Disclaimers and warnings: These characters are not mine; they belong to Dick Wolf and I am only using them for fun, not for profit. Please don't hurt me. This story is rated NC-17 for adult themes and sexual content. Parts of the series also touch lightly on child abuse and its potential aftermaths, so please take that into consideration before reading if this makes you uncomfortable.

***Warning: Character death story***

The "By the Light of the Moon" series is set in the Law & Order universe, and has relationships including Logan/Stone, Logan/McCoy, and (I apologize for anyone made queasy by the idea of heterosexual relationships) a bit of McCoy/Kincaid.

For this series, I am altering the timeline just a bit, as a warning. The events that led to Mike getting sent away from the 27th are not going to happen, so Logan will continue to be Briscoe's partner for the duration. I apologize to all Rey Curtis fanatics (which I happen to be one of, as well), but I just need more time with Logan.

This is the third part of the series, and begins right after the sixth season episode "Aftershock."

Permission granted to archive at http://members.tripod.com/wtnsslist

Any comments, questions, or criticism can be sent to bwebb@frontierz.com

Chapter Two - Oceanus Procellarum

Ocean of Storms

by Barbara J. Webb

Jack carefully poured himself another round of Scotch. He had to be careful - his hands had started to lose their steadiness two drinks ago, and he was trying not to spill anything on the now blurring pile of papers on his desk.

He heard the door open, noticed Adam standing in the doorway in his peripheral vision, but did not look up. For a long while, the District Attorney stood there saying nothing as Jack sipped at his drink. He had stopped slamming them back about half the bottle ago, and was now drowning in alcohol at a much more reasonable clip.

"You should go home." Adam's rough voice was full of compassion, but Jack waved him off.

"Go home yourself, Adam. Can't you see I'm working?"

"You're not doing any sort of work I want done in my office." Adam set his bag down in the doorway and came over to the desk, taking the chair across from Jack. "You got another glass in there?"

Jack nodded and retrieved one from his bottom drawer, but Adam took the bottle from his hand before he could pour, apparently not trusting to Jack's ability. "I thought I told you to take some time off."

"And do what?" Jack's voice was shaking nearly as badly as his hands, and he snapped his mouth shut, trying to dredge up some self control through the haze of Scotch.

"I don't know. But - and I'm sorry for saying this - the DA's office isn't here to be therapy. Right now, every single one of your cases could be better handled by someone else, and I'm not going to let you prosecute them badly just to take your mind off things."

"Things. Claire's dead - is that a thing, Adam?"

Jack couldn't meet Adam's eyes. In them was that look of pity that Jack hated more than anything else, that look that seemed to be on everyone's face when he was there. "She isn't dead, just-"

"Just in a coma the doctor's say she'll probably never wake up from."

Adam nodded, refilling both Jack's glass and his own. "True."

"You know what's really bad about this?" Jack noticed idly that the bottle was nearly empty. That was too bad. He wasn't completely insensible yet, and he'd been hoping for that.

"Tell me."

"There's no place I can go that's not...her. She was there for every part of my life, and now there's nowhere that doesn't make me think she should be there."

Adam took a drink, considering. "Workplace relationships." Adam was still sober enough to be able to communicate both his compassion and his disapproval in those two simple words, and Jack was just drunk enough he couldn't find the energy to protest.

"Go home, Jack. I don't care what you do, just stop doing it in my office. Take a week. I don't want to see you in here tomorrow." Adam set his glass down and stood up tiredly. He stopped in the doorway, picking up his bag. "And take a cab."

Jack knew the difference between Adam's suggestions and Adam's orders, and could recognize when he shouldn't push it. He'd go home and take the time off like Adam told him. He didn't really think any less about Claire here than he did there, and destroying cases they'd both worked hard on wasn't going to make anybody feel any better.

And he did take a cab.



"You about done, Mike?"

Mike waved his partner away. "Go on ahead, Lennie, I'm just finishing up here."

But Briscoe didn't leave, instead hovering over Mike's shoulder. "What are you working on?"

"Nothing. Just finishing up this report."

