Title: Misfire

Author: A.j.

Rating: R for language and themes.

Fandom: Law and Order: Criminal Intent, spoilers for the season 5 episode "To The Bone". Kind of. Goes completely AU pretty quick. Barek and Eames with a side helping of Barek/Logan.

Summary: One way Barek didn't leave Major Case.

---

It started at four thirty in the morning when Carolyn Barek rolled over, still more than a little drunk, and realized that she sure as hell wasn't in fucking Brooklyn, and what do you know, her partner did have a couch that big.

She stared straight up at the cracked ceiling above her, listening to Logan breathe, and knew that's she'd just majorly fucked everything up. Well, they had.

Fighting the sudden and total urge to cry, she rolled over and went to find her underwear. It is Thursday morning and she... they have to be at work in four hours time.

The locks on Logan's door clicked ominously, but she couldn't hear him stirring. Maybe he was awake, maybe he wasn't. Could be that he'd gotten so used to having women leave him it just didn't register anymore.

The wood of his door was hard behind her back when the tears came. This was bad. This was... monumental.

"Fuck," she whispered into the morning air, and then went to wave down a taxi.

---

Strangely, or not, they were both on time. Carolyn half-smiled at him, and he nodded at her. They did paperwork. He asked for a file and brought her coffee. She absently walked through a profile on one of their backburner cases and he, for once, made notes.

He was polite, she was polite, and by five o'clock, she was ready to beat him to death with her binder.

"Last cup for the road?" He asked, quirking an eyebrow. Courteous and respectful. Was it strange that she wanted him to grab her by the jacket and throw her up against the Captain's door? It was probably strange.

"No, I'm good," she responded. "I'm gonna finish this up and go."

"Okay." He nodded at her and walked away. Watching him walk away towards the coffee pot, face relaxed and eyes tense, Carolyn made her decision. It was time for Poulet.

The Poulet case was an unsolved murder from the nineteen fifties. A man and his wife disappeared off a main highway in rural New York. The wife turned up, dazed, three days later with only a general idea of where she was or where she'd been. It had taken another three weeks to find the husband's body in a back lot of a metal yard almost a hundred miles away.

It wasn't a widely known case. Barek had only stumbled over it in passing, as cold cases had always been an interest of hers. She'd liked to go over old case notes to see if there was anything she could contribute or see. There was something honorable about trying to help where her fellow cops hadn't been able to heal.

It had been something of a surprise to find out that one of the other people in her squad knew about the case. Admittedly, the cop in question was Robert Goren, but still. Carolyn had found out about his interest during a case when she and her then-partner had been drafted as relief for a stakeout. Through the luck of the draw, she'd ended up sitting with the man in a car for six hours.

Turned out, they had quite a few things in common. Not that Carolyn really let him know that. She'd walked away from that case with an appreciation for MCS's 'weird' detective as well as a hearty desire to never get paired with the man as a partner. They were too much alike. Too thoughtful, although she recognized that in herself, that thought process was more internal. Not so much with Goren.

Goren had gotten spoiled by having Eames to bounce stuff off of. Out loud.

She'd commented on that to the other woman while they'd been cleaning up their case notes. Carolyn's hadn't been very extensive, but Eames had asked for them, and when the other woman had flippantly asked for her opinion of working with Goren, Carolyn had given it.

Strangely, rather than rolling her eyes or making a sharp comment, Eames had smiled and nodded.

"He's my partner." Alex had shaken her head, awe and bemusement written across the lines of her face as much as the exhaustion the case had caused. She'd turned then. Dropped the mostly-finished work in a pile on her desk and grabbed her purse. "Come on, Barek. We're leaving this alone for now and you're buying me a drink. We need girly bonding after this, and I want to hear more about how cool I am for putting up with Goren."

Intrigued and amused, Carolyn had gone. She and Eames had ended up in the MCS main haunt for watered down beer and nachos more out of habit than conscious choice. She'd bought beer, chatted, and been bought a drink in return. It had been a good night. Cathartic and fun because she'd been able to hang out with someone who understood what she did every day, and better yet, didn't mind random changes in conversation. That was a strange experience for a first-time sit and chat. Normally, she toned down the non-sequiturs for newbies, but after the case they'd just finished, she hadn't been inclined to care. But with Alex it hadn't mattered.

She was used to those too.

It had been a good night, but when she'd hit the coffee pot the next morning, Clinton and Riordan had been doing a regular comedy routine about how "The Girls" were going to take over the department. Three days the comments and chuckles and half-taunts had persisted until even the normally unflappable Eames had been gritting her teeth.

Goren, picking up on his partner's mood and frustration, had wandered over and struck up a conversation about the Poulet case, lamenting the lack of preserved evidence. Alex had wandered by them a few times, making sure to show absolutely no interest in the situation at all.

