To Have and to Hold

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: **Timeline** This is very important. This story has a rather specific timeline of the show. It happens after Meldrick gets married, but before Mikey gets hit with all the arson crap.

Please forgive all gross error in character portrayal. *grin* I've only been watching the show for two months (but it is on every day, so I've caught up quite a bit) and could use a little forgiveness. Be warned : I've made Meldrick into something of a love starved romantic. *grin*

Please also forgive errors in writing. I don't use a beta reader because I'm hopelessly impatient about getting my stories online. Therefore, Microsoft Word is the only beta reader I've got. *grin*

Meldrick stood stoically as the insults rained down on him. "You're a terrible husband, Meldrick Lewis!" Barbara yelled at him, "You're never home! You never talk to me, you never do anything to show me you love me!"

"Hey, I tell you I love you all the time!" Meldrick countered, angered by the misrepresentation.

"You tell me, but you never show me!" Barbara replied, frustration making her voice shrill. "You're never really with me when I want to talk, or when we try to do something romantic. You weren't really there when we were married! Didn't you wonder why I refused to make love to you on our wedding night? Because it would have been empty, something physical, not something emotional. What were you thinking when you asked me to marry you, Meldrick?"

"I wasn't thinking! I was feeling…I don't want to be alone…I love you, Barbara," Meldrick said, sounding almost desperate.

Barbara shook her head angrily. "You never loved me, Meldrick. I married you because I wanted to believe so much that I could be in love and happy with you. But you never loved me, Meldrick, and I never loved you." She'd been speaking with anger, but also with sadness. Suddenly, she was struck with the need to make Meldrick suffer for the hope he'd taken from her. Her hopes for love, for happiness, for a whirlwind romance and a storybook life - all gone. She struck where she knew it would hurt the most. "I don't think you're capable of giving or receiving love!" she yelled without warning.

The words struck Meldrick like bullets. He hadn't realized until he'd heard the words how much he'd wanted her love…love, period. He'd felt so alone that he'd gone out and married the first good woman he found. Lewis didn't really know where the sudden need had come from, but it was abruptly very real. Barbara was beautiful and smart and she was a wonderful woman…and it hadn't really worked out. But he'd been able to pretend they could work it out, that they just had to get over this bump in the road.

Now, her angry words tore out his heart. He said nothing, agony in his eyes. It only made it hurt more that the half believed what she said. Had anyone ever really loved him? A sharp pain tore through him, so fierce he actually gasped. Turning, Meldrick flung open the door of Barbara's home - it had never really been his - and fled. He didn't really knew where he was going or who he wanted to see, but when he stopped running he was at the marina where Mikey kept his boat.

Meldrick could see it, at the end of one of the docks. Suddenly, seeing his partner felt like a very good thing to do. Meldrick jogged down the length of the dock and leaped on board, not calling out. He knocked at the door, and got no answer. It was then that Meldrick realized that it was two in the morning. He hesitated, but banged on the door again anyway. He was about to leave when the door opened, revealing a sleepy Mike dressed only in a pair of sweatpants. He blinked at Meldrick. "Meldrick? What's wrong?"

Lewis opened his mouth to answer, but no words emerged. His face twisted with the pain of his wife's angry words, and put his hands up to hide his face from his partner. In the aftermath of their argument, Meldrick fully expected his partner to shut the door in his face and go back to sleep.

Instead, Mikey quickly drew his partner in out of the cold and wrapped his arms around him. Meldrick returned the hug, holding onto the embrace like a drowning man clutches a lifesaver. A harsh, dry sob racked his body. Mikey held him for a long time, Meldrick's head on his shoulder, arms around each other in an embrace that Lewis seemed unwilling to break. The whole story of his and Barbara's fight came pouring out, though Meldrick couldn't remember what had started it. As her final words were recounted, Mikey's heart ached for his partner. "Meldrick…" he began, and trailed off, not knowing what to say to make his partner feel better.

