The interrogation room at the local jail was half the size of theirs, with no two-way mirror set in the wall. A small intercom afforded the sheriff and the local prosecutor the opportunity to listen in and hear what transpired. Sitting in a chair on the far side of the room was their suspect. When Eames came into the room, he scrambled to the far side of the room and pointed at her. "Stay away from me," he shrieked.

She looked at Goren and grinned. He gave her half a smile; he wasn't feeling well. His head was pounding and he resented the fact that he felt hungover without first having the opportunity to get drunk. He pulled a chair out for her, then grabbed a second one for himself, pointing to the upended chair their suspect had launched himself from when he saw Eames. "J-just sit down and quit screaming. She's not going to hurt you, but I will if you don't stop that."

Clamping his mouth shut, the man walked warily to his chair, turning it upright and easing himself into it, being certain to keep out of range of the two detectives. "Cops," he said, a note of wonder in his voice as he shook his head. "No way...who'd-a ever thought that." Pointing from one to the other, he said, "You ain't married?"

Goren shook his head. "No. We're partners."

"You ain't even datin'?"

"No," Goren repeated, patience wearing thin. "We're partners."

"So that was all...a fucking act?"

"Yes, and watch your mouth in front of my partner."

Again he looked from one to the other. "You guys are good," he said.

Goren closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He just wanted to get this over with so he could find something, anything, that would ease the pounding in his head, which existed courtesy of the man seated across from him. He was beginning to find wonder in the fact that the guy had enough going for him to have managed to take him out at all. I guess it doesn't take half a brain to use a stick to club a guy...

Eames took over. "You said your name was 'Tank McRandy.' Give us a break. What's your given name?"

"That's my given name. It was given to me by my buddies when we was in high school."

Goren looked up. "Did you finish high school, Tank?"

"Nah. Two turns in the tenth grade was enough. I said no thanks to the third."

"But you played football."

"Yup. All four years."

" spent two years in ninth grade, too, didn't you?"

"How'd you know?"

Goren waved a hand irritably. "Lucky guess."

Eames was careful to hide her amusement from both men. Tank wouldn't get it and Bobby was already irritable. All three of them looked toward the door when it opened. A deputy stepped in, handed Eames a file and left. She opened it, studied the first page and then handed it to her partner, no longer able to conceal her amusement.

Wondering just what had triggered that familiar smirk on her face, he opened the file, studying the first page, then flipping through the ones that followed. He handed the file back to her and leveled a steady gaze at their suspect. "Leslie Everson."

Tank's face lost its color. "How'd you know that?"

With a shake of his throbbing head, Goren closed his eyes. Eames took over again. "You had no idea that your fingerprints would bring this to our attention?"

"Uh, what is it?"

"Your criminal record," Goren answered, taking care to keep his irritation from his voice.

"My what?"

Goren looked at his partner with an expression that asked Is this guy for real? Sliding the file back in front of him, he read: "June 1985, possession of marijuana, DUI, resisting arrest. February 1986, DUI, resisting arrest. September 1986, drunken disorderly, resisting arrest. January 1987, criminal assault..." He looked at Eames. "Want to take a shot in the dark?"

"Resisting arrest?"

"How'd you guess?"

"I'm psychic."

Tank stared at her. "You are?"

Eames rolled her eyes. Goren closed the file and looked steadily at Tank, who looked confused. He was pointing at the file and had a look on his face that reminded Goren of a toddler watching a magician. Tank stammered, "Bu-bu-but...I didn't do none of that stuff around here."

Goren was in no mood to explain anything to this guy. He was still annoyed by the pounding headache he'd caused him, not to mention the fact that he was compounding it right now. "Be that as it may—that's not why we're here right now. Do you have any idea what charges you're facing right now?"

"Is getting my fuckin' balls rammed up into my throat a charge?"

Goren frowned. "I asked you once to watch you language around my partner. I won't ask again."

"I ain't apologizin' till she does."

Goren stared at him. He took a deep breath and ran a hand over the stubble on his face. Was this guy for real? he wondered again. Could he really be that stupid? "A-apologize? She doesn't owe you any apology."

"I didn't hurt her."

Gingerly touching the throbbing injury on the side of his head, Goren sighed heavily, choosing not to address that last statement. He was about down to his last nerve and this guy was getting on it, big time. "The charges against you include six counts of assault, two rapes, assaulting a police officer, and threatening another."

"Who did I assault?"

Goren looked at Eames, near the end of his currently short supply of patience. She was struggling not to laugh and he could see that. His irritation increased, though it wasn't directed at her. He was not in a position to see the humor in their current situation. Getting to his feet, he began to pace. Eames looked at their suspect. "Do you not recall clubbing my partner with a branch?"

"He woulda hurt me if I didn't."

"Mr. Everson..."

"McRandy," he corrected.

She was not going to call him by his chosen moniker. "Mr. Everson," she continued, her voice even as she stared at him. "You attacked two couples on their honeymoons, and a pair of brothers at the same campground we are staying at. Then you attacked my partner and me."

"Brothers," Tank snorted. "They wasn't brothers. They was fags."

Goren slammed his hand on the table and leaned toward Tank, who jumped hard enough to knock over his chair and send himself sprawling onto the floor. Scrambling to his feet, he backed himself into the corner, fists raised. "Police brutality," he screeched.

