Zoni tells us she "lives in (big surprise) Arizona and loathes New York." No matter how she feels about the city itself, she certainly likes some fictional New Yorkers. This story is a KorPick and highly recommended.
Lennie Briscoe glanced up as Mike Logan finally came back from lunch. "Nice of you to remember us."
There was no response. Logan wore one of those half-frowning, gnawing-the-lip, I'm-gonna-figure-this-out-if-it-kills-me expressions that meant nothing short of a hydrogen bomb up his ass would get his attention. Lennie believed in Irish Instincts about as deeply as he believed in leprechauns, but he had to admit that this particular expression on his partner's face usually presaged some brilliant insight into a case. So he let Mike alone.
Until, after some rocking back and forth in his desk chair and much twisting of the ring on his hand, Logan said, "One of your daughters is a nurse, right? What's her phone number?"
Lennie put down his pen. "Don't even go there."
"No, I mean it, Lennie. Which one? Cathy? Julia?"
"Cathy. And I repeat -- don't go there."
"Don't go where?"
"Anywhere, with either of my girls."
Hazel eyes blinked. Then a slow grin spread across Mike's face. "Don't break out the shotgun, Pop, my intentions are strictly professional."
"Yeah?" he asked skeptically.
Palms lifted in surrender. "I promise, I won't lay a finger on her."
"Your fingers aren't all that won't get laid," Lennie shot back. "What d'you want Cathy's number for?"
Mike leaned back in his chair, feet propped atop the file folders he was supposed to be working on. "Professional question, like I said."
Lennie arched his brows, waiting.
"I don't want to play doctor with her, honest."
"Why the hell not?" he growled.
Logan snorted with laughter. "Geeze, Lennie, make up your mind! I like Cathy -- she's great, she's beautiful, she's wonderful -- and she ain't my type."
"Yeah -- she's got a brain. Why do you want her phone number?"
All humor vanished. "Because I need some medical information and I don't want to go to a hospital or doctor's office for it. I need somebody I can ask some pretty tough questions, and I want it to be somebody I can talk to, y'know?"
"You got the clap or something?"
"No, I don't 'got the clap or something,'" he snarled. "I'm askin' for a friend, okay?"
Size thirteen shoes thudded back down onto the floor as Mike righted himself in his chair and hauled a stack of folders toward him. "Forget I said anything."
Briscoe waited a moment, then said, "You're serious about this."
"Forget it," he repeated.
Lennie dug in a pocket for his wallet, took out a piece of paper, and copied off one of the numbers listed there. He tossed the note at his partner.
"Thanks," was all Mike said.
"For your 'friend.'"
Elizabeth Olivet was almost as surprised by the invitation as she was intrigued. Mike Logan had taken her to breakfast or lunch several times, never admitting that this was his way of checking up on how she was doing after...after. But this time he'd asked her to dinner -- at Mi Piace, no less -- and she didn't quite know what to make of it.
Still, she agreed to meet him on Friday night at eight, wondering at odd moments during the week why he was wasting his hard-earned salary on a dinner he knew wouldn't go anywhere. She'd pegged Mike Logan the first time she'd seen him: self-proclaimed stud with a reputation that, unlike his ego, was definitely not overinflated. Whatever adjustments she'd had to make in her estimations of him as a cop and a human being, as a Man (with a distinct capital M), she'd been on target.
She dressed carefully, amused by her impulse to look her best when dining at a classy bistro with a good-looking man. Dark blue silk dress, pearls, a spritz of Chanel No. 5 (she'd thrown away the bottle of Eternity after...after), hair loose and curled, a bit more make-up than she would ever wear to the office -- she surveyed the results of her efforts and was pleased. Now, if only Logan didn't show up in one of those regrettable plaid ties....
He was waiting for her outside the restaurant, and he smiled when she got out of the cab. "Nice to see you in civilian clothes, Doc."
"You too, Detective."
He wore a dark green shirt with the collar undone, tweed sports jacket, and black slacks -- not a hint of plaid anywhere. But as he held the door for her, she realized that the plaid ties vanished whenever he was feeling solemn. Whenever there was something serious going on.
