whogeek: The WhoGeek w/ blue/white/red target (Carter Stare)
[personal profile] whogeek
Title: The Naming of Things
Fandom: Dark Blue
Pairing: Carter/Dean
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Dean has trouble talking about emotions.  So it's a good thing one of his oldest friends is so stubborn and doesn't really mind occasionally doing the talking for him.  And occasionally talking some sense into him.
Warnings: 2 OCs, Spoilers for "Pilot" and "A Shot In The Dark"  After season 1, before season 2.
Words: 13,290.  22 pages in Word.
A/N: First long-ish story I'm really proud of.  Many many many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] taylor_serenil  for her awesome beta work.  And to [livejournal.com profile] jetpack_angel  for final read-through service.  Love y'all lots.

A bottle thumps down in front of Dean almost the second he drops onto the stool at the bar. He lifts his head to nod his thanks to the bartender, but the blank look on her face makes him maintain eye contact. The staring contest continues for several minutes before the other bartender calls out from the other end of the bar. “Hey, Mandy! Y’don’t have time to make eyes at the patrons! Get your lazy ass back to work like the rest of us.”

“Coming.” Mandy turns, hopping off the step that runs the length of the bar so she can reach across the broad shelf of the counter and heads further down, the blue streaks in her pale blonde hair shimmering as her long ponytail swishes after her.

Dean shakes his head and picks up the bottle, taking a long drink from it before turning his attention back to Mandy. She’s only a few feet down the bar, but her demeanor has changed from those few minutes when they were staring at each other. She’s smiling now, and talking a mile a minute as she makes a mixed drink for someone. The spiked blue ball on her tongue piercing flashes with every word, and her blue eyes glitter under the bar lights. Her blue tee is mostly covered by a black cargo vest that goes well with the strapped pants she’s wearing.

Mandy’s counterpart makes his way behind her, looking almost the same but in red. His broad six foot eight form accentuates how extremely short she is in comparison. The series of earrings climbing up the edge of his ear all have some red on them, and his brown hair is spiked so that the last half an inch is red. He’s even got colored lenses in, and the effect on his eyes is almost demonic. “D-man. Been too long. You leave before she gets to take her break, I’ll kill ya.”

“I know, Ryan. I see you finally got the lenses.”

“Yeah, yeah. Kinda weird having to remind myself to take ‘em out before I head home. Dave doesn’t like ‘em. Says if I come home without my eyes being brown, I’m sleeping on the couch.”

Dean laughs and takes another sip of his beer. “Really? He’d make you do that?”

Ryan grimaces slightly. “He did. I forgot to take ‘em out shortly after I got ‘em, and he kicked me out of the bed.” Someone orders a drink and he mixes it, still talking to Dean. “You really scared Mandy, y’know? All of a sudden you disappeared, and no one had any contact with you. She thought the worst for the longest time. She wouldn’t stop calling you. Finally got a hold of your boss, apparently. He told her you were on a case. Said you would be unreachable for a while longer.”

“Hey man, it’s the job.”

Ryan lowers his voice and leans in as he pours someone a beer from the tap. “You coulda told her you’d be under for a while. The only people you trust knowing what you do, and you didn’t tell us we wouldn’t be able to reach you.”

“I know, man. But hey, I’m back.”

“Did it work out?” Ryan’s speaking at a normal volume again, pouring someone some bourbon.

Dean is silent for a moment as he rolls the bottle between his hands and Ryan continues to work. “Yeah. Yeah, it worked out.”

Ryan nods before moving off further down the bar, leaving Dean to his thoughts.

Several hours pass before Mandy gets a break and crooks her finger at Dean from behind the bar. Dean stands and follows her around into the back. She’s standing by a set of shelves packed with different bottles, with her back to him. Dean quietly puts one hand on her shoulder, intending to turn her to face him. He is shocked when she whirls around and lands a punch square to his jaw. “What the Hell?!”

“You could have TOLD me you wouldn’t be reachable! You could have said you didn’t know when you’d be able to talk again! I know you sometimes go really deep, but you could try to warn us the next time you might have to sever all contact! I. Thought. You. Were. DEAD!” The last five words were emphasized with punches to his arm.

