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Two-Step, The

by s.a.

Date: Monday, May 19, 2003 1:48 AM

Title: The Two-Step
Author: s.a.
Rating: PG.
Pairing: Sort of Goren/Nicole (or Elizabeth, if you prefer.) Fandom: Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Disclaimer: I don't make up the 'verses, I just fuck with them. Feedback: Always appreciated. email: sa@bluezfire.org Summary: Everyone searches for the perfect partner.

Spoilers: Second season finale, "A Person of Interest." Also helpful to have seen the previous Elizabeth/Nicole episode, "Anti-Thesis."

Distribution: HiTG, http://hole.adamao.org as well as list archives. Everyone else, just ask.

Author's Notes: The finale was just begging to be written about. Olivia d'Abo gives great evil. It seems my love for Goren never wanes. You could see the sparks between them.


-TIT-

A few months after she was arrested, he started receiving letters from her. They were never signed, and he knew she would never allow him the satisfaction of claiming her real name. It didn't matter. The letter always started out "Dearest Bobby," and he could hear her clipped accent rolling off the words on the page.

Eames saw one of them on his desk. She never said anything, just walked away, and he took more care to keep them in a sealed envelope in his desk.

Some, he thought, would call them love letters. He knew better--or perhaps he was simply more paranoid--because he'd read what was in-between the lines. He saw her rage and frustration at being caged again, her careful manipulations and small hints at future plans.

He knew he should destroy them. He could report the incident, have his mail screened and her privileges curried and just shove this to the back of his mind. But lurking there was a seed of an idea, saying that perhaps he could control her.

It was made all the more disturbing by the fact that these thoughts were articulated in her voice.

He was being stalked, measured, put to the test. She wouldn't loose herself from a worthy opponent that easily; really, she'd only dig her claws in further. He understood the profile, and she was a perfect copy of the mindset.

The problem was, so was he. As much as she frustrated him, left him unable to breathe from fury, he wanted to play the game. He wanted someone who could match him, an adversary he couldn't figure out in a week, who wouldn't back down.

Impossible to find, except he did. And a giddy part of him thrilled at it.

Someone once told him that everything was just a game--they were all simply chess pieces moving around a board, mindless and orchestrated. He preferred to think of it as a dance. It had more grace, and was more applicable to his current situation.

There were steps, and the music which held a grander plan. While most people just milled around the edges, eternal wallflowers, some made the bold step onto the floor. They stumbled along the way, running into people who would shove them rudely aside.

But occasionally there would be a lucky bastard who found the perfect partner for his dance. The same speed, the same steps, the same subtle rhythm that guided their movements in even the most mundane of circumstances.

And so he kept reading her letters, never replying, but waiting it out until they danced again.


-FOR-

She knew perfectly well why shy did it.

She wasn't one to simply let things go. She liked to tie up loose ends, though more often than not she had to pick up and run, leaving a terrible mess behind her.

She's gotten better about accepting that over the years.

The truly frustrating thing about her Bobby was that he was able to see her with as much clarity as she saw him. It really fucked up her worldview, because she was used to being the one who profiled each mark, laid out each plan, figured out all the weak spots and took advantage of them.

Now that she thinks about it--and she has far too much time to think--that's probably how it was for him too. Until she came along. They managed to fuck each other over brilliantly, and neither of them could fully recover.

That was the beauty of this, though. For all her cutting barbs and questions about his mother, he'd retaliate with blunt declarations about her past and her father. It was like a Mexican standoff, only with constant gunfire. They upped the ante, over and over, living for those moments when memory overcame rationality and their faces would go slack, remembering all the shit of their lives.

It was quite fun.

The days when she stood in line for the telephone, she'd dream of the moment when she'd show up his door--just a small knock and the creak of the hinge and there he'd be, rumpled and not at all surprised. She'd say "Hello" in her most disarming voice--and that's as far as she got, every time. It was an image she replayed countlessly, a catalyst for every small plan she hatched.

When she finally could make her call, she'd dial his voicemail. It was a number she'd learned long ago, when she first encountered him, though she'd never used it. It was just so she could hear his voice, remind her of him. She'd mapped out his psyche in painstaking detail, and on those unwaveringly banal nights she'd recount every scrap of conversation they'd had, every body movement and fierce stare.

It was what kept her sane, really. Thinking about him, and all that they'd do when she got out. Because they would do something, she felt it. Nothing this strong couldn't be reciprocated. It was bigger than love, sharper than hate. It was partnership.

And so she wrote out carefully constructed letters, hiding more in the words than any general person would see, and biding her time.

She knew he would wait for her. He'd been waiting for her all his life. It wasn't as though she couldn't say the same about him.

She could be patient. Especially since she knew what was just around the corner.


-TAT-

When they met, it was a complete accident.

It was in McDonalds, and she was stepping up to the cashier as he was entering the building, and everything froze.

He saw her tongue dart out to wet her lower lip and knew it was her tell; she saw his eyebrow twitch and knew it was his. It was an endless moment--until the bored cashier coughed loudly and their attention was instantly drawn back to the situation.

He didn't pull his badge or his gun, and she ordered him a Quarter Pounder. They got the food and sat down, cramped in the plastic booth, both refusing to break the silence.

Finally, because the words were beginning to form of their own volition, he said: "How did you get out?"

"Don't you remember the cake and file you sent me?" she replied sweetly, munching on a limp fry. He waited for an answer, and she finally said, "It's remarkable what people will do for good head."

He nodded and stole one of her chicken nuggets.

"Has anyone matched me yet?" she asked quietly, thinking that the back and forth was just beginning.

"You know there hasn't been."

She ate the pickles he offered her.

They sat in silence for half an hour, eating and drinking and breathing. When they were finished, he emptied the tray into the trashcan and she put on her coat. They headed for opposite ends of the building. Both looked back, and time stopped again as their eyes locked, immobilizing each other. She mouthed "goodbye," and he nodded the same. They left.

Two weeks later, there was a soft knock at his door, and she heard a waltz from inside his apartment.


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