A/N: My sincerest apologies and kudos to ScriberestAgere, my favorite author, who has already done this idea far better than I have. I was not trying to copy her and I apologize if that is how it seems. But I promise you mine is different!


They never intended for the sex to become a regular thing. They knew it would only complicate thing and lead to problems in their partnership. Certainly nothing good could come of it. That's the way sex always was, messy, overly emotional and wonderful but impossible to have for the sake of the act itself.

That's why each time always started out as their last time. But one 'last' time turned into two, two into three, three into four and so on until they eventually gave up pretending. And counting.


It had started as a way to keep their mind off of a murder. The case was difficult, to say the least, traumatizing even. Their killer slit her daughter's throat - killing both her child and unborn grandchild - then bludgeoned her husband to death when he walked in on the murder. And, as if that wasn't enough, the woman then proceeded to try to seduce her daughter's husband after the funeral was barely over. Goren and Eames had seen a lot of sick things in their days, encountered a lot of demented perps but this case, this woman, easily jumped to the top.

Every crime scene, every splash of blood on walls, every victim in the morgue becomes a haunting ghost, at least temporarily. But these images were so brutal, walls so painted with bursts of arterial spray that they both feared the pictures would remain imprinted on their minds forever. And they were probably right. Over time, of course, the images would fade and the haunting echos of evil would dim to a bearable whisper in the minds of the detectives. But on the night they wrapped up the case, the images were as clear as a set of photographs pasted to the insides of their eyelids.

That was the night they first slept together. It was purely survival at that point, the one thing they could find to keep themselves sane, to keep the images from clawing at their eyes and scraping at their grey matter, embedding themselves further into their unconscious minds.

They started under the guise of going back to her place for drinks - something to numb the images, wash them away with the artificial fuzzy warmth of alcohol. But even as they made their rationalizations, even as they took up opposite sides of the sofa from each other, part of them knew what the outcome of that evening would be.

And sure enough, like magnets of opposing polarities, moths to a flame, or desperate people to a shred of comfort, they gravitated toward each other until they were literally on top of each other.

For them, the saving grace of sex was that it forced them to live in the moment. For the first time in weeks they were able to close their eyes and see nothing but blackness - a welcome relief from the walls of blood that had stubbornly lingered there.

It was a temporary solution, they both knew this. Yet it worked better then either of them could have imagined. Even after they finished, droplets of sweat cooling their bodies and forcing them to retreat to the cover of her bedsheets, they found that they were too tired, too caught up in the afterglow to feel haunted.

And even though it went against all rules and all sense that had been instilled in them, they thought that maybe, maybe it could work. After all, it was just sex, right? It didn't have to be a big deal, right?

Right.


Right?

Everyone expects sleeping with a coworker to make things awkward at work. That didn't happen to Goren and Eames. Alex figured it was due to the nature of their work. She found that most cops were extremely good at compartmentalizing their emotions and she and Goren were no exception. They were such experts at keeping their work and home lives separate that they may as well have been a set of completely different people between work and home.

Though there were a few subtle signs that someone might have noticed, if they looked close enough and knew what they were looking for. Case and point: their code for nights they would spend together was a conversation exchanged in the middle of the squad room. Two, sometimes three days a week they would have the same exchange. It was short, but exactly the same every time.

"You, uh, have any plans for tonight?" Goren would ask her, glancing up at her from his papers, studying her until she answered.

"No," She would say, flicking her gaze to where it would lock with his for just a moment, before he returned his eyes to his file. Then he would just nod thoughtfully and the conversation would be forgotten...

...until later that day, when he would follow her home after work.

It was always very blunt when they got to her home, with little preamble or conversation. He would arrive just a few minutes behind her, using his key to let himself into her apartment. She was usually already in the bedroom, waiting for him, divesting herself of her own clothing. He would wordlessly strip behind her, waiting patiently until she pulled back the sheets. And when they were finished he gathered his clothes from the floor around her bed, dressed himself, and headed out with an ironically casual wave. She would smile, wave back, and then go about her evening as normal.

