A/N: Well, I found the notebook that went missing. After a lot of procrastination on my part, I decided on a partial re-write, rather than a full re-write of this chapter. The changes aren't significant, so I'm just replacing the chapter content. I haven't removed anything from what I already had written - just added content from the re-discovered notebook.

Tuesday morning.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Alex asked as she and Bobby hesitated at the bottom of the steps of One Police Plaza. The look on his face suggested he would have preferred not to answer, but he knew from experience that ignoring her was a bad idea.

"I don't see that I have any choice. It's not as though Ross planned this just to torment me. The Chief of Detectives ordered it for the entire squad. I don't like it, but at least I'm not being singled out."

"No," Alex agreed, "you're not, and you'll be fine as long as you remember that. Now, c'mon. Let's get this over with. Mike's up first, then you and then me. After that, as long as nothing comes up, Ross has given us the okay to go and get a coffee, and regroup."

Bobby felt an irrational stab of guilt.

"That's generous of him."

She looped her arm through his, confident that anyone who took notice would merely assume she was offering reasonable support to her bereaved partner. After all, it was common knowledge now throughout the NYPD that Bobby's mother had died within the past week.

To her relief, he went without protest.

They arrived in the squad room to find Mike fidgeting at his desk while his amused partner looked on.

"It's a psyche evaluation, Logan," Wheeler said. "Not the Inquisition."

Mike glowered at her unappreciatively. "And how many have you been through, Wheeler?"

"Three," she answered, and he snorted derisively in response.

"I've had to go through at least eight and let me tell you, they don't get any easier."

"Don't be so melodramatic, Mike," Alex said with a grin as she and Bobby approached. "They're not that bad."

He turned his glare on her, but there was noticeably less heat in his expression.

"Easy for you to say, Alex. You don't have the record that I do."

"And whose fault is that?" she shot back. Mike did scowl, then.

"You're not helping."

"Leave him alone," Bobby interrupted, with a hint in his tone that suggested the time had come to ease off. Both Alex and Wheeler took the hint and backed off just as Ross walked over.

"Logan? What are you waiting for? The doctor is ready for you. Goren, could I see you in my office, please? Eames, you're welcome to join us."

Sparing Mike an apologetic look, Bobby and Alex followed the captain to his office.

"First of all," Ross said as he indicated for them to sit, "I wanted to give you my condolences again for the loss of your mother. I know how hard it is to lose a parent, and I'm sorry."

Bobby inclined his head in acknowledgement.

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate it."

"Secondly, I want to apologise for this. If it had been up to me, you wouldn't have had to deal with this at least until you were ready to come back to work."

Again, Bobby found himself feeling appreciative; not only for what Ross was saying, but also for the fact that he was willingly holding eye contact. That, more than anything else, told Bobby that Ross was less affected by what he'd learnt than Bobby had feared, and for that reason Bobby found himself prepared to answer questions.

"I suppose you must have questions about what you were told... and shown... the other day," he said. Ross answered honestly.

"Yes, I do, but they can wait. I will say this much, though. I believe you, Detective. I did some digging over the weekend, and I found old internal surveillance footage from the previous Chief of Detectives' office. If I'm not mistaken, that footage was of your abduction. Am I right?"

Bobby let out a shuddering breath. There was a memory he'd rather stayed buried.

"Yes, sir," he answered simply. He didn't bother to elaborate and Ross never asked him to.

"Then we don't need to say anything more about it until you're ready," Ross said firmly. "Now, as far as this evaluation is concerned, I don't care what the doctor reports. I'll be basing any decisions I make on the status reports I've been getting as a matter of course from Dr Huang. So please, don't feel that you need to be hyper-vigilant about what you say in there. I promise you that it will not be going any further."

Bobby nodded in acknowledgement, more grateful than he knew how to express. Before he even had a chance to try, though, there was an explosion of noise from out in the bullpen, and Ben Davage stuck his head into the office.

"Captain, you'd better get out here. I think Logan's about the kill the evaluation shrink."

Ross shot out of the office, with Bobby and Alex close behind. The sight that met them brought all three to a grinding halt.

The door of the task room where the shrink was meant to be conducting his interviews was almost off its hinges, and there were chairs on their sides, as though they'd been thrown out of the way. In the middle of the bullpen, Logan stood with his gun drawn and aimed directly at the hapless doctor.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded to know. Before anyone else had a chance to reply, though, Bobby uttered a strangled noise and spoke a single word in a harsh whisper.


Within a matter of seconds, all bar a couple of the detectives in the squad room had their weapons out and aimed at the doctor.

Beyond the unpleasant feeling of his blood pressure rising dramatically, Ross noted two things. Firstly, though Eames had not drawn her weapon, she did have her hand resting on it and was clearly ready to draw it at a moment's notice. Secondly, he couldn't help but notice the way that Goren took the most subtle of steps back and to the side, effectively stepping behind him. That most deliberate movement intrigued Ross, knowing full well that Goren was not an easily intimidated man.

