Hilton Hotel,

Elliot and Olivia went into the hotel ahead of Fin and Munch and the two uniforms they’d brought with them, and made a beeline straight for the concierge, who seemed less than concerned to be confronted by two gold police shields.

“Can I help you, Detectives?” he asked smoothly.

“We hope so,” Elliot said. “Can you tell us if you had someone check in under the name of Robert Goren about an hour or so ago?”

At the mention of Bobby’s name, the concierge frowned darkly.

“I can answer that question without having to look it up on the computers. Yes, we had a… gentleman check in here not that long ago. Ordinarily someone in his state would have been turned away, but he was a police officer.”

Elliot and Olivia glanced at each other.

“He had police ID?”

“No photographic identification, but he had a police shield, similar to yours. And his credit card was good. He checked into a suite on the fourteenth floor. Is there a problem?”

He sounded almost hopeful.

“As a matter of fact, there is,” Elliot said. “The real Detective Robert Goren is in hospital right at the moment, after being assaulted. We believe that the man who checked in here using Detective Goren’s ID and credit card may be responsible for that assault. We’re here to arrest him.” He produced the photo of Bobby and his older brother, and showed it to the concierge. “Is the man who checked in earlier in this photo?”

The concierge looked carefully at the photo, then pointed decisively to the image of Richard Goren.

“That’s him.”

Elliot nodded, satisfied.

“Thankyou, that’s all we need to hear.”

The relief on the concierge’s face was second only to his obvious disgust that someone would have the gall to assault a police officer, and steal his official credentials. He stepped away from his desk, producing a master key from within the confines of his jacket.

“Shall I show you to the suite, Detectives?”

Minutes later, four SVU detectives and two uniformed officers stood outside the door to the suite, waiting on either side while the concierge rapped on the door. Elliot then urged him out of the way. There was the sound of someone shuffling their way over to the door, and a moment later it swung open.

Fin and Munch stepped in, guns drawn, identifying themselves as police to the startled man inside even as they dragged him out into the hallway and forced him none-too-gently to the floor.

“Richard Goren, you’re under arrest for credit card theft, and for impersonating a police officer,” Elliot said loudly, and began to read him his rights as Fin cuffed his hands behind his back.

“I didn’t steal any credit cards!” Richard whined, his slurred voice telling them he’d been well on the way to getting shit-faced when they’d interrupted him. “My brother gave me his card to use, I swear!”

“Did he give you his police shield too, asshole?” Munch snapped.

“I didn’t steal anything from him,” Richard moaned. “Honest! He’s my brother, why would I steal from my own brother?”

“I can think of a half dozen reasons straight off,” Elliot said flatly.

“We’d be happy to ask him directly,” Olivia put in, “but it’s kind of hard to do that when he’s currently unconscious in hospital after getting the crap beaten out of him.”

There was a long silence, and then Richard spoke in a shaky voice that held more than a touch of fear.

“He… You mean… He’s not dead?”

The four detectives exchanged disturbed looks. In his intoxicated state, Bobby’s big brother obviously didn’t realise just how big a hole he was digging for himself. On the basis of that sentence alone, he was suddenly looking at an attempted murder charge on top of the assault and theft charges that he was already facing.

“Wrong response, scumbag,” Munch snarled as he and Fin hauled their suspect roughly to his feet. “You should have said something like. ‘What do you mean, he’s in hospital?’ Let’s go.”

Deakins arrived at the ICU ward to find Alex alone with Bobby, sitting by his side and slumped over with her head resting on the edge of the bed and her hand closed over his right forearm. He stood indecisively in the doorway for a long minute before walking in and laying his hand gently on her shoulder. She started awake, looking up dazedly for a moment before her vision focused on him. He smiled reassuringly at her.

“How are you feeling, Alex?”

She leaned back, shuddering a little as she stretched.


“I thought you were going to call your brother.”

There was a chiding tone to his voice that she couldn’t miss, but she was too weary to care.

“I was, but then I thought of someone else. You remember Bobby’s friend, Lewis?”

“The car buff with a crush on you?”

Again, she was too tired to be embarrassed.

“That’s the one. I thought he deserved to know. He’s one of Bobby’s best friends. Apparently they’ve known each other a long time.”

“Where is he?”

“He went to get coffee and some fresh air.”

“You should have gone too.”

“I didn’t want to. I know they said he’s not going to wake up for a day or two, but what if he does? I don’t want him to wake up, and for there to be no one here to talk to him. He won’t be able to see anything… He’ll probably be scared, and hurting. I just don’t want to leave him alone.”

Deakins sighed inaudibly.

“It’s okay, Alex. I understand.”

Alex was silent for a moment before speaking again.

“Lewis had a few interesting things to say about Bobby’s brother.”

“Such as?”

“He said that Richard would definitely try to hurt Bobby if he thought it would get him what he wanted. And he also said that Richard once attacked him with a knife, when Bobby was still with Narcotics, because he refused to help Richard get drugs.”