"Leave if for Monday. C'mon, I'll buy you a drink."

"And here I didn't think I was your type."

Briscoe sighed heavily. "Mike-"

"Leave me alone, Lennie. I'm fine, okay? Get off my back." Mike kept his eyes glued to the page, refusing to look up at his partner. "Some other time maybe." He tried to write something, fill in the blanks, but the page was as half done now as it had been an hour ago, and Lennie was probably completely cognizant of that fact. He was a detective of the NYPD, after all.

Lennie took Mike's pen out of his hand. "Hey-"

"Come on. You're done, Mike. Go home, go out, just get out of here."

"You're not my baby sitter."

"Someone needs to be." Lennie held out Mike's jacket to him.

Mike grabbed it out of Lennie's hand, shoved his way into it. "Fuck you, Briscoe," he snarled.

"Just trying to help."

"Who asked you to? I keep telling you, I'm fine." Mike stalked from the squad room, slamming the door between himself and his partner.

He kept telling Lennie he was fine, and Van Buren he was fine, and Cragen he was fine, and every other damn idiot at the 27th who was convinced he suddenly needed handling with kid gloves because of Claire. He wished they'd all get over it; obviously they were the ones with the problems, and they needed to stop taking it out on Mike. Just because everyone else was out crying in their beers didn't mean Mike had to be.

Mike was fine; Mike was great. Just fucking spiffy.

Claire-

It didn't matter. It happened. Bad things happened to good people, and life went on. First thing you learned as a cop. That was life. Sure, it sucked, but that was life.

So Mike was going out, and he was going to have fun. He wasn't going to go sit in a bar and get maudlin with Lennie; he wasn't going to go home, sit in the corner and mope. No, he was going to go out and enjoy his Friday night.



Friday night, and Jack sat alone in his apartment. An open book sat in his lap; he was halfway through it, and only barely aware of what it was he was reading. Some glossy covered John Grisham novel that had been placed prominently in the grocery store check-out lane. It had gotten too dark to read nearly an hour ago, and after straining his eyes a good ten minutes longer than he should, he had just put the book down and watched the last of the light fade from outside.

"You're pathetic, McCoy." Wednesday night, Adam had sent him home, and he had five more days to go of his enforced vacation. Thursday he'd woken up with a monstrous hangover - even he wasn't used to getting as drunk as he had Wednesday night - and had spent most of the day feeling sorry for himself. Thursday night had been spent in a similar state as Wednesday, only sitting at the bar in his kitchen rather than his desk at the office. This morning he'd dragged himself out of the house, shopped for groceries, rented a couple movies, then come home and washed dishes: simple mundanities of life.

The rest of the day had dragged. Jack wasn't good with spare time. He was saving the movies for later that night, when the most desperate boredom hit. About four-thirty he'd broken down and started the book he really had no interest in reading.

None of it was really keeping his mind off Claire. If she'd been here, she would have said he was being stupid. Oh not in those words, of course, Claire never came right out and called him an idiot, even when he knew that was what she was thinking. She'd say he wasn't helping anyone by getting drunk and feeling sorry for himself. She'd be right.

But that knowledge wasn't enough to get him out of this chair quite yet. He reached over to turn on a lamp, and went back to fighting his way through his book.



Mike took a gulping breath of the cool New York night air, letting the door of the bar swing shut behind him. He leaned back against the wall, taking a moment to let his head clear from the noise, the smoke, the press of people. The third bar he'd been to tonight, and the third one he'd left alone. Plenty of offers, but none had been at all appetizing.

He wandered down to the subway, trying to decide where to go next. So much for an exciting night out on the town. People just seemed to be either particularly obnoxious or unbelievably boring tonight. He'd almost started a fight in the second bar, just for something interesting to do, but the other guy's friends had still been fairly sober and had dragged their friend away from Mike before it had gotten too serious.

Someone jostled into Mike on the platform - a large black man - and Mike shoved back. "Get the fuck out of my way." The guy turned on him, but seemed to see something on Mike's face that made him think twice, and backed down. Mike pushed his way onto the first train he saw without even stopping to look at what line he was on. Leave it to luck.