A week later, there'd been a note on her desk that read "Poulet case?" with an address and time scrawled underneath. Confused, she'd looked over towards Goren's desk only to see Alex chewing thoughtfully on a pen. Before she'd been able to look away, the other woman had winked at her.

And thus, the Poulet case had become a girly cover. A way for them to duck out, under the general blanket of discussing 'police business' so that the rest of the squad could have a reason to mind their own damn business. It worked like a charm.

Staring across the suddenly strained chasm between her and her own partner, Carolyn bit back a sigh. Oh, yeah. She needed to talk.

---

"Eames!" Quickening her step, but not nearly as much as she needed to with partner, Carolyn sped down the hall towards the bank of elevators and the retreating detective. Apparently the other woman heard her because she turned and waited until the shorter woman caught up.

"Hey, Barek, what's up?"

"Poulet case."

Alex nodded, shoved her purse strap up higher on her shoulder. "Usual place? Tomorrow?"

God, she wished this could wait. "No. Are you free right now?"

That got a shocked stare. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, fine. I just... really need to discuss a development." There must have been something desperate in her voice because Alex nodded and jabbed the down button.

"Let's go."

---

The 'usual' place was a bar a couple miles from Alex's house. It wasn't a cop bar, although firemen and cops occasionally wandered in for a drink. No, it was a good, solid, neighborhood Irish bar that catered to generations and total strangers in the same beat. Alex was actually related to the barman in some weird, complex way. Basically, the beer was cold, the food was greasy, and no one particularly cared if two women sat down and ate a meal. Not that they usually ordered meals. That was for times other than Poulet.

Poulet was for comfort food and liquor. Tonight, it was an order of the mega nachos with every possible ingredient that could tangentially be linked to TexMex cooking on a bed of salty chips along with a Sam Adams for Carolyn and a Corona for Alex.

"So, talk first or should we sit quietly and hog down the food while you work up to telling me what has you so freaked out?" Alex asked around a chip piled high with meat and cheese. The eyebrow went up as Carolyn hunched over her own pile of chips. "Okay, working up to it, it is. Pass the pepper."

They both took long sips of their drinks and ate nachos. All the nachos. Carolyn was actually feeling a little nauseous by the time the only chips left were literally floating in the neon cheese. Alex was licking off her fingers and pinning her with a look that basically said 'No where else to go, girlie. You asked for this.' Which was entirely true.

"Poulet, then?"

Carolyn nodded. "He liked beets."

Alex rolled her eyes. "This is old news. Come on, Carolyn. We're not sitting here for my health, especially not after those nachos. You gonna tell me what this is about, or do we have to order another appetizer?"

Carolyn smiled, sighed, and banged her head on the back of the booth. It hurt, but not enough to really matter. "Yeah. Look, something happened with Logan this week and it's freaking me out and I need a shoulder to cry on."

Alex raised her eyebrow. "You don't look like you're going to cry. Stab someone, maybe, but not cry."

"It's a figure of speech. You wanna discuss my word usage or be helpful?"

"I want six million dollars and a dog, but I'll settle for helpful. So. Something happened with Logan. Is it case-related? Wait, didn't you two just finish a case?"

Carolyn nodded and wiped some cheese off the empty nacho plate before sucking it off her finger. "Yeah. The Delgado heist. The guys got sentenced yesterday afternoon."

"The one where the mother of three got caught in the escape?"

"And the fifteen year old."

"Verdict?"

That brought a real smile to Carolyn's face. "Guilty on second degree. Twenty-five to life on everyone but the driver, and he's got ten to fifteen with parole in seven."

Alex whistled and gave a small clap. "Good job, detective."

"We were pleased." And that brought about the whole thing she'd come here to talk about and been trying to avoid. Oh, yeah. They'd been really pleased. She still had bruises on her thighs from how pleased they'd been.

"Okay, that was a real shift there. What happened, Carolyn?" Alex set her beer down and put on her 'I'm really listening' face.

"Mike and I went out drinking after the sentencing."

"Oh, crap."

"We were feeling... celebratory."

"This isn't good, is it?"

"Depends on how you look at it," Carolyn hemmed, playing with the edge of the bottle's label before letting it go. She didn't need a pile of shredded paper in front of her.

"And how are you looking at it?"

Right. Quick like a band aide. She could do this. "I woke up naked in his bed."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

Carolyn let Alex think about that for a minute. Hell, she needed to think about that for a minute. Carolyn took another long sip off her beer and went back to tracing the condensation rings on the table.

"So. How was he?"

Heat flooded Carolyn's face as several very vivid, very pleasant memories decided that now was the time to throw a parade.

