the fabric. Without warning, he puts the wandering hand on my butt and uses it to pull me forward another inch, and I let out a sound that's embarrassingly close to a squeak when the movement puts my groin in full contact with his and I discover that even through two pairs of pants, his hardness can do wondrous things to my clit.

He groans; I follow suit and then lean down, suddenly needing to kiss him. I think he's distracted by the hand he still has on my butt, because he doesn't seem to have realized what I'm doing. While I wait for him to pick up on it, I realize that he's still got his shirt on. Well, that's not fair! "Bobby," I say, using both hands to pull up the sides of his shirt. "Take this off."

He does it without comment, dropping it on the floor next to the bed, and reaches for me again, trying to pull me down.

I splay my hands out on his chest, wanting to control my own descent so we don't end up knocking heads instead of boots, but the second my fingers touch his newly-bared skin, his hand tightens on my hip, enough to be painful. I yelp and pull back, trying to figure out how you go about telling a sleeping man not to play rough. And then I look at his face. His eyes have been open more or less since we started this, but they were glazed over with sleep, or pleasure, or something, the whole time.

They're not glazed now. He's awake. In fact, his eyes are completely clear, and they're looking at me . . . is it accusingly? I'm not sure what the look is intended to convey, but whatever it's meant to do, right now it's just making me want to go crawl under a rock. I quickly cross my arms over my chest and then just sit there, waiting for him to say something.

He just stares at me for what feels like forever, and I'm just about ready to grab my clothes and run when he speaks: "You weren't a dream."

Wordlessly, I shake my head. I don't have the slightest idea what to do right now; no one ever teaches you the socially appropriate reaction for when someone you're taking advantage of wakes up.

He cranes his neck down, probably to evaluate our positions and make sure we're both more clothed than not, then looks back up at me. His mouth works silently for a second, and then he manages to get out, "Alex . . ."

Without giving me time to answer, he grabs my arms, pinning them to my body, and shoves, hard. I think he's too desperate to get rid of me to think about whether he might apply too much force to his push. "Oh my god. I'm . . . oh god, Eames, I'm sorry . . ."

I wasn't prepared for that shove, and I fly backwards and almost tumble off the bed before I manage to stop myself. I slide off the bed voluntarily then and stand up, meaning to walk around back to where his head is resting, but I come to an abrupt stop when I glance at him and realize that he's looking at me in complete horror. Or rather, he's looking at my chest that way. I guess he only just noticed that I wasn't wearing a shirt. "It's ok," I say, holding out a hand like that's going to calm him down, which I know it won't. "Bobby, calm down," I say, keeping that hand up as I use the other to reach down and pick up my unbuttoned top from the floor.

"You want me to calm down?" he blurts, and I wonder if it's actually possible for someone's eyes to pop out of their head. "Why aren't you upset? I just . . .!"

I pretend to ignore him him and concentrate on dressing myself, but in truth, I'm trying to think of something to say to keep him from completely freaking out on me. "You thought you were dreaming," I finally say with a shrug. "I'm assuming that was . . . you know, how things normally go in your dreams. Why would you have thought it was anything else but a dream?" My face is getting hot, and I wonder if he can see. "It's not like you did anything that hurt me, Bobby. You just, uh, kissed me and stuff." I hope he doesn't remember the wide range of actions covered by the "and stuff" in that statement.

Covering his face, he sinks to the ground with a moan of what I assume is embarrassment.

"Hey, come on." I crouch in front of him and try to pull his hands away. "Do I look upset? No," I say, answering my own question. "And you know I'd sure as hell tell you if you had done something that upset me." I get no response from him. With a sigh, I decide to try another strategy: humor. "You're not too bad a kisser," I inform him teasingly. "I wouldn't mind waking you up again sometime."

He just shakes his head and refuses to look at me.

Maybe if I change the subject . . .

