By the time Bobby and Alex arrived the next morning, they were startled to discover that Jack and his team had already vacated their equipment from within the Major Case offices, and the task rooms in question were back to their original state. In fact, it was almost as though Torchwood had never been there to begin with.

The team still occupied the smaller of the rooms, each of them working on what looked suspiciously to Bobby and Alex like paperwork.

“See?” Alex snorted. “Even they don't get out of doing paperwork.”

Bobby smiled wryly, while at the same time feeling a twinge of sadness. Alex had surprised him greatly with her apparent acceptance of the possibility of him leaving not just Major Case, but the NYPD altogether. He'd fully expected her to argue, to tell him not to be a fool... but she'd not done that at all.

All the same, he'd been able to read disappointment in her eyes, and that alone was almost enough to make him forget about accepting any sort of offer that Jack might be inclined to make. Almost, but not quite.

He was quietly surprised by the realisation of just how much he wanted this change – almost enough to chase Jack about it.

He glanced upwards as he caught sight of the enigmatic Torchwood leader exiting the task room and heading out. Jack caught his eye and winked as he went, drawing an amused smile from Bobby. His team was right – the man had no shame.

Still smiling to himself, he settled back into the tasks at hand, and was soon so focused on what he was doing that he didn't even think twice when Alex murmured that she was going out for coffee, and hurried out of the squad room without stopping to grab her shoulder bag and purse.

Jack had just exited One Police Plaza, on a mission to get some really good coffee for his team, when a petite figure fell in step beside him. He looked sideways, and a grin graced his face.

“Detective Eames, come to join me for coffee? My treat.”

She smiled wryly.

“I would never say no to the offer of coffee, Captain.”

His grin widened, and he offered his arm to her.

“Shall we, then?”

Amused, she nonetheless accepted, and allowed him to escort her to the nearby coffee shop – all the while promising herself that if any of her colleagues happened to see, she was going to deny everything.

“I want to talk to you,” Alex said abruptly. “About Bobby.”

Jack paused, a cup of steaming coffee halfway to his lips.

“Oh? What about him?” Jack asked, his expression giving nothing away.

“He said you told him that you want him to quit the NYPD and join Torchwood.”

Jack nodded, watching her thoughtfully.

“I do believe I said something along those lines,” he conceded. “Why? Are you going to try and warn me off? Get all territorial?”

She caught sight of the amused glint in his eyes, and couldn't help smiling briefly before becoming serious once more.

“I want to know that you're not just stringing him along. I won't lie to you. He is interested, but you need to understand that he doesn't trust easily. I won't stand by and do nothing if this is all just a laugh to you.”

She trailed off as Jack reached across and closed his hand over hers.

“Relax, Alex. I promise you, I'm not stringing him along. I do want Bobby on my team, and I don't kid around when it comes to recruiting people to Torchwood. I won't lie to you, either. He'd probably be a lot safer if he doesn't join us... As a general rule, Torchwood employees tend not to need pension plans. But it's worthwhile, Alex. It always is.”

“You're not making me feel any better about this,” she admitted uneasily. Jack smiled, withdrew his hand and took a long swallow of coffee.

“I know. I'm sorry. How about this, then? Would you feel better about it if you were there working with him?”

She stared at him, a look on her face that was halfway between shock and complete incredulity as she struggled to find her voice and speak calmly.

“If you're trying to be funny, I should warn you. I have a gun, and I will use it.”

He laughed briefly, though the tone of his laughter told her that he wasn’t entirely sure that she was kidding.

“I’m not trying to be funny, Alex. I’m serious. I’ve watched you through all this, and I’m impressed. You’ve dealt with it well, and you and Bobby make a formidable team. I’d be out of my mind to split you both up.”

A grim smile settled onto Alex’s face.

“You want me to join, because you’re worried that Bobby won’t agree if I’m not a part of the package.”

Jack winced, and found himself unable to deny the accusation.


“You don’t have to worry,” she told him flatly. “Bobby and I talked about it last night. I told him to go ahead and accept, if that’s what he really wants. So you don’t need me after all.”

She started to get up, only to be brought up short when Jack’s hand shot out and caught hold of her wrist.

“Wait, Alex, please. Sit down. You didn’t let me finish.”