Closely as she watched him while they ordered dinner, she could find no clue as to what the trouble was. He told her Phil Ceretta recommended the manicotti and the veal picatta, but stay away from the osso buco. He chose the wine, tasted judiciously when the sommelier presented it for his approval, and nodded acceptance. He poured olive oil into the little plate provided and tore the steaming fresh bread into dipping chunks. He made sure her glass was refilled when she'd drained it, and rose to retrieve her napkin from the floor when it slid off her slippery silk skirt. He did everything a well-mannered gentleman ought to do when dining with a lady at a fine restaurant.
It made her antsy as all hell.
As they waited for their meal, he talked about music. When the manicotti arrived, he was asking about her family. During dinner, he told her about last Sunday at Marie Greevey's -- an account that had her giggling and wishing she'd been there to see Marie's face upon realizing Matthew had persuaded his five-year-old sister Caroline to give the cat a bubble bath.
Plates were cleared, and she put her napkin on the table, glancing around for the ladies' room. Mike held up a finger to stop her, saying, "Hang on, the waiter's coming with the dessert menu -- d'you want cappuccino or espresso?"
She settled in her chair. She could wait; the pleasure of Mike Logan's company, and the story he immediately began to tell, was worth a little discomfort.
He coaxed her into sharing a plate of profiteroles. "I can't leave an Italian restaurant without 'em -- blame it on Phil -- but if I have any more than two it'll be rabbit-food lunches and running an extra mile every morning for a week."
"Okay, I'll have one -- but only in the interests of your boyish figure," she teased.
"You're too sweet to me," he grinned.
And you're being much too sweet to a woman you know very well you aren't going to get into bed. Come on, Logan, out with it.
But all he did was argue her into a second profiterole. Then he paid the bill without a flinch, and took her back outside and hailed a cab.
"Thanks, Mike. This was nice," she said sincerely, hiding her suspicions -- and a little ashamed of them. Maybe he'd just wanted a good dinner with a woman he didn't have to impress.
"No problem, Liz." A cab pulled to a stop, and he held the door for her -- and then got in beside her.
"Your place or hers, buddy?" the driver asked.
Mike arched a brow at her.
She felt herself blushing -- ridiculous, and thank God the cab was dark. "Mine," she said evenly, and gave the address.
Logan leaned back in the seat, trying unsuccessfully to sprawl long legs. If she'd expected him to make the first moves of the traditional dance, he seemed dedicated to surprising her.
"Good wine -- but I'm fuzzier than I thought," he said.
"Are you turning into a cheap drunk in your old age? I thought the Irish could drink everybody under the table."
"Not after five sixteen-hour days in a row," he said. "And whaddya mean, 'old age'?"
"Beware of fluorescent lighting, Mike," she retorted. "It shows every gray hair -- even when there aren't that many."
"Aw, hell -- Grecian Formula in my future? No, thanks." Blowing out a long sigh, he shut his eyes. "I had a good time tonight, Liz. Relaxing."
"For me, too," she admitted. "It's good to go out with a man who's a friend, and know there's not going to be a wrestling match."
One hazel eye popped open, amusement glinting. "What makes you think I ever have to wrestle?"
Now he was back in character, and she repressed a sigh for the mature, civilized Mike Logan she'd dined with this evening. She was on the verge of telling him to muzzle his machismo and put it back on its leash when the cab stopped outside her building.
Logan paid, tipped, and joined her on the stoop.
She got out her key. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Seeing a lady to her door."
"This is my door."
"Her apartment door." He seemed unfazed by her implication.
"It's not necessary."
"I don't think so," she said firmly, and slid her key into the lock. She wished to God he'd just go. The pressure was building up inside her again.
"I did learn some manners growing up, y'know," he chastised gently. "How to treat a lady, all like that."
"Do you think I can't take care of myself?" She heard the sharpness of her own voice, and the me-watching-me part of her wanted to know why she was mad at him. For intruding on her private space? For categorizing her as Helpless Female? For maybe wanting to bed her -- or maybe not wanting to bed her? Or for her own total inability (so much for your Psych Ph.D., Elizabeth) to analyze his motives and intentions?
"I think anybody who tangles with you is nuts," Logan said quietly. "Just let me see you upstairs, Liz. Okay?"
Because she felt guilty for snapping at him, she grudgingly allowed him to accompany her up the single flight to her apartment.
"My door," she said, gesturing. "Or do you want to come inside and make sure there's nobody hiding behind the arras?"