I search desperately for a topic that will distract him, but I can come up with only one that I'm sure will work. I glance over at my partner, who still looks like he thinks he raped me or did something equally heinous, then down at my hands, where there was once a wedding band. Keeping the circumstances of Michael's death a secret hasn't helped me any, but I still silently send an apology to him for using the information now for my own benefit. After taking a deep breath, I say quietly, "There's something I never told you about the night you saved me from getting knifed."

Immediately, his breathing slows a little, but he doesn't raise his head. Hey, it's progress. I'll take what I can get at this point. "Like what?" he mumbles into his hands.

"It's . . . something big," I say truthfully, moving out of my crouch to sit next to him on the floor. "I need you to look at me while I say it."

He must hear the sincerity in my voice, because he reluctantly drops his hands and looks at me, focusing his eyes somewhere around my left ear. "What do you mean, 'big'?" he asks suspiciously.

I swallow. "You know I'm a . . . a widow, right, and that my husband was a cop, too?"

He looks suddenly uncomfortable, but all he says is, "Yes."

"His name was Michael and . . . that night . . ."

This is harder than I expected it to be. I close my eyes and force myself to finish it: "While you and I were in that alley, he . . . he . . ." I have to stop again to keep from crying, although I know the tears aren't really for Michael anyway. Most of it is just remembering my fear and devastation that night; the rest is because I've avoided the memory almost since it happened, and because I'm talking about my husband to someone who . . . well, someone who I could see taking his place.

He reaches over to touch my hand. "Whatever it is, you . . . you don't have to tell me, Eames."

I shake my head. "No, I have to get it out, now that I started. Michael was killed the same night I met you," I say quickly, forcing the words over my lips. "At almost the same time. When I got in touch with my partner after you left the scene, to tell him I was ok . . . that's what he had to tell me."

I don't know what he was expecting to hear, but I don't think it was this. He's looking at me blankly while he tries to process what I just told him, and I know the moment it really hits him, because he reaches for me and pulls me into his arms, something he wouldn't have done even five seconds ago. "God, Alex, I'm so sorry. I didn't know . . . I left you alone that night . . ."

"Don't," I say, putting a finger against his lips. "There was nothing I could have done to save him that night, and there certainly wasn't anything you could have done. Besides, I think you'd met your heroism quota for the day after you dealt with me."

He looks unconvinced. I sigh and remove my finger. "I didn't tell you that to depress you. I did it to distract you from your self-flagellation, and it worked. So now can we talk rationally about what happened a few minutes ago?"

He tenses and tries to move away. "Eames . . ."

"You know," I say, knowing what I'm about to say will probably embarrass him but also knowing I'm going to say it anyway, "you called me Alex when you yelled during your nightmare. And while we were . . . you know."

He flushes, forcibly pulls his arms from around me, and jumps to his feet. "Look, I'm sorry. I just . . . I have nightmares every now and then and . . . I didn't mean it to happen tonight . . ." He starts pacing the room.

"I know that," I say. "No one plans to have nightmares, especially you."

"Me?" he says, looking cornered. "Why me especially?"

Is he kidding? He can't be that dense. "Because," I reply, starting to follow him as he paces, "I know how much you hate having them."

Without warning, he stops walking and whirls around to face me. Unable to stop in time, I walk right into him and nearly trip over my own feet as I try to move back. He grabs my arm roughly and bends down to yell, almost right into my face, "That's not true!"

He looks fierce now, like I insulted his mother or something. Hmm, wait . . . I didn't, did I? I don't know anything about his mother having nightmares. "I don't understand," I finally tell him cautiously, easing my arm out of his grasp and backing up a step. "Nobody likes nightmares. You're telling me you do?"

"No." He pulls his hand back and turns away from me again.

I take this opportunity, before he can look back at me, to rub my newly-bruised arm.

"I don't enjoy them," he tries to explain, running a hand through his hair. "I just . . . don't mind having them."

"Why?"

He blinks. "They . . . remind me of someone."

Well, this is an unexpected twist. I can't resist attempting to pry a little. "Someone you want to remember? Who is it?"