Meldrick took a deep breath, and was flooded with his partner's scent. He realized that this embrace felt good…so good. The warmth of Mikey's bare chest, the strong arms wrapped around him, the smoothness of the skin under the cheek he'd rested on Mikey's shoulder, his scent, the sound of his name on his partner's lips…Meldrick had never felt so good in his life. He lifted his head from his partner's shoulder and looked into the blue, blue eyes. Surely he couldn't feel any better than he did at that moment. Meldrick took his arms from around his partner, moving slowly, the emotions in him still roiling. Before he really knew what he'd done, Meldrick had moved his hands to gently cup his partner's face. He leaned in and slowly brushed his lips against Mikey's… He'd expected Mikey to hit him. He'd expected Mikey would pull away. He'd expected Mikey would, at the very least, be unresponsive and disgusted. He hadn't expected to have his kiss returned. He hadn't expected his partner to surrender so completely to the caress. He hadn't expected Mikey to melt against him, to open his mouth in invitation, to tenderly and hungrily explore Meldrick's own mouth when he dared to accept that invitation.

He hadn't expected the heat that flared between them, so that they were both flushed and panting when they finally broke apart.

Mikey looked stricken, and for moment, Meldrick thought that Mikey was going to react as expected after all. Then his partner said, "Oh god…Meldrick, I'm sorry," and turned away. Lewis realized then that Mikey thought that he'd done something wrong, that Meldrick had not wanted the kiss…

Mikey's back was to Meldrick, and the other man could see the tension that drew Mikey's body taut. "Mikey…" he laid a hand his partner's shoulder, meaning to continue, meaning to apologize, to say the kiss was his fault. The words halted in his throat for, when his hand touched his partner's bare skin, a shudder ran through Mikey's body and a low moan was ripped from involuntary lips.

A realization struck Meldrick. Mikey wanted him, badly. So badly that Meldrick realized all he had to do to have him was place his other hand on Mikey's other shoulder. It was his choice - Mikey was holding himself back, giving Meldrick the chance to walk away as if nothing had happened between them. His choice.

Something hidden deep inside of Meldrick came bubbling forth. A feeling he'd hidden even as it grew, a feeling he'd hidden from everyone, including himself. He hadn't been ready for it before, hadn't wanted to feel it… Now, it came over him like an epiphany. Desire. Hot, intense, possessive desire that lit every nerve ending on fire and had him swallowing back a moan of his own. He wanted Mikey. Oh, yes. But his brain insisted on interrupting the intensity of the moment. There was more to this choice that what he wanted.

//I can have Mikey, or I can have Barbara, // Meldrick said to himself. //I can have what I want, what he wants, or I can go home to my cold couch and my angry wife. I can give my partner a gift, something he's wanted for god knows how long, or I can make a sacrifice for my wife that she'll never know about and would never appreciate if she did know. I can do this for myself and for Mikey, who's always been there for me. Who's been a good partner, a good friend, a man I can trust, a friend I can confide in, who's never asked for anything more than I can give. Who, even now, is willing to give up something he wants very, very much for my sake; or I can give this up for a woman who doesn't love me, whom I don't love, who would never make such a sacrifice for me, a woman - my wife. //

Meldrick made his decision.

He raised his other hand and placed it gently on Mikey's other shoulder, then slowly drew his hands down his partner's shoulder blades, back and sides, coming to rest on his hips. Mikey's fragile control snapped. He turned in Meldrick's embrace and lifted his hand to draw his partner's mouth to his own. This kiss was filled with heat and passion and unashamed hunger. Mikey pressed Meldrick up against the wall, hands moving to remove his shirt.

They moved together, hands exploring, lips tasting, to Mikey's bed. There they tumbled down together, a tangle of arms and legs moving together at first in hunger and then easing into tenderness. The shift in mood surprised - and pleased - Meldrick. Their caresses became gentle, sensuous explorations; their kisses turned into soft, slow tasting; their movements became those of lovers long accustomed to each other. The earlier heat remained, so that each touch, each kiss was a tiny fire of pleasure searing through the partners.