He grinned. "'Dead for a ducat, dead!'" When her eyes widened, he said, "Sister Mary Joseph, eleventh-grade Shakespeare class. She packed a mean ruler."
She was ashamed of herself. It was unworthy of her -- and an insult to him -- to have brought out the stiletto labeled I Have A Doctorate And You Don't. And how like him not only to have deftly avoided it, but not turned it back on her.
"Come in, then," she said. "I've got some brandy somewhere, I think. Or would you like coffee?"
"Brandy sounds just about perfect."
She was relieved; the liquor cabinet was in the living room, and this way, as she poured, she could watch him make his inspection. He had once again reverted to form, only now he was The Detective: ambling casually about, peering at the books on their shelves and the CDs in their wooden tower, the photos of her family, the small abstract sculpture on the coffee table and the bronze Egyptian cat on the windowsill. He paused at the intricately woven square of Guatemalan wool on the wall.
"This is beautiful," he said.
"I like touchable art," she told him.
The brandies were poured; she waited for him to come collect his. He didn't, examining instead the tall terra cotta pithoi on either side of the balcony doors. She sat on the couch, scrunching into a corner with her shoes off and legs curled beneath her, and wondered what the hell was going on here.
At last he turned, caught sight of the brandy, and joined her on the couch. Not too close, yet not very far away, either. As if he'd been waiting for her to choose a seat so he could choose one as near her as possible -- but without being threatening. She had never been so confused by a man in her life.
Sigmund, you Male Chauvinist Prick, you were absolutely wrong. It's not "What do women want?", it's "What the hell do men want?" Besides the obvious -- which is emphatically not what's going on here, or I'll turn in my license and move to Alaska and carve soapstone totems for a living --
She watched Mike sip brandy. She sipped at her own. He got through his faster than she got through hers, which told her he was fortifying himself for something. They set their glasses down at the same time. She started to get up. "Excuse me for a --"
Long fingers closed around her wrist. Gently. Definitively. "No, Liz."
"Mike -- to be indelicate about it --"
"No," he repeated, looking at her with eyes gone dark.
"I need to --"
"No, you don't." He wouldn't relinquish her gaze. "You're not goin' into the bathroom to do what we both know you're intending to do."
"What's that?" she snapped. "Pee?"
He said nothing. Just looked at her.
"Mike, I have to --"
"No. You don't. You're gonna sit right here and we can talk or just drink or whatever you like, but you're not goin' in there to throw up."
She gasped and flinched. His hand held her fast.
"You know what I bet I'd find if I went through your bathroom cabinets?"
"What are you talking ab --"
"I can give you the whole pharmaceutical list of the stuff you probably use when a finger down your throat won't work. Shall we go in there and check?"
"Let me go," she said, deadly quiet.
"You think nobody noticed? You think clothes can hide what you been doin' to yourself?" His voice was soft, brutal. "Claire and I fought over who was gonna confront you. I won. This is called an 'intervention,' or so I'm told. I talked to a nurse, and she asked a couple of doctors, and told me a few things. Depending on how you behaved tonight, it was either anorexia or bulimia. You ate dinner just fine, so -- bulimia. I didn't let you leave the table at Mi Piace, and I'm not gonna let you leave this room until you admit what's goin' on."
"Which might be?" she asked icily. "In your expert opinion, of course -- and just exactly where did you get your degree in psychiatry? Or is it medicine?"
He ignored her anger. "You've been hurting ever since that bastard raped you. That's a long, long time to --"
"I'll be carrying it around for the rest of my life!"
"I know," he nodded. "But it's crushing you, Liz. Look, I know you're a shrink. I know you're seein' a shrink. So look at it, Doctor Olivet."
His grip on her shifted to enfold her hand in both of his. He was so warm -- and she was suddenly so cold, all the blood in her veins congealing like an ice-clogged river.
"You feel like you don't have any control over anything, right? How you feel, what happens to you -- like that needle he used on you is waitin' behind every corner. So you control the one thing you feel you can. Your body."
"What gives you the right --"
"I give me the right," was the reply -- goddamned arrogant bastard, stupid self-important delusional Man --
Pride prevented her from struggling to get away from him. "Stop it, Logan. You're way out of line and you don't know what you're talking about."
