A/N: A few of you have expressed concern that I have given up on writing B/A, which I assure you is not the case. So this is for anyone who wants more B/A. This takes place sometime in season 4.
On a personal note, we just found out that Katie needs more surgery and she may be bipolar (we really need that), but Jessie is gradually getting her blood sugar under control. Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts for my children.
It was well past midnight when Robert Goren entered his apartment and emptied his pockets onto the counter. He rubbed the back of his neck wearily and stretched his back. What a day, he mused as he walked to the refrigerator. Taking out a package of ham, a bottle of mustard and a beer, he set them on the counter and took a half loaf of rye bread from the bread box. After fixing his sandwich and putting everything away, he went into the living room and sat on the couch, setting the sandwich and the beer bottle on the coffee table and grabbing the remote.
Before he could turn on the television, his phone rang. He was sorely tempted to ignore it, but when Eames left just after five that afternoon, she seemed out of sorts following a phone call she refused to discuss with him. She could be the one calling him, and hers was not a call he wanted to miss.
Rising, he walked to the counter where his phone continued to ring. Picking it up, he frowned at the unfamiliar number on the caller ID and answered it. "Goren."
"I'm sorry to bother you at this hour, sir. My name is Peter Brossard. Do you know a woman named Alexandra Eames?"
His stomach dropped. "Uh, y-yes, I do. Why? Is something wrong?"
"I tend bar at The Dragon's Lair, just off Broadway on 43rd. Ms. Eames has been here since I came on at six, and she...well, I mean I can't, er, I won't let her leave on her own but she refuses to get into the cab I called for her. Since she left her wallet out on the bar, I took it for safekeeping, and I looked in it for someone to call. That's where I found your card. I thought that if you knew her...well, maybe...I hope it's all right that I called you."
Wondering what the hell was going on with his partner, he reassured the bartender. "It's fine. I'm glad you did. I...I'll be there shortly."
The man sounded relieved. "Thank you. I'll try to keep an eye on her for you."
"Thanks." He closed the phone and slipped his things back into his pockets. Placing the sandwich and unopened beer back in the refrigerator, he left the apartment.
Pete did his best to watch out for the inebriated woman until her friend arrived. He tried to ward off patrons interested in hitting on her, knowing she was in no condition to make any judgment calls. He'd be damned if he was going to read about the discovery of her body in tomorrow's news. He wasn't going to go through that again if he could help it.
When he saw the big man step in from the street, he hoped he was the woman's friend. He really didn't like the jerk she was flirting with and he was afraid she was going to leave with him. He watched the big guy search the room and he felt relief when his expression changed after spotting her. It changed again when he saw her laugh and lean into the other guy. With a confident, deliberate stride, he crossed the room toward the bar. Thank God.
Goren looked at the bartender as he approached, not missing the man's look of relief. He nodded at him before turning his attention to Eames. What the hell was she doing with that slug? Noting the wedding ring that he made no attempt to hide, he recalled that she'd once said that married liars were her special weakness.
Stepping up to her side, he touched her shoulder. She turned on the stool and almost tumbled off it. He caught her, then leaned over to look at her face. She studied him for a moment before recognition set in and her face lit up in a way he had never seen it before. "Bobby! What are you doing here?"
The man on the other side of her leaned against her and said, "Beat it, pal. I saw her first."
Keeping a supporting hand on Eames, Goren straightened to his full height and glared at the man, who was too drunk to recognize the threat Goren posed to him. Not willing to leave Eames sitting there to get involved in a barfight, even one he would easily win, he chose instead to pull out his badge. The man backed off immediately and went in search of other prey.
Goren turned his attention toward the bartender as Eames leaned heavily into him. He kept his arm around her back. "Pete?" he addressed the man behind the bar.
"Detective Goren, I presume."
Goren offered him a small smile. "Thank you for calling me."
"I just wanted to see her get home safely."
Goren looked down at Eames, who was playing with the buttons on his shirt. She managed to get one open and she was working on the next. He looked back at Pete. "I'll take care of her."
"She's been in here a number of times, but she's never gotten like this. Sometimes she meets friends, sometimes she finds a date, but she always leaves after a few drinks."
