Spoilers: Closet Cases, Secrets

Rated: PG13 (adult themes)

Summary: Continuing on, with permission, from where K left off with her story "Strictly...Confidential" in which, when Bayliss and Ballard go on their date, Bayliss manages to confess to Ballard that he is essentially bisexual.

Disclaimer: Bayliss and Ballard belong to Baltimore Pictures and NBC. No copyright infringement intended and no profit being made from their use. Other characters and this story belong to me.

K wrote:

"So... Why didn't you run?" Bayliss asked with a slight shrug, his lips pursed together, his eyes searching...

Laura shrugged back at him. "Not my style," she answered. "But you're avoiding the question, Tim. Why tell *me*? I mean, especially if you thought I might run," she asked again, genuinely curious.

He thought a moment. "Well, maybe I... maybe I think I owed you an explanation, since, uh... since our date was so weird. I mean, dinner, the art gallery. I was feeling pretty weird," he tried to explain, knowing even as he said it that it was coming out all wrong.

She raised an eyebrow. "Because of me?" she asked, concerned. She had chosen the gallery.

His eyes widened. "No! no, no." He pursed his lips a moment, reconsidering. "Well, maybe a little." He saw her look of alarm and rushed to explain.

"What I mean is..." he started, holding up a hand to stave off her protest. "Frank told me what Gharty said about me in the break room. But I had already asked you out, and I didn't want to cancel because..." He smiled a little shyly. "Because I really wanted to go with you," he admitted.

She mirrored his smile.

"But then, I thought about it, and I didn't want to do anything to, uh, you know, tarnish your reputation. So I was... I don't know. Distant," he answered, taking refuge for a moment as their food arrived.

Her smiled thinned. "Uh-huh. So chivalrous. You could have just told the truth, you know, instead of acting like I was completely boring and unattractive," she reasoned.

"What?" Bayliss said in a puff, surprise on his face. "Laura, you're beautiful," he said honestly. She smiled a little in thanks but didn't reply.

An idea blossomed in his mind. "You're not ever going to go out with me again, are you?" he asked neutrally, seemingly resigned to a negative answer.

She wrinkled her brow at him. "Tim, you just told me that you're mentally unfaithful to everyone you've been with," she said, gesturing her hand at him. "That's not exactly a selling point," she answered bluntly.

He nodded, having expected her answer, and looked down at his pasta, picking at it with a fork.

She closed her eyes and chastised herself for being so blunt. She tried to explain. "I don't mean to punish you for telling me your secret. I can be just... brutally honest sometimes," she said, shaking her head a little.

"No, no, it's okay," Tim replied, waving off her apology. But he still didn't look at her.

She struggled to reassure him, using a soft voice. "No, listen. It's not like you're irredeemable,. I mean, even with a 'strictly' straight guy, I still have to wonder, you know, about whether his mind is wandering," she said soothingly. "But it's easier to deny when he doesn't out and out confess," she added, smiling just a little.

He looked up at her then and laughed, smiling teeth showing through full, smooth lips, hazel eyes shining back at her.

"God, you do have your selling points though," she said a little breathlessly, quickly turning her gaze to the dish in front of her.

His interest piqued. "You sound like you're talking yourself into it," he said softly, his voice like silk, and she shivered inside. He deepened his gaze, so when she finally looked up she was surprised by its intensity and froze, fixated on him.

"Hard not to when you look at me like.. that," she said directly, softly.

He matched her whispery tone. "Easy to look at you like this."

She couldn't help the nervous smile, those eyes making her stomach flutter. She shook her head to break the look. "Easy, tiger."

He just smiled.

She reached for her wine. "I'm starting to think all you guys are crazy," she said, taking a sip and thinking of Tim's revelation, Kellerman's moodiness, Munch's cynicism, Lewis' recent hostility.

"Yeah, well," he whispered, leaning in toward her confidentially, "it's just 'cause we all want you so bad."

She outright giggled, a sound he strove for. "Yeah, right."

"No, really," he protested, laughing.

"Stop flirting and eat," she ordered with feigned sternness, pointing a finger at him.

He smiled, and they ate quietly for a few moments, the tension having faded into if not comfortable at least amiable silence.

She knit her brow, pressed her lips together.

"What?" he asked, noticing.

She sighed softly to herself, then looked up at him with earnest, somewhat hopeful brown eyes. "I don't want you to think... I mean, it's not out of the question."

He clearly didn't comprehend what she was talking about, eyes squinting and mouth half-open, so she closed her eyes and plunged forward. "I mean, you and me. I didn't mean to make it sound.. impossible. Or even, I don't know - unlikely."

Tim leaned back and nodded a little. "Yeah, well. Laura, you don't have to say that to make me feel better," he said firmly. False hope would be crueler than the truth.

She opened her eyes wide. "I'm not!" she protested. "You should know by now I don't say anything I don't mean."

He cocked his head to one side and squinted at her. "Why should I know that?"

Utter confusion crossed her features. "What do you mean?"

"We've worked, what, two cases together? Had one awkward date?" he elaborated. "I'm not trying to be hurtful, Laura, I just..." He trailed off.

"No," she answered, realizing that despite tonight's conversation, despite her many months working there they really didn't know each other well. "It's okay. You're just going to have to take it on faith, then," she argued.

He frowned, thoroughly confused now, and not even daring to hope. "So what are you saying exactly?"

She sighed, half-regretting she had said anything. "You know what? Forget it. It's nothing," she dismissed, poking her fork into her food and staring at the table.

"Laura. Laura." He repeated her name softly until she raised her eyes to him. He just looked at her then, gently, sweetly.

"What?" she asked softly, his look making her feel embarrassed.

"Maybe we should actually get to know each other. Not worry about romantic stuff for now. Just talk. Do stuff. Have fun," he suggested, shrugging.

She dipped her chin. "What a novel concept," she said, smiling.

"Whadda ya say?" he asked, seeking reassurance.

She nodded. "I'd like that," she answered. She sighed quickly, then shook herself free of their serious mood. "Anyway, enough soul searching for tonight. You can ask me about my dark side some other time," she said with a little grin.

He raised an eyebrow. "Nah. You? A dark side?" he teased.

"Hey. Everyone has a dark side. Homicide taught me that, if nothing else," she countered, raising her glass to her lips thoughtfully.

"Hmm," was Bayliss' only comment, and she met his curious gaze.

"Another time," she reiterated.

He moved his glass to toast her. "Another time," he repeated.


Anyone want to take it from here? Feel free!

Comments always appreciated =)