But Mike was fine. Just fine.

Mike waited three stops, then got off, reconnoitering as he got back up to the street. As though he could ever lose himself in New York. This was his home, it was in his blood. It was going to take more than random subway rides to really distract him from-

From nothing.

He could find another bar, a room full of more empty faces, empty heads, empty lives. Or he could just give up on finding any sort of distracting entertainment and go home. Mike just couldn't get excited about either of those alternatives.

So maybe it was time to find a third option.



Jack jerked awake, sending the book that had fallen to his chest sliding to the floor. At first, he wasn't completely sure what had woken him up, but then the rapping at his door was repeated. Glancing over at the grandfather clock, he saw that it was well past midnight, and wondered who could possibly be bothering him at this hour.

He raked his fingers back through his hair and went to the door. Mike Logan was there, just turning away. "Mike?"

"Hi." Mike's expression was that blank poker face he did so well, but Jack could see a mirror of his own pain in Mike's eyes. "I saw your light was on and didn't think you'd be asleep."

"I wasn't. Well, I was, but not so I minded being disturbed." Jack moved to the side, managing to find a genuine smile for the detective. "Please, come in."

Mike stepped in, took a quick glance around the room, kicked the door shut behind him, then grabbed Jack and dragged him forward into a kiss. Jack was surprised, and at first couldn't do anything but stand there as Mike's lips covered his, but the feel of Mike's body pressing against his and Mike's fingers digging into his shoulders broke the paralysis of surprise. Bringing his own arms up, Jack buried the fingers of one hand in Mike's bushy hair as the nails of his other hand dragged down the back of Mike's shirt. He ground his hips against Mike's just as Mike's lips parted to admit Jack's pressing tongue.

Mike drew in a long breath as he pulled his head back. "So I wasn't interrupting anything?"

At this precise moment, Jack couldn't think of anything - ever - that was more important than Mike's hands on his arms, Mike's chest warming his own. "No, I promise, this is no interruption."

"Good." Mike leaned in to catch Jack's lips again, and Jack willingly returned to the deep kiss. He pushed Mike back against the door, ravaging Mike's mouth with his tongue. Mike's hands moved down to Jack's waist, untucking his shirt. Mike's hands were hot against his skin as they moved up his back, making Jack feel more awake and alive than he had in days. This was just what the doctor ordered to help take Jack's mind off Claire - a hot, horny Mike Logan in his arms.

One small part of Jack's brain - the part that often bandied around words like unethical and prosecutorial misconduct - kept trying to spiritually tap him on the shoulder, to put forth that maybe this wasn't the best of ideas. Despite all rumors to the contrary, Mike was probably as broken up about Claire as Jack was, and might not be doing this for all the right reasons.

But Jack had stopped believing in right reasons somewhere between the bar exam and here, and had stopped listening to that part of his mind not long after. People did what they did, and if what they were doing was right, then fuck the reason. Mike's leg in between his, Mike's fingers tracing his spine, the slightly rough feel of the collar of Mike's shirt scraping against Jack's neck: all these things were right. Mike was an adult, had come to Jack's home and had kissed him in the doorway - no jury in the world could convict Jack of taking advantage of Mike.

"Bedroom." Jack pulled at Mike's arm, steering him in the correct direction. Mike followed, his eyes making a quick scan around the room - a cop's reflex.

"This is where you live?" There was a snort of amusement in the words. A wave of the detective's hand took in everything - the books lying in every direction on the overstuffed shelves, the desk so cluttered its surface couldn't be seen, the sparse furniture that only barely filled the small room.

"If you want, we can sit here and discuss my living habits, or we could skip the small talk and go straight to the sex."

Mike flashed a smile that could have convinced a nun to break her vows. "Who's talking? Was I talking?" A hand on the side of Jack's face pulled his mouth back over to Mike's, causing Jack to stumble back. Mike pushed his shoulders back and stepped closer, squeezing Jack between Mike and the wall. Mike's mouth once again covered Jack's, sucked his breath away. Planting his hands on Mike's ass, Jack pulled the detective as close against him as he possibly could.