“I heard rumours about that,” Deakins murmured as he pulled a chair over to sit beside Alex. “I didn’t realise it was Bobby, but I heard rumours that a Narc was attacked by a family member who was after drugs. Word is he refused to press charges.”

“That’s what Lewis said.”

Deakins sighed. “It’s a shame that he didn’t. Maybe if he’d shown a bit of tough love back then, he might not be in this state now.” He paused, then went on quietly. “I got a call from Don Cragen on my way over here. His people arrested Richard Goren a short while ago. He’d checked himself into a hotel using one of Bobby’s credit cards. He also had Bobby’s detective shield on him. Apparently he used it to stop anyone from asking too many questions.”

Alex scowled.

“Son of a bitch. Has he said anything yet?”

“They’re trying to sober him up before they can question him. Apparently he was more than three sheets to the wind when they picked him up.”

“Great,” Alex muttered. “He tries to kill Bobby, steals his credit card and badge, and then runs up a huge bill in booze and hotel rooms. Like Bobby doesn’t have enough to worry about.”

“None of that will come back on him, Alex,” Deakins assured her. “Cragen said he was contacted by the manager of the hotel shortly after the brother was arrested. All the hotel charges to Bobby’s credit card that Richard ran up are going to be cleared, and a substantial donation was offered towards to cost of hospital care for him. It turns out the manager knew Bobby from when he was in Narcotics. Apparently Bobby got his son out of a bad cycle of substance abuse. As soon as he heard about what had happened from the hotel concierge, he couldn’t make an offer to help fast enough. Bobby will be looked after properly, Alex. Whatever happens, I promise that.”

Alex contemplated that in silence. The idea that Bobby would have to be ‘looked after’ in any way at all seemed horribly unnatural to her. Deciding she couldn’t stomach that thought, at least not yet, she quickly changed the subject.

“Did you know Bobby has a cousin in DC?”

Deakins couldn’t contain his surprise.

“I thought his only living family were his mother and brother. Who is this cousin?”

“Lewis knew about him. His name is Danny Cooper, and apparently he’s Bobby’s cousin on his father’s side. The hospital is going to try and contact him. They… They said they needed a family member to be able to make decisions for him.”

Deakins nodded.

“The doctor I spoke to over the phone said much the same thing, and that if a family member couldn’t be located, then the responsibility for any decision-making would probably fall to me. I suppose we just have to wait and see if this mystery cousin decides to turn up.”

“Lewis said Danny and Bobby were close, but that they lost touch with each other when Bobby went to Germany.”

“I hope he’ll come,” Deakins murmured. “He’s going to need all the support he can get when he wakes up, and it’s going to hurt like hell, knowing his brother had a hand in this.”

Alex looked away, trying unsuccessfully to hide the tears that forced their way, unrelenting, out of her eyes.

“What is it?” Deakins asked softly. She shut her eyes, bringing one hand up to cover her mouth as she struggled to contain her sobs. She felt a hand alight gently on her shoulder, warm and caring, and that was that. The floodgates opened and she virtually collapsed in the chair, crying helplessly. A moment later, she was aware of a strong pair of arms around her shoulders, gently turning her around and pulling her in close. She felt her head being gently drawn in against her captain’s shoulder, and heard his voice murmuring to her to just let it go.

“How could he?” she choked out, repeating the words of Bobby’s neighbour, Mrs Pirelli. “How could he do this to him? His own brother…”

“Let’s just wait and see what SVU come up with,” Deakins murmured, though he found he had work hard to suppress his own anger at Bobby’s brother. “It might be that all he did was steal Bobby’s credit card and shield. Someone else may have come along later and attacked him. He might not have anything to do with the assault at all.”

Alex pulled back slowly, rubbing miserably at her eyes.

“You don’t believe that anymore than I do.”

Deakins tried to smile, but couldn’t quite manage it.

“Let’s just wait and see, okay? And besides, we have no way of knowing what Bobby will be able to tell us when he does wake up. He might be able to name someone completely different to his brother as being responsible.”

She looked over at her partner, taking in his bruised and battered features once more with a heavy heart.

“Part of me hopes he doesn’t remember any of it, but then if he doesn’t remember, it might just make it worse for him. What am I going to do when he starts asking questions?”

Deakins looked sadly across at Bobby.

“Tell him the truth, Alex. That’s the best we can do. We won’t be doing him any favours trying to keep anything from him. You know what he’s like. He’ll probably have a better understanding of the situation he’s in than any of us.”

Alex reached out and gently closed her hand once more over his right forearm. She desperately wanted to take his hand in her own, but that was impossible with both of his hands being broken.

“He’s going to be completely helpless when he wakes up,” she said softly. “He’s going to hate it. He’ll hate having to be taken care of.”

“He’s not going to have a choice,” Deakins said wryly, though the same thought had crossed his mind as well. He knew damn well that Bobby was going to react badly to having to be looked after like a helpless child, but the bottom line was that he really wasn’t going to have a choice. Whether he liked it or not, that was the way it was going to have to be. All they could hope for was that the situation wouldn’t last.