At one point, Mikey lightly traced out a circle on Meldrick's chest, above his heart. He gasped, then arched into the touch and let out a long, deep moan of pleasure. Mikey smiled at having discovered a sensitive spot on his lover, and leaned down to kiss it. An urge seized him, and he placed his lips next to Meldrick's ear. "I know I'll never have you," he whispered fiercely, "but this spot, this one place out of all others, is mine. Mine and no one else, not even Barbara's."

"Yours," Meldrick gasped, tangling his fingers in Mikey's blond locks. His partner placed his lips over that spot and nipped it once before purposefully covering it with a hickey. He'd been very careful not to mark Meldrick, knowing he's have to go home eventually, but Mikey allowed himself to claim that one spot with his mouth.

They came calling each other's names, and settled into each other's arms for a long, satiated moment. Eventually one of them retrieved a damp wash cloth from the bathroom and cleaned them up. Mikey expected Meldrick would leave then, but instead his partner settled into a comfortable embrace and closed his eyes as if to sleep. Soon, they did sleep, wrapped in the warmth and comfort of each other's arms.

When Mikey woke in the morning, Meldrick was gone. He was sad, but not surprised. He expected that Meldrick had left sometime during the night to return to his wife, to try once again to fix things between them. Mikey expected that when he showed up at work, Meldrick would be asking with his eyes that all go on as before.

//I can do that, // Mikey thought as he sat up on the edge of his bed and got dressed. //You gave me a single night, and that was more than I ever expected to have. It's a gift I'll always treasure, Meldrick. You may forget last night, you may push it to the back of your mind where it will never interrupt you again, but I'll never forget. I'll remember our night every time I'm left alone. I'll call it forth whenever life fails me. I'll always remember it, but I'll still be your partner for you. I love you too much to hurt you by leaving, to hurt myself by going. //

Mike shuffled into the kitchen to make himself breakfast and was startled to see an envelope sitting on the kitchen table, his name written on it in Meldrick's handwriting. Hope and fear warred within Mikey when he picked up the envelope. It could be a condemnation of what they'd shared, an expression of regret, a request that the night be forgotten, and a goodbye. Or the letter could be a thank you, an acknowledgement, and a hope for continued partnership. He didn't dare hope for more than that.

After a long, agonizing moment Mikey picked up a knife and opened the envelope. He withdrew a single sheet of paper and steeled himself to read it.

Dear Mikey,

It began,

I want you to know that I didn't run off in the night like some kid taking off from a crime scene. I slept the night with you in my arms. I waited until morning before I left. I wish I could have waited, so that you could have woken in my arms, but I had to get back to Barbara. You know how it is - a marriage is something you have to try and save.

Mikey exhaled slowly, hope growing within him even as he held back tears. I wanted to tell you that last night, you gave me something I needed very badly. I was hurting, and you took me in your arms and loved me. I could feel that there was love in your heart when you held me. I can't tell you how grateful I am for what you gave me.

The tears fell now, staining the page of Meldrick's letter and threatening to make the ink run.

I know you'll understand when I tell you that last night has to be the only night. I still want you as my partner, Mikey. I wouldn't want to work with anyone else. I'm asking for our partnership to go on as it did before we had our night. But I want you to know that I won't forget what we shared. I'll remember it on the nights when Barbara makes me sleep on the couch, I'll remember it when I go to take her in my arms and she pulls away. I'll remember it when I feel that distance between us.

Thank you, Mikey. Love, Meldrick

Mikey was crying freely now, holding the letter tightly and struggling not to wrinkle it at the same time. It was so much more than he'd dared to hope for. It overwhelmed him momentarily.