Mike sucked in a gasp as his cloth-covered erection pressed against Jack's. His hips ground in a circle, sending ripples of heat all through Jack's body. "Oh yeah, Mike." Jack worked his hands down inside Mike's clothing, squeezing Mike's bare ass. "Come on."

This time, they made it back to the bedroom before becoming entangled again and managed to hit the bed when they fell. Jack was half on top of Mike, his palms flat on the bed on either side of Mike's head, his legs entwined with the detective's. Mike's back was arched, his body pressed up against Jack's. Jack kicked off his loafers, working his bare toes up into Mike's pant legs.

They both had way too many clothes on for Jack's continued sanity. Foreplay was all well and good, but Jack was ready to move on to some serious sexual contact. Mike tilted up his head and sucked Jack's lower lip into his mouth. "Mike...Mike."

"What?"

Jack grinned at the snapped response; it was good to know Logan wasn't entirely collected either. "Take your clothes off."

"You want me to take my clothes off?"

"Yes." There was a hint of playfulness of Mike's voice; if Mike wanted a game, that was fine with Jack. He never lost.

"What if I want you naked first?"

Jack's tongue found a spot in the hollow of Mike's neck that caused Mike to jerk, his fingers curling almost painfully into Jack's skin. "Like that, do you?" He nibbled on the same spot, then circled the tip of his tongue around the skin. "Give me one good reason why I should give you what you want."

"You ever had someone undress you using just his teeth?"

That was an offer Jack couldn't turn down. "I've heard plenty of bold claims."

"Well, let me show you how it's done."

Jack let himself be rolled over on his back as Mike leaned over him. The detective leaned his head down slowly, pressing his lips into the crevasse where Jack's shirt opened from the second-to-the-top button. Jack never felt the need to lounge in his own home with the top button fastened. "See, detective - first one's free." Jack heard the catch in his voice on the last word as Mike's lips covered his left nipple through the fabric of his shirt. He could feel the warmth and the wetness, and then the sudden cool as Mike removed his mouth to return to the buttons, leaving the nipple as hard as Jack's cock.

One button, then two, then three, and Mike was back to the erect nub, now able to touch it directly. "Yeah, Mike, that's good." Mike bit at it, causing a brief, sharp pain, then licked at it like a cat. The hyper-sensitive flesh was sizzling, and Jack closed his eyes at the feel of it. Yes, this was definitely what he needed. The base, raw, physical sensations were driving away the dark emptiness that Claire's death had brought to Jack. The simple energy of his and Mike's combined arousal was powerfully rejuvenating.

And the heat of Mike's breath on Jack's twitching stomach as Mike undid the last button of Jack's shirt - that was just damn sexy. "So far so good, detective."

"You doing okay there, Counselor?"

"I bet you can find better uses for your mouth than talking, Logan."

Mike cocked an eyebrow at Jack. "And what would those be?"

"This is a bad time for you to go stupid on me, Mikey." Jack circled his knee gently over the solid bulge at Mike's crotch. "Let's not lose focus."

Either Jack's words had some effect or it occurred to Mike that the longer he drew this out, the longer it would be before Jack's hands were on him, but he leaned his head back down and poised his lips over the button of Jack's jeans. "This focused enough for you?"

"Whatever action you take next will be the deciding factor."

Fortunately for all, Mike's next move was the correct one. He smoothly pulled the denim over the button, then took the zipper between his teeth. "Nicely focused. You may proceed, detec-" Jack bit off the end of the word as Mike pulled the zipper down and rubbed his cheek against Jack's erection, now separated from Mike only be the thin fabric of Jack's boxers.

"What was that, Jack? I don't think I heard you." He pulled down the waistband of Jack's shorts, freeing Jack's cock to the air. One quick lick up the shaft, causing Jack to grab fistfuls of the bedspread, and then Mike began working on pulling down Jack's jeans.

