A SMALL WORLD
A/N: We have here the end of one story, but it seems the saga is not over yet. Yes, there is a new story in the works, to follow on from this one, and I will be posting the first chapter of it very soon.
Dedication: This is something I should have done not only at the start of this story, but also at the start of "Trapped", and I apologise for being so lax. This story, and it's prequel are both dedicated to Mike, who inspired their creation. Thanks so much for reading, and encouraging me. 8-)
Three days later
Bobby spent the next few days shrouded in a silence that not even Mike could break through. At first, they worried that perhaps he was slipping into some form of depression, until Deakins reminded them that Richie had died at Bobby's hand, and it was going to take time for him to come to grips with that. Bobby wasn't deliberately shutting them all out. He was simply trying to accept what had happened in the only way he knew how – by locking himself away within that phenomenal mind of his, until he was able to deal with recent events.
It was on the third day, when Mike was at Bobby's apartment while Alex and Carolyn dealt with a seemingly neverending stream of paperwork at One Police Plaza, that Bobby finally came out of the shell that he'd formed around himself.
“We need to talk to her.”
Mike looked up at Bobby in surprise and, for a long moment, the words didn't register in his mind.
“Hey. You finally decided to come back to us.”
“I'm sorry,” Bobby murmured. “I just... needed time to sort things out.”
“It's okay, baby brother. I get that. I was just worried, that's all. Are you okay, now?”
“I think so,” Bobby answered. “I... I know I didn't have a choice. If I hadn't taken out Richie, he and Peres would have killed us both.”
“Yeah, they would have,” Mike agreed. “And I'm sorry that it was you who had to do it, but I won't say I'm sorry that Richie's dead. He can't hurt you anymore, Bobby. That's what I care about.”
“I know. I appreciate it, Mike.”
Mike nodded, and a brief silence fell until, nearly a minute later, Bobby's earlier words suddenly registered in his mind.
“Uh... Who do we need to talk to?”
Bobby regarded Mike wearily.
“Hang on, Bobby,” Mike argued. “We both agreed that was not an option. Even if she does remember anything, the stress might just push her into another break. I don't want that to happen anymore than you do.”
Bobby nodded, appreciative of Mike’s consideration. It was strange, he reflected sadly, how the tables so quickly. Before, it had been Mike who had been eager for answers, while he had pleaded for caution. Now, while he couldn’t exactly say that he was eager to get answers, it was definitely Mike who was now urging caution.
“It seemed straightforward before… because I knew what Dad was like. It didn’t seem that much of a stretch to think he’d slept around before I was born. But your dad… He wasn’t like that.”
“No,” Mike agreed quietly. “He wasn’t.”
“And I know Mom wasn’t like that, either. So whatever happened between them must have been more than just a one-night stand. I’m going to ask her, Mike. I’m going to go tomorrow, and ask her face to face. What I want to know is… will you come with me? If… If you don’t want to, I’ll understand…”
“I’ll come,” Mike promised him. “I wouldn’t leave you to do that on your own.”
Bobby sighed softly.
“Sure. Just one thing. How the hell are we going to get there? I don’t know about you, but I’m not so keen on asking Alex and Carolyn for anymore favours just yet.”
“I’ll call Lewis,” Bobby decided, realising that Mike was right. “He’ll take us. But I think we need to at least let them know we’re going. You know what’ll happen if they come by, or call, and they can’t find us.”
“Yeah,” he muttered. “Handcuffs. And not in a good way.”
One Police Plaza
Alex hung up the phone slowly, chewing lightly on her lower lip as she contemplated what she’d just been told.
“I know that look,” a voice said, and she looked up to see Deakins approaching, a distinct frown on his face. “What are they up to now?”
She couldn’t help but smile.
“Is it that obvious?”
Deakins chuckled darkly as he sat gingerly on the edge of her desk.
“In a word? Yes. Come clean, Alex. What are they doing?”
“They’re going to go to Carmel Ridge tomorrow to talk to Bobby’s mom.”