"I don't want to talk about this!" he snaps.

I back up another step, not wanting to get shouted at again. "Sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. Forget I said anything." I can't help being a little annoyed. I feel like I just ran into a brick wall between me and him. There are a lot of those, I've learned in the past few years.

He immediately looks contrite. "I'm sorry," he blurts, reaching for me but then not touching me, even though I'm within his reach. "I didn't mean . . . you know, to upset you."

"It's ok," I tell him as I give him a tight smile. "I'm well-acquainted with your boundaries; I'm adding this one to my mental rolodex. Won't happen again. I'm going back to bed." With that, I turn and head for the door. If he doesn't want to talk, that's just fine with me. My couch is sounding really attractive right about now, at least in comparison to getting yelled at by my hulking, resentful partner.

"No, Alex, wait!" He jumps forward and grabs my hand, pulling me to a stop. "Don't . . ."

I sigh. "What, Bobby?"

"I . . . I'm sorry," he stammers. I'm getting really sick of hearing that phrase out of his mouth tonight, but I stay quiet and let him continue: "I just . . . this case got to me. The mood I'm in . . . I'd be better off alone. I shouldn't have let you bring me here tonight."

I'm not sure why he felt the need to tell me that right now, in the middle of the night, when he knows I'm not going to turn him out onto the street even if he admits to kidnapping the Lindbergh Baby or something.

If I'm going to stay in here and let him vent, I need something to do with my hands while I listen to keep from decking him when he pisses me off. I decide after a second that working my fingers through my hair, which got tangled during our wrestling match, will do. I sit down on the edge of the bed and commence untangling. "Do you want to talk about it?"

He blinks, looking like it hadn't occurred to him that I might ask. "Talk?"

"Yeah, talk. It's the thing you do with your mouth. Look, Bobby - if you want to tell me about it, I'll stay in here. If you don't want to, I would really like to get a little more sleep before the sun comes up." Not waiting for his answer, I start moving toward the door again. If he wants me here, he'll stop me before I get there anyway.

He stops me, but not the way I was expecting. I'm halfway through the door when he grabs me around the waist and drags me back before I even have time to cooperate. "Stay," he says quietly, seeming oblivious to the elbow I'm repeatedly sending into his stomach as he backs us both toward the bed.

Resigned to my fate, I relax in his arms and let him do the work of supporting my weight. "I told you I would if you wanted. No need for all these theatrics."

He just grunts, hoists me up another inch, and drops me on the bed.

"Is this a signal that we can go back to sleep now?" I ask hopefully, sitting up. "Because if it is, I'll consider forgiving you for being such a bitch a little while ago."

"What did I do to you?" he says, sitting down but purposely leaving a large space between me and him.

"Huh?" That has nothing to do with my question. Damn it, all I want is another hour or two of shut-eye. Why does he have to be so difficult?

"Before. When I, uh, thought I was dreaming."

"You want to know what you did to me?" I ask, hoping I heard him wrong.

"Yes. I . . . I wasn't totally awake, and I don't know which parts I, you know, dreamed, and which parts were real. And I need to know what to apologize for."

Oh, not again! "Bobby, I swear to god, if I hear the words 'I'm sorry' out of your mouth again tonight, I will not be responsible for my actions."

He stares at me and opens his mouth to apologize again - I can see the words form on his lips - then thinks better of it. "I don't know what else I can say to make up for . . . attacking you."

"You don't need to make up for anything, ok? You didn't attack me, not even close. Really, you just surprised me, that's all." Ok, so maybe the flying tackle that started it all resembled an attack, but if he's not sure what we did, I sure as hell don't want to remind him and have him run screaming out of here.

"Alex," he says insistently, "I . . . I was, you know . . ." He gestures awkwardly toward my now-buttoned shirt. "Touching you. Obviously I was doing . . . something."