Across from her, she heard Alex snicker. "That good, huh?"

"Well," Carolyn sighed. "From what I understand, he's had a lot of practice."

Alex snorted again - Carolyn was SO glad she was providing the woman with such a good time - but the shame that was starting to bubble up cooled as the other woman put a hand over hers.

"Carolyn, did you do anything you didn't want to do?"

Miserably, Carolyn shook her head. "No."

"Then you're fine. It'll be weird for a bit, but you'll move on."

Carolyn slumped and nodded. "Yeah, I know."

That made Alex tilt her head and stare at her really hard. "Wait. Do you WANT a relationship with him?"

"GOD, no." What a nightmare that scenario would be. She was having a hard enough time as is training him as a partner. Admittedly, he'd gotten a lot better about keeping tea in his car, and she knew flat-out that he was using Splenda instead of sugar because of her "Freaky weird obsession with health". Plus he was actually eating vegetables regularly, and she counted this as a rather major victory. Still. Having to deal with Logan twenty-four seven? She couldn't suppress the shudder.

"That sounded a little harsh there," Alex said mildly, taking a sip of her own drink. "Is this a case of protesting too much-"

"Would you want to be responsible for Logan in a personal relationship?"

Alex shrugged. "Depends on what he can do with his tongue."

Carolyn blushed again and resisted the urge to bang her head on the table. She didn't do that. It would hurt and would be pointless, and she had no idea the last time it had been disinfected. "When you're not in bed."

"Oh. Well, you have a point." Alex conceded. Both women sighed, took drinks of their beers and stared at each other. The laughing wasn't really a surprise.

By the time Carolyn had settled down to the occasional snicker, Alex had her eyes wiped and was back to prodding at the decimated nacho plate.

"I think," Alex scooped up one of the really soggy chips and popped it in her mouth. "I think, that the fact you had sex isn't really a problem."

"You think that me fucking my partner isn't a problem?" That got a few incredulous blinks out of her. And a few questions on how Alex had actually made detective first grade. Maybe the rumors about a political appointment after her husband's death were true. Not that Carolyn had believed them after spending five minutes of an investigation with her, but. Hello.

"Oh, calm down. I said it wrong. Yes, you fucking your partner is a problem. A really, really big one. And considering that it's Mike Logan, that problem has a whole extra set of spines and teeth."

"You're not making me feel better," Carolyn glowered.

Alex rolled her eyes and flicked a wadded up straw paper at her. "I'm not trying to, Carolyn. You're a grown up, now be quiet and let me practice my arm-chair psychologist routine on you. I never get the chance because Bobby always does it for me and that makes me cranky. So shush."

"Yes, ma'am." Carolyn rolled her eyes and leaned back in the booth. "Impart me with your great knowledge of the human mind. I'm waiting with baited breath."

That time, Alex flashed her sardonic grin and a middle finger. "Bite me. No, I think your biggest problem isn't that you had sex with Logan, it's that you want to do it again."

Carolyn flinched and then hunched over her beer. Fuck. "I hate you."

Alex stretched herself out in the booth, crossing her hands behind her head and leaning backwards. "No, you don't. You hate yourself. Which is worse."

"What the hell is wrong with me? I had sex with Mike Logan and I want to do it again."

"Probably the same thing that was wrong with all those other women he practiced on. Hell, given the right circumstances and enough liquor I'd take the man out for a spin. For a man whore, he's pretty fit."

The shorter detective thought about it. "You should. He's really good. Great hands."

Alex hummed and went a little dreamy. "I like a guy with good hands."

"We need more beer," Carolyn decided. "I can't talk about this sober. Plausible deniability and all that."

"What, my sex life?" Alex eyed her, then looked a bit depressed. "It's not that interesting."

"Not that. Mine is more depressing and I need to talk about that. So again, beer." Carolyn waved a hand and flagged down the passing waitress.

After ordering another round of the same and a pitcher of water – tomorrow was still a work day - they both watched the redheaded 20-something bustle off with their order, shaking their heads at the idea they were ever that young.

"You know," Alex murmured, shifting over so she was leaning her head on a fist. "You could just take him out and get him drunk again. Just sort of a reserve pick-me-up after a crappy week."

"Would you take Goren out and get him drunk after a crappy week?"

Alex made a face. "Well, no, but then he's my part-okay, I get your point."

Carolyn nodded glumly into her empty beer. "And if the stories are true, yours is worse than mine these days."

"Eh," Alex hand-waved the situation away. "He's got a lot on his mind."

That drew a quirked eyebrow from Carolyn.