The frown slipped from his face as he quickly realised why.
“I assume this is something they’ve decided on together?”
“I think so. It was Bobby who told me. He didn’t seem exactly happy about it, but I think he wants to know the details now as much as Mike.”
“I can’t say I blame either of them,” Deakins mused. “Did he ask you to take them?”
Alex shook her head.
“No. He said he’d already called Lewis, and organised a ride with him. I don’t think he was game enough to ask me or Carolyn.”
Deakins nodded. He wasn’t surprised by that in the least.
“Well,” he said as he stood up, “let’s just hope they get the answers they’re looking for, so we can all put this issue to rest once and for all.”
The following day
Lewis arrived to pick Mike and Bobby up just after midday of the following day, as promised. The trip to Carmel Ridge proved to be a long one, with neither brother in a talkative mood. Lewis tried a couple of times to get a conversation going, only to be left floundering when he got no response. In the end, he gave up and concentrated on his driving.
When they finally arrived at Carmel Ridge, Bobby asked Lewis to wait for them, and then he and Mike headed into the building together.
“Mike, are you sure you’re willing to come in with me?” Bobby asked softly as they paused in the foyer. Mike paused, his gaze flickering to the corridor that led past the reception counter, and steeling himself for what they were about to do.
“Yeah, I am,” he confirmed, turning back finally to look Bobby in the eye. “Are you sure you’re okay with it?”
It was a moot question. After everything that had happened in Miami, and after everything Richie had told them… everything he’d taunted Bobby over… Bobby’s need to know the truth now was just as great as Mike’s, and they both knew it.
“Just… Trust me? If I tell you to leave, don’t argue with me.”
Mike nodded in wordless assent. Bobby’s breath escaped him in a soft sigh.
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
Yvonne looked up from her seat at Carmel Ridge’s front desk, and a warm smile lit up her face.
“Bobby! It’s good to see you! On the road to recovery, I see?”
Bobby favoured her with a warm smile in return, but conspicuously avoided responding to her query.
“Hi, Yvonne. Is… Is Mom up to having visitors?”
“Absolutely, honey. She’d been having a good day. But who’s this handsome fellow you’ve brought with you?”
It was all Bobby could do to contain his smirk, especially at the sight of Mike’s face turning a deep shade of red.
“This is my brother, Yvonne.”
At that, her welcoming smile faded and a dark frown crossed her features.
“This isn’t Richie,” Bobby assured her. “This is Mike.”
Her eyebrows went up in surprise.
“I didn’t realise you had another brother, Bobby.”
“It’s a long story,” Mike said wryly, and Bobby nodded in agreement.
“So… Richie’s still MIA?” she inquired carefully. Bobby hesitated in answering. As much as he didn’t want to talk about it, he knew he had to say something. Frances deserved to know that her oldest son was dead, but in telling her, it could well push her into the psychotic break that he and Mike were afraid of.
“Richie’s dead, Yvonne,” Bobby explained quietly. “He… He got in with a very bad group… It cost him his life.”
Very diplomatic, Mike thought wryly. It was the truth, but not the entire truth.
“I’m sorry, Bobby,” Yvonne murmured. “Did you want me to let Dr Shimo know?”
He nodded gratefully.
“Yes. Thankyou… Just in case.”
“Of course. I’ll do that right away. You boys go on through.”
“She didn’t seem all that broken up,” Mike remarked under his breath as he and Bobby headed down the long corridor that would take them to Frances’ room.
“That would be because Richie’s reputation is lower than mud here,” Bobby explained. “No one here has actually met him, but they all seem to hate him on principle. Mom can get pretty graphic in the stories she tells about him.”
Mike couldn’t hide the smile that quirked his lips.
“You know, we could add to those now.”
Bobby grimaced, and chose not to respond to that. They rounded a corner, and Bobby slowed to a halt outside the third door along. He looked back at Mike, who held up his hands to stop the inevitable question.
“Yes, I’m sure. And so are you. We need to know, baby brother, so let’s just do it.”