"Mostly you were just looking at me," I fib. There's some truth in that; I'm just leaving out all the parts that involve his hands or his lips. "Mumbling something about me being alive."

He jerks back like I slapped him, and I wonder what the hell I said that would make him react like that. Might as well ask him, I guess. Not much left to lose. "Bobby? What'd I say?"

"What?"

"I didn't think I said anything that would make you jump like that. What was it?"

He studies me for a long moment before nodding slightly, as if he's reached a decision. "The dream . . . it was about that night. I still . . . you know, remember it."

"Oh," I say, deciding that that sounds logical enough. "You dreamed he killed me?"

He nods. "And then you were trying to wake me up, and . . ."

"And you were relieved that I was alive," I finish for him. "No wonder you were staring at me."

"That . . . that's really all I did?" he asks tentatively, and I can tell he's sorting through his maybe-memories and trying separate fact from fiction using this new information.

I don't want to lie to him. It would be stupid to try, and it would probably come back to bite me in the ass if he ever sorts out which was which for himself. Problem is, I don't want to tell him the truth, either. "I, uh . . .well . . ." I stammer. "It . . . it wasn't anything I haven't done before." Oh, that's a great dodge, Alex. He's going to feel sooo much better hearing that!

He looks like he's frozen next to me as he says, "That doesn't answer my question."

"Bobby, please . . ."

His breathing gets slower, and I can tell he's trying to keep from losing either his temper or his composure. Well, that makes two of us, because I'm feeling a little on-edge myself. "Was it that bad?" he asks quietly. "You can't even . . . make yourself say it?"

"No! No, it's not that, it's just . . ." I shrug. "You didn't do anything that hurt me, ok? You just kissed me a few times. And like I said, you're not bad at it."

He abruptly reaches out and pushes the side of my hair back, then touches the tip of his finger to my neck ."You have a . . . a mark here. I . . . I did that?"

"Yes," I admit, but then quickly go on, "but you know, it's not like I can blame you. You were really happy to see me alive; it makes sense that you'd, you know, demonstrate."

He looks at me like I've got three heads. " 'Demonstrate'?"

I sigh. "Bobby, what do you want me to say? I'm not upset by this, and there's no reason for you to be, either. Now please, I'm tired. Can we just forget it and go to sleep?"

He opens his mouth and before he makes a sound, I know he's about to apologize again. The last little thread of patience I was holding onto snaps, and I slap a hand over his mouth. "I warned you, damn it!"

His eyes, what I can see of them above my hand, widen, and he mumbles something.

"What?" I say, removing my hand so he can speak clearly.

"I said I'm going to have a hard time forgetting something like this."

"Do it anyway!"

His patience seems to be gone, too, because he just glares at me, then groans and flops back on the bed.

I copy the action, turning on my side to face him as something occurs to me. "Bobby?"

"What?" he grunts, not looking at me.

"This made you feel . . . guilty? You think you mauled me or something?"

He throws one arm over his eyes tiredly. "Eames, please."

"Answer my question," I tell him, "and then I'll shut up."

"Fine. Yes, I feel guilty."

Finally, I catch a break. He feels guilty, and that's an emotion I can work with. "Ok," I say, smiling brightly at the side of his head and rolling closer to him. "Good."

He drops his arm to his side, turning his head to look at me in surprise at my comment, and we're suddenly nose-to-nose because I've moved so close. He turns his head and tries to move away, but I wrap an arm around the back of his neck and pull. It doesn't move him any closer, but it keeps him from moving any farther away. "What -" he gets out before I cut him off.

"Guilt," I say with a grin, "is best countered by evening the score." Before he can react to that statement, I lay one of my arms across his chest, just under his shoulders, lean over, and kiss him.

He tenses under me and I feel his hands come up to grip my arms as if he's going to shove me away. I apply more of my weight to the arm I have on him, using my other hand to stroke his cheek as we kiss. He can still throw me off if he wants - no matter what contortions I put myself in, I'm just not that heavy - but I don't think he will. He actually seems to have relaxed a little.

