Disclaimer: No chance, Lance.

Author's Note: After much ado (and delays), I'm finally writing for the CI fandom. I admit I'm a major Mike fan, so most of my efforts will revolve around him and his time with Barek (and occasionally Wheeler). However, I will try my best with Bobby and the others later on. "Weeping Willow"'s final scene inspired me, even if it felt tacked on.

That being said, I'm just happy they finally dropped Wheeler's first name within the show already. Instead of Barek's, which was finally mentioned in her final episode, and I find that pitiful.

Beta: Busy, busy, busy.

Timeline: the final minute of "Weeping Willow".

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"Let's get something to eat. I'm buying," Mike unexpectedly declared to his current Major Case partner, Megan Wheeler. The duo narrowed their eyes as they observed the live Larry King interview of kidnap victim Lisa 'Willow' Tyler on the massive television in Times Square. The youthful detective was astonished, given her somewhat distant relationship with the elder man.

"Uh, okay?" she uttered in shock. They then gaited away from the colossal monitor and into the crossroads of an intersection. Tyler's guileless visage carried on in adjacent screens while they trudged on through.

"What's wrong, Wheeler? You sound like your mother died," he boorishly remarked.

"Uh, no, no. I'm just shocked by the invitation."

"It's just a bite to eat."

A thousand questions cluttered her brain. "I know, but frankly, there are times where you wouldn't even give me the time of day."

He prayed the dusk would obscure his hasty blush. "Hey, that's not fair. I would give you the time of day."

"I'd give you a witty comeback, but I'm still reeling by your one-eighty," she avowed understatedly.

He rotated his eyes. "Wheeler, it's a simple meal — it's not like I'm asking you to be the godmother of my firstborn."

"I know, but I can still be taken aback by it," she retorted whilst her pace increased. "So, where to?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Anyplace is fine. There." He pointed to a modest American style diner carved right into a high-rise's ground floor. "Seems harmless enough."

"Until you eat their food, that is. Having worked at a pizzeria, I've seen things — horrible things," Megan good-naturedly jibed as they entered the eatery. Like the twilight outside, the ambience was equally dim. For Mike, it was reminiscent of the defunct restaurant, Luchow's.

"Oh, so now, you're talking to me?"

"As you said, 'it's a simple meal.'"

He muttered to himself as a waiter materialized before them and escorted the twosome to a booth. After the removal of their winter coats, they inspected the menus.

"Guess I'll have a light beer and the pierogies," he promulgated.

"And I'll have water, salad, and…."

"Oh, come on, Wheeler. If you want to make the most of this meal, pick something that is guaranteed to stick to your ribs," he jeered.

"I'm not sure if I want a meal 'sticking to my ribs.'" She sensed his eyes on her. "Fine, I'll take a big salad and…pierogies." The woman donned a smarmy smirk.

"You don't have to suck up to me."

"Oh, if I thought that would work, I would've done it already." Her simper amplified. He snorted in response. Their server reappeared, accepted their orders, and returned to the shadows.

"And now the tedious part of the meal: small talk. Should we talk about work, since I doubt we'll open up about our personal lives?" she posed cagily.

"The old fallback; it never fails."

"Do you want to start or should I?"

"I always was a gentleman; ladies first."

"Put all the pressure on me why don't you?" she deadpanned. "Well, I couldn't get out of my head what Seamus Flaherty said when we first met him — that you're repeatedly never seen with the same partner."

He perked up at this. "If you're asking why Barek was transferred, beats me the hell out of me. I don't even know."

"You're many things, Logan, but unobservant isn't one of them."

"Well, I'm not as fanatical about it as Goren, but yeah," he mordantly beamed.

"I've been tempted to read your file."

The senior officer inclined towards her. "Tempted, huh? You mean you haven't?"

"Nope. But I've been tempted." Megan's insinuating countenance tantalized him.

The attendant emerged from the bar with their beverages in hand and again sidled away. "Wheeler, you don't owe me a thing. If you want to look, look. Everyone else has."

"I could do that, I probably should, but I won't."

Now he was amused. "Okay, why?"

"For the same reason I didn't tell Captain Ross about Goro's connected gun to the Leather and Lace murders. Because I know there is more to you than your archaic façade."

"Archaic? That's a bit much," he scoffed.

"Served you right for all those 'young' jokes," she dug.

"Point taken. I'm surprised you haven't called me on that yet."

"I thought discretion was the better part of valor. Plus, with a new partner, I thought I should be polite."

Mike couldn't resist the opportunity to chortle. "Sometimes, I think you're more polite for your own good: a trait my other partners had. No, I take that back. Phil was rather restrained like that."

"Phil?"

"Cerreta. Took a bullet in the chest and is now doing a cushy desk job at the one-ten." The memories trickled forth within him.

"Do you see him much?" She was uncertain of the slippery slope ahead of her.

"I should, but I've kept busy," he sighed.

"That's understandable. I'm sure being on Staten Island absorbed much of your time." The policewoman braced herself for his visceral reaction.

"Yeah, it did."

"Was Phil your 'rabbi'?"

"No, he was a good guy who helped me when I was down in the depths, such as it was." He almost smiled, despite the stirring of bitter recollections.

"Did you even have a rabbi? A career man like you, I'm sure you must have had at least one." Her inquisitiveness piqued.

He hesitated for a moment. "I guess the closest would be Max Greevey. He was my first partner and taught me the ropes. He was a definite family man, which is rare anymore. Anyway, a corrupt contractor that the D.A. was indicting killed him at his house — Max was a major witness as the cop on point. Phil was introduced during the murder investigation and the rest." His eyes misted up.

Megan was at a loss for words. "I'm sorry, Logan."

"Yeah. I still think about him from time to time, you know. Although, my original captain, Don Cragen, has certainly tried his best to fill the void. He's in Special Victims now. Well, enough of me, what about you? What about your first partner?"

"Actually, you're my first. I had always worked alone when I was undercover," she soberly acknowledged.

"Period of adjustment; what can I tell ya?" he quipped.

"Right. So why did you tell me all this? You've been so tight lipped about yourself."

"I figured I owed you for being distant after what you said about your teen years in our first case." The male wafted his head downward in minor disgrace.

"Yeah, you've been an absolute ice man and a complete ass. But, period of adjustment; what can I tell you?" She mimicked his previous jibe.

"Yeah. But I don't expect us to be best friends right now, Wheeler," he confirmed austerely.

"And I don't expect you to be. I just want to work with you, Logan." She matched his tone.

Mike surveyed his selection of choices. "I'll tell you what — you start researching about things pre-1980 and I'll lay off the 'ice man' and 'young girl' crap. Okay, Megan?"

"Alright, but I don't want to go too far back," the lady grinned.

"I would hope not. I don't want you to turn into Goren 3.0."

The pair shared a snicker. "No, thanks. 3.0?"

"Yeah, Barek was 2.0. It was almost scary."

"Do you miss her?" she innocently queried.

He was set to answer when the waiter delivered their repasts. "Sometimes, but you play the hand you're dealt, right?"

She raised her water glass in a toast. "Right…, Mike."

With a knowing grunt, he accepted.

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