Captain Cragen, of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit, looked out across the bullpen. He mentally took attendance. Elliot and Olivia were there, and Monique Jeffries was in court this morning. This left John Munch and Brian Cassidy -- neither of whom was present, and neither of whom had called to say where exactly he was. Great. Two of his best detectives were AWOL. Just what he needed. He went back in to his office and slammed the door.
The missing detectives, meanwhile, were getting dressed after having just had mind-blowing sex. At least, Munch felt as if his mind had been blown, along with other parts of his body. He'd just had sex with his partner -- his very male, very much younger partner. Okay, it wasn't as if he'd never had sex with a guy before. When he was in college it had seemed to be the 'done' thing to swing both ways. But that had been a long time ago, before his father had died and Munch had made the decision to become a cop. And none of that changed the fact that 1) Brian was his partner and 2) Brian was a lot younger than he was.
Said younger partner came up behind him and put his arms around him. Brian kissed his neck. "Why so serious this morning?" he asked.
"Nothing," John answered.
"Well, lighten up. You were fantastic, by the way."
John couldn't believe that he was blushing. "Uh, thanks. You were.... You were great too."
"Oh, man, my clothes are a mess," Brian groaned.
"You want me to take you home so you can get something else? I'm afraid my clothes won't fit you."
"Nah, we're late already. I'll just have to hope Cragen doesn't want us to talk to anyone important today. Next time, I'll make sure to bring some clean clothes with me."
'Next time?' Munch thought to himself. 'Oh, shit. The kid thinks there's going to be a next time.'
Brian caught the look on his partner's face -- sort of a "deer caught in the headlights" look. "John, I told you last night I don't do one-night stands. You knew that."
"Brian...." Munch started, then realized he didn't have any idea what he wanted to say.
"Oh, man, I don't fucking believe you! You knew I don't do casual sex. I told you right up front. How could you do what we just did and then expect me to run along like a good little boy and never mention it again?"
"Brian, look at me. I'm on the wrong side of fifty. My track record does not support long-term relationships. I've been married and divorced four times - the last time before the ink was even dry on the marriage certificate! What do you expect from me?"
John thought the kid was going to start to cry. "John - I love you," Cassidy said in a voice barely above a whisper.
"You don't love me, Bri. Maybe you have some sort of hero worship thing going on. We're friends, we're partners, and we had great sex. That doesn't add up to love."
"I love you," Brian said again, more firmly this time.
"Brian, I don't love you," Munch replied.
Brian finished dressing without another word. "I'll wait for you at the car," he finally said, leaving the apartment and slamming the door behind him.
The ride to work took place in complete silence. When John stopped the car, Brian was out of the door almost before John had turned off the ignition. Munch sighed. This was going to be a hell of a day.
Cragen saw Brian Cassidy storm in to the squadroom, followed by his partner. Cassidy looked angry, but he also looked as if he were trying not to burst in to tears at any moment. Munch was obviously trying to avoid him, which was kind of hard to do since they worked side by side. Brian's clothes looked as if they'd been slept in. It was hard not to draw certain conclusions. The two men were both late, and both arrived at the same time. They were not getting along. Cassidy wore the same clothes he'd worn yesterday.
Munch and Cassidy? Nah. Impossible. Cragen mentally shook himself. "Glad you finally decided to join us, gentlemen," he said to the detectives. "The Simpson case needs attention." Munch muttered something inaudible and Cassidy sullenly said, "Yes, sir."
Munch tried to concentrate on his paperwork. He had hoped that now he had actually slept with Brian, he could get all the thoughts that had been distracting him from his work out of his head. Unfortunately, the opposite seemed to be true. He kept thinking of Brian's body stretched out beneath him in bed, Brian's head as he moved down to take John's cock in his mouth, the sounds Brian made as he came in his partner's arms. Shit. At this rate, his trousers weren't going to fit very well. He tried thinking of his ex-wives. There, that was better.
When Brian got up to retrieve something from his locker, he found himself face to face with Olivia Benson. "Are you okay, Brian?" she asked.
Cassidy laughed humorlessly. "What do you care?" he asked. "I seem to recall that you decided you didn't want to be part of my life."
Olivia put a hand on his arm. "Just because I don't want to date you doesn't mean I don't care about you, Brian. I'm your friend."
"Let me give you some advice, Olivia, friend to friend," Brian told her. "Don't ever sleep with your partner."
"Elliot? Of course I wouldn't sleep with him. He's married."
"Actually, just don't sleep with anyone you work with. Not me, or Elliot, or Monique, and especially not Munch."