"Uh, well, thanks for looking out for her."
Pete reached under the bar and passed her wallet to Goren. "I didn't want just anyone to pick this up."
He took the wallet and dropped it into his pocket. "Thanks."
Turning his full attention back to Eames as Pete moved off to take care of a customer, he gently moved her hands from his shirt, now open two more buttons, and said, "Come on, Eames."
He helped her slide off the stool and guided her to the door. He had always thought that he was the one who needed the 'if found please return to...' tag around his neck, not her. He pulled the door open and guided her out into the night.
"Where we goin'?" she asked, her face still glowing as she looked at him.
"I'm taking you home," he answered, careful not to react to her bright, beautiful expression. It wasn't meant for him. She was drunk, after all, and would probably grace anyone with that bright smile.
Her smile turned into a pout. "I don't wanna go home," she protested.
"Okay, fine. You can come with me."
She brightened and repeated, "Where we goin'?"
"To my place."
"Oh, fun! You got beer?"
"Uh, yes..." he answered. But you're not getting any, not tonight, he added in his head.
She seemed happy as he held open the passenger door for her. She turned unsteadily toward him. "I thought we agreed I do the drivin'."
"It's my car."
She gave that some thought before she reached out and laid her hand flat against his chest. Distracted, she leaned in closer and fumbled with another button. Pushing his shirt open as far as the remaining buttons would allow, she played with the hair on his chest. He caught his breath and gently removed her hands from inside his shirt. "Get in the car, please."
She freed one hand and reached out to tease his chest hair again. "But it's nice..."
He looked around. "Not here," he pleaded.
Another pout. "Spoil sport."
He helped her into the car and closed the door. "You have no idea," he muttered to himself as he walked around to the driver's side and got in.
As soon as he started the car, she leaned into him and rested her head against his shoulder. She slipped her hand inside his shirt again and he gently removed it. He didn't need that kind of distraction while he was driving. After the third time, she gave up with his shirt and zoomed in on another target. He almost hit a parked car when she rubbed his pants. More firmly, he removed her hand. "I'm driving," he growled, trying to balance his tone so she wouldn't think he was mad. No, he wasn't mad, but he was confused as hell. He wondered if she was always so...frisky when she got this trashed.
When he finally parked down the street from his apartment, he was relieved to have arrived with no major mishaps. Her hands seemed to stray everywhere and he was frustrated from having to force himself to deflect her advances. He got out of the car and sighed heavily as he walked around to open the door for her.
She climbed out of the car with help from him and leaned against him as he guided her around the car, catching her easily when she stumbled on the curb. With another heavy sigh, he steered her across the sidewalk and into his building. He was relieved when he finally got her through the door, into his apartment. She was safe. When she turned toward him again with that beautiful, bright smile, he wondered if he was safe. She reached out and began toying with his buttons again. "Eames..." he whispered.
"Shhh," she hushed as she worked on freeing the last few buttons.
He grasped her hands again before she finished. "Go on into the living room and sit down. I'll...I'll get you a cup of coffee and something to eat."
"I thought you had beer."
"I don't think you need any more beer."
"I haven't had any beer," she protested.
"Not tonight," he said gently.
She pulled her hands free from his grasp and he expected her to storm off to the living room, but she had a unique ability to catch him off guard at every turn, even when she wasn't on her best game. She reached out and touched his lips with her fingertips, lightly caressing them before following his jaw to his ear. His mouth moved, but no sound came out. Recovering slowly, he stepped back, away from her. "Go...go on into the living room, please," he said, hoping he didn't sound as pathetic to her ears as he did to his own.
She touched his lips again, then went into the living room as he asked. He watched her unsteady progress across the living room, until she flopped onto the couch and he knew she was comfortable. He went into the kitchen and leaned against the sink, absently buttoning his shirt as he recalled the sensation of her fingers against his skin. What the hell was going on with her? She had never shown any interest in him before, not like that. He set a pot of coffee brewing and fixed Eames a sandwich, retrieving his own uneaten sandwich from the refrigerator. He brought the sandwiches into the living room and set them on the coffee table as he sat beside her. "Uh, it's ham," he offered.