Sighing softly, Bobby pushed the door open, and led the way inside.
Mike wasn’t entirely sure what his expectations were as he walked in, but the brightly lit room that he was met with was not among them. Nor were the four bookshelves that were jammed with books of all sorts. It reminded him vividly of Bobby’s home, he thought in mild amusement.
“Bobby? Sweetheart, I wasn’t expecting you today.”
Mike looked around to see Bobby walking around and hugging and kissing the elderly woman who sat in a chair by the window.
“I know, Mom. This was… a special occasion. How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine. Although, Mrs Jessup two rooms down has been having a fairly dreadful time lately. I feel sorry for her, of course, but she disturbs everyone with her wailing at night…” Frances trailed off, and Mike suddenly found himself trapped in her piercing, probing gaze. “Bobby? Aren’t you going to introduce your friend?”
Bobby knew that tone only too well. That was her ‘use the manners you were taught’ tone.
“I’m sorry, Mom. This is Mike. We, um…We work together in the Major Case Squad.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ma’am,” Mike greeted her with his warmest smile, stepping forward and taking her offered hand in a polite grip. Frances smiled approvingly.
“What a lovely, polite boy.”
Bobby coughed, and it took all Mike’s control not to elbow him.
“Now, Bobby, perhaps you’d like to tell me the reason for this… special visit. Should I be preparing myself for bad news?”
Bobby’s smile faded, and Frances nodded sagely.
“I should. Very well, young man. I suggest you tell me, and get it over with.”
Sparing Mike a grim glance, Bobby sat down carefully on the bed.
“It’s about Richie, Mom. He… um…”
Frances’ gaze narrowed further when he faltered, and even as Mike watched, a sad understanding dawned in her eyes.
“Is he dead? Bobby? Is your brother dead?”
“Yes,” Bobby admitted shakily. Frances shut her eyes for a long moment, as though struggling to compose herself.
“Are you going to tell me what happened? Or is that something I’m better off not knowing?”
“He… He got in with the wrong people,” Bobby said softly. “It was a crime gang, in Miami.”
Frances regarded him thoughtfully for a long moment before her gaze dropped to his side, where he’d been stabbed.
“What did your brother do to you?”
Bobby said nothing, torn between telling her the truth, and trying to protect her from it. Frances reached out to his side, and he flinched away from her automatically. Her gaze hardened.
“Robert Goren, you tell me what he did to you, and you tell me now!”
Miserable and defeated, Bobby lifted up his shirt to reveal the gauze-covered wound.
“He stabbed me. He stabbed Mike in the stomach… He… He tried to kill us, Mom.”
The understanding in Frances’ eyes was more than either Bobby or Mike had anticipated.
“It was you, wasn’t it, Bobby? You killed Richie, didn’t you?”
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Bobby choked out, tears coming in a flood. “I didn’t want to… but he didn’t give me a choice. I’m sorry…”
Frances gently gathered her younger son into her arms, and drew his head down to her shoulder.
“My poor boy,” she murmured as he sobbed. “My poor baby…” Her gaze went to Mike as she cradled Bobby to her, and motioned to the spot on the bed beside Bobby. “Mike, come and sit down. That’s it. You were there?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Mike confirmed. “Bobby did everything he could. Neither of us wanted him dead, but Richie never gave us a chance.”
“I believe you,” Frances assured him. “You have honest eyes.”
Mike smiled faintly, mildly bemused. He’d been told plenty of things in his time, but that was definitely a first. When Bobby finally pulled back, though, Frances looked from one to the other with that same, piercing look.
“Now, which of you boys intends to tell me the real reason you’re here?”
Mike and Bobby looked at each other uneasily. Bobby swallowed hard. It was too easy in this place to forget just how perceptive his mother really was.
“Mom… Richie told me some things… About me… I need to know if they’re true.”
“Fair enough. What did he tell you?”
“He told me that you… you had an… an…”
“An affair?” she suggested lightly when he faltered. Bobby nodded.