Meldrick arrived in the squad room first and experience a long, tense ten-minute wait for Mikey to arrive. When he did, he smiled and greeted Meldrick as always. Lewis breathed a sigh of relief, his request that they go on as always apparently accepted. As the day drew on, however, Meldrick started to become irritated. Had their night been so easy for Mikey to put behind him? Hadn't it touched him in any way?

Then, at a crime scene, Mikey leaned over to roll a body and Meldrick caught a glimpse of something in his breast pocket. He realized abruptly that it was the letter he'd written, carefully folded and placed next to Mikey's heart. Meldrick couldn't restrain the slight smile that touched his lips, and finished the day in peace.

Over the next three months, Meldrick had many occasions to comfort himself with the memory of his night with his partner. For some reason, Barbara was drawing away from him, allowing even less intimacy than before. He spent many nights on the couch, wondering what had prompted her anger this time. Whenever he reached out to her, he was rebuffed.

At first, he was self-conscious of confiding in Mikey about his troubles. After their night, he wasn't sure how his partner would react. However, after Meldrick pushed the words past reluctant lips the first time, he poured out all his troubles. Mike would listen sympathetically, try to offer advice, and occasionally give him a hug. Meldrick loved those hugs.

The tension between Lewis and his wife came to a head one evening in yet another one of their arguments. "I'm trying, here!" Meldrick shouted. "But you're being so damned cold-"

"Me?!" Barbara asked incredulously. "I'm being cold? I'm not the one thinking of someone else every time we touch! No! Don't try and deny it, Meldrick Lewis. I can tell, when you're holding me you're thinking of someone else. Do you think I haven't noticed?"

"Barbara, there isn't anyone else," Meldrick defended angrily. "I'm working hard, trying to make this marriage work! But whenever I try and reach out to you, you pull away!"

"Because I don't want you with me out of some sense of duty, Meldrick!" Barbara cried. "I want your love!"

"How can you expect my love when you give me none of your own?!" Meldrick yelled back. Barbara stared at him, struck dumb by the truth of his words. "I can't do this anymore," he muttered to himself, "I'm going out." Barbara watched helpless as her husband gathered his hat and coat and left. It only occurred to her minutes after he'd gone to ask where he was going, and by then it was too late.

On the other hand, Meldrick knew exactly where he was going. He was going to be with someone he knew loved him. He was going to be with Mikey.

Mike answered the pounding on his door promptly. It was midnight, but he hadn't even begun to prepare for bed yet. He opened the door to find Meldrick outside. "Another fight with Barbara?" he asked gently, stepping aside to let his partner in. Meldrick hadn't come to stay with Mikey after one of his fights with Barbara since they'd had their night together. Mikey refused to let himself to consider the implications of the fact that he was coming now.

"Yeah, the last one," Meldrick said, answering Mike's question. "I've tried, Mikey, I really have. I stuck with her, and I worked hard to make our marriage work. But there's no love there. I don't think there ever was, and I don't want to stay trapped in a marriage that's making me miserable."

"You going to file for divorce?" Mikey inquired, his heart aching for his partner.

"Yeah, I guess so," Meldrick admitted reluctantly. "Barbara and I, we've been divorced for a long time. The only thing left to do is put it on paper. It…" he hesitated, ducking his head, "it makes me wonder if maybe she was right after all."

"Right about what?" Mikey asked, confused. He and Meldrick were sitting side by side on his couch, so he turned to regard his partner more directly.

"About it being impossible for anyone to love me," Meldrick said softly, "about it being impossible for me to love anyone."

There was a long, silent moment then. Finally, slowly, Mikey said, "That's not true. That no one could love you, that's not true, Meldrick," his voice husky with restrained emotion.

"How do you know, Mikey?" Meldrick asked, turning to look into his partner's ice blue eyes.

"Because I love you," Mikey said simply. Meldrick smiled a little and leaned in to kiss his partner tenderly on the lips. "So is the rest of it true?" Mike asked anxiously.