Lifting his hips to make Mike's job easier, Jack shouldered his way out of his shirt. "Now how am I supposed to prove anything if you-"

"I believe you," Jack interrupted. "I would testify under oath that you are entirely proficient at oral disrobings."

"Now that would be an interesting case." Mike sat up, resting his hands on Jack's bare thighs. "Well, Counselor, it looks like my work here is done."

"Is that what you think?" Jack wrapped a leg around Mike's waist, pulling him back down on top of Jack. "I think your work here is just beginning." Mike's tongue slipped back into Jack's mouth, and Jack could detect the faintest taste of himself on Mike. "Your turn, Mikey. Get out of those clothes so we can move on to the real fun."

Mike's nails dragged lightly along Jack's sides. "You're not having fun now?"

Jack just grinned and ran his tongue up the outer edge of Mike's ear, enjoying the feel of the detective's muscles tensing under his hands. Jack enjoyed the hell out of responsive lovers, and feeling Mike react like that to his every touch was nothing if not a good head trip. The only thing that mattered to Jack at this moment was Mike Logan's gorgeous young body twitching under Jack's fingers. The rest of the world, for now, was inconsequential. Nothing existed except for them, no point in time mattered except for this moment.

"You're still dressed," Jack murmured into Mike's ear. With one light finger, he stroked Mike's crotch. "Why don't you fix that for me?"

Mike pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it onto the floor without watching which direction it flew in. "Better?"

"A good start." Now it was Jack's turn to play with Mike's chest, and he took full advantage of the opportunity, leaning up to nibble along the line of Mike's pectoral muscle as his nails skated over Mike's abdomen. Mike's hands came to rest on Jack's shoulders, his fingers digging into Jack's skin. Jack found one nipple with his mouth while he rolled the other between his thumb and forefinger. Mike hissed encouragement, and Jack rolled them both over so Mike was on his back beneath Jack.

While Jack continued his attentions to Mike's chest, Mike squirmed out of the rest of his clothes. Jack slid down so their erections were pressed together, rocked his hips against Mike's. Mike reached up and dragged Jack's mouth down to his, kissing him hungrily. Jack could feel Mike's other hand working down his back, over his ass, along the sensitive skin at the top line of his leg.

Mike's mouth on Jack's was insistent, desperate, searching. Jack closed his eyes, gave himself over to the intimate contact. Their bodies pressed close together, skin against skin, the heat of Mike's nearness soaking into Jack's skin.

Mike rolled them back over so now Jack was on his back, then sat up, leaning back against Jack's raised knees. His fingers traced over Jack's chest as he stared at Jack with an inscrutable look on his face. Smiling up at Mike, Jack caught his hands, brought one to his lips and licked along a finger suggestively. Mike's expression didn't change; he just continued to watch him.

"Mike? You okay?"

Now Mike quirked one side of his mouth up into something approaching a smile. "Fine. Just thinking...," he sighed, shaking his head. "Never mind."

"Tell me." Jack didn't like the idea of Mike thinking about anything but him right now.

Mike only hesitated a moment, then reached down to brush Jack's cock with the back of his hand. "Just thinking that you're awfully hot, Counselor." He leaned over to brush his lips over the skin at the base of Jack's neck. "And that maybe my timing's bad."

"What do you mean?"

"I dunno." Mike bit lightly at the skin. "Just been a bad night."

Jack ruffled his fingers through Mike's hair. "My night certainly improved when you showed up at my door."

"Just can't help but think there might have been a better time for this."

Mike's feet were moving up and down Jack's leg, causing Mike's thigh to brush against his scrotum and making it somewhat difficult for Jack to really focus on the conversation. "And here I thought it was only uniquely catastrophic circumstances that led you to my door." He nipped at Mike's ear. "Maybe next time we can plan the timing a bit better."

"There's not going to be a next time, Jack." The words were barely vocalized.

"That's right. I forgot you were the diva of one night stands." Jack knew Mike's reputation as well as anyone did, but couldn't actually believe he wouldn't be able to persuade Mike into a later liaison - surely not even Mike Logan could turn down sex this good. And no one turned down Jack McCoy when he really set his mind to it. But for now, he thought his time could be better spent than in an argument with Mike. "So we better make this one count." He found Mike's mouth again, made certain he had Mike's complete attention. "I want you to fuck me, Logan."