“Yes. And that I wasn’t… I mean…”
“That I got pregnant as a result of the affair?”
Bobby’s shoulders slumped.
Frances sighed softly.
“Richie…” she murmured, with regret in her voice. “You sorry, vindictive boy…”
“It’s true?” Bobby asked, and she answered with a single nod.
“Yes. It’s true. Before you judge me, though, Bobby, perhaps you should hear the whole story.”
Bobby nodded wordlessly, and was quietly aware of Mike tensing beside him. Seemingly oblivious to Mike’s presence, Frances spoke quietly, with her attention focused exclusively on her son.
“When I first met Jack, Richard and I were having some problems. We fought, a lot. Once, it got so bad that the neighbours called the police. The officer who came to investigate was… well, I won’t go into that, suffice to say that he certainly attracted my attention, and I seemed to attract his. Nothing came of it right then, of course, but later on… Richard went away for a few weeks. He claimed he was at a seminar for his business, but I know where he really was. While he was gone, Jack came back to see me. He said he was conducting a follow-up call, to see if everything was okay. I was able to invite him in, then, because Richard wasn’t there.”
Frances, paused, and sighed at the memory.
“We had a connection, there was no denying it. I can’t really say whether it was amplified by my unhappiness at the time, but something was there, because he came back again the next day, and the day after that… And it was after nearly a week of those ‘follow-up’ calls that we finally…” She paused again, smiling faintly, and squeezing Bobby’s hand gently. “Well, you know what I mean. It only happened the once, but it was enough. I found out that I was pregnant two weeks after Richard came home. I couldn’t even try to pretend you were his, Bobby, because we hadn’t slept together for a long time by then. But we both pretended you were, because back then it would have meant ostracism from the church, and strange as it seemed, that did still mean something back then. But he knew, and he resented you because of it.”
“What happened with Jack?” Bobby asked softly.
“He started coming to see me at the library. Once he found out I was pregnant… and he knew you were his, even without me telling him so… he started doing everything he could to help me. It wasn’t much. None of us could afford much of anything then. But he tried, bless him. And then when you were born… Bobby, that man loved you from the moment he laid eyes on you. He loved you as much as his other little boy. He tried to convince me to leave Richard. He said he’d leave his wife, and we could be together… Him, me, you and his other son... but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave Richie Junior. That would have been so wrong. He had a plan, though. Jack had a plan, and I was going to go along with it, and damn what anyone else thought. But then, something happened, and all of a sudden Jack stopped coming to see me. It took nearly two months before I learned that he’d died. I was heartbroken… and not just for myself, Bobby, but for you, too. You could have had a father in your life who really did love you, but instead you were left with that monster who treated you like his own personal whipping boy. I’m so sorry for that.”
Bobby swallowed hard.
“It… It’s okay, Mom. The plan he had… What was it?”
Frances looked past them, to the shelf by the window.
“Mike, would you get that box down from that shelf over there?”
Mike got up, found the one she meant, and pulled it down and handed it to her.
“Thankyou, dear. Now, Bobby, I can’t open this here. I don’t have the key. I expect you’ll need to take it to a locksmith to get it opened. Jack gave it to me the last time I saw him, but he never gave me the key to open it. He said… What was it again? Oh yes… He said, his boys would open it when the time was right. I suppose he may have left the key with his other boy, perhaps.”
Bobby looked around at Mike quizzically, and his breath caught in his throat at the stunned realisation in Mike’s eyes.
“Mike?” he asked, and Mike nodded.
“I have a key. It was the last thing I got from Dad before he died. I never knew what it was for, but I never threw it out, either. I always kept it where I knew it'd be safe. Right now, it's in a little box in my desk at One Police Plaza.”
“Boys…?” Frances inquired, puzzled. Bobby turned back to her, his heart pounding.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t introduce Mike properly when we came in. This is Mike Logan. Jack Logan’s oldest son.”
Frances froze, staring at Mike in breathless astonishment.