She sat again slowly, eyeing him with suspicion. Jack eyed his now-empty coffee cup with momentary disappointment before looking back up at her.

“You’re right, I was worried that Bobby might turn me down out of loyalty to you. But I’m not asking you just to try and guarantee his acceptance. If that was the key requisite, I wouldn’t want either one of you. I was looking at your CV last night, and I liked what I saw. You have the kind of technical know-how that Torchwood needs, you’re smart, you’ve got a hell of a lot of courage, you’re not gun-shy, you’ve got an open-mind, you have compassion. Those are all vital characteristics for Torchwood employees, and I can say without a doubt that you’d be a fantastic addition to the team. I want you for Torchwood, Alex Eames, and not just because of your partner. I want you for what you can offer my team, and that’s a hell of a lot.” He leaned forward, and flashed her a disarming grin. “So, what d’you say? Are you interested?”

Alex gaped at him, taken aback by his vehemence. She had truly thought he was asking her to join purely to increase his chances of getting Bobby. It both stunned and warmed her to realise he was sincere in his desire to have her on his team as well.

“I… I’m flattered,” she stammered, “but I’m not so sure I really want to leave New York…”

“You don’t have to,” he told her enthusiastically, not giving her the chance to finish the sentence. “I’m setting up a headquarters right here in New York. The Doctor confirmed it, there is a rift here. It’s only very minor, compared to the one that runs through Cardiff, but it’s there nonetheless, and there’s enough happening here to justify Torchwood having a base in the city. I want to set it up within the next few months, and I want you and Bobby to take charge of it.”

“How would we have any authority to operate as Torchwood in New York?” she wondered, puzzled, trying not to focus too hard just then on the realisation that she actually seemed to be considering the possibility of leaving the NYPD. “I thought Torchwood was strictly a British thing…”

“Well, technically it is, but the Royal Family has a long history of cooperation with the US Presidency in a lot of matters that the public will never know anything about. I’m heading to Washington DC in the next couple of days to meet with your President, and get ratification for setting up Torchwood in New York. He’ll agree. There’s too much going on that UNIT just can’t or won’t deal with. Plus, I have the backing of the Doctor.”

Alex was, literally, speechless. When she did finally find her voice, it was a good two or three minutes later.

“You're really not kidding. You're actually going ahead with this.”

“One hundred percent, with or without you. But I'd prefer with. Now, you don't have to answer me right away. The base won't be ready to go for a few months, so you have all of that time to think it over. Please, think about it carefully, Alex. You'd be a vital addition to Torchwood.”

She continued to sit there, gob-smacked, while Jack went and ordered take-away coffee for his team. He urged her to her feet with a light nudge, and soon the two were walking side by side back to One Police Plaza.

Alex was unusually quiet as they walked back, and Jack watched her cautiously out of the corner of his eye.

“Thoughts?” he asked finally. She came to a halt in front of the police headquarters.

“No one could know, could they? What we'd be doing, I mean.”

“No,” he answered plainly. “You can't talk about it to anyone. I'll be the first to admit that we haven't exactly been up to scratch when it comes to keeping secrets, but no. We keep the secrets that we do for a reason. People aren't ready for the truth, Alex. Not collectively.”

Alex sighed, looking around them at the people walking by, oblivious to the extraordinary conversation going on right there in front of them.

“That's true in more ways than one, Jack.”

He smiled, a touch of sadness in his expression.

“I know.”

She looked up at him quizzically.

“When are you going to talk to Bobby?”

There was no question of ‘if’ in her mind, and Jack didn’t dispute her.

“As soon as I can lure him away without your captain noticing. I don’t think Ross will take too kindly to knowing I’m out to poach his two best detectives.”

Alex chuckled.

“Better wait until after hours, then. Ross has been watching him like a hawk all day. Listen, if you want to talk to Bobby privately, come to my place tonight. I’ll give you the address…”

“You take him home with you?” Jack asked in amusement, and Alex had to resist the urge to hit him.

“We take it in turns to cook dinner for each other. It would have been Bobby’s turn tonight, but after everything that’s happened, I think it’s only fair that I take over cooking duties tonight. Why don’t you join us? Bring Ianto, too. It won’t be anything fancy… Bobby’s the master chef, not me. But I guarantee it’ll be home-cooked.”