She looked at him oddly, as though something was different but she couldn't quite put her finger it. The confusion faded and she reached out. "You buttoned your shirt," she said, her tone scolding.
Her fingers played with his buttons again. "Eames..." he protested.
She looked at him, face open and expectant. Her fingers brushed his skin and she leaned forward, this time brushing her lips over his. She's drunk, he reminded himself, struggling to find no enjoyment in the tentative kiss. He pulled back. "Uh, coffee...coffee's r-ready..."
"Don't want coffee," she murmured, leaning back in for another kiss, this one less tentative. She continued to undo his buttons. "Want you," she added as she pushed his shirt open.
Stunned, he failed to react when she moved closer, caressing his bare chest with one hand while burying the fingers of the other in his hair. He tried to pull back, but she came with him, trapping him against the back of the couch. She kissed him hard, the tip of her tongue teasing his lips. Drunk, his mind screamed frantically. She's drunk. Do not let her do this!
With an effort of will he didn't think he had, he managed to turn and slide away from her. "I...uh, s-stay here..."
He rose from the couch and walked down the hall to his bedroom. His hands were shaking when he held them out in front of him. His entire body was on fire as he paced the room, desperately trying to calm himself down. His mind was spinning. Eames had never shown this kind of interest in him before. Why now? Of course, he had never been around her when she was this drunk before. Was this a release of her inhibitions, a real indicator of her true feelings? If so, what the hell was he supposed to do with it? She was not in any condition to be reasoned with and if he listened to his body and let her continue, he would feel like hell tomorrow, and his guilt would never let him rest. His dreams, in particular, would feed that guilt. It was only in his dreams that he was able to give in to his desires, and he felt enough guilt over that. If he were to compound it by taking advantage of her in this situation...he wasn't sure he would be able to face her again.
Yet, his body was screaming at him to give in to his long-suppressed desire. Fortunately, his mind was stronger than his lust, at least for the moment. He still had a firm grip on his sense. He pulled off his shirt and walked to the dresser, hesitating for a moment as he gripped the drawer handle. A sweatshirt might be more practical for this situation. It was far too warm for the season, but it would offer a little more protection from his touchy-feely partner. He was being ridiculous. Opening the drawer, he pulled out a black t-shirt with NYPD across the chest and yanked it on. Then he sat on the bed, debating changing into a pair of jeans. Hell, he'd be going to bed—alone—shortly...once Eames passed out, which he prayed would be soon.
He kicked off his shoes and drew in a deep breath. Please...be asleep, he silently begged as he opened the door and walked down the hall toward the living room. He stopped just inside the living room. The television was on, tuned to some cooking show on the Food Network. She turned her head toward him when she heard him cough. Pointing at the television, she said, "They're makin' brownies. Doesn't that sound good?"
How can you not be asleep, he wondered. He did a mental inventory of his cupboards, thinking he remembered seeing a box of brownie mix in the pantry. He could fix her the brownies she seemed to want, or he could sit on the couch with her... "Do you want brownies? I can fix a batch for you."
Her face was still bright with a happiness he never saw on the job, never saw directed toward him, and he was still convinced she would grace anyone with that radiant smile in her condition. "Can you?" she asked, delighted.
Relieved that he didn't have to go near her yet and he could give her more time to crash, he returned to the kitchen. He was mixing eggs into the brownie mix when he heard a noise behind him. Setting the bowl on the counter, he turned, and there she was, watching him. "Is something wrong?"
She shook her head. "You said you had beer."
"Don't you think you've had enough to drink tonight?"
"Don't you think I can decide that for myself?"
He had no desire to get into an argument with her, even if she wouldn't remember it. Surrendering, he waved a hand at the refrigerator as he turned back to the bowl on the counter. "Help yourself," he said, not trying to hide his annoyance.
He heard her move as he picked up the fork to continue stirring, but he didn't hear the refrigerator open. When her hand came to rest flat against his back, he tensed and almost dropped the bowl. It clattered against the counter and the fork flipped out of it onto the counter top. Her hand moved in slow circles over the fabric of his t-shirt. Closing his eyes, he tried to screw up the determination he needed to stop her, but he couldn't find it. Her other hand slipped around his side and came to rest on his stomach. Applying pressure, she coaxed him to turn to face her. He looked down into a face filled with emotion. Her eyes were more clear and she was not weaving. Three hours, he calculated. Three hours since her last drink. She had sobered some, and here she was again, in front of him with her hands on his chest and desire in her eyes. I can't. I can't let her do this. She will never forgive me.