"I'd be willing to do that for you, McCoy." The cocky Mike Logan smile was back in place as Jack reached over his head to his night-stand. Even without looking, his hand was able to unerringly locate condoms and astroglide in the top drawer.

Jack tore open the package and circled his thumb teasingly around the head of Mike's cock. Mike's entire body shuddered as Jack brushed his fingers up and down the shaft. "Jack."

"Problem, detective?" But Jack was far past any actual desire to prolong the teasing. Before Mike had a chance to explain his objection, Jack had the rubber casing over Mike's erection.

Mike had confiscated the lube, and Jack felt a finger work up inside him. "Mike...."

"Problem, Counselor?" Mike matched exactly the taunting tone that had been in Jack's voice only moments earlier. "Didn't think so," Mike answered himself when Jack could only groan as Mike's finger found his prostate.

But nothing was capable of keeping Jack McCoy speechless for long. "Come on, Mike. Fuck me."

For once, the detective followed the order without any argument. His hands gripped Mike's biceps as Mike penetrated him, the waves of pleasure cleansing Jack of the last remains of the darkness brought on by Claire's passing. The sorrow was still there, the loss, and the loneliness and emptiness were still edging around him, ready to pounce when he was once again alone. But their crippling hold over him was broken - he was in control of his grief, of his life once again.

And Detective Mike Logan of the 27th precinct was buried deep inside Jack and generating enough heat when he thrust they might fuse into one being. Mike Logan, the pretty boy of Number One, Police Plaza was giving it to the EADA with enough passionate energy to light up the entire West Side. As far as Jack was concerned, this was only the first of many good things the universe owed him for taking Claire away - but it was certainly an enormous step in the right direction.

Mike's eyes bore into Jack's - were they always that big and beautiful? His hair was sticking out at all sorts of impossible angles - Jack's handiwork. The muscles in his abdomen rippled with his movement - in and out, in and out.

It lasted an eternity and was over too soon. Jack shuddered as he climaxed, his knees locking against Mike's sides. The detective was soon to follow, his orgasm rippling through his body, leaving him leaning over Jack, his palms on Jack's chest, elbows locked, breath coming in gasps.

For barely a moment, there was an openness to Mike's expression, and Jack could read the same world of pain, of loneliness, of anger that he had been seeing in his own eyes for days. Then it was gone, wiped away by the Logan mask of cynicism and amusement with the world. But Jack had seen the vanished look, and would not quickly forget it.

"Lie down before you collapse," Jack suggested helpfully.

Mike let himself fall to the bed, angling himself to land next to Jack. "You think you can wear me out, Jack?"

"Just going off the physical evidence. You're breathing awfully hard."

"Maybe. I must be out of shape." A hand on Jack's shoulder rolled him over towards Mike, so they were chest to chest, and Mike touched his lips to Jack's. It was, at first, a feathery contact, and then deepened into a full kiss. Jack wrapped an arm loosely around Mike. "You want me to leave?" The question was asked casually, no different than Mike offering to bring back an extra cup of coffee, but Jack could feel a tension in Mike's body as he waited for Jack's response.

"I'm in no hurry for you to go." Mike shrugged and continued to kiss Jack, his hand moving over Jack's back. "I'm assuming you don't have anywhere you need to be."

Mike's hands tightened against Jack's back. "Nowhere pressing."

Jack was glad of that. While normally, Jack was pretty much ambivalent on the issue of people hanging around after sex, tonight he could admit to himself he wanted the company. Mike's company especially, someone as touched by Claire's death as Jack was. There was no pity coming from Mike, no false sympathy, no curiously watchful looks out of the corner of his eye to see if Jack was about to make a spectacle of his grief. All that was present was a reflection of Jack's own feelings, and that was strangely comforting.