Jack nodded approvingly.

“I think we might just take you up on that offer. Gwen, Owen and Tosh will be heading for the airport this afternoon, so I don’t need to worry about them… Okay, Alex. You’ve got a deal. We’ll be there.”

Alex nodded, unable to keep the satisfied grin off her face as she scribbled her address onto a scrap piece of paper and handed it to Jack.

“Okay. Be there around eight tonight.”

Jack’s grin broadened as he pocketed the paper, and repeated enthusiastically; “We’ll be there.”

Just after lunch, Owen Harper, Gwen Cooper and Toshiko Sato exited One Police Plaza for the last time, soon on their way to the airport for the much-anticipated flight home. Jack and Ianto saw them off, and then promptly headed back to the hotel to enjoy the comfort of the enormous suite without the fear of anyone interrupting them. They didn’t emerge until just after seven that evening, with Ianto insisting they leave earlier than necessary firstly to pick up a bottle of wine as a courtesy, and secondly to negotiate the night time city traffic.

After a heated discussion in a corner bodega over the benefits of white wine as a dinner beverage as opposed to red – a discussion that had been amusedly observed by a number of other patrons – Jack had bought both bottles and herded his lover out of the store. They arrived on the doorstep of Alex's apartment just on eight, feeling oddly domestic with their offering of wine.

Alex opened the door for them, and she smirked in amusement as her gaze swept up and down Jack's figure.

“Don't you ever wear anything different?”

“I bought him a suit for his birthday,” Ianto threw in lightly. “I don't think it's ever seen the light of day.”

Jack grinned wolfishly with a good-natured lecherousness.

“Would you like to see me in my birthday suit, Alex? I'm sure it could be arranged.”

Alex rolled her eyes.

“You really don't want me to answer that. C'mon in.”

They headed inside, and allowed Alex to escort them into the living area. Bobby was not there, but rather in the small kitchen, busy at the stove. Jack raised an eyebrow at Alex, and she lifted her hands defensively.

“He was happy to let me cook, until I said you two were coming. Then he muttered something about burnt water and boiled toast, and the next thing I know I've been booted out of my own kitchen. I've asked him twice if he needs help, and all I get out of him are monosyllabic grunts.”

Jack laughed softly.

“I get the same reaction from Ianto every time I go near his coffee machine.”

“And with good reason,” Ianto retorted, even as he headed towards the kitchen to help Bobby. “You broke the last machine, remember?”

“It was an accident!” Jack protested. “And you weren’t there to make any! What else was I supposed to do?”

“Go to Starbucks, like the others do,” Ianto shot back playfully. Jack chuckled and sat down on the couch at Alex’s urging.

“He’s right, you know. I’ve been spoiled by his coffee.”

“Yes,” Ianto’s voice floated back out to them from within the confines of the kitchen. “You certainly have been.”

Jack rolled his eyes in a very Ianto-like gesture.

“I need to watch myself. He might start threatening to ration me.”

Alex couldn’t resist a grin, despite a distinct feeling of sympathy.

“So you haven’t been corrupted into drinking tea.”

Jack snorted.

“Not a chance. Although, I didn’t have much choice when I was travelling with the Doctor and Rose… and I think the Master took a special delight in forcing me to drink it cold. Bloody awful stuff. Give me coffee any day.”

“Amen to that.”

Jack smiled amusedly before speaking in a low, conspiratorial tone.

“Did you talk to him about what we discussed today?”

“Haven’t had a chance,” she admitted. “And Bobby hasn’t asked, either. Actually, he didn’t even realise I’d gone, he was so wrapped up in what he was doing.”

“I’d wondered,” Jack mused. “I’m going to talk to him after we eat.”

“You won’t need to work too hard to convince him,” Alex told him, perhaps a little sadly. Jack raised an eyebrow quizzically.

“Does he really clash that badly with Ross?”