“Y… You… You’re Jack’s boy…? You’re Bobby’s brother…?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Mike confirmed softly. Tears sprung abruptly to Frances’ eyes, and she got unsteadily to her feet, motioning for Mike to come closer. He did, and promptly found himself pulled in close for a fierce hug.
“Thank God,” she said in a muffled voice. “Thank God, you found each other.”
For several seconds, Mike stood frozen, seemingly unsure what to do. Then, slowly, he relaxed in her embrace, and his arms found their way around Frances Goren in an equally warm embrace.
Sitting on the bed, watching the emotional scene, Bobby couldn’t help but smile as he felt the bitter residue of Richie’s actions slowly start to wash away. Here was his family – his entire family – and that was all that mattered.
They stayed for another half an hour, until Frances began to display signs of exhaustion, and then the trip home was only marginally livelier than the trip to Carmel Ridge. While Mike and Bobby were once again lost in their own thoughts, the mood was less dark than it had been earlier.
Despite Lewis' offer to take them to a bar for a drink, and maybe a game or two of pool, both brothers were insistent that he take them to One Police Plaza. They wouldn't explain why to him. Bobby was apologetic, promising to tell him the full details at a later point, and Lewis accepted that without argument.
They paused outside the doors of One Police Plaza after Lewis had dropped them off. Bobby had his mother's box tucked tightly under his arm, his mother's parting words still clear in his mind.
“Are you sure you want us to take this?” Bobby had asked. Frances smiled, and pulled his head down gently to kiss his forehead.
“I told you, sweetheart. That box always belonged to you and Mike. I've just been keeping it safe until it was the right time. The box, and everything in it, belongs to you and your brother.”
“And what, exactly, is in it?” Mike asked. There was no scepticism in his voice, only curiosity. Frances favoured him with a warm smile.
“I'm not really sure what Jack put in it,” she admitted. “That's something you'll have to discover for yourselves.”
And so they'd opted to go straight to One Police Plaza from Carmel Ridge, to get the key from Mike's desk and find out just what was inside the box.
“We going to do this?” Mike asked, watching Bobby thoughtfully. Bobby nodded.
“Yes. Let's go.”
“Uh oh,” Carolyn murmured. Alex glanced at her questioningly, and then up looked to see what Carolyn had just spotted.
“Oh no,” Alex muttered. “What are they doing here? Deakins is going to have their heads!”
“Maybe we can cut them off at the pass,” Carolyn suggested, already getting up out of her seat, but Alex shook her head grimly.
Sure enough, Deakins had spotted them as well, and was already coming out of his office to see what was going on.
“Don't you two clowns understand the concept of being on leave?” he demanded. Mike held up his hands defensively as he walked over to his desk.
“We're not here for work, Captain. We came to get something from my desk.”
“How did the visit go?” Alex asked, hoping to redirect any animosity that might have threatened to erupt. Bobby managed a small smile in her direction. He understood what she was trying to do, and appreciated it.
“A lot better than I thought. She... was very lucid. She remembered... and was able to answer our questions.”
“So... what Richie told you...?” Carolyn wondered.
“Was all true,” Bobby confirmed.
“Dad did have an affair with Bobby's mom,” Mike said. “It was only brief, but...”
“Passionate?” Carolyn suggested, drawing wry smiles from both Mike and Bobby.
“That would be the word,” Mike agreed. “According to Frances, when Dad discovered she was pregnant, he wanted her to leave her husband. He wanted to leave my mom and go away with Frances... Him, Frances, me and Bobby.”
“But Mom wouldn't leave Richie,” Bobby continued on.
“But she said Dad had a plan,” Mike explained. “She couldn't... or wouldn't tell us what was in it, but she gave us that box. We came to get the key so we could open it up and look at what's inside... Here it is.”
Deakins walked over to see that Mike had pulled a small box from one of his desk drawers, and from that box he withdrew a small, bronze key.
“You've had a key all this time, that opens a box that your father gave Frances Goren?” the captain asked, bemused. Mike nodded.
“Dad left the key with me, but I figure he gave the box to Frances because he didn't want Mom getting a hold of it. I think he figured it would be safe with her...”