"Alex . . ." he says, and I hear it more through the rumble in his chest than on his lips.

Ooh, he's using my first name, too. I must have gotten to him but good. "What?" I say, pulling my head back enough that I can see his eyes.

"What . . ."

Hmm, he also seems to be having trouble completing his sentences. I have an urge to break into a chorus of I Am Woman, but I fight it back. ". . . am I doing?" I finish for him. "Evening the score, Goren, remember?"

"Oh." He puts an arm around me, using his hand to support my head. "Ok."

I grin against his lips. I think this is the first time he's ever gone along with one of my plans without a fight, or at least discussion.

"Still feel guilty?" I ask a few minutes later, trying not to smirk as he lies gasping for breath under me.

He considers that for a moment, then frowns. "I must have done more than kiss you when I was asleep. This feels too familiar."

I wonder if a jury would convict me if I killed him right now. Does extreme sexual frustration count as a psych defense? If it doesn't, it damn well should!

Ok, killing my partner's not really an option; I'm too lazy to spend time training a new one. Also he's a good kisser. And he fetches coffee on request, at least for me.

No, no, bad Alex. Must concentrate on the matter at hand. "Stay on topic, Goren," I manage to say in a voice resembling my normal one. "Do you still feel guilty?"

He blinks, then slowly shakes his head. "Now I'm just . . . confused."

Well, that's an improvement. "About what?"

He pauses, then looks away from me. "Why you're not upset."

Oh, shit. It didn't occur to me that he might wonder about that. "I was . . ." I almost say enjoying myself, but then decide that sounds too cavalier. "It wasn't unpleasant, Bobby," I finally say carefully. "And I'm the one who let it go on so long. I didn't want to wake you up and have you freak out like . . . well, like you did."

"It 'wasn't unpleasant'?" he echoes. "Eames, I know there's something you're not telling me."

Oh, screw his delicate sensibilities. "You saw me. I had my shirt off. I'm sure you can guess for yourself what we were doing."

I don't think he expected me to actually give him an answer, even one as roundabout as mine was. His eyes have gone wide again, and they flick from my face to my body as if he's trying to convince himself that he actually saw what's under my pajamas. "Uh . . ." he finally forces out, "but you're . . . not mad at me for it?"

I shake my head and shrug. "Oh, get over it," I tell him lightly. "There's nothing you can do that scares me anymore. I knew you weren't going to try to ravish me. Unless I asked you to, that is. I could take off my top now and prance around the room and I still wouldn't be in any danger from you."

He chokes on a laugh. "Somehow, I can't see you prancing at all, anywhere."

"Hey, I'm a girl," I shoot back. "We get prancing lessons at puberty. I could if I wanted to. I just . . . don't."

He's quiet for a second, his face unreadable, and then he puts his arms around me again. "What else do girls get obligatory lessons on?"

"Don't you wish you knew," I say with a smirk. His arms tighten and I fight the urge to grin hugely. "It would take a hell of a lot of persuasiveness from you to get me to 'fess up to those things."

"You mean it would take a lot of persuasion?" he corrects teasingly, taking his left arm from around me and bringing it up to explore my hair. "What do I have to do to persuade you?"

He wants me to think hard enough to answer a question when he's stroking me like a cat? I'm much more inclined to purr, and as his fingers brush my ear on their way through my hair, I think I actually do. "What you're doing is a good start," I manage to say breathily as he lifts his head to kiss my throat. I would add to that, but all conscious control of my voice disappears as he trails his hand down my back, slips it under the hem of my shirt, and drags it back up. All I can manage at this point is something resembling, "Unghhhh."

Must be that sexual frustration coming out to play. I hope to god he's not going to try to leave me hanging again.

It occurs to me that right now I probably feel very much like teenaged boys feel almost constantly.

Note to self: be nicer to teenage boys from now on. They can't help themselves.

"Alex?" Bobby mumbles against my throat. "What are you laughing at?"