“It’s not that,” Alex said. “At least, it’s not entirely that. Part of the problem is that Ross and Bobby are similar personalities. It’s like putting two positives together. They’re always going to clash, but lately I think they’ve been able to find more common ground. They seem to be able to work together better. It’s other things… Just a month or so back, we had a really difficult case to deal with, the murder of another cop. Bobby refused to go after the original suspect. He believed the guy was innocent, and he stuck to his guns despite a lot of pressure from the brass. He took a hell of a lot of crap from other cops, too. Then, on top of that, he found out that the Chief of Detectives told the widow that he was a whack job, all to cover his own ass over why no arrest had been made.”

Jack frowned deeply.

“Ungrateful son of a bitch!”

“You have no idea. When Bobby did successfully solve it, there were no thankyous, no one saying well done, just a reprimand for not following proper procedure, and the cold shoulder from other cops. He’s disillusioned with the NYPD, Jack. He’s put in a lot of years, a lot of hard work, only to end up being labelled the whack job of the Force. And all because he doesn’t do things in a conventional way! And yet, the irony is, if he did do things conventionally, half the crimes he investigates wouldn’t get solved. It isn’t fair, Jack. He doesn’t deserve to be treated the way he has been. He’s so much better than that.”

Jack watched her with sympathy and understanding in his pale blue eyes.

“Sounds to me like you’re just as disillusioned as he is.”

Alex considered that for a moment before sighing.

“Well, maybe I am. I came into the NYPD as a woman fighting for her place in a man’s world, and I used to think that was the worst of it, the old buddy-boy system. But it’s not. Anyone who’s different, who acts differently or talks differently… They’re made pariahs by the rest, just for not conforming. Bobby is never going to be treated right by the NYPD purely because of that.”

“He’d be treated right by Torchwood,” Jack told her sincerely. “I promise you that.”

“I know,” Alex agreed. “That’s one of the reasons why I told him that he should accept your offer, if that’s what he wants. It’s time he started to look out for his own interests. A new challenge… Hell, a whole new life… It’s what he needs, whether I’m a part of that or not. I think he really would fit in perfectly at Torchwood, and as much as it’d kill me to lose him as a partner, I would never stand in the way of him moving on with his life. Not when even I can see it’d be for the better.”

“You both would fit in,” Jack told her gently. “I stand by what I said earlier today. I want you in Torchwood as much as I want Bobby.”

She smiled just a touch nervously.

“Still thinking on that one. There’s a lot I’d be giving up if I did take you up on that. A possible promotion to captain, for one…”

“Well, if that’s the biggest obstacle, I’ll happily appoint you Captain. I’ll even share my stripes.”

Alex laughed softly, paying his wolfish grin no mind.

“I’ll let you know, Jack. I just can’t decide right now.”

The playfully leering grin softened into something far more genuine.

“No pressure, Alex. I just want you to think about it very carefully.”

“I am,” she assured him. “Believe me, I am.”

Ianto was in the kitchen and helping with the dinner before Bobby even realised he was no longer alone, and then it simply seemed to work better, so he made no objections. It wasn’t until they were nearly done that Ianto finally broke the otherwise companionable silence.

“You know, you really didn’t need to go to all this trouble for us? Don’t misunderstand me, it is appreciated, but Jack for one would have been just as happy with a plain cheese omelette.”

Bobby huffed in mock disgust.

“Not when I’m cooking for guests.”

Ianto smiled faintly as he watched Bobby stir the gently simmering pasta sauce.

“It’s not as shameful as it sounds. I discovered when Jack came home… after that year… that he’d developed a rather voracious appetite for anything at all that could be classified as home-cooked. Even toast.”

Bobby paused as the underlying meaning of Ianto’s words sunk in.

“Did they feed him at all on that ship?”

“Once a day,” Ianto replied. “Or rather, once a day when the Master wasn’t experimenting with how much time it took to starve Jack to death. I gathered from what little Jack would tell me that the Master tried it a few times, but ended up getting bored and just shooting Jack in the head. That’s beside the point, though. When Jack was fed, it was apparently whatever food could be scrapped together from what was left over from the servants’ meals. Usually cold, mashed vegetables, and never enough to keep him from going hungry. As a result, Jack tends to show great appreciation for every meals he’s provided with, no matter how simple.”

Bobby looked at the pasta and sauce, and the salad and vegetables he’d prepared with sudden uncertainty.

