“Well, they’re both still intact,” Alex remarked dryly when Mike let them back in.

“You see?” Mike said to Bobby as he sat back down beside him. “What did I tell you? They don’t trust us.”

“Forgive us,” Alex retorted. “But you two aren’t exactly cementing a reputation for being trustworthy.”

“Well, I still say you didn’t have to handcuff us to our beds,” Mike argued. “And arranging for the male nurses to give us sponge baths was just cruel. Whose idea was that, anyway? Yours, or Carolyn’s?”

“Actually, that was the doctor’s idea,” Carolyn said smugly. “And you can quit whining about it. Just be thankful we didn’t decide to leave you two clowns handcuffed until you got discharged.”

Bobby looked up at Alex, incredulous at the idea she could be so pitiless.

“You wouldn’t have… would you?”

Rather than reassure him, Alex favoured him with an overly-sweet smile.

“You’ll never have to find out, will you?”

“Great,” Bobby muttered, trying hard to ignore the smirk on his partner’s face.

Throughout the banter, Deakins stood back and watched them in silence. He had been hopeful upon coming back in and seeing Mike willingly sit back down next to Bobby, and that feeling of hope had blown into full and complete relief when the joking began. As near as he could tell, nothing seemed to be any different between the two men.

Only time would tell whether any rifts might develop between them, but at least this was a positive start.

“Are you both okay?” he asked seriously. Mike and Bobby exchanged glances, and small smiles that didn’t go unnoticed by their partners and their captain.

“As good as we can be,” Mike answered for them both. “Specifically… We’re okay with each other.”

Deakins’ relief was palpable.

“All right, then. Maybe I’ll ask Angie to bring in that coffee, now…”

“Actually, sir, Bobby spoke up, “we’d prefer to just get home. It’s been a long day. We’re both pretty tired.”

Mike nodded in wordless agreement.

“Fair enough,” Deakins murmured. “Well, perhaps Alex can take you home, Bobby, and I can take Mike and Carolyn?”

“Thankyou,” Mike murmured, intensely relieved at the prospect of finally going home. “We’d appreciate it.”

“You don’t have to stay, Alex,” Bobby told her as she guided him into his apartment. “Trust me, I’m not going anywhere.”

“I know you’re not,” she agreed. “But that’s not why I’m staying. Think about it, Bobby. What if you slipped and fell? Or got sick? The doctor said that could happen, with the medication you’re on. I’m not going anywhere, no matter how much you protest.”

He smiled tiredly.

“I’m not going to protest. I’m grateful that you’re here. It’s just, after everything you’ve been through over the last month…”

She swatted him lightly on the arm.

You’re the one who nearly died, Bobby. You and Mike. How can you even find the energy to worry about what I went through?”

“You’re my partner… my best friend… and you nearly had to bury me,” Bobby said softly. “If I’d been in your place, Alex, I think I might have just about lost my mind.”

She slipped her arms around his waist and hugged him warmly.

“How about I get you something light to eat, and then you can take your meds, and go to bed?”

He nodded, suddenly feeling horribly tired.

“That sounds great. Thanks, Alex.”

“Did you clean?” Mike asked suspiciously as he looked around his apartment. Carolyn smiled wryly.

“Just a little. I washed and put away the dishes, changed the sheets and blankets on your bed and did some dusting. There wasn’t really much else to do. I actually expected you to be more of a… you know… a slob. You surprised me.”

“Just because my desk at work looks like it got hit by the A-bomb,” he grumbled in mock irritation. Limping across the floor, he dropped into his favourite armchair and let his head fall back. “Man, it feels good to be home.”

“How are you feeling?” she asked quietly, not exclusively meaning how he was physically feeling.

“I’m home,” he murmured, his eyes sliding shut in contentment. “I feel pretty damn good, considering. Tired, but good.”

“Actually, Mike, I meant…”

“I know what you meant,” he interrupted her. “Carolyn, I just got home. I haven’t set foot in here for over a month. I feel like I just walked out of a hurricane. Don’t start psychoanalysing my emotions now, please. I don’t have the energy.”

“Just tell me one thing,” she asked, “and then I’ll help you get ready for bed. Are you really okay with Bobby over this?”

He looked at her, genuinely puzzled.

“Why wouldn’t I be? It’s not either of our faults.”

Carolyn smiled with a relief that Mike was simply too tired to try and understand.

“Okay,” she conceded. “Good enough.”

“Can I please go to bed, now?” he asked plaintively.

“Are you hungry?” she asked. “I can get you something to eat before you turn in, if you like.”

He shook his head, pulling a face at the thought of food.

“Not hungry,” he mumbled. “Tired.”

In a brief show of affection, Carolyn took the liberty of ruffling Mike’s hair.

“Okay, then. C’mon, you big ape. I’ll get your pills, and you can go to bed.”

At Bobby’s apartment, he’d just polished off a plate of scrambled eggs and toast that Alex had prepared, and now sat on his bed without protest as she removed his shoes and socks.

“Okay,” Alex murmured. “I think you can manage the rest on your own.”

As she stood up, she was surprised when he caught hold of her hand.

“Bobby…? What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I… I don’t know that anything’s really wrong,” he answered softly. “I… I just…”

He trailed off, at a loss. Alex smiled gently at him, and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

“Finish getting changed, and get into bed. I’ll go and get your meds.”

When she returned with a glass of water and the small cocktail of pills, he had finished stripping down to his boxers and undershirt, and was now tucked safely beneath the covers. She supervised his taking of the pills, and then sat down beside him on the bed.

“It’s good to be home,” he murmured, the relief evident in his voice. Alex nodded wordlessly. She didn’t doubt that for a second, but she was also anxious to probe how he was feeling about the bombshell that had been dropped on him and Mike that earlier that afternoon.