Dean pulls his head together and grabs both of Mandy’s wrists. “I’m not. Ok? I’m not.” He tries to make her look at him, bending down to catch her eyes. She finally looks at him, and it’s not anger he sees in her eyes, it’s worry, and fear, and maybe a hint of anger, but only for scaring her, and making her worry. “I’m sorry. I’m alive, I’m here, and I’m sorry for scaring you.”

“I know.” Dean releases her wrists, and she jumps forward to wrap her arms around his chest, squeezing him in a tight hug, pressing her face into his shoulder. “Don’t ever do that to me again.” Mandy’s voice is muffled but fierce as Dean wraps his own arms loosely around her shoulders.

“I hear you talked to my boss.”

“Did you hear that from Ryan, or your boss?” Mandy leans back a little to look up at Dean’s face.

“Ryan told me. Why? Should I be worried?”

“Um, that depends.”

“Mandy. What did you say to Carter? Am I gonna have to convince him you won’t blow my cover?”

Mandy doesn’t answer. She pulls away and leans against the wall, blushing and looking down at the floor as if it’s the most interesting thing in the world.

“What did you say?”

“I, mayhavethreatenedtodismemberhimifhedidn’ttellmewhereyouwereandwhyyouweren’tansweringyourphone.” Dean blinks.

“You’re gonna have to repeat that for me, and quite a bit slower.”

Mandy sighs and fidgets for a moment. “I may have threatened to dismember him if he didn’t tell me where you were and why you weren’t answering your phone. And no, it wasn’t one of the drop phones.”

Dean sighs and rubs one hand over his head. “I’m gonna get it tomorrow. Or tonight if he decides it’s important enough to show up at my place.”

“What happens if he shows up and you aren’t there?”

“He’ll let himself in and wait for me to get there.” Dean turns and starts shuffling through some of the bottles on one shelf. “This place is doing pretty well.”

“Stop that.” She bats his hands away from the shelf. “Yeah. Dave came up with some ads to put out. IceFire is now one of the best bars in LA. And one of the safest.” Mandy grabs Dean’s wrist and pulls him further back into the room. “So, how big was the bust?”

“Oh, big enough.”

“And are you back to being Dean Bendis, or is whoever you were for the case still hanging around?” They reach an open area between the shelves where a low table and an old, beat up sofa are tucked into a corner.

“I’m Dean Bendis again.” He sinks down onto the sofa, sprawling as Mandy rummages in a small cabinet to the side, pulling out a bottle of scotch and a couple of glasses. “Have been for a couple hours. You know I don’t come see you unless I’m me.” Mandy sends him a venomous glare that has him throwing his hands up as if to fend off an attack. “Ok, Ok. That one time aside. And you ripped me a new one that if I ever came to you not myself I’d end up in a hospital.”

“Good.” She pours them each a glass and hands one to him, dropping down beside him and leaning against his shoulder. “I’ve got 30 minutes, so talk fast bub. How are things on the romance front?”

“Mandy, you know I don’t do romance…”

“Ah ah ahh, you pulled out the romance with my friend Rachel. She’s engaged now, by the way. Asked me to be maid-of-honor in the wedding.”

“Are you gonna do it?”

“Yeah.” Mandy gives his shoulder a soft smack. “You should know I’m a closet romantic. Being a maid-of-honor is incredible for me.”

“How’s that gonna work with the tongue piercing?”

“They do make clear ones that are pretty thoroughly invisible to an untrained eye.” She takes a sip of the scotch, sighing and wriggling further into Dean. “Besides, she’s one of my bartenders, so the wedding isn’t really going to be traditional. Funny thing is; her fiancé is a cop.”

Dean shifts a little, getting more comfortable, and lets Mandy ramble on about Rachel and the wedding. He takes a sip of the scotch and lifts an eyebrow in appreciation. Mandy finally winds down, and they settle into a comfortable silence. Dean finds himself falling asleep in the comforting position; one arm slung around her shoulders, and the other cradling his glass on one knee.

The racket at the door into the storage room is what brings him out of his dozing, setting aside his drink and tightening his grip on Mandy’s shoulder. It only takes a moment for him to recognize the voices. One is the smooth, friendly voice of Ryan, the other coarse and fierce: Carter. “I know Dean is here, and I sure as hell don’t see him out here.” Dean can practically see him working a performance up, gaining the attention of probably everyone in the bar.