His gaze went finally to the man who was at the centre of the commotion. A few days ago, the name Sydney would have meant nothing to him. Now, he recognised both it and the potential trauma that it held for Goren and, while he couldn't necessarily justify his entire squad threatening to shoot the man, he could understand it.

"So," he said, opting to try and take control of the situation before someone let an itchy trigger finger get the better of them. If nothing else, it would be an absolute bitch to explain to the Chief of Detectives why his squad had collectively decided to open fire on the designated evaluation shrink. "You're Sydney from the Centre."

The psychiatrist didn't appear surprised that Ross knew who he was. In fact, he looked almost amused by the whole situation.

"I see my reputation really does precede me," he remarked. Ross found he didn't especially appreciate the man's humour. He had never seen any squad react like this before, and he had a horrible suspicion that it wasn't the first time that they had responded like that in defence of Goren. He was also fairly confident that that suspicion would never be confirmed by any of them.

"It does," Ross agreed. "I'm not going to bother to ask why you risked coming here, because you obviously understand it was a very big risk."

"You'd be right about that, Captain Ross," Sydney conceded. "However, I felt it was a necessary risk. I need to see and speak with Bobby."

"You've seen him," Alex said in an ice-cold tone of voice, "but you forfeited the right to speak to him a long time ago. Right now, you need to give us a damned good reason why we shouldn't shoot you dead right here and now."

It chilled Ross's blood to hear someone who he had come to see as a very level-headed and pragmatic person issue such a cold-blooded threat to what was essentially an unarmed citizen and that, perhaps more so than anything else, drove home to him the reality of what he'd been told about Bobby's past.

"Easy, Detective," Ross murmured. He took a step forward, feeling increasingly more desperate to defuse the situation before someone walked in and it blew up in all their faces. "Everyone, put your guns down, please."

Slowly, with obvious reluctance, Mike lowered his gun and the rest of the squad gradually followed his lead. Ross nodded in visible relief.

"Thank you." His attention went back to Sydney, who looked equally relieved not to be the focus of at least a dozen loaded weapons any longer. "Now, whether you get to speak to Detective Goren is entirely up to him and somehow I doubt he's going to agree. As for the pretence that you've come here under, consider your services terminated. You're to leave immediately, and I don't ever want to see your face in or near One Police Plaza again. In fact, I think you'd be wise to consider leaving New York altogether."

Sydney looked past Ross to Bobby. The other man's face was fixed in a deliberately neutral expression, giving away very little except to the most perceptive of how agitated he really was.

"I just want to talk to you," he offered. "Nothing more, nothing less. Please, Bobby."

Much to his private aggravation, Bobby found that a part of him did want to know. Was it really just that Sydney's curiosity had finally gotten the better of him, or was there something deeper to it? As always, though, Sydney had a true poker face and Bobby simply couldn't work out what was going on behind that deceptively placid facade.

"I have nothing to talk to you about," Bobby answered finally, and his voice immediately gave away all the nerves and fear that he was experiencing right then. "Whatever you have to say, I don't want to hear it."

"I only want to talk," Sydney insisted, keeping his tone gentle. "No tricks, I promise. Just you and I, Bobby. Please."

He took a step forward, towards Bobby, only to be brought up short when Mike suddenly placed himself squarely in Sydney's line of sight.

"You heard him. He doesn't want to hear it. You have one option, pal. The lift is that way. I suggest you use it."

"I assure you, Detective, I mean no harm to Bobby. I only wish to speak with him. I swear it."

Alex glared at Sydney with sheer hatred in her eyes, with her hand still lingering on her holstered weapon.

"We don't trust you, and neither does Bobby."

Disappointment flickered across Sydney's face, mixed with annoyance and understanding.

"I suppose I can understand that," he conceded, ignoring the derisive snort from Mike. "However, Jarod..."

"Is not me," Bobby interrupted coldly. "You had me for a total of six years, Sydney. You had Jarod for most of his life. Don't make the mistake of thinking that I share his Stockholm Syndrome. I don't, and you destroyed any remnants of trust that I still had in you the day that you locked me in the focus chamber and let me drown."

A murmur swept through the room at the revelation. Most of the detectives present knew Bobby had gone through hell, but no one knew any specifics. This open admission was the first real glimpse any of them had gotten into Bobby's ordeal.

"From the sounds of it," Ross said in a low, terse voice, "my detective owes you nothing. I don't know how you managed to place yourself to be selected to do this squad's evaluations, but your services are no longer required. Please leave now."

"I get the impression that you aren't merely referring to the building," Sydney said dryly.

"You'd be correct," Ross agreed. "I will be circulating an alert, with a directive to arrest you on sight if you're still in New York after today.

"Very well," he conceded, sounding deceptively pleasant in his acceptance. He returned his piercing gaze to Bobby. "I'm sorry that you won't give me the opportunity to speak to you, but I can understand that you're not quite ready yet. I hope one day, you'll be willing to put aside your issues and be prepared to give me another chance."