“You must be feeling pretty confused and angry,” she ventured. As she spoke, she gently drew Bobby close to lean against her, and he didn’t object.

“A little confused,” he admitted, “but not angry. I don’t have any reason to be angry.”

“Not even for finding out that your dad was unfaithful all along?”

“It wasn’t such a big shock. It wasn’t that big a stretch of the imagination to accept that he was unfaithful before she got sick.” He paused, and then smiled bitterly. “In a way, it even helps.”

“How?” Alex wondered, baffled by his logic.

“It… It helps to think that maybe he was a bastard all along… That he didn’t turn his back on us just because Mom got sick.”

Alex hesitated before asking her next question.

“You’re not… angry with Mike over this?”

Bobby looked up at her, confused.

“Why would I be angry with him? Why do you think it’s his fault?”

“I don’t,” Alex assured him. “But you know what people are like, Bobby. When we’re confronted with something we don’t understand, or don’t like, we tend to lash out. Deakins was worried that you and Mike might lash out at each other. I mean… Your dad? His mom…”

Bobby sighed a little as he finally understood where Alex was coming from.

“Both of them are the parents that neither of us has any connection to, or respect for,” Bobby told her gently. “My dad and Mike’s mom were both drunks that liked to beat on us whenever the mood took them. Neither of us is going to sit around bemoaning what they did. Mike and I have no reason to be angry at each other. We have every reason to be supportive of each other.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Alex said. Bobby watched her with a small smile.

“He’s sweet on you, you know.”

Alex nearly choked.

“Who? Mike?”

“Yes. He likes you a lot, and he has a lot of respect for you. I… I think he’d like to ask you out.”

She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the revelation.

“What are you? His go-between? Bobby, if Mike Logan really wants to ask me out, he can do it himself!”

Bobby was unapologetic.

“Just letting you know.”

“Well, in that case, I guess I ought to let you know that Carolyn Barek is rather taken with you.”

His eyebrows shot up.


“Really. What was it she said…? She loves a well-dressed man, and you look absolutely hot in Armani.”

To her delight, Bobby went beet red. Satisfied, she slid off the bed and leaned in to kiss him lightly on the forehead.

“Go to sleep, Bobby. I’ll be right outside in the living room if you need me.”

He accepted her words without protest, feeling his body finally start to give in to the medication. His eyes fluttered closed, and he slept.


Deakins looked around, and smiled wearily as Angie sat down carefully on the arm of his lounge chair and slipped an arm around his shoulders.

“Why don’t you come to bed, honey?” she asked softly. “It’s late.”

“I don’t think I could sleep.”

“You’re still worried about Bobby and Mike? They left here relatively unscathed, Jim. I think it might be safe to assume that they’re okay with the news.”

He grimaced.

“I know. I shouldn’t be worried, but I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that there’s more trouble to come.”

Angie smiled wryly.

“I imagine there would be. If you thought you were having trouble with the two of them when they were just friends, imagine the grief they’ll probably give you now with the added knowledge that they’re brothers.”

“Thanks, Angie,” Deakins muttered. “I needed that.”

She laughed, and ruffled his silver hair lovingly.

“It could be worse, Jim.”

“Oh? How?”

“Well, in my experience, there are two different types of brothers. There are the brothers who hate the sight of each other, and there are those who’d do anything for each other. Unless I’m way out in my calculations, Bobby and Mike are going to fall into that latter category.”

He looked up at her plaintively.

“Why is it that I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Trust me,” Angie murmured as she stood up and urged him up as well. “There’ll come a day when you’ll thank the blessed stars that they come into the latter category. Now, stop worrying yourself about it, and come to bed.”

Smiling crookedly, Deakins allowed himself to be led upstairs, and all thoughts of his detectives erased from his mind.

Bobby awoke some time shortly after midnight, in a cold sweat and with a strangled cry on his lips. The echoes of his nightmare still lingered in his mind; his father’s abusive diatribe, his brother’s sneering presence, and the pain of the many blows that both dealt to him.

He was still lying there, shuddering and gasping for air, when the light came on, leaving him momentarily blinded. Then Alex was there beside him, wiping a cool, damp cloth over his hot face and murmuring reassurances to him.

“That was a bad one,” she said softly when he’d finally calmed down. “You want to talk about it?”

Bobby swallowed hard. He didn’t, not particularly, but Alex had a way of drawing it out of him regardless.

“It was about my… my father. Before he left… when Mom was in the hospital. He was beating me… and yelling at me.”

“What was he saying?”

“That… that it was my fault. E… Everything was my fault.”

Alex sighed and hugged him gently.

“It was a nightmare. It’s over now. Do you think you might be able to get back to sleep?”

When he didn’t answer, she settled down on the bed beside him, and drew his head over to rest against her shoulder.

“Go to sleep, Bobby. I’ll be right here. It’s okay.”

Gradually, he relaxed in her arms, and exhaustion overtook him once more. Within minutes, he was asleep again, cuddled in comfortably against her.

In the quiet, Alex wondered just how much the news that he and Mike were brothers had to do with his nightmares. As far as she knew, Bobby’s nightmares hadn’t revolved around his father for a long time. And just what the hell did it mean, that everything was his fault?

As much as she told him that it was just a nightmare, she knew as well as he did that every nightmare had a foundation in truth and reality. So what, exactly, had Bobby’s father blamed him for? And why?

She eventually gave up speculating. They were questions to which she knew she would not get an answer. She knew Bobby too well. Come morning, he would claim not to have any memory of the nightmares that had broken his sleep, and no amount of prodding on her part would get him to admit otherwise.

Alex sighed and settled in to go to sleep, her arms still wrapped protectively around her partner.

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