"That I couldn't love anyone? Nah, Mikey, that's ain't true," Meldrick said, smiling. "I don't love Barbara, but I love you."

Laughing with the relief of having their emotions returned, the partners moved together to Mikey's bed.

The next morning, Mikey woke with Meldrick spooned up against him, wrapped in his arms. Mike lay, savoring the sensation, until Meldrick, too, drifted towards consciousness. The lovers enjoyed a long moment of simply holding each other, which was finally broken when Meldrick said, quietly, "I wanted to do this, that first night. But I had to try."

Mikey turned so that he faced Meldrick. "I understand, Meldrick. You didn't even need to leave the letter…though I thank god you did," he smiled. "That letter was proof to me that that night happened, and that it meant something to you. That's why I carried it next to my heart."

"Since it mean so much to you," Meldrick said, "I'm glad I wrote it. What are you doing?" he asked, as Mikey reached for his phone.

"It's your day off, right?" Meldrick nodded. "And my day off is tomorrow. So I'm calling in sick today, and you're calling in sick tomorrow," Mikey grinned mischievously. Meldrick grinned back at him, suddenly reminded of the day he and Mikey had first partnered, when they'd stolen Pembleton's car.

Neither of them left the boat all day. They made and ate breakfast together and they talked and they made love. They spent the day discovering each other all over again, despite the fact that they'd known each other more than a year.

Meanwhile, Barbara was extremely upset. She'd expected Meldrick to be gone a couple of hours at most. When the clock turned over four a.m. and he still hadn't returned, she realized he didn't intend to return that night. //All right, // she told herself, //he needs some time to cool off. // But when he still hadn't returned the next morning by the time she would have gone to work, she called in sick. Then she called his work. The receptionist expressed surprised that he wasn't at home with her, seeing as it was his day off. When she called the Waterfront, whoever was on duty there told her that he wasn't there and wasn't expected in that day. One frantic hour later, Barbara remembered Meldrick's partner's name. Mike Kellerman. When she called the precinct again, they told her that Detective Kellerman had called in sick that morning. Barbara managed to convince the woman on the other end of the phone that Meldrick was out and had called her to drop something off at "Mikey's place", and got Mike Kellerman's address that way.

So it was that, around 2 in the afternoon, Barbara found herself knocking as politely as she could on the hatch of a boat. She vaguely recognized the man who answered the door, pulling on a sweatshirt, from her wedding to Meldrick.

"Excuse me," she said coolly, "I'm looking for my husband."

Kellerman's features darkened in anger, "Listen, lady, I don't care if you are his wife," he began harshly, "I don't want you ever hurting my partner like that again! He's a good man and a good cop and he doesn't deserve the crap you've been giving him!"

"Listen, Detective," Barbara countered, her own blood up, "we both said some things we regret! It was just a fight, for god's sake."

"No, see, the problem with that statement," Mike spit back, "is that you meant every word! You wanted to hurt Meldrick and, by god, you succeeded. Well this is it! You are not going to hurt him any more!" With that, Mikey turned and reentered the boat, slamming the door behind himself. As soon as he'd disappeared inside, Barbara started pounding on the door and yelling for her husband to let her in.

Inside, Meldrick was sitting at the kitchen table. "I, uh, hope I wasn't out of line there," Mikey said, hooking his thumbs into his jeans' pockets.

"It's okay, Mikey," Meldrick said, shooting a glance at the door which still shivered with his wife's blows. "I guess she can't tell that it's already over. She still wants to haul me back into a marriage that she doesn't want herself." He shook his head, "I will never understand women, Mikey." Eventually she left, and Mike and Meldrick did their best to forget her visit.

Barbara was not so easily gotten rid of. She called the precinct again the next day, only to be informed that this time is was Detective Kellerman's day off, and Detective Lewis' turn to call in sick. The woman on the other end of the phone, the same one as before, muttered some dark complaints against the partners for both being busy two days in a row and commented that they'd probably caught whatever they had from each other.

