Conventional would never be a word used to describe their relationship. They work together, so at least 40 hours of their week is spent trying, hoping that nobody gets wise to the true depth of their relationship.

They have been officially/unofficially living together for just over five months. His apartment has become nothing more than an oversized PO box; the only time he is ever there is when he stops by once a week to pick up bills and checks that have accumulated. He plans to sell it eventually, but it's something he just hasn't gotten around to. Eames asks about it once in a while, and he is running out of excuses for putting it off. What he has yet to admit, however, is that none of this is really about the apartment itself; it's about fear.

It isn't that he's afraid of Eames, or even of commitment - he committed his heart to her long ago - it was a fear of loss and being lost. There were so few things he had to call his own in life, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. His family hadn't exactly been well off when he and his brother were growing up and his own finances aren't much better. Although his apartment isn't anything special, not worth much even in sentimental value, it is something he has that is his and only his, the only place he would have to go back to if he fucks things up with Eames.

And at the end of the day, that's what it comes down to: he's afraid to sell his apartment because if he does that and loses Eames, he will have nothing. Nobody to go home to, no place to even call a home.

His therapist tells him that sometimes you need to take risks, do things that frighten you, in order to get what you want. What he wants is a normal life, a life with Eames. But fear is a powerful thing, especially fear of oneself. He made a career out of taking down criminals, monsters, but is was one monster he doesn't know how to confront. A head he can't get into because he is already there.

A wise elder in the Eames family once told her that 'normal' is a relative term: 'normal' is whatever works for you. With a definition as broad as that, she figures her partner could have spared himself the time and agony of worrying about having a 'normal life' - according to the department's statistics, they were one of the most 'normal' teams in Major Case.

Of course, those statistics knew nothing of their time outside of work but she suspects that even that is 'normal' as well.

After all, isn't sex one of the most basic, normal human activities? And it most definitely works for them.

James Bower is a small time bookie with a short, pudgy build and hair that seems to be perpetually greasy. In the grand scheme that is their investigation he is of little interest, a guy who is connected to a guy who is connected to their guy, the guy who murdered a banker and his wife. By the time they get around to interviewing him, they have already decided he is of little use to them. Definitely not a guy they would expect to pull a gun on them. Then again, if they were able to anticipate every time someone was going to pull out a weapon, well, there would be a lot less death in the world.

But sure enough, just as he returns from the kitchen where he was 'getting something to drink,' Goren sees a the familiar glint of florescent lighting on metal. Most people, trained detectives or not, would step back from a man with a gun. Even Eames takes a step back as she moves to draw her weapon out of its holster. But Goren doesn't. Instinctively, he steps forward, putting himself between Eames and the gun and thinks, yeah, I'd take a bullet for this woman. Simple as that.

In the end, it turns out that Bower really isn't the type to pull a gun on a couple of armed detectives - or anyone else for that matter. Once he gets over the initial shock of seeing the gun, Goren realizes that Bower's grip on the gun is weak, his hands are shaking, and he has the safety on. It's almost child's play to talk him into putting the gun down. And when it's all over, Bower seems to be more shaken up by the incident than they are.

They spend the rest of the afternoon booking Bower and working through different angles to their case. But as much as he genuinely tries to focus on running down theories with Eames, he can't help but be distracted by his realization of the risks he is willing to take - and has taken - for his partner. If he had to, he would give his life for her and regret nothing.

And when he finally goes home with her at the end of the day, it's all he can do not to lose himself in her. He anchors himself with hands firmly on her hips, fingers pressing into her back as he draws her closer. As if sensing his need, Alex deepens the kiss and sets herself to unbuttoning his shirt, smoothing her hands over his chest as she reveals the bare skin. He steadies himself by smoothing his hands up and down her sides, fingers brushing just below her breasts then back down to her waist, sliding under the hem of her shirt to feel the familiar smoothness of her skin.

His lips trace her jaw down to where it joins her neck - the most vulnerable part of the human anatomy, where vital arteries pump just below the surface of the skin. She tilts her head back, readily giving him access. He presses his lips to the pulse point there, where he can feel her blood flowing just beneath the surface, so close to the skin. He flicks his tongue out to taste her there, the slight saltiness of her skin blooming across his senses.

"Bobby," she hums, vibrations he can feel with his lips against her throat. He pauses and lets her pull away just enough to push the shirt from his shoulders, pressing light kisses against his chest before moving on to remove her own blouse.

He pulls her back to him immediately, pressing her back against the bed and kissing across her sternum, palming her breasts through her bra. She pushes him off of her with a grunt and practically tears off her bra before settling back against the mattress.

She moans when his hands come into contact with her aching nipples, and the sound sends heat and desire pulsing through his veins, making his skin hot, his cock painfully hard. But he ignores it. His own needs are secondary in this right now. He takes the time to lave her nipples, tease shapes along the inside of her thighs as he kisses down her belly, places his lips against her glistening folds. His tongue lavishes attention on her clit, his long, practiced fingers twisting inside of her until she arches and cries out, fingers curled into his hair.

Fuck normal, he thinks as he finally pushes into her incredible, tight warmth, her hips arching up to meet his. Normal is overrated; anyone can have normal. He doesn't want normal. He just wants this, this perfect woman in his arms, the sounds she makes, the softness of her skin, the edge of her wit. Anywhere she is, that's where he needs to be.

When they come, shaking and sweating and panting and sighing, her body tightening and stealing his breath away. And of the two of them he is physically stronger, but she's the one holding everything together.

Even as he tells he he's letting go of his apartment, whispers endearments in his ear, She knows he's afraid of something. Something beyond just her or repercussions within the department. He's afraid, she supposes, of failure - as they all are. Failure to achieve his goal of 'normal.' It's an irrational fear, but then again, most are.

After all, Eames thinks - miles above the sky, held in the shaking arms of a man she knows would do anything for her - what could be more normal than love?