She had been living alone for so long that she had come to find comfort in the quiet solitude of her home. But she found that on nights after Bobby had been there, that same silence that she was so familiar with seemed to have been changed by his presence. On those nights, as she went about her routine as usual, she found herself noticing just how quiet her apartment really was. It wasn't a large place she inhabited, since it was just her, but suddenly it would seem very hollow in spite of all her furnishings. It was as though something had been taken away each time Bobby left, leaving her home emptier and emptier after each of their encounters.

But that wasn't loneliness, right? It didn't necessarily mean anything, right?

Right.


Right?

She felt a little awkward about being vocal with him. Not that a great deal of thought usually went into what she said during sex - in fact, she made it a habit not to say much of anything - but each time that final rush of endorphins hit her she couldn't help but make some vocalization. As a general rule of thumb, she tried to keep her utterances to his name, God's name, and various unintelligible sighs. Goren, for his part, didn't seem to care what she said, and why should he?

His utterances, on the other hand, were something she was very interested in. Or rather, she was interested in a specific utterance.

He said the words so quietly that at first that she questioned whether she had heard them at all, those words that a woman longs to hear in a traditional romantic relationship. But their - she couldn't even quiet bring herself to call it a relationship; it was really more of an unspoken agreement - their agreement lacked any elements that could be described as traditional or romantic. In fact, the thing they had in common with a traditional romance was sex. And everyone knows that it's impossible to build a relationship off of just sex.

Neither of them realized it, but their fates were sealed together the first time Alex heard him mutter those three words during climax. At the time, pressed underneath his substantial weight as she panted hotly against his neck, she ignored it. After all, that was something commonly said in the heat of passion, right? It didn't necessarily mean anything, right?

Right.


Right?

It's funny, Eames thought one morning after 'the incident', how after you sleep with someone, you noticed all these little things you never noticed about them before. For example, in their many years of partnership Eames had never before noticed that when Goren stirred his coffee he made precisely two full, counter-clockwise circles.

Or that he always kept his keys in the top right hand drawer of his desk when they were on duty, right next to some of his most thumbed-through reference books.

Or the way that said keys were still on the ridiculous handcuffs keychain she got him for Christmas in one of the first years of their partnership - back when she didn't really like him and only got him something after he gave her something.

Or the way stares at her with a foreign look in his eyes she cannot name from across their desks when he doesn't think she's looking.

Or how sometimes, even though he's directing his conversation to the captain, he'll only be looking at her.

Or how he stays the night at her place now, even though there's no real need to.

But that was normal, right? It didn't necessarily mean anything, right?

Right.


Wrong.

Eames didn't realize how wrong she was until they had been 'together' for almost five months. She didn't realize until one night when she jolted awake in the middle of the night, panic pulsing in her veins and beading on her brow, the last fading shrieks of scraping metal and a woman's screams swirling through her mind. It had been years since the kidnapping, but the trauma of Jo Gage was forever branded on her psyche and every now and then it poisoned her dreams with terror. On this occasion it just happened that Goren was dead asleep and half naked beside her.

She didn't realize until she padded her way into the bathroom, drank half a glass of cool water, and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her face was tired, eyes still wide and frightened from her nightmare, hair still askew and body still tender from sex with Bobby.

She didn't realize until she turned to go back to bed and found him standing there, just looking at her. His stare was the same unnamed gaze as the one he gave her across their desks but, if possible, more intense and dashed with concern.

She didn't realize until he took a step toward her then rocked back on his heels, as though he wanted to reach out to her, to embrace her, to comfort her, but was was afraid that he wasn't allowed.

She didn't realize until she stepped up to him and realized, upon closer inspection, exactly what that stare of his meant.

She didn't realize how wrong she was until he finally pulled her into his arms - just to hold her - and she remembered his words and oh, oh. His lips against her hair were a sudden enlightenment, a spark of realization that it did mean something. It meant everything.

And in the end, she was wrong, but she was okay with that.