With an exaggerated sigh and a prayer for patience, Goren looked at his amused partner, then back at the bulky man cowering in the corner. "Scaring you is not brutality..." He stopped himself before adding 'asshole' to his statement. "Tank," he completed, forcing himself to be congenial.

He was not used to conducting an interrogation this way. Generally, it was Eames who got annoyed and he with the unending supply of patience. Of course, he was also used to interrogating suspects with more intelligence than the chair they sat in. The guy watched too much television and 'brutality' was probably the biggest word in his vocabulary. It was obvious he had no idea exactly what it meant. "Of course, if you'd like a demonstration of brutality..."

A gentle hand on his arm kept him in his place and he slowly lowered himself back into his chair. Eames resumed control of the interrogation. "Sit down, Mr. Everson, or I'll let him demonstrate."

Warily, Tank returned to his seat. Eames went on. "Do you want to tell us why you attacked those couples?"

"Same reason I went after you." He jerked a thumb toward Goren. "Why should guys like him get gals like you? Where's my chance? I saw what I liked and I took it. The fags just annoyed me."

Goren was having a hard time containing his anger now. His voice was tight. "What do you think gives you the right to violate a person like that?"

Tank just stared at him. "What?"

The big cop pinched the bridge of his nose and began counting to himself. He got to ten and kept going. Twenty brought no sense of calm. Neither did thirty...or forty... Eames translated. "Who do you think you are that you can just take what you want?"

"I told you. I'm Tank McRandy," he grinned. "If you'da just given me a chance, I think you woulda liked it, like them other gals did."

Goren got to his feet. "Come on, Eames. We're done here."

She wondered what had taken him so long. She followed him from the interrogation room, muttered, "Excuse me," and walked away. Goren stopped in the doorway of the adjoining room. "Do you have enough to work with there, counsellor?"

"Plenty, detective. Not particularly challenging, was he?"

"More challenging than you know," he complained. "Good luck with that one. He's, uh, clueless..."

The sheriff laughed. "That's being kind, detective. Where did your partner go?"

"She,uh...she's being tactful. She didn't want me to see her dissolve into laughter. I'm...not in the greatest mood right now."

"Maybe you should go back to your motel and lay down. You don't look so hot."

"Uh, we're staying at the campground...and that's a good idea. We'll be around for another day or so, if you need us." He shot a glance toward the interrogation room, hoping they wouldn't. "But I think you can handle him just fine. Uh, thanks for letting to him."

The sheriff extended a hand and smiled. "Thank you for doing it. I think I would have smacked him about halfway through that."

Goren gave him a weary smile. "Don't think I didn't want to."

A quiet laugh and the man added, "I think we can build a strong case without your testimony. We have your statements if we need them, but I don't think we will."

"I appreciate that...really." He hesitated on his way to the door. "Did he really refuse counsel?"

"Sure did. Said he could represent himself."

Goren slowly shook his head, feeling the first stirring of pity for the guy. Remembering the interrogation he'd just been subjected to was enough to chase it away. "Figures. Have fun with him. He's a...rarity. Thank God."

He could hear the two men laughing as he headed for the parking lot, where Eames waited for him. He hadn't meant that as a joke.

She was standing beside the car, composed, he was relieved to see. They got into the car and she backed out of the spot and pulled out of the parking lot. She started snickering again. "That wasn't an act, was it?"

"Unfortunately, no."

She nodded her head slowly. "Then he deserved what he got. Stupidity like that should be painful."

With that statement, she finally got a laugh from him. Holding her hand out, she was pleased when he took it. "I'm sorry. I couldn't help laughing. He was funny enough by himself, but watching you try to handle that level of stupid was more than I could take."

"You've had your entertainment for the week, then," he grumbled. "I just really need to lay down."

"Your head still hurts?"

"Like you wouldn't believe. I don't think it's entirely from getting clubbed, either."

"You don't handle stupid well," she observed.

"I guess not. It's been awhile since I've had to try."

She squeezed his hand. "Maybe a nap will do you good."

He looked at her sideways and grinned. Maybe that was just what he needed...and sleep was not what he had in mind any more. Her returning smile told him she was thinking the same thing. His headache began to fade.

It had been a week and Deakins still laughed about the description of the interrogation of Tank McRandy that Eames had given him. Even more amusing was Goren's reaction to it. He felt bad that Goren had gotten hurt, but Eames had more than made up for that when she took the guy down. Like Goren, he had learned long ago that Eames could take care of herself...and her partner. No one messed with either of them without calling down the wrath of the other. If the world was fortunate, Mr. McRandy would never procreate.

Looking out across the squad room he watched Goren and Eames. Goren looked up from the file in front of him and said something to her. She laughed and threw a pen at him, which he caught, laughing with her. Whatever tension had existed before they went to Lake George, they had obviously worked it out. Their interactions were once more easy and affectionate. That was what he liked to see. He didn't fully realize how much he had missed it. Like Goren, he had been so glad to have Eames back from maternity leave, he had overlooked a lot, until it could no longer be ignored. But now the tension was gone and Goren was back to his normal self, what ever that was, he thought with a laugh.

Returning to his desk, he flipped open a file as his phone rang. Lifting the receiver, he carried on a brief conversation and hung up. Another case in a neverending stream that allowed them to keep their jobs. Every up had its down. He got up and headed back to the door.


A/N: This was a lot of fun :-)Thanks, E. Helena, for asking for it!! I hope it was worth it!