A/N: This is the end of the story (how 'bout that, I stuck to a self-imposed chapter limit!). You guys who requested shippiness...your wish is my command :)


She purposely kept the conversation light and to a minimum for the first hour, doing a rather artful job, if she did say so herself, of dancing around the elephant in the room while she tried to get him back on an even keel.

Slowly, his face began to lose its pinched look, although lines of tension remained around his mouth even after she'd made him smile twice and gotten two drinks into him. Finally, she eyed those lines one more time, acknowledging to herself that she wasn't going to be able to banish them, and stood up with a groan, then picked up her empty glass. "Refill?" she asked as she crossed the room to the table where the bottle sat.

Logan looked down into his glass, which was nearly empty, and leaned forward to hand it to her with a shrug. "Ok."

"Good." Keeping her eyes on the glasses in front of her, she opened the bottle of whiskey and picked it up. She'd run out of safe topics; it was time to put a little pressure on him. "Feeling any better?"

"Is Chesley Watkins dead or permanently in jail?" he replied without looking at her.

"I'll take that as a 'no.'" She twisted around to hand him his glass, then picked hers up and lowered herself onto the couch next to him. "She's just evil, Mike. She's an evil bitch, and she would be whether she'd ever met you or not."

He swirled the liquid in his glass, watching it as though he expected to find all the answers he needed there. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?"

"Better?" she asked with raised eyebrows, taking a sip of her drink. "No. Slightly less guilty? I was hoping."

"You're lookin' at a lost cause, partner. Believe me."

"She's not like your mom."

He stiffened, then slowly swung his head toward her. "Excuse me?"

It was Barek's turn to drop her eyes to her drink. "I mean, all I know of your mom is what you've told me -"

"Yeah, and I'm not gonna make that mistake again," he snorted.

She pressed on, pretending she hadn't heard him: "- but I remember what you told the kid we brought in on our first case - the diamond robberies. You told him your mother did a lot of shit to you, but she never made you drink with her."

"So?"

"So, the fact that you've dealt with your mom's problems doesn't mean you have to feel guilty for not being able to stomach Chesley's. They're not even on the same playing field."

"You think you're real smart, don't you?" he snapped. "You got a psych degree to go along with all those numerous accomplishments of yours?"

"Oh, bull." Draining the last of her drink, she slammed the glass down on the coffee table and turned to glare at him. "You want to be pissed, be pissed, but don't try to make this about me."

"Looks to me," he told her sarcastically, "like you're the only one here, and you're sure as hell the one who's bugging me. So tell me, who should it be about?"

"I think you're capable of figuring that out for yourself."

"Well, if you had just left me alone and let me go home, I could have been asleep by now and not having to think about it one way or the other."

She rolled her eyes and leaned back against the arm of the couch. "You telling me you think you'd be able to fall asleep tonight?"

"Eventually."

"Sure."

"What, you don't believe me?"

"I think," she said slowly, drawing her legs up to sit indian-style, "that the only way you'd get to sleep tonight if you'd gone home would be after either drinking yourself into oblivion or demolishing half your apartment. Possibly both."

"Hah."

"I'm wrong?"

"Yes."

"Hmm. Ok." Giving him a bored look, she leaned forward to pick up the remote control off the coffee table. "Anything good on tonight?

Logan just stared at her blankly. "What?"

She gave him a cheerful smile and hit the power button on the remote. "I asked if there's anything good on TV."

"On TV?" he echoed as a documentary on World War II flickered into being on the screen.

She shrugged. "You could try watching the wall instead, but I don't think you'll find it very entertaining."

"You watch the History Channel?"

She set the remote down on the couch between them. "And other channels, yeah. Why? What's your TV usually set on - Cinemax?"

He smirked and picked up the remote. "Only when I can't sleep."

"Oh, like tonight?"

Control of the TV firmly in his hands, he shook his head dismissively and started to channel surf. "I may be 'strung out,' Barek, but I'm not dumb enough to turn that shit on in front of you."

"Why?" she asked, intrigued by that statement. "Because I'm female?"

He shrugged, as if to say If you already know... "Among other reasons."

"Like what?"

"Like you'd try to kick my ass and I don't feel like fighting you off."

"Uh-huh." She nodded knowingly. "That's assuming that you could fight me off."

"I've probably got a hundred pounds on you, Barek. Not to mention how much taller I am. What are you going to do, stomp on my foot?"

"Overconfidence," she said with a teasing laugh, "is the first step to defeat for all big men."

"Big men?" he repeated, cocking an eyebrow.

In reply, she picked up the bottle of whiskey and refilled his glass and her own. "Get your mind out of the gutter and focus on getting drunk."