"Don't you dare," Bobby snarled, anger lighting up his face. "Don't you dare put it on me. After everything you did, everything you were responsible for, you have no right to make out like I'm disrespecting you."


"No! You knew I never wanted to see you again. Jarod told you, and I'm sure Miss Parker told you as well. This was never going to be like it was with you and Jarod. I told you, I do not have any degree of Stockholm Syndrome. I have no emotional connection to you at all. You didn't save me from anything when I was a child, and you sure as hell did nothing to help me as an adult. I don't want to see you, I do not want to talk to you, and I want you to get the hell out of here right now, and never show your face again."

Ross raised an eyebrow at Sydney.

"I think that was pretty definitive, Doctor."

Sydney let out a tiny huff of air in obvious frustration.

"Very well. I'll leave. I am disappointed, Bobby, but I suppose I can understand." He turned and headed towards the exit, before pausing to look back at his former charge with a piercing gaze. "I just thought you should be aware that the Triumvirate has decided to start a new Pretender program."

With that, Sydney turned and walked out of the squad room without another glance back.

Silence reigned in the wake of his departure as all eyes found their way to Bobby. The detective stood frozen to the spot, his already pale complexion turning a worrying shade of grey.

"Bobby?" Alex asked softly. "You know he's just trying to provoke you, right?"

"C'mon, pal," Mike tried to encourage him. "Go sit down, and I'll get you a good, strong cup of coffee."

For several seconds, Bobby never moved or spoke. Then, from around the corner, the distinct 'ding' of the elevator reached their ears. All of a sudden, Bobby broke his paralysis and took off out of the squad room, oblivious to the sound of his partner, his best friend and his captain all calling after him. He reached the lift just as the doors were sliding closed, and threw his arm out to give him time to slip in before they closed fully.

"I see that managed to get your attention," Sydney remarked casually, though the hint of a smirk on his face suggested he was quite pleased with himself. Bobby glared at him.

"Yes, and don't think I'm happy about it. You wanted my attention, and now you've got it. Start talking, Sydney. You've got until we reach the ground floor to say something that will make me willing to hear you out properly."

"I can't tell you much," Sydney admitted. "I only found out a few days ago. Miss Parker came to tell me that the Centre is planning to restart the Pretender program. We are both in agreement, though, that it needs to be stopped. It cannot be allowed to happen. Not again."

Bobby's breath caught.

"Are you serious? You want to stop it?"

"Yes, Bobby. I'm very serious. Neither Miss Parker nor myself want the Pretender program to start again. The risk of abuse is simply too high, and I can't justify it."

The bitterness in Bobby's face was palpable.

"Pity you didn't have that attitude when I was in the Centre... either when I was a kid or two years ago."

"Bobby, do you really think it would have mattered what I thought?"

"As far as my freedom went, and as far as Raines went? No, I suppose not, but you could have made life a hell of a lot easier for me than it was."

Sydney's shoulders slumped, and Bobby was gratified to see a hint of guilt in the older man's face.

"I know, and I am sorry for that."

"Are you really?"

Sydney sighed.

"I've made a lot of mistakes over the years. One of the biggest was allowing myself to be seduced by the Centre. For far too long, I convinced myself that everything the Centre did was for the greater good."

"That's one hell of a delusion to hold on to," Bobby said scathingly. "Especially around someone like Raines."

"Yes, it was," Sydney agreed ruefully.

"And what about now?"

"I believe the Centre could still do a lot of good, if it were taken out of the hands of the Triumvirate," Sydney mused. "Of course, that would be impossible."

Bobby shut his eyes. As much as he hated it, he knew he needed to know more. If the Centre really was intending to start the Pretender program again, he needed to know if he was going to be at risk again. He doubted Sydney would be completely honest with him about that inside an elevator within One Police Plaza.

"All right, Sydney. You've got your chance. But I'm not going anywhere with you on my own. Alex and Mike will be coming with us."

"Very well," Sydney conceded. "You'd better call them..."

"No need," Bobby said dismissively. "They'll be waiting on the ground floor when the doors open."

Sydney looked mildly sceptical at that, and his surprise was palpable when the doors slid open to reveal the two Irish detectives, just as Bobby had predicted. Neither one looked even remotely amused.

"Well?" Alex asked coldly.

Bobby inwardly cringed. He knew by her tone that they would be having an uncomfortable conversation that night about him behaving recklessly, and he supposed he could see her point. After all, if the Centre had been able to abduct him from with the Chief of Detective's office, then an elevator shaft probably wouldn't have presented that much of an issue for them, either.

He barely suppressed a shudder. That pleasant little thought was going to give him nightmares.

"I've agreed to hear Sydney out. We're going to a coffee shop."

Mike nodded. He didn't question whether or not he and Alex were invited to accompany them. He simply took it as a given that they were going along.

"I know a place just around the corner. It's quiet, but there should still be plenty of people around. Plus, I know the owner."

Bobby nodded.

"Sounds perfect. Let's go."

to be continued...

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