With a Vengeance

Author: piaffe417

Rating: G
Category: Humor

Disclaimer: These characters belong to Dick Wolf and NBC. No infringement is intended.

Author's Note: You have to appreciate your subconscious. No, I really mean it. Take a moment before you read this story and just say, "Thank you for the things you do, Subconscious." To my own personal subconscious mind, I'd like to express gratitude for writing this story for me while I was feverishly working on another piece--a terrible other piece. The very moment I realized the other piece was bad, my subconscious put the finishing touches on this one and--voila!--all I had to do was type it. Keep in mind, however, that I don't own these characters--or their subconscious minds...

Captain James Deakins lifts his eyes from his paperwork and glances through his office door to scan the activity going on in the bullpen outside, a quick and habitual movement he's mastered over the years that requires little effort or concentration. His eyes have learned to flit briefly around the room, make sure that everyone is hard at work and no one seems to be stuck on part of a case or looking particularly perplexed, and then refocus on whatever he's doing. It lasts no more than a second or two and hardly interrupts the flow of his thoughts. This time is no different--heads are bent low over case files in one corner and in another, a detective has propped his feet on his desk and is leaning back in his chair, talking on the phone. Nothing unusual or out of place.

He returns to his paperwork and then it hits him: nothing is out of place.

For the last few weeks, he's followed this same routine, glancing out his open door periodically and scanning the room and, for those same few weeks, he's always noticed the same thing amiss. There's always been one thing in the room that invaded his line of vision and required a second look to confirm that his eyes were telling his brain the truth. In fact, he's noticed it so often that it's stopped registering in his conscious mind--it's like the clock in his car that's five minutes fast; he knows it's wrong but he doesn't worry about changing it and it doesn't bother him. But now--today--everything in the office is back to normal and he's only just realized it.

Eames is back.

He glances up again and out the door. Yes, there she is, standing in her characteristic place just behind Goren's right shoulder as he sits at his desk. The pair is poring over a case file together and have spread the crime scene photos out to get a better look at everything as a whole. She's leaning down to examine something that's caught her eye and he's nervously weaving his head and wringing his hands the way he does when he's trying to work a thought loose.

Yes, everything is back to normal all right.

Deakins smiles and lays his pen down. He felt particularly relaxed all morning and now he knows why. The weight on his shoulders has been lifted. No more worrying about reining in his best--and most volatile--detective. No more smoothing the ruffled feathers of those in the DA's office who cautioned that Goren's methods were becoming erratic and troublesome.

And, best of all, no more refereeing between Goren and his temporary partner, a young detective named Lynn Bishop, who possessed good instincts and was an asset to Major Case, but was entirely ill-suited to working with Goren's type of mind. In fact, Deakins has learned in last few weeks that there is only one detective in his department--and probably the world--capable of working with Goren.

And today she's back.

Deakins realizes that he missed her while she was away. She possesses the ability to ground everyone around her, a trait that few possess. But what he really likes about her--and really missed--is her sense of humor. Hers is one that is finely tuned and razor-sharp, yet manages to always remain subtle--especially where her partner is concerned. Goren can be incredibly intimidating--Deakins himself sometimes feels the urge to back away when the detective is really on a roll and pushing one of his theories--but Eames isn't afraid of him. In fact, she never fails to seem amused by his behavior, and Deakins senses that this is one of the main keys to their successful pairing.

And if he missed her so much, Deakins can't even begin to imagine how Goren felt during her absence. The captain observed a few outward signs that his best detective wasn't himself--an increase in the speed of his already quick temper, a nervousness in his movements that made him look like a kid whose training wheels had just been taken away, and a general aura of being off-kilter. Yet these things only gave him an inkling into Goren's feelings on the matter--not that Deakins really has time or inclination to worry about Goren's feelings per se. After all, there are cases to be solved whether the department's resident genius is happy or not and solving cases are the captain's primary concern.

Still, right now Goren's feelings are an open book that anyone could read. Certainly, he's worried about the case they're working on--an up-and-coming fashion model was murdered, it would seem, by her strict Muslim father, for allowing herself to be photographed wearing very little--but right now he's in his element. What's more, for the first time in weeks, he looks truly confident.

Deakins can't help it--it's been too long since he's gotten to watch the Goren and Eames show, and this case is sure to have a surprise ending if the pursed lips of the concentrating detectives are any indication. He rises and walks over to their desks.

"Got anything new to tell me on the Anjali Fayed murder?" he asks nonchalantly, hands in his pockets as he gazes at the crime scene photos they've laid out before them. The strangled model's body lays twisted in an alley and Deakins feels the sort of twinge he's become accustomed to in his years on the job. A young life stolen. Not new, but tragic all the same.

Goren's head twitches in what appears to be a negative answer to the question. Eames, however, is the only one who speaks.

"Something's not adding up," she tells him ruefully. "We just can't figure out what it is."

"Who are your other suspects?" Deakins asks.

"The designer she worked for, Karlos Ramirez, and the photographer she dated until last month," Goren speaks now, his voice annoyed not with Deakins but with the situation. He doesn't like to be confused and Deakins suspects he doesn't like mysteries at all--which explains why he tends to unravel them so quickly.

"That's Karlos with a k for those of you playing at home," Eames adds, the little dig eliciting a smile from the captain. There's that wit he's missed.

"And I have a feeling our friend Karlos did it," Goren says, more to himself than to them. "I just can't prove it yet."