“So maybe I shouldn’t have…”

Ianto silenced him with a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s perfect, Bobby. I’m sorry, I don’t think I quite succeeded in making my point clear. What I’m trying to say is that he’s going to absolutely love all of this. You didn’t need to go to the trouble, but I’m glad that you did. Torchwood cuisine too often consists of pizza, Chinese and other take-outs. It isn’t all that often that we get the luxury of a home-cooked meal. So, thankyou. It is appreciated, very much so.”

Bobby let his breath out, looking very much relieved and Ianto smiled, recognising that ingrained desire for approval.

“Okay, then. Let’s eat.”

Ianto hadn’t been wrong, and the way Jack’s face positively lit up at the food Bobby had prepared more than settled the big detective’s nerves. Dinner turned out to be more than amicable as first Jack and Ianto shared some of their more humorous tales, and then Bobby and Alex regaled their guests with stories of some of their most fascinating cases. Both wine and laughter flowed freely, although Jack declined alcohol in favour of mineral water from Alex's fridge.

Jack, to both Bobby and Alex's amusement, ploughed through three helpings of the pasta, and finished his last helping while begging Bobby to give him the recipe. That elicited wry laughter from Ianto, to which Jack responded with practised indignation.

“I'll have you know I can cook very well,” he retorted, and Ianto snorted derisively.

“Since when?”

“Hey! I'm a hundred and seventy years old! I think it's safe to say that I learned how to cook somewhere along the line.”

Again, Ianto snorted into his wine.

“Baked beans in a rusted pot in the middle of a battlefield don't count, Jack.”

Jack looked positively sour.

“They were the best damned beans on the field, thankyou very much.”

“All right,” Alex stated firmly, deciding it was time for a tactical diversion. “We have apple pie and ice cream for dessert, but you don't get any if you're just going to squabble.”

Both Jack and Ianto's eyebrows shot up simultaneously, making for a comical sight. Alex smirked and rose from her seat, heading into the kitchen to get the promised dessert.

“Is she serious?” Jack wondered, and Bobby nodded wryly.


Jack grinned, then, but said nothing. He was just contemplating the best moment to broach the subject of recruitment when Bobby spoke in a slightly more subdued tone.

“Ross pulled me into his office today, after Alex followed you out, Jack.”

Alex frowned as she set a steaming apple pie down on the table.

“You never mentioned that. What did he want?”

“He warned me against being seduced into joining Torchwood.”

Jack smiled wryly.

“He knows I want to recruit you.”

Bobby shifted uncomfortably.

“The thing is… he never said anything about not wanting to lose me from the squad. He just told me I was an idiot if I even considered it, and that I’d be signing my own death warrant if I accepted. It almost came out as, he doesn’t really want me, but he doesn’t want anyone else to have me, either… and I can’t deny that it hurt.”

Jack sighed softly.

“Well, I won’t lie to you, Bobby. Torchwood employees have a tendency to die young. I can’t guarantee your safety…”

“I’m not asking you to,” Bobby told him quickly. “I actually had a hard time not laughing at him over that. I mean, it’s not as if being a cop in the NYPD is hazard-free. But it wasn’t that bit that got to me. It was when he told me to think very hard about how I’d cope without Alex that I really got my hackles up.”

Alex nearly choked on her pie.

“He tried to use me to blackmail you into staying with the NYPD? That son of a bitch! And I thought he was better than that! Bobby, tell me you didn’t listen to him?”

Bobby looked both embarrassed and uncomfortable, and Alex sighed softly.

“You did. Bobby, we already talked about this!”

“I know, Alex… But the thing is, Ross was still right. I… I don’t cope well without you.”

“And the fact that he knows it makes him all the more a bastard for using it against you,” Alex growled angrily. Jack smiled faintly.

“Just as well then that he doesn’t know that I’m trying to recruit you both,” he said simply. Bobby stared at him, shock and confusion on his face.

“You… Sorry, what?”

Jack grinned broadly.

“I’m setting up a Torchwood branch in New York, Bobby. I hope to have it ready to go within three months. I want you and Alex to run it together.”

Bobby looked incredulously to Alex, who nodded in confirmation.