And Mike's body was telling Jack more than Logan himself probably ever wanted to communicate. He was clinging to Jack, kissing him, pressing tightly against him - it was obvious he craved the companionship tonight as much as Jack did.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Mike lay his head back on the pillow, taking a moment to catch his breath, and Jack was unsure of what answer he actually wanted to hear.

"Not really. I mean, what's there to say?"

Jack shrugged, ran his fingers back through Mike's hair. "Just thought I'd ask."

They lay for a while in comfortable silence, Jack playing with Mike's hair, Mike tracing Jack's spine. It was the first moment of true peace Jack had found since the accident, the calm at the eye of the storm. Before had been bad. Later wouldn't be as bad, but still not great.

"She never told me you kissed like that."

Jack brought his focus back to Mike. "What?"

"Claire - she never mentioned you were so...good at it." A slight withdrawal in Mike's voice at the end - Jack wondered what he'd been about to say, but Mike kept talking before Jack could ask. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised."

Jack wasn't sure how to take that. "Explain yourself, Logan."

"You know how Claire...was. Always wanting to be one of the guys. She would have died before she admitted something so-" He stopped, closed his eyes. "Can't believe I just said that."

"It's okay."

"No, it's not. Not really."

Rolling over on his back, Jack stared up at the ceiling. "Life goes on, Mikey." The words sounded hollow, even to him.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"What's there to say?" Jack echoed Mike's words. "I'm here. You're here. She's not. Life goes on."

Mike leaned over Jack, spoke to him from mere inches above. "How are you so okay?"

Jack smiled bitterly. "You should have seen me yesterday." He brushed the back of his hand along Mike's cheek. "I'm getting better." Closing the distance between them, Mike pressed his lips against Jack's. "A few more nights like this and I'll be great."

"Jack-"

"Do you mean to tell me that you have never been on more than one date with the same person?"

Mike sighed, folding his arms across Jack's chest to support his chin. "A few times. It only worked out once."

"Stone."

"Yeah, Stone. Listen, Jack, I'm sorry, but even if I wanted to-"

"Do you want to?"

Mike hesitated, and Jack could see in his eyes he was fighting for the answer. "Yes." There was no deceit in his voice or his face. "But I'm not going to."

It made no sense to Jack. What was Logan's problem? Any other time, it wouldn't have bothered Jack - one night of hot steamy sex with Mike Logan was better than none at all. But Jack was tired, and lonely, and missed Claire, and in some strange back-handed way, Mike made it better. More than just the sex - Jack had to admit that to himself. Mike was a friend, maybe not a good friend, but still not a stranger. Mike had been Claire's friend, and that mattered even more.

Mike's low question broke his train of thought. "What would you say to her, if you could, if she were here?"

"I'd say 'I told you so'."

"You told her so?"

"That I could get you into bed."

Mike rolled his eyes, bounced his fist off Jack's shoulder affectionately. "This wasn't exactly your doing, you know."

"No? You can't prove that. What was your motive for coming here tonight if not me?"

Choosing to ignore the question, Mike lay his head down flat, drawing his fingers down Jack's arm. "I don't know what I'd say."

Jack stroked his hair, enjoying the silky feel of it between his fingers. "You sure you don't want to do this again tomorrow?"

"No. I'm sorry. It's so tempting, but I can't. I like you, Jack, and it's just for the best."

"That doesn't make any sense, Logan."

"Maybe not, but that's how it is. It wouldn't work out, and I like you too much to put you through that."

It was just enough to push Jack's temper over the edge. He pushed Mike off. "Maybe you should just go home." He didn't need Mike's protection - or Mike's problems.

Mike sighed. "I'm sorry." But he rolled off the bed and began collecting his clothes.

"Yeah, me too. You can let yourself out." Jack closed his eyes, turning his face away from where Mike was dressing, and didn't open them again until he heard Mike leave. He was angry, and maybe even a little hurt, and still lonely. Claire was gone; Mike was unbalanced; and Jack lying by himself in his bed on a Friday night.

Fuck him. If Mike was going to be such a prima donna, then Jack didn't need him. Jack had no time for Mike Logan's personal problems; best to just quit while he was ahead.

And life went on.