“Sir, I don’t care if you think your friend is in the back room, I can’t let you back there.” Even facing down Carter, Ryan’s voice is friendly, almost overly cheerful. “Maybe you should check the restrooms.”

Mandy tugs him up at this point, and leads him to the loading door into the alley, shoving a handful of keys into his hand. “My car is just outside. There’s a box of stuff I’ve borrowed over the years in the trunk.” She shrugs at the look he sends her, and points out one key. “Car. Grab the box, drop it in your car. Come back in the front door, and pass the keys to me across the counter, make sure you thank me for returning the stuff.” She gives one last push and Dean stumbles out the door, which she yanks shut behind him. He quickly locates the car, grabs the box out of the trunk, rifling through some of the stuff, and deposits it in his own vehicle, making sure to lock both.

He strides back into the bar, passing by Carter as though he’s not there, but clearly hearing his arguing trail off, sliding onto the stool right in front of Mandy and passing the keys back to her. “Hey Mandy, how long have you been holding on to some of that stuff?”

Mandy plays up her part of the charade beautifully. “Um, I think I’ve had some of it for 12, no 15 years.” She smiles guiltily at him. “I found most of it cleaning out my apartment a couple weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to get it back to you.”

“Well, thanks. You know after a while I didn’t even realize some of it was missing?” Dean deliberately ignores the tingling sensation that runs up his back as he feels Carter come to loom over him. “And when did you take some of those books?”

Mandy’s grin turns sly, and she winks to play up her reply. “Whenever you weren’t looking, hun!” Then she’s off down to one end of the bar, and Carter’s hand comes down on his shoulder. Hard.

The guy sitting beside Dean quickly leaves his seat at the look Carter sends his way, and Carter takes the vacated spot. “Would she be the one I got a surprisingly violent phone call from a couple weeks ago?” Carter is watching Mandy chatter happily away with a patron as her hands work quickly on a series of drinks that the guy just ordered.

Dean keeps his face blank, his eyes on the laughing face of one of his oldest friends. “Yeah. That was her.”

“Is she a threat to any cover you take?”

Dean finally shifts his gaze to Carter, resisting the shiver that tries to work down his back at the intense stare directed at him. “No. She never has been, and she never will be. All she asks is that I tell her when I won’t be in touch for more than two weeks.”

“And how long since you had talked to her this time?”

Dean doesn’t bother asking how Carter knows that this isn’t the first time he’s missed calling or visiting Mandy, and just answers. “Five weeks.” He beckons Ryan over, and asks for one of Mandy’s business cards. “If it makes you feel better, you can call her before she calls you next time.”

“Or, you can just let us know beforehand when you have to break contact.” Carter turns his gaze to Ryan, unfazed by the red eyes.
Dean breaks in before Carter can ask. “This is Ryan, him and Mandy own this place. Dave, Ryan’s boyfriend, does all the advertisements and such.”

“And these three aren’t a risk?” Dean can tell Carter is getting irritated now.

“No. Dave only knows that I’m ‘in law enforcement’ of some type, and Ryan and Mandy have been my friends for too long for me to be able to lie to them at all. I tried once.”

Ryan’s laughter catches Carter’s attention, while Dean ducks his head and runs his hand over it in embarrassment. Ryan proceeds to explain his laughter. “He came in before he had fully shed whatever persona he took on for the job, and Mandy gave him a black eye before verbally ripping into him.”

Dean shudders for effect. “Mandy angry at you is not somewhere you want to be. I told her I would never do that again, and I haven’t.”

“And this is supposed to convince me that they aren’t a risk to your safety?”

Mandy appears again, and Ryan quietly moves off. “No. I’m sure he hasn’t told you before now” She takes a moment to glare at Dean, who gives her an innocent look, “But Ryan, Dean, and I have been friends for a long time. At this point, we’re the closest thing to family each of us has. Growing up in a ‘rich’ neighborhood, with snooty parents doesn’t lend well to them accepting that you’re gay,” she jerks her head at Ryan, “Or a cop,” a nod at Dean, “Or a bartender with highlights, a tongue piercing, and tats.” She gestures at herself. “All we want is to know that he’s ok when he hasn’t called or visited in more than two or three weeks.” Her hand flashes out and grabs Carter’s arm. “All we want is to know that he’s safe.”