He took a sip, then smiled at her. "I can do both."

Unable to help herself, Barek grinned back. "Good to see I'm getting the real Logan back."

"The 'real' me?"

"Yeah. The one who's never too distracted to try to get a date."

He blinked, looking confused. "With you?"

Barek flushed. "Uh, no. I just mean in general."

"Because, you know, you're the one who turned me down when I invited you over."

"Yeah, well." Wondering how the hell they'd gotten onto this topic, she sighed and threw back the rest of her drink. "You recovered. Three minutes later you were about to take a drunk twenty-something home. Five minutes after that, you were hauling ass to god-only-knows where and I didn't see you again until the next morning. Overall, that wasn't one of your better nights, Mike."

"Obviously," he said dryly. "I guess I should probably apologize."

"No."

"No?"

"Yeah, 'no.' As in, you don't need to. No harm done."

"Oh." At a loss for what to say to that, he turned his attention to the TV.

"You want to talk about Watkins now?" she surprised him by asking a few minutes later.

He glanced over at her in disbelief, having been sure that she'd gotten the message the last time she brought Watkins up. "No."

"Your mom?"

"Hell no."

She sighed. "How you're going to cope with all this extra shit that'd been piled on you from this case?"

"I'm coping fine," he said repressively, looking back at the TV. "I talked to Olivet. I'm certified non-insane."

"Ok," she replied slowly, "but that's setting the bar pretty low, as far as goals go."

"Sorry to disappoint."

"Mike." She picked up the remote and turned down the volume. "If you found Auschwitz that fascinating, you'd be a historian and not a cop. We're having a conversation here, remember?"

He shrugged and pulled the remote out of her hands, returning the volume to where it had been. "Bet you Goren can tell you all about Auschwitz, without having to watch some documentary."

"What's that got to do with anything?" she asked, snatching back the remote. "You're not Goren. He's an exception to everything."

"No shit," he muttered.

"What -" Before she could finish her reply, he made a fast grab for the remote, knocking her sideways. "Mike! Stop it, you moron!" she attempted through a laugh, beating him about the shoulders with the object in question.

"Make me." Taking a firm grip on her wrist and ignoring the halfhearted punches she was throwing, he pried her fingers one by one from the remote until it fell to the cushion, then coolly picked it up and raised the TV's volume again. "Much better," he sighed, relaxing against the back of the couch again.

She raised one eyebrow and held out her hand. "Mine. Give it."

"Come and take it," he replied, shaking the remote teasingly and holding it just out of her reach.

"Fine, I will." It wouldn't be difficult, she figured; he wouldn't put up a big fight for fear of hurting her. Secure in that knowledge, she lurched forward and wrapped one arm around his neck from behind, pulling him backwards and cutting off just enough of his air supply to get the message across. "Hand it over," she told him, holding out her free hand again.

He tipped his head back and grinned irreverently at her. "You wish. I'm the man, Barek. I keep the remote."

"Not in this apartment, you don't." She moved to take the remote, but wasn't surprised when he quickly extended his arm, moving it out of her reach again. "Are you going to keep this up all night?"

"Don't know," he said, doing his best to sit up in spite of her hold on him. "Were you planning on keeping me here all night?"

"If that's how long it takes to get my remote control back!"

"What if it doesn't take you that long?"

"Then . . ." Scowling, she tightened her arm and leaned over his shoulder, trying to get her hand closer to the remote. "Then I'll have to reevaluate the situ-" She broke off on a startled scream as, taking advantage of her overbalanced position, he grabbed her shoulders and hauled her forward over his shoulder.

"You'll have to reevaluate the what?" he prompted with a smirk, easily unwrapping her arm from around his neck while she tried to get her bearings.

She struggled to her knees beside him and gave him a dirty look. "I'll have to evaluate what method I'm going to use to kill you. Give me the damn remote, Mike."

"Not a chance."

"I'm warning you . . ."

He shrugged. "When have I ever listened to warnings?"

"Fine," she snapped, and with that, launched another offensive. Shamelessly taking advantage of the obvious male weakness, she planted a knee at the top of his inner thigh, silently threatening to move it to more valuable areas if he didn't cooperate.

"Aw c'mon, Barek," he said hastily, grabbing her arms and trying to push her off. "You don't want to do that."

"No?" she asked coolly, adding a little more weight and refusing to be moved. "Why not?"

"Because . . . uh . . ." He stopped, trying to think of a good reason that didn't involve offering to use the body parts in the threatened area. "Because if you nail me there, you're stuck with me for the rest of the night, because I'm not going to be getting up and walking home with crushed balls."