“Until we were ready to open it,” Bobby said. “Together.”
Deakins hesitated, and then motioned to his office.
“Let's go in there. It's a little more private than out here.”
A minute later, they were comfortably seated inside the captain's office, the box on his desk.
“No sense in waiting,” Mike muttered and, with a last look to Bobby for confirmation, he leaned forward and unlocked the box.
“What's in it?” Alex asked, trying unsuccessfully to suppress her curiosity.
“Papers,” Mike said, frowning. “It's papers... looks like some sort of official documents.”
Bobby reached into the box, and pulled out a thin sheaf of papers, and his breath caught in his throat.
“What is it?” Deakins asked. Bobby looked up slowly, his gaze fixing on Mike.
“They're applications for custody... custody of us.”
Mike leaned across to get a better look.
“He was applying for full custody of the both of us... These papers... They're dated for just a month or so before Dad died.”
Bobby shuffled slowly through the papers, until he came to a single page, a letter written in elegant and sweeping handwriting.
“This is Mom's handwriting...”
“What does it say?” Carolyn asked. “Bobby...?”
Bobby drew in a slow breath, and read a portion of the letter.
“I, Mrs Frances Goren, am writing to give my support to the application by Mr John Logan for custody of my son, Robert Goren. Mr John Logan is the father of Robert, and it is my belief that he will be cared for adequately by him.” He looked up to see the same emotion in Mike's expression that he imagined was in his own. “He wanted us. He wanted both of us.”
He felt tears on his face before he even knew he was shedding them.
“He wanted both of us,” Mike echoed softly. He took the papers from Bobby's hand, and laid them back in the box. Silence fell, none of them quite knowing what to say or do.
Finally, Deakins stepped towards the door, speaking quietly.
“Alex, Carolyn, how about an update?”
For just a moment, the women looked confused. Neither was working an active case at that point, so what, exactly, did he want an update on? Then, Deakins nodded towards Mike and Bobby, and understanding dawned.
“Right, an update,” Alex said. “Sure, Captain.”
Nodding in agreement, Carolyn turned to the door, and followed the captain and her friend and temporary partner out of the room, leaving Mike and Bobby alone.
“Did you expect this?” Mike asked quietly, once they were alone. Bobby shook his head.
“No. Even with what Mom told us, it never occurred to me that he might have tried to actively seek custody of us both.”
“So...” Mike murmured. “How does it feel?”
Bobby regarded him quizzically.
“How does what feel?”
“How does it feel to know you had a dad who really did love you, and who wanted to be a part of your life?”
Mike's words hit home hard, and the tears came again before he could stop them. Mike didn't hesitate, but shifted closer, and pulled Bobby to him in a fierce, protective hug, which Bobby returned with equal enthusiasm.
“It... It feels good,” Bobby admitted softly, when they pulled back from each other a minute later. “I wish I'd had a chance to know him.”
“I'll tell you everything I can about him,” Mike promised. He paused, and then laughed softly. “Who knew, huh? When all this started, who knew where it would all end up?”
“For the record,” Bobby said with a sad smile, “I'm glad that I was wrong.”
“Wrong about what?”
“About our father being Richard Goren. In fact... I don't think I've ever been so glad to be wrong in my life.”
Mike chuckled, and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.
“For the record, I am, too.”
Deakins, Alex and Carolyn made no effort to hide the fact that they were watching Mike and Bobby, to see what would happen, and none of them tried to hide their relief when the brothers embraced.
“Thank God,” Carolyn murmured. “I was worried there, for a second.”
Deakins couldn't contain his smile.
“No?” Alex asked, the scepticism evident in her voice. Deakins' grin widened.
“No,” he answered calmly as he headed off towards the break room. “I wasn't.”
Alex and Carolyn exchanged bemused smiles and, with a last satisfied glance at their partners as they still sat talking in Deakins' office, returned their attention to the work at hand.
Back Home Law and Order: Criminal Intent Main Page