“He told me today, apparently at the same time that Ross was trying to emotionally blackmail you. I haven’t decided yet, but what you just said has just made me think about it all the more seriously. I’m not so sure I want to be a part of a culture where the brass are turning out to be sneaky, manipulative sons of bitches.”

Bobby was silent for a long minute, slowly stirring his pie into mush. When he finally looked up again, his expression was determined.


Jack’s eyes glinted, and he leant forward a little.

“You’re accepting?”

“Yes,” Bobby repeated in a soft, but no less determined voice. “I’m accepting, Jack. I want to join Torchwood.” He looked to Alex with a hint of apology in his expression. “I hope you will, too, Alex, though I’ll understand if you don’t. But I just can’t stay where I am any longer. I need this change.”

She leaned over, and hugged him reassuringly.

“I know. It’s okay, Bobby. It really is. And at least I know you won’t be bored.”

Jack chuckled.

“I can pretty much guarantee that. Once you get started, there’ll always be something to keep you busy. And in concept, at least, it won’t be all that different to the NYPD. The purposes are similar, but we do what we do to protect the planet, not just one city.”

“The greater good,” Bobby mused, and Jack nodded in agreement.

“Exactly. You won’t get accolades, and odds are before long the NYPD’ll hate the sight of you…”

“I don’t anyway,” Bobby remarked dryly, “and apparently most of them already do.”

Jack smiled sympathetically before continuing on.

“But what you’ll be doing is far more important than they could ever imagine. You’ll answer to no one but me. The only official who will have the authority to contact you directly for any reason will be the President. Otherwise, all official contact will be routed through the Hub in Cardiff first. You’ll get your orders and instructions only from me, or Ianto in my absence.”

“What about family?” Alex asked. “Obviously they can’t know the truth, but we can still have combat with them…?”

Jack nodded quickly, eager to reassure her.

“This isn’t Russia. You won’t be going into some Gulag. Yes, I want you to keep up your family ties. Keep up with your friends. Hold on to your lives outside of Torchwood as best as you can. Believe me, it’s important.”

Alex let her breath out in a long hiss. She’d said that she hadn’t made up her mind yet, but that was less than true. Her decision had been made the moment that she learned that Ross had used her to try and blackmail Bobby into rejecting Jack’s offer.

“Yes,” she said quietly, very much aware of the magnitude of the decision she was making. Jack looked at her with all the eagerness of a child, almost making her laugh out loud.


She nodded.

“Yes. Count me in, Captain Harkness.”

The pure joy that lit up Jack’s eyes was a sight to behold, and had both Bobby and Alex grinning in response.

“Fantastic,” Jack enthused. “Okay, then. Here's what's going to happen. For now, just go on with your lives as normal. Do you work, act like there's no change. Don't let anyone know what's going on. When the new base is ready to go, I'll contact you. When that happens, you both need to be ready to just drop your letters of resignation on your captain's desk and walk out. Once you're out those doors, it's done. There'll be no turning back, but there'll also be no fallout on you from walking out. I promise you'll be protected from that.” He paused, looking at them both intently. “Is your answer still yes?”

The question was directed more so towards Alex than Bobby, and they both knew it. The two detectives exchanged glances and then, as one, they nodded.

“Yes,” Alex confirmed for them both. “We're in. No turning back.”

A couple of hours later, Bobby and Alex were finally alone, after Jack and Ianto had left to return to their hotel. The rest of the evening had played out pleasantly, especially when Jack discovered the electric keyboard that Alex kept for her nephews and nieces, and insisted on entertaining them with it.

Ianto's panicked look had both Bobby and Alex worried, and it seemed his fears were justified when Jack started playing. His piano-playing skills were shaky at best, and all members of his captive audience were just psyching themselves up to physically separate man from musical instrument, when Jack began singing. Though not professional in quality, he nonetheless had a beautiful tenor voice that entranced all of them. As it was, he got through two songs before Alex kicked him off the keyboard and took over playing, while Jack sung in a crystal clear voice.

They carried on like that until a soft snore alerted them to the fact that Ianto had fallen asleep. Jack decided at that point that it was time to go.

Now, Bobby and Alex sat together on the couch, revelling in the quiet.

“We've made the right choice.”

