I don't own Ben and John. Too bad.

Partners

The bar was dark, empty, and the air stank of stale smoke. I was partly annoyed at being called so late, but also worried about the reason I'd been called. Ben didn't just call me. In fact, I don't think he'd ever tried to reach me outside of work.

I guess the kid just didn't know me well enough.

My heart gave a little skip as I spotted him sitting at the bar. His shoulders were slumped; all I could see of his head was a small spot of spiky blond hair. I chewed on my bottom lip as I walked up to him, trying to deduce what his problem was. "Hey, partner," I said casually, laying a hand on his shoulder. He made a noise that I guessed was his acknowledgment.

Lord, he was hammered out of his little skull.

"How much did you have to drink?"

"A lot...maybe," he slurred.

"How come?" I asked; my worry perfectly concealed. He simply shrugged and scratched at the nape of his neck. I sighed once more as I reached down and grabbed his chin, forcing him to look at me. His glassy, unfocused gaze met mine, and I was shocked by the vulnerability I saw in his eyes. "Jesus Christ..." I muttered, frowning. "What's your problem, Rookie?"

"I don't...know. C-Can you...drive me 'ome?" Ben asked, blinking up at me. I was shocked by his request. Normally, I got the feeling he would rather saw off his own arm than ask me for something.

"I can't believe this..." I laughed shortly, although the situation was basically devoid of humor. If it were anyone else on the force, it would have been funny. But Ben...shit. The kid never did this kind of thing. He had the cleanest nose I knew of. "Okay," I said, rubbing my forehead. "Fine." I turned to the bartender, who was eyeing us with suspicion. "He owe you anything?" I asked sternly. The man shook his head, picking up a glass to wipe down.

"Okay, buddy, c'mon," I drawled, grabbing Ben by the arm. He winced in pain but I didn't loosen my hold. I tugged him and he practically fell off, staggering into my chest and grabbing a fistful of my shirt. I looked down at him and pried his hands off me, telling him to take it easy. But I realized that my words were hitting a brick wall, so I gave up.

Dragging him out of that place was difficult. Not only was I supporting most of the kid's weight, but he kept swaying and stumbling into me, mumbling incoherently. I groaned in relief as I finally got him out into the thick night air. I dropped him on a bench to my left and sank down next to him. "What the fuck were you doing in there?"

"Drinking..." he muttered.

"No shit, Sherlock, I mean why?"

"My dad's a...a sonova bitch."

"Ah..." I sighed. "You saw him?"

"Mm-maybe."

"Jesus, kid...just let him go," I muttered, running a hand through my hair. "Don't torture yourself like that."

He nodded mutely and looked down at the pavement. "Okay."

"Alright, Richy Rich...where do you live?"

"You wanna rob my house?" he asked.

I grinned crookedly. "Only if you've got lots of beer in there. But for now I'll just drive you home, how's that, Princess?"

When I said drive, I meant 'stay with until three o'clock in the morning to make sure you don't have alcohol poisoning.' But what else could I do? We were partners.

Partners don't just do that shit...they do it willingly.