"Charming," she said with a roll of her eyes. "But I'm not going to be convinced to let up until I get my remote control back. Last chance." Once again, she held out her hand expectantly.

He grinned and shook his head. "I can lay you out if I have to, Barek."

"Yeah," she said smugly, "but you're not going to. You're going to give me back my remote!" On the last word, she lunged forward as best she could, moving the threatening knee from the inside to the outside of his thigh to get more traction.

Logan let out a shout of laughter and threw an arm around her as he toppled backwards under her weight. "God, you're a violent woman, aren't you?"

"I warned you," she reminded him with a sweet smile as she knelt, straddling his hips and staring down at him with what she hoped was a threatening look. "You brought this on yourself."

"Oh, I did, did I?" He moved the arm he had around her waist up, pressing his hand against her back and forcing her upper body down toward him. "I can think of worse situations to be in."

Suddenly aware of the suggestiveness of their positions, she sucked in a breath and tried to pull back. "I don't -"

"Uh-uh," he broke in, putting more muscle into holding her down. "You got yourself here; now I want to see how you're going to get yourself out of it."

"Besides kicking the shit out of you?"

"Go ahead and try it," he challenged, meeting her eyes and grinning. "Who knows, maybe it'll work."

"It will."

"So try it."

She quickly shifted her weight, intending to return her knee to its original position, but before she could move it more than a few inches, his free hand was planted on her thigh, pushing it back down.

"That's cheating," he chided teasingly, keeping his eyes on her face and his hand on her leg. "If you're going to fight, fight fair."

Letting out a growl of frustration, she relaxed her leg and laid a forearm across his throat. "How's this?" she asked coolly, leaning down to get in his face menacingly.

"Not bad," he croaked, doing his best to appear unconcerned with the pressure she was putting on his windpipe. "Now what?"

She blinked. "Uh . . . now I apply more weight until you can't breathe. Geez, what kind of dirty fighting did they teach you?" she teased.

Unable to move his eyes away from hers, he replied simply, "Try."

"I . . ." Damn it, he'd called her bluff, she thought sullenly. He was obviously prepared to let her do her worst without putting up much of a fight, and if she really put her weight into her arm, she could do serious harm to him. "You're a jackass, you know that?" she finally told him peevishly, pulling her arm away and sitting up as much as his hand against her back allowed her to.

"I, uh . . ." He licked his lips. "I've heard that before."

"You going to give me the remote now?"

"No."

She sighed. "What do I have to do to get the damn thing away from you, Mike?"

He looked thoughtful for a second, then asked, "You sure you want me to answer that?"

"Yes. But fair warning: if you tell me I have to go to bed with you, you're not leaving with your balls still attached."

"Ouch." He winced. "You're cruel, Barek."

"That's what they all say," she said with a dismissive shrug. "Are you going to answer my question?"

"You want your remote back?"

"Yes, Mike," she sighed, exasperated. "I want my remote back."

"Ok." Moving slowly, he slid the fingers of one hand into her hair. "Kiss me, and you can have it back."

She stared at him. "Kiss you?"

He nodded silently, pulling her head closer to his.

Suddenly, her heart was pounding a little too hard for her liking. "Mike . . ."

The discomfort in her voice was unmistakable, and suddenly he wondered what the hell he was doing coming on to his partner. He quickly pulled his hand away and shook his head. "Never mind. Sorry I asked. Here." And without further comment, he sat up, forcing her to back up, and shoved the remote at her.

"Wait. I . . . you . . ." Automatically moving backwards to keep from crashing into him, she took the remote and blinked. "Are you serious?"

"Not anymore. You probably want me to go."

"Ok, whoa," she said quickly, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Hold on. I didn't tell you I wouldn't do it, and I definitely didn't tell you to leave."

Unsure what to make of that, he just raised his eyebrows at her and waited for further elucidation.

She leaned down to set the remote on the ground, then sat back on her heels and looked at him. "I, uh . . . didn't expect you to say that. I didn't think I was your type, you know?"

"Yeah, well, I didn't either," he muttered, running a hand through his hair. "Apparently we both missed the boat on that one. If you don't want me to leave, then what do you want?"

Her response was to raise one hand to touch his cheek. "You've got some major five o'clock shadow going on."

"Is that going to be something we need to worry about tonight?" he asked warily.

"Depends," she replied, stroking her thumb over the stubble.

"On what?"

"On . . ." Mid-sentence, she closed the gap between them and kissed him, mumbling the rest of it into his mouth: "On which of my body parts you plan to use it on."


FIN (use those dirty imaginations of yours for the rest!)