Dean opens his mouth to reassure her once again, but Carter interrupts. “And the threat you made over the phone?”

Mandy has the decency to blush, pulling her hand back, and glances at Dean. “I…. I say stuff like that when I’m worried. Especially knowing what his job entails. Most of it is just, talk, and doesn’t mean anything.”

Dean breaks in, rubbing his jaw where her punch caught him. “She does have a pretty wicked left hook.”

Carter suddenly puts something together in his head. “She’s the one who gave you a black eye after the case with the FBI agent who almost got killed, isn’t she? Where everyone thought you had flipped.”

“Hell yeah that was me. I was pissed. He goes off, severs all contact, and leaves me worrying about him for that long? Not…. Not even so much as a note at his place.” Mandy’s glare is icy.

“Hey, I made it out alive and in one piece.” Dean remembers clearly the almost identical looks of worry and anger that Carter and Mandy had tried to hide from him. He risks a quick glance at Carter, and sees some of that worry still there, and knowing that Carter worried about him sends another shiver worming down his spine.

“From what you told me you almost didn’t.” Mandy and Dean engage in a glaring contest, blue on brown in a silent battle of wills.

Ryan is suddenly beside Mandy, and he sighs before snapping his fingers between the two. “You still have a job to do, Mandy.”

She huffs, then turns to Carter, “What would you like?”

“Just a scotch.”

A bottle is pulled out, and two glasses are plopped down in front of the two men before the amber liquid is poured quickly and efficiently into the two. The bottle thumps gently onto the bar, and Mandy points at Dean, “That bottle walks out or ends up empty,”

“I pay for the whole thing. I know, I know.” Dean makes a shooing motion with one hand, receiving one last glare for it before Mandy whirls away down the bar. He picks up his glass and turns slightly towards Carter, who’s giving him a questioning look. “Our little deal. If I get something other than beer, she leaves the bottle, and I can have as much as I like free unless I take the bottle or drink it all. If that happens, I pay for the whole bottle.”

“And how often do you have to pay?”

Dean shrugs and takes a gulp of scotch. “Only ever paid a couple times.”

Silence falls between the two. Carter is watching Ryan and Mandy and surreptitiously watching Dean. Dean is alternating between his friends and his drink. “How did they come up with the name?”

Dean’s head jerks up. “What?”

“IceFire. How did they decide on that?”

Dean plays with his glass for a moment. “I think Dave is actually the one who came up with it. He always said the two of them are like Ice and Fire. Ryan is always calm and cool and collected, where Mandy is hot-tempered and wild and slightly unpredictable.”

“So why is Ryan in red and Mandy in blue?”

Dean laughs at that. “That’s sort of their little joke. Ryan’s a big guy, so him being all in red is pretty physically intimidating. He goes to break up a fight, and whoever’s fighting will usually quit when they see him coming. If that doesn’t work, or if someone is being belligerent or harassing someone, Mandy takes care of them.” Carter’s eyebrows lift in a silent question. “Like I said, she’s got a wicked left hook. She has the element of surprise too, what with being fairly small. People don’t see the danger in her, but she’s freakishly strong. She’s knocked out guys nearly twice her size for harassing regulars.”

Carter picks up the bottle of scotch and refills their glasses. “What would you have done if we had to meet someone here under?”

“We wouldn’t be meeting anyone here.”

Carter slams his quickly emptied glass down on the counter at Dean’s response, not hard enough to attract the attention of anyone else, but enough to make a point. “Damnit, Dean. Half of our meetings are in bars. What would happen if one of them wanted to meet here? What would you do? Can’t say, ‘Oh, sorry. Can’t meet there because the owners know who I actually am.’ You would blow the whole thing!”

Dean shakes his head, throwing back the scotch in his glass. “I told you, we wouldn’t be meeting here.”

“How the hell can you know that? Tell me why no one would want to meet here?”