Slamming the phone back onto its cradle, Barbara once again made her way to Mike Kellerman's boat. This time she pounded to begin with, not caring that it was 8 o'clock in the morning. This time Meldrick himself answered the door, rubbing sleep out of his eyes and wrapped in a robe that was obviously not his own, from the ill fit. "Barbara," he said flatly when he saw who it was.

"Meldrick Lewis, you are coming home with me right now!" Barbara commanded tensely.

"No, Barbara, I'm not," he insisted. "Why should I?"

"Because I'm your wife and you're my husband!"

"You know what, Barbara?" Meldrick asked intently. "You were right. Every time you yelled at me that you didn't love me and I didn't love you, you were right. There hasn't been anything between us for months, if there ever was. Let it go. Let's quit that twisted game we've got going."

"I said those things because I was angry, Meldrick," Barbara said, shocked.

"You said them because they were true and you knew they'd hurt me," Meldrick countered. "I can't keep this up, Barbara. I can't keep trying to convince myself we love each other, because it's not true. I don't even want to try anymore. I'm done with this."

"Are you trying to tell me you want a divorce?" Barbara asked slowly.

Meldrick paused for a long moment. "I'm not trying, Barbara. I do want a divorce. I think it's been a long time coming, too."

"I guess there's nothing left to say," Barbara said after a long, silent pause. "Except, you're going to have to come by to pick up your things." With that, she turned and left, shoulders slumped in defeat.

Meldrick closed the door and leaned against it, letting out a long shuddering breath. He looked up to see Mikey watching him from the bed. "I guess that's it then," Meldrick said eventually.

"I guess so," Mikey responded. The rest of the day was quiet, but they still spent it enjoying each other's company and making love. It felt good to Meldrick, to finally make love to someone and to feel the love in every touch, to sense the desire and the heat with every caress. He'd almost forgotten what that felt like, in his marriage to Barbara.

Later that day, before he and Mikey had dinner, he went to get some of his things from Barbara's house. Mikey had offered to come with him, but Meldrick declined, not wanting to embroil his lover in his and Barbara's troubles and more than he already was. Lewis' wife was surprisingly calm as he went about their home, packing his things into a suitcase.

Barbara had figured it out while she waited for her husband to come move himself out of her life. The love bits she's seen on Kellerman's body before he'd pulled the sweatshirt all the way down, his fierce protectiveness of her husband, his possessiveness of Meldrick as his partner, Meldrick's distance from her lately, the way he'd gone to Mike every time they'd fought…she could see it now. Her husband was in love with his partner. It almost made it easier to know that it wasn't her fault, but his that their marriage had failed. But only almost, since she knew in her heart that she hadn't truly loved him either. Maybe that was why he'd turned to his partner when she's hurt him.

Just before Meldrick opened the door to leave, Barbara placed a hand on his arm. He stopped and turned to look at her inquiringly. "Before you go," she said slowly, "I want to see something."

"What?" he asked, setting the suitcase down.

"The spot that you never let me touch," Barbara said simply. "That place over your heart that you always moved my hands and my lips away from, either with your own movements or with mine. I want to see it." Meldrick hesitated. "If you don't show me, Meldrick, I swear to god I won't sign the divorce papers."

Nodding reluctantly, Meldrick shed his coat and partially unbuttoned his shirt. He drew the fabric aside to reveal the fresh hickey that Mikey had placed in that spot mere hours before. Barbara nodded sadly, not at all surprised, when she saw it. "So it was him you thought of," she stated. "It was him you saved yourself for. It's him who took your heart and kept it from me."

"No, Barbara," Meldrick said, buttoning his shirt closed. "It was him to whom I gave my heart when you wouldn't take it."

Barbara let his words go, just as she let him go. Meldrick never looked back, intent on having a life with a man that he loved, and who loved him back.