Bobby looked down at her. It hadn't been a question, but rather a statement of fact, and it warmed and reassured him that she was confident with her decision. Even so, he couldn't resist asking a question in response.

“You're really okay with the idea of being hated by the NYPD?”

She grinned up at him.

“What are you trying to do? Turn me off?”

“No, but...”

“Then shut up. Don't make me whack you, you big bozo.”

Bobby's face broke into a lopsided grin.

“You haven't called me that for a long time.”

“Mm,” she murmured in agreement. “We haven't been comfortable enough with each other for a long time for me to feel like I could. All it means is that everything's finally going to get better. We made the right choice. My only issue is what happens when my dad finds out I've quit the NYPD. What the hell am I going to tell him, Bobby?”

Bobby gave a lopsided shrug.

“What was it that Gwen said she told her boyfriend? Special Ops? Tell him that. Or better yet, tell him you're liaising with the FBI, or something similar. Say it's a long term assignment.”

She nodded thoughtfully, turning that suggestion over in her mind.

“Federal liaison. I like that. It'd be too hard for him to check up on. He doesn't know any Feds, where there are plenty of cops who'd be glad to dish up the dirt to him. As for quitting Major Case... Well, he knows I haven't been any happier there than you since Deakins quit. And he's told me more than once since the Gage case not to be shy about moving on if I was really unhappy. I'll just tell him that's exactly what I've done.”

“And hopefully I won't have anymore problems with Frank,” Bobby mused. “He won't know where to find me, once we're gone from the NYPD. It's not as though we'll leaving a forwarding address.” He paused, shuddering slightly as though with delayed shock. “We're really doing it. We're leaving the NYPD. It hardly seems real...”

“I know,” Alex murmured. “It wasn't that long ago that I was sure I'd be a cop all my life. I know nothing ever stays the same, but I never imagined a change like this. I can't help thinking that I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and wonder if this was all a dream.”

Bobby smiled.

“At least it's not a nightmare.”

A smirk touched Alex's lips.

“Not for us, anyway. I can't wait to see the look on Ross's face the day that we hand him our resignations. He's going to have a fit.”

Bobby uttered a short laugh.

“Him, the brass and the DA's office. You know we're likely to be walking out with court cases pending.”

“I know. And that's not to mention what's going to happen to Major Case's solve rate. I almost feel sorry for Logan, even though us leaving should make him lead detective in the squad.”

“He'll be okay,” Bobby murmured. “He might not understand, but he'll fall on his feet. He always does.”

“Mm. Even after ten years on Staten Island. He's still thanking his lucky stars for Deakins.”

Bobby hesitated before speaking quietly.

“I was thinking... We're not going to be able to carry on long term, just the two of us. We'll need extra help. At least one more. person, depending on how busy we are.”

She peered up at him curiously.

“What are you thinking?”

He fidgeted, a sure sign of nerves.

“Do you think Jack would agree to hiring someone else? Because I was thinking about Deakins...”

Alex felt her heart skip at the thought of working with their beloved captain again, and had to forcibly quash the thought before it could take hold.

“It's a wonderful idea, Bobby, but we'd have to discuss it with Jack first of all, and he might not agree. Secondly, as far as we know, Deakins is happy with that consultation job he got after leaving the NYPD. He may not want to join. Look, let's just take this one step at a time. Right now, we have to be patient and wait. When it's all ready, and we're settled, then we can raise it with Jack. But not right now. Okay?”

Bobby nodded, easily agreeing.

“Three months,” he said wistfully in between wide yawns. “That's how long Jack said it would take to get the base up and running.”

“Hey, think we'll get a car like their SUV?” Alex wondered suddenly. “I really hope we get an SUV. That's the biggest thing I'll miss about leaving Major Case, I think.”

Bobby laughed, not surprised at her admission.

“Maybe. Lewis might be able to help out there. I ought to introduce Jack to him. I think Jack would like him.”

Alex smiled contentedly as she curled her legs up underneath her and leaned in against her big teddy bear of a partner.

“The next three months are going to be hell, waiting for that call.”

Bobby smiled as he wrapped an arm easily around Alex's shoulders.

“But it's going to be okay. Better than okay, it's going to be great.”

“Yeah,” Alex agreed firmly. “It is.”

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