"You're punishing yourself," he insisted. "What for, Liz? Getting raped? Or because it wasn't you all by yourself who put him away? Because you couldn't get him on your own, you needed help to do it -- my help, Phil's, Ben's, Paul's, all those other women he --"
"God damn you, Logan -- let me go!"
"No," he replied simply, relentlessly. And drew her into his arms.
She did struggle then, but he was tall and powerful and determined --
--and so gentle, his arms so warm, his big hands soothing her -- and it would be so easy to curl into his strength and be soothed --
She fought. He kept her captive as easily as if she were a child in the midst of a tantrum.
"C'mon, honey. You know I'm right."
"You're a beautiful woman, Lizzie," he murmured against her hair. "I'm selfish enough to want to keep lookin' at a beautiful woman. Right now -- lookin' at you hurts. Did you think that maybe if you weren't so beautiful anymore, nothin' like that would ever happen again?"
Her breath caught on a sob, humiliating her.
"Shh," he whispered, rocking her tenderly in his arms. "It's okay, honey, it's okay. Remember what you taught me? That I had to forgive myself? You gotta do that, too. Please, Lizzie. Nobody wants to lose you."
Me-watching-me observed that she was clinging to him now. Crying. She'd been wondering when she'd finally break apart, break open, and weep until her eyes dried up and her soul withered and blew away, and there'd be nothing left of her --
Mike leaned back into the sofa cushions, taking her with him, holding her, rocking her, smoothing her hair. "You can be so wise," he said softly. "I don't think anybody else coulda done for me what you did after Max died, and when Phil got shot. You and your triple-digit IQ," he teased softly, and she felt a sudden laugh mix itself into the sobs. "Apply a little wisdom to yourself, huh? And some compassion. You can do it, Lizzie. I'm here, and so's Claire, and everybody who cares about you."
Part of her knew what he was doing -- talking her through the hurricane, the words unimportant, their content secondary to the low, steady solace of his voice. She discovered as exhaustion spread through her and the crying finally eased that she didn't much care that she knew exactly what he was doing, as long as he kept on doing it.
He'd adopted a gently chiding tone now. "You're worth too much to too many people, honey, and that asshole isn't worth a single tear from those gorgeous blue eyes. How come you tried to do this to somebody I need, huh? Who else is gonna smack me down with a few well-chosen words when I deserve it? You know what a fuck-up I am. C'mon, Lizzie, what would I do without you?"
At last she could breathe again without the air catching in her throat. Sagging against his solid strength, she allowed herself simply to be for a time. Then, lifting her head from his tear-sodden jacket, she blinked up at him.
"For a psychologist," she managed, "you're a pretty good detective."
He smiled at the deliberate reversal, then pressed his lips to her forehead.
She turned her cheek to a dry place on the prickly tweed, then burrowed her face into the soft cotton of his shirt. "I'm sorry, Mike. It should never have gotten this far. I don't know why --"
"Stop psychologicalizing yourself." Muscular arms squeezed a little, cautious of her fragility and his own strength. "Just get help, okay? Please?"
She nodded, and felt the breath sigh out of him.
After a long, silent while, he said, "Liz?"
"Mmm?" Drowsy; warm; forever since she'd been warm enough -- part of her illness, she recognized that now, along with the sleeplessness and the irritability and the cessation of her menses, which alone should've told her something was terribly, terribly wrong. But she was beginning to understand why she'd been so goddamned blind to it all.
How amazing that Mike Logan had been the one to open her eyes.
"Mmm." This was better than warm. This was safe.
"You'll laugh," he warned.
"I could use a laugh about now."
"Well...I don't think I shoulda had that brandy."
She raised her head again, frowning her puzzlement.
He was grinning from ear to ear. "Liz, honey, I really have to pee!"
She howled with laughter. Her ribs hurt, her cheeks ached, tears streamed from her eyes.
"It's not that funny!" he protested, and got up and strode with alacrity toward the hall.
She'd been wrong about what would happen when she finally cried. She hadn't withered up; tears were still there, streaming from her eyes as he called out with real anguish in his voice, "Where the hell is it?"
"Th-third door -- on the -- the r-right!" she yelled, collapsing onto the couch and holding her aching sides as laughter -- not hysteria, just honest, irresistible giggles -- overcame her again.
He hadn't yet returned before something else overcame her, and she slumped gratefully into the sofa, and fell soundly, dreamlessly asleep for the first time in much too long.