TITLE: The Fourth Time
AUTHOR: Cyclone
RATING: M, maybe MA depending on how strict FF is.
KEYWORDS: Goren/Eames
SPOILERS: none
SUMMARY: The first time she came to him it was hard and fast, and if it wasn t exactly what she d bargained for then she never let on.
DISCLAIMER: I believe Dick Wolf and Co. retain ownership of everything L&Oish.
NOTES: It s been a while. Be gentle or not.

XxX

The first time she came to him it was hard and fast, and if it wasn't exactly what she'd bargained for then she never let on. She left immediately after, and if it hadn't been for the heady perfume of sex that lingered in the air, then he would have thought he'd imagined the whole thing.

The second time she was just as aggressive, just as impatient as the first, but he wanted her on his terms. So he countered every move, prolonged every attack, and in the end they both exorcised some demons that needed exorcising. After, as he watched from the bed as she pulled her clothes back on, she told him that it couldn't happen again. He agreed, because he knew that sex, no matter how good, just complicated things, and he needed her more in his day to day life than he did in his bed. She left with a negligent 'see you tomorrow' tossed over her shoulder, and he drifted to sleep with the scent of her still on his sheets.

The third time was an accident and didn't really count, because they'd almost died and the need to do something to reaffirm that they hadn't was stronger than their previous agreement. So they'd done each other on the floor of his apartment, and in the morning he'd woken curled up against the sofa covered by a blanket from his bed, with bruised knees and a stiff back. And she was gone.

The fourth time she was drunk, and he didn't want her. So she left, but not before mocking him with a few pointed barbs pertaining to both him and his ability in bed, that almost, but not quite, hid the rejection in her eyes. He tried to explain to her that he didn't want alcohol to be the crutch that fuelled their relationship, but he stumbled over the words and she hadn't wanted to hear them, anyway. And then he realised that despite all his best efforts to separate the sex from everything else, he'd failed. Because that was the first time that he'd defined what they were doing as a relationship.

After that, she didn't come again, and he couldn't quite summon the courage to go to her. So they both – as far as he knew – re-entered the world of celibacy while pretending that they'd never left it. It ate at him though, and he started wondering if maybe, despite everything, they could have the sex without it screwing up the day to day stuff. If they worked at it, really worked at it, then surely they could combine the two so that neither the job nor anything else suffered. He tried to talk to her about it but she shut him down, and he didn't want to upset the uneasy status quo that had taken root between them, so in the end he followed her lead. If, at night, she remembered the same things that kept him awake, she didn't let on, and neither did he.

Then she started pulling away, and because she wouldn't or couldn't talk to him, he couldn't figure out how to get her back. Over the years they'd fostered a partnership, then a sometimes-friendship, and even though there'd been trials and tribulations, they'd eventually grown into something that encompassed more than the conventional sense of the word. Before that first time had turned everything on its side, they'd been in limbo, floating between friendship and something more, and he, for one, had enjoyed the easy intimacy of that place.

Until she'd come to him and opened his eyes to the possibility of more. That was why, the second time, he hadn't wanted wham-bam-thank you-ma'am (sir?) sex. He'd wanted to show her that they could be more than that, and he thought that she'd understood. The third time didn't really count, except that she'd taken the time to cover him up before she left, and that had to mean something. But then she'd ruined everything. He wasn't going to be used, even by her, even if it meant losing whatever it was that was between them. If all she wanted was random, drunken sex then she wasn't going to get it from him. He wanted her to know that she was with him, that he was the one who was above her, surrounding her, inside her. He wanted to be more to her than just a body and she should have known that.

But she didn't. And as the days rolled into weeks, he couldn't help but think that maybe he had to shoulder some of the blame for that. He'd just gone along with whatever rules she'd set, never once testing the boundaries or giving her anything in return to let her know that she mattered. If he hadn't been so quick in his rejection; if he'd been able to verbalise what he was feeling before she cut him to shreds, if her judgement hadn't been clouded – if, if if – then maybe, just maybe, things might have turned out differently.

That was a bitter pill to swallow, but he choked it down because at least he still had her in his life. They'd weathered bad times before and always managed to get back on track, and he couldn't see why this time would be any different. So he waited and watched, and waited some more, and couldn't help but notice that her eyes were always guarded, and that the wall that she'd built was slowly being reinforced a little more each day. He didn't know how to chip away at it, and he still didn't know how to talk to her about anything, and it hurt like hell that while she might want him for a meaningless roll in the sack, that was all she wanted.

So he gave up. If she didn't want him – all of him – then he didn't care anymore. They just weren't the 'happily-ever-after' kind of people, and he stopped trying to make them fit into that mould. In the end they were just two more people who made the mistake of thinking they could separate sex from everything else, and failed.

Except. His heart wanted more. His heart didn't care about the cold hard facts, it wanted happily ever after. With her. So he decided to try one more time.

He grabbed his coat and headed for her house, and hoped that he hadn't left it too late. Twenty minutes later he was pounding on her door. We need to talk, he called through the wood. Alex? Please?