He sounds wounded. I wonder if he thinks my giggles are directed at him and I've hurt his pride. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I finally say, putting a finger under his chin and urging his head up so I can kiss him.

He pulls back long enough to give me a skeptical look. "There's not much you could tell me at this point what I would find unbelievable," he informs me as his right hand joins his left under my top and he uses both hands to trace the line of my body, pulling my top with them.

And now I'm topless on top of Bobby again. Didn't we just do this, like, ten minutes ago? Yawn . . . been there, done that. Time for a change of scenery. Keeping my arms around his neck, I roll off him so I'm on my back. With him on top, I can wrap myself around him if he tries to escape again.

He obligingly follows my movement, shifting so he's balanced over me on one elbow to avoid crushing me. "What was that about?" he asks a second later, although he seems a lot more interested in where he can put his free hand than in what my answer will be.

Bobby's right hand, meet the waist of my pants.

I must have made some kind of noise expressing my enjoyment, because he raises his head and grins at me. "This part doesn't feel familiar, at least."

Oh, don't remind me of that again! Now he's got me wondering, and . . . I can't stand this suspense. "Bobby?" I say tentatively, unable to believe I'm about to say this.

"Hmm?" he murmurs, apparently intrigued by the skin covering my hip, which he's just exposed.

"Just for the record," I tell him casually, "if you try to get off my bed before I'm done with you this time, I'm going to give serious consideration to breaking out the handcuffs."

He stares at me, probably double-checking his memory to make sure I just said what he thinks I said, then throws back his head and laughs. "As long as you want me here, I'll stay," he says quite seriously after taking a minute to compose himself.

"Really?" I murmur, wrapping my legs around his hips to draw him closer. "How's 'forever' sound, then?"

Her jerks in surprise - I make a mental note to surprise him more often when we're in this position - and raises his head to look at me. "What?"

Damn it Alex, you had to go and open your mouth and distract him! I smile sheepishly and say, "I asked what you thought of staying forever. You'd be allowed off the bed every now and then, of course." I add that last part impulsively, as a kind of comic relief, and when he grins down at me, I'm glad I did.

"Is that a serious offer? You want me here?" he asks. "Or are you just saying it so I'll let you have your way with me?"

It's my turn to burst out laughing. "It's a serious offer," I assure him after I get my breath back, pulling his head down to mine until our noses almost touch. "Although I wouldn't mind getting to have my way with you, too."

Now we're both laughing, and suddenly he moves to sit up. I keep my arms and legs wrapped around him so he's forced to take me with him, and comfort once again dictates that I unlock my legs and straddle his lap once we're upright. I'm at his eye level now, and for a second, we just stare at each other.

And suddenly it hits me that I'm happier at this moment, with this man, than I can ever remember being in my life. "Bobby?" I manage to say in a near-whisper.

He slides a hand into my hair and pulls me forward for a kiss as his eyes close in pleasure. "What?"

"Would you laugh at me if I said I think I'm in love with you?"

His eyes pop open and he gapes at me. I stare back, hoping to god that I didn't just humiliate myself.

And then I'm unceremoniously tossed on my back and he's kneeling over me, eyes shining and hands skimming over my body. "No, Eames," he finally says, perhaps realizing how tense I'm getting, "I wouldn't laugh, not as long as you promise not to laugh at me when I say that I know I'm in love with you."

We stare at each other again. It lasts a while this time around, maybe a minute of just us watching each other in disbelief, and then he leans down and kisses me hard. I arch up toward him in response.

A few minutes later, just before we let ourselves descend into a frenzy of muffled groans and flying clothing, he surprises me by completely stoping what he's doing. I open my eyes and look up at him, afraid he's changed his mind, and find him staring down at me. When he notices that I'm looking at him, he grins and gathers me up, pressing every inch of my body against him. Then he lowers his head, nips at my ears, and murmurs, "You're even more perfect in real life, but I still don't want to wake up."

I squeak again.