"Yeah, yeah, he's always got stuff on his mind. But.. I don't know. Something's up with him, and his usual modus operandi is avoiding it until he can't and then taking it out on someone during a case so that I'll kick him and make him tell me what's wrong. The women are kind of a side effect of that." Alex shrugged and quickly finished off her drink as the young redhead came back with another round. The waitress stayed long enough to clear off the empty bottles and the empty nacho plate before heading back towards the crew quietly drinking their livers away back at the bar.

"Besides, we're not talking about my man whore, we're talking about yours. You could always request a new partner." At Carolyn's quick, rather shocked protest, Alex waved a hand. "Hear me out. Go to the new captain. We're still in that grace period where he's trying to figure everything out. When the administration changes, it's not surprising when the internal structure changes some."

Carolyn sighed deeply and dropped her chin onto a fist. She thought about it. Would it be better to leave? Start over, again, with a brand new person at work? Alex was right, the new guy would probably rubberstamp a change without asking too many questions. But did she want a new partner?

For all that she and Logan had ended up playing naked twister, he was a decent guy, a good cop, and someone that didn't mind working with her. And while she didn't have nearly the track record Goren did when it came to broken partnerships, she still had a couple awkward breakups under her belt.

Was the possibility of sweaty sex with Logan worth a year of work down the tubes? Of having to start new with some other detective? She dropped her face into her hands and groaned. No, no it really wasn't.

Then she remembered that thing he did with her toes. Okay, maybe.

She slapped both palms over her face. Hard. "I am so fucking, stupid."

"I'll take that as a "I don't know" then?"

Carolyn nodded, feeling pathetic and horrible and like she wanted to go home and drown herself in her bathtub. Which was terribly self-pitying and not something she'd normally even consider, but it had been a bad day. "You and I could leave the force and become private investigators or something. That way I wouldn't be tempted to fuck my partner."

Alex snorted before making a mock-offended face. "What, my hands not good enough for you?"

"More like your lack of a penis, but your hands are pretty small." Carolyn waved one at her companion, wiggling her fingers. "And if I wanted small hands I've got two of my own."

"I'm heartbroken," Alex deadpanned, taking a long pull from the glass of water the waitress had left along with the beer. "Really. There might be tears."

"So no PI business?" Carolyn raised an eyebrow, half-serious.

Alex smirked back at her. "How about we keep that idea in storage until the next time Bobby or Logan do something stupid. We can threaten them with it to keep them in line."

Carolyn considered it. "That would probably work."

The blonde woman tapped her beer bottle against Carolyn's, savoring the clink. "It's a plan then."

"I'm gonna just have to ignore this, aren't I? Be the better person?" The questions were soft, and Carolyn looked away while she asked them. She knew the answer. The work was more important. Moreover, she liked working with Logan. Before this whole stupid thing had happened, they'd really been finding their groove. Their solve rate for the past year had been amazing for a new partnership, and just before he'd left, Deakins had drawn them both aside and given them a patented pep talk. No one but Goren and Eames ever got one of those.

When she answered, Alex's voice was just as soft and, worse, strangely kind. "I think you are, Carolyn."

Carolyn nodded and sighed before taking a deep breath and staring Alex in the face. "Thank you. For doing this. For listening."

The other woman shrugged and smiled. "Hey, me, you, and the new kid have to stick together. It's not like there's a surplus of women in Major Case."

Carolyn laughed, proud that it didn't sound too depressed or strange. "Yeah, next time we should invite her along for one of these. Wasn't her name Wheeler?"

Alex nodded. "Megan Wheeler. Transferred in from narco. Apparently she has a damn near perfect undercover record."

Carolyn raised an eyebrow. "That's impressive."

The other woman waved her hand. "Yeah, but the girl looks like our waitress. Still, to be fair, the reason they kept me in vice so long was because I looked damn good in a mini-skirt and fake fur. According to Wendt in accounting, she's something of a pet project for the new captain."

"Still, if her record's that good..." Carolyn shrugged and Alex nodded.

"So we invite Wheeler next time?"

"Not if this is the topic again," the dark haired woman snorted, before letting loose with a truly evil smile. "Unless I'm not the one having this conversation."

"Yeah, I don't think so." Alex rolled her eyes and fished in her purse for money. "I'm just hoping we won't be having your conversation again any time soon."

It was then Carolyn realized that she actually was feeling better. She'd made a decision. Whether it was going to work come Monday morning was still to be seen, but she did feel better. Mike Logan's dick, nice as it had been, wasn't going to screw this partnership up. Neither were her, or his, drunken ways. They were just going to have to cope. Even if it killed them.

"Me too," she sighed, standing up. "Come on. We can share a cab."

---

Friday morning, after twenty minutes of awkward, she punched Logan on the arm, hard, and told him to stop being an idiot. They were bitching about the new captain by lunch, during which Logan stole most of her vegetables. It wasn't perfect, but it was something.

-fin-