Eames looks up at Deakins and gives a slight smile. She's walked this road many times with her partner and her smile indicates that, like always, she has put on her hiking boots for this one. Her eyes are bright, though--radiant even--and Deakins knows she's happy to be back in her element too. This is what she does, the game she plays every day, and he knows she loves the challenge of it.

The pair returns their full attention to the information before them and Deakins feels himself slide into the background, which is right where he wants to be. He came simply to observe, to witness the magic that makes them the best team in his squad--the magic he's been missing lately. Cases are just cases when other detectives work on them, but Goren and Eames make them into entertainment.

"Look, let's go over what we know for sure," Eames suggests to Goren. She doesn't wait for him to answer before continuing: "Anjali was doing a photo shoot for Ramirez at his design studio the night she was killed. Her father stormed in, enraged, and they fought. Ramirez called the police and he was escorted from the building. They finished the shoot around 9:30..."

Goren jumps in now, picking up the storyline: "...and Ramirez takes her out for drinks at a nearby club. Do we know where the ex-boyfriend was at that time?"

Eames checks a nearby sheet of paper before replying, "He was doing a late shoot for Elle uptown."

"But he called her on her cell phone at 10:30," Goren reminds her, his left hand swinging back and forth on his wrist as he follows the span of time with a downward-pointed index finger.

"Right," Eames nods. "And then the story gets hazy--Ramirez says he took her home and went home himself but considering she ended up dead in an alley by his studio, something's wrong with that story."

"Her father drank himself into a stupor by 11:00 or so, right?" Goren asks her.

"Yeah, the bartender said he called him a cab after last call," Eames tells him.

"Which means he was far to uncoordinated to strangle her and then dump the body in the alley," Goren has begun directing his words to himself again.

"Right," Eames agrees anyway--but the next thing Deakins knows, she's in a flurry of motion, snapping up one of the crime scene photos and bringing it in for a closer look.

"What have you got?" Goren asks.

"I think we have our proof," a slow smile spreads across her face.

Deakins can feel the air between the two electrify--this moment of truth is what drives them and what makes watching them work so much fun.

"Let me see," Goren pulls her hand down so he can see the picture.

"There," she points to something on the body that Deakins can't quite make out. "See her bra strap peeking out from underneath her sweater? There's your proof."

Deakins is flummoxed--usually Goren's the one who uses tiny bits of seemingly-inconsequential information to make his case, things like corn pads on the feet of victims or a certain type of soap that scents a body. Coming from Eames, though, it's a surprise. Things are becoming very interesting indeed.

"A red bra is my proof?" Goren, too, is perplexed.

"She's wearing a blue sweater," Eames tells him, her tone implying that the truth should be obvious.

Deakins suddenly has an inkling of where she's headed, which he attributes to the education he's received as a married man, and he tries to hold back the smile that's threatening to creep across his face. Somehow he managed to forget the other thing he missed about Eames, that last characteristic that endears her to him and keeps the Goren and Eames show interesting: She loves nothing more than to needle Goren--just a little--whenever an opportunity presents itself--and chances like that are rare. The man is simply too smart much of the time to be pinned down; it's like trying to capture water in a sieve. Yet somehow Eames gets lucky enough to do it on a semi-regular basis and Deakins suspects it's those little checks to the detective's ego that keep them on equal footing with each other. All the police training in the world couldn't help Bishop do it, but Eames has a natural feel for just when to take Goren down a peg or two--like right now.

Goren stares at his partner dubiously.

She continues: "Look, she's wearing a red bra and a blue sweater together. Women don't do that--not if they can help it, anyway. If she put on a red bra when she got dressed, it was because she was planning to wear red with it. If she'd known she was going to wear blue, her bra would be blue. I bet if we go back and talk to that bartender at the club, he'll tell us that she was wearing red when she came in with Ramirez. The only reason her clothes were different when the body was discovered was because he killed her and then dressed the body in different clothes."

Goren swallows rapidly and pales a bit while Deakins stifles a chuckle. Score one for the comeback kid! She's not just back on duty, she's back with a vengeance and letting Goren know it. His ego has run unchecked for the last few weeks and it's suddenly run into a brick wall named Alex Eames.

Still, it's to the detective's credit that he doesn't give any sign that he's been one-upped; he simply picks up the new information and combines it with the theory already floating in his head.

"So let's say she's still wearing one of Ramirez's pieces when they go to the club," Goren says, his voice even. "He kills her and..."

It's Eames' turn to finish their mutual thought: "...takes back his clothes. Dead models don't really sell merchandise."

"It's still in his studio, then," Goren surmises, grabbing his battered notebook and scooping the case materials back inside. "He wouldn't just get rid of it--he's too proud for that."

"We should pay Karlos a visit," Eames walks over to her chair to grab her blazer.

They both look at Deakins, who reads their eyes with practiced ease.

"Go," he tells them. "I'll call Carver and you'll have a warrant by the time you get there."

He watches them depart, pulling on their jackets and still bantering all the way to the elevator. Deakins isn't sure exactly why he's still there and not back in his office, but something doesn't seem quite right. They managed to solve the case, but things seem unfinished somehow. He waits.

"So, uh, Eames," Goren begins as they wait for the elevator. "If women match their bras to their outfits..."

He trails off as the elevator arrives.

She glances at him, her expression knowing and a bit cocky.

"Purple," she says succinctly and gets into the elevator. Goren pauses for a few stunned seconds before joining her. The doors close on his surprised expression and her satisfied one.

Deakins can't hold it in anymore--he gives a short, quick laugh and claps his hands together for emphasis.

She's back, all right.

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