Olivia pushed thoughts of the attractive Detective Monique Jeffries out of her head and turned back to Cassidy. "Brian - did you sleep with John?"
"No, Olivia, I didn't sleep with John. I fucked John. And after I fucked him, he fucked me over. Sorta like you did, Liv. 'Oh, the sex was great but I don't want to see you again. But we can still be friends and still work together like nothing ever happened.' "
Olivia frowned. "I'm sorry that happened to you again, Brian. Maybe cops just shouldn't have affairs with other cops."
"But who can understand what a cop goes through every day on the job better than another cop? I don't think this has anything to do with John being a cop. I think he's just a coward. He had sex with another man, and it freaked him out."
"I don't know what to say, Brian," Olivia said sadly.
Brain smiled slightly. "Well, it's kind of nice to know you care, Liv."
Olivia patted his shoulder. "I do care, Brian. Take care of yourself."
Munch looked up and saw Brian with Olivia. She was patting him on the shoulder. 'Great,' thought Munch. 'He sleeps with me, then he flirts with Benson. So much for 'no casual sex.''
"Munch! Cassidy!" the Captain called across the squad room. The two detectives looked up.
"Suspect in the Simpson case has been spotted in an apartment on Thirty-third. Go get him and bring him in," Cragen ordered. The two detectives complied wordlessly.
In spite of their differences, Munch and Cassidy did work well together. In no time at all they had found their suspect and were knocking on the door of his apartment. "Police! Open up!" Munch yelled. Of course, there was no answer.
Munch stepped back and kicked the door open. He and Cassidy entered the apartment, guns drawn. John thought he saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and he turned toward it. Suddenly the suspect was directly in front of him, gun pointed squarely at the middle of his chest. "Put your gun down, cop," said the man.
What happened next was so fast, Munch wasn't certain exactly what had taken place. Munch started to lower his gun. The suspect fired. Cassidy jumped in front of Munch and took the bullet. John lifted his gun and fired two shots directly in to the perp. When the smoke cleared, the gunman was dead, and Brian was lying bleeding on the floor. Munch grabbed his cell phone and called an ambulance, then turned to his partner. Trying to stop his hands from trembling, he removed his jacket, folded it and placed it under the younger man's head. "You'll be okay, kid. I called for a bus. You'll be okay. Just hang on, all right?" Inwardly, he was cursing himself. He should have seen the man coming. That bullet was meant for him. Brian had saved his life. Not only that, Brian had saved his life at the risk of his own. The kid must really love him.
Brian coughed. "Hey kid, you're awake," said Munch in relief. "How do you feel?"
"Like I just got shot," croaked Cassidy. "What happened?"
"You saved my life," Munch said simply.
"Oh. Bad move," replied Brian.
"God knows I don't deserve it," said the detective.
"John, I did it because I love you. I told you this morning that I love you. You didn't believe me, but it's true."
"I believe you now, but you didn't have to go to such extremes to prove it," snarled Munch.
Brian tried to shrug, but the pain in his shoulder stopped him. "Whatever works," he said.
"I love you." It was true. He did love his partner. He'd tried to deny it, and he'd flat-out lied to the kid earlier and said he didn't. But he did.
"Really?" asked Cassidy.
Brian closed his eyes. "Good," he said. Then he was unconscious again.
An ambulance arrived to take Cassidy to the hospital and another to transport the suspect's body to the morgue. A shooting team arrived to question Munch and view the crime scene. It was some time before John was able to get to the hospital to see his partner. Cragen was just coming out of Cassidy's room when he arrived.
"Captain," said Munch. "How's the kid?"
"He'll be okay. John, I understand he took a bullet for you."
"Yeah, he did. Crazy kid."
The Captain looked Munch up and down. "I don't know what he sees in you, John. I really don't." With that, Cragen left, and Munch stood staring after him with his mouth open. "He knows?" John asked the empty hallway.
Brian looked up and smiled when his partner entered the room. John leaned down and kissed him. "How you feeling, Bri?"
"Better now that you're here," answered Cassidy.
"Brian, please don't do anything like that again."
"Like what?" Brian asked in confusion.
"Like putting yourself in the line of fire to protect my ass," replied Munch.
"I like your ass," answered his partner. "John, I did that because I love you. I said it before, and I'll say it again. I love you, and I would take another bullet for you in a heartbeat."
Munch sighed. "I love you too, Bri. This is just going to take some getting used to, okay? Me and you being - together."
"Lovers," stated Brian.
"Lovers," repeated Munch.
He liked that word.