Gently, he grasped her wrists. "Sit down on the couch. Let me finish in here."
She studied his face for a moment before she pulled her hand from his grasp and reached up to touch his cheek. His eyes half closed and he leaned into her hand before he could stop himself. He let out his breath slowly as her hand slid along his cheek and into his hair. Then she was guiding his head closer to hers and pressing her lips against his for a soft, tender kiss. She moved half a step closer, slowly deepening the kiss. He groaned and placed his hand on her hip, drawing her closer still as her lips worked over his. He let her tongue explore his mouth, then took his own turn. When her lips closed around his tongue and she gently sucked, he groaned again, seeking a deeper taste that was sweet and bitter all at the same time.
Somewhere in his head, his common sense was screaming at him to take it no further, and after a few moments of allowing himself to get lost in her kiss, he listened to it and withdrew. Gently, he ran his thumb across her lips. "P-Please...go in on the couch. I...I'll be there in a few minutes."
She touched his cheek again. Please, don't, he thought frantically. His resolve was wavering and that frightened him. He didn't want to take this anywhere, for fear of her reaction when she sobered. Slowly, she withdrew her hand and turned away from him. He watched her walk away, still unsteady, and he knew he'd done the right thing. He stood where he was for a few minutes longer, still recovering from her kiss. When he picked up the bowl again and retrieved the fork from the counter, he was surprised to find his hands shaking again. Damn.
After putting the pan in the oven, he set the timer and leaned against the counter near the stove. Running a hand over his face, he hesitated to return to the living room. He knew he was in over his head, but he couldn't think of any way to get out of it. All he could do was hope she'd pass out soon. Obviously, avoiding her wasn't working. If she would just go to sleep, then tomorrow she would be hungover, but sober, and he would still have his dignity. The last thing he wanted to do was betray her by taking advantage of her in her current condition. He felt he was better than that. But damn, she was persistent, and the true state of his heart was not helping matters at all. To pursue her in his dreams was one thing. To surrender to her now, under the current circumstance, would be unforgivable. Please, he begged her in his mind. Just go to sleep. Save us both a great deal of grief.
Before he knew it, the timer buzzed. Had he really spent the entire time lost in his head, contemplating the situation he now found himself in? Removing the pan, he set it down to cool and turned off the oven. He let out a slow breath and went into the living room.
To his great relief, he found her finally asleep. He stood there for a long moment, just watching her and recalling the bright, happy smile she'd given him when he showed up at the bar. He wished she really felt that way about him, but he was certain she was simply reacting to a familiar face. Her white knight? Like hell. He wasn't anyone's white knight, least of all hers. Eames was the last person who needed someone to watch out for her. She could definitely take care of herself.
He always tried to watch out for her, like a good partner, and he was always relieved when he realized that she had his back, too. Wasn't that how good partners operated? They were supposed to watch out for each other. And that's what he was: her partner. It's all he could ever be. He touched his lips, recalling her kiss and how much he really wanted to just let go and enjoy it. What he wouldn't give for her to really feel that way toward him. To kiss her, to touch her, to love her... He leaned over and brushed her hair back out of her face. Alex...No, not Alex. Eames. Partner.
He went to the hall closet and took down a pillow and blanket. He gently tucked the pillow beneath her head and slipped off her shoes. Then he covered her with the blanket and tenderly ran his finger down the side of her face. He let out his breath on a deep sigh and leaned down to kiss her forehead. "Good night, partner," he whispered.
He turned off the television on his way back to the kitchen, where he draped a kitchen towel over her brownies and cleaned up. He still felt unsettled and tense, and he knew, once again, he would never get to sleep without help. Swearing to himself, he grabbed a bottle of scotch from its place in the cabinet above the refrigerator. His days were long, but his nights were longer still, and he did what he had to do to get through them. Taking a glass from the drain, he retreated to his room, closing the door behind him.