“Have you looked around Carter? This place is spotless. It’s been open for months, and no one’s gotten hurt here. Fights are ended before they start, and anyone who tries to make trouble is thrown out on their ass, sometimes unconscious.” Dean points to a man sitting at one of the tables talking animatedly to several ladies. “See him? He’s here every night. Know what he does for a living? He teaches people how to defend themselves. Specifically, women who have been attacked. He told me one night that he’s started recommending this bar to all his students, because they can be safe here.” He points to another guy, sitting in a corner. “He moves furniture for a living. In any other bar, someone would want to pick a fight with them. Here, they can sit down and relax, knowing no one is going to try and ‘prove themselves’ by fighting with them.” He turns back to Carter. “The only one here who ever hits anyone is Mandy. Those two will usually help toss whatever idiot draws her anger out, but that’s it.”

There’s a sudden silence that spreads from right around the door throughout the bar, and the atmosphere goes taut with anticipation. All heads turn to the door where a trio of gang-bangers stand. A streak of black and blue shoots from behind the bar as Mandy launches herself over it and strides to stand before them. “I told you to never come back here.”

The one in front huffs and glances to his companions with a confident smirk. “Yeah? Well I’m sure I told you that we don’t care what you told us, pipsqueak.” He steps forward, all cocky attitude and swagger.

Carter tenses up when he and Dean catch sight of the gun shoved in the waistband of the thug’s jeans. Dean’s hand on his arm keeps him from standing up. Carter looks at him, and notices the two buff guys and a couple others are moving into ready stances as well.

Dean’s voice is too quiet for anyone but Carter. “This is why we will never meet anyone here. Just watch.”

Mandy takes another step forward, not at all frightened by the man in front of her. “I guess your little minions didn’t tell you what happened to them the last time they came and tried to ‘liven things up’ in here, did they?” The two still standing by the door shift a little when a grin that is pure evil spreads across her face. “Didn’t tell you that they got beat up by one girl, did they?”

“No, they said a demon that looked like a girl beat them up.” The gun is pulled out and pressed to Mandy’s chest. The men around the room who were tensed and ready all jump to their feet, Carter included. “But these two are superstitious fools, and I said I would just have to prove that you’re just a weak little girl, trying to be brave.”

Mandy waves one hand at the rest of the bar. “Oh, sit down, all of you. Boy Wonder here’s no threat to me.” Everyone slowly sinks back to their seats. “Because you’re right about me not being a demon, but I’m no weak little girl!” She moved suddenly, too fast for the thug to react, grabbing his wrist and twisting, ducking, and turning to flip him up and onto his back hard enough that his breath whooshes out, wrenching the gun from his hand and planting one foot on his throat, gun firmly in one hand. The two other thugs fled out the door when she turned the gun on them, nearly tripping in their haste to get away from her. She turned her attention back to the pinned thug. “Now. I told your buddies to warn you to stay away from here. I told them to tell every other gang-banger, drug dealer, gun-runner, rapist, and thug the same thing. Clearly, my first message wasn’t fully understood the first 20 times.” Dean suddenly notices that her hands are busy on the gun she snatched, and he smirks. “This place is protected.” The gun is held up for the room to see, and with a flick of her fingers, it seems to spontaneously disassemble, most of it clattering to the floor beside the thug’s head. “Now run.” Mandy spoke the last two words in a low, growling hiss, lifting her foot from his neck.

The thug scrambled up and out the door, terror on his face. The bar erupted into cheers and applause as the door swung closed. Mandy leaned down and picked up the disassembled gun parts she had let drop, and the normal chatter resumed as she walked calmly back behind the bar. Dean whispers to Carter. “If we’re ever asked to meet here, the same thing will happen to us. She promised me that if I ever come here under, I’ll receive the same treatment.”

Carter is silent as he watches Mandy disappear into the back for a moment before turning to scrutinize Dean. “Alright.” He pours more scotch and falls silent.

A couple of moments later Ryan approaches them. “Dean.” He jerks his head towards the back door, eyes tight with worry. “You know how she gets.”

Dean bobs his head, slams back the scotch left in his glass and slides off the stool. He heads into the back room silently, feeling Carter’s eyes on him the whole way.
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