“What if the damage is permanent?” Alex asked tentatively. “To his eyes, I mean?”

Deakins grimaced, unable to stop himself. He understood her fears. He harboured the same fear himself, but the grim truth was that if Bobby’s vision was permanently impaired, it would effectively end his career with the NYPD.

“Early retirement on a disability pension,” Deakins said, not at all liking the look Alex gave him.

“He’d rather die than have to retire on a disability.”

“He’d hate it more to be stuck behind a desk until he hits retirement age, especially if it’s only out of pity. But we’re jumping the gun here, Alex. Let’s not start making assumptions ahead of time? Nothing’s certain yet.”

She sighed faintly.

“Right. Nothing’s certain.”

He heard the grim inflection in her tone, but opted not to go on about it. He was about to suggest – or order, if merely suggesting didn’t work – that she go with him to get coffee, when movement behind them alerted them to Lewis’ return.

“Oh, hey… Captain Deakins, isn’t it?” Lewis asked, and Deakins nodded, rising out of his chair to shake hands with the younger man.

“Nice to meet you officially, Lewis. Thankyou for coming.”

Lewis shrugged a little as he wandered around to the other side of the bed, and sank into the last empty chair.

“Bobby’s my friend. I had to be here.”

Deakins looked wordlessly from Lewis to Alex, reflecting sadly that, not counting his actual biological family, this small gathering really was the total sum of Bobby’s family. Sure, the other Major Case detectives would make a strong show of support once word spread about what had happened, but none of them really cared all that much for the quirky detective. On more than one occasion, Deakins had overheard Bobby referred to as ‘the freak’, or worse, and though it seriously galled him to hear it, there was little he could do about it.

So even though the support would be there in general, the support and encouragement that was going to help Bobby survive this was right there in the room with him, right at that moment. It was a daunting notion, but there it was. Deakins knew, deep in his heart, that ultimately it would up to the three of them to see Bobby safely though.

He almost laughed, just managing to choke it back at the last moment. ‘Safely’ was no longer a practical consideration, not when they were sitting here, watching a man who had literally come within a hair’s breadth of dying from a beating so brutal…

He forced that thought from his mind. If he allowed himself to dwell on that for too long, it would lead to other disturbing and frightening thoughts. Such as the reason SVU had been called in the first place…

“Excuse me…”

They all looked to see Dr Craig in the doorway. She offered the three of them a small smile before focusing her attention on Deakins.

“Captain Deakins, is it…?”

He nodded.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I’m Dr Craig. Could I have a word with you, please? Privately.”

Sparing Alex and Lewis a concerned look, Deakins got up and followed Dr Craig out of the room.

Deakins couldn’t help but feel uneasy when the doctor led him right away from Bobby’s room, and finally into an empty room, closing the door behind them.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I just don’t want anyone else listening in on this. Especially not Detective Eames, or that other friend of Robert’s.”

“What did you want to say, Doctor?”

He didn’t mean to snap, but his patience was already frayed from stress and worry. Dr Craig went on quietly.

“You’re aware that when Robert was brought in, he was in cardiac arrest.”

Deakins nodded. “Yes, I know.”

“Well, our primary concern at that point was to revive him, and keep him alive. We put all other concerns aside while we focused on that. Once we knew we weren’t going to lose him, then we were able to shift our focus to other issues. I’m going to put this plainly, Captain Deakins, because there is no easy way to say it. We conducted a rape kit, as per a request from the NYPD’s Special Victim’s Unit. I believe they’re running the investigation?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“Well, it came back positive, Captain Deakins.”

An ice-cold wave of near panic swept down through Deakins’ body. As much as he knew he should have expected it, the shock to his system was still almost more than he could stomach.

“There’s… no doubt?”

“None,” Dr Craig confirmed. “We found seminal fluid, along with other signs indicative of rape.”

Deakins turned away, at a loss for what to say and do.

“It’s not all bad news, though,” she added. “There is a chance that his vision might not be permanently impaired.”

He looked back at her questioningly.

“But his eyes were badly burned, weren’t they?”

“Yes, but the burns are on the eyelids, not on the eyeballs. It’s going to take time, but there’s a good chance that the damage can be repaired.”

“That’s something, at least,” Deakins conceded heavily, though he could not bring himself to feel any real joy in the positive news in light of the other revelation. Dr Craig watched him silently for a long moment before speaking again.

“He’s going to recover, Captain Deakins. Physically, he will recover from this. Now, I’ve had a lot of rape victims in my care over the years, and I can say with fair certainty that those who have continued support from family and friends are the ones who stand the best chance of recovering emotionally. From what I’ve seen, Robert has that support in you, Detective Eames and his friend Lewis. I think he’ll be all right. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. It won’t, not by a long shot. But I think he’s going to survive this. You all will.”

Deakins listened silently to the doctor’s words. He wanted desperately to believe it, and ordinarily he might have been able to, but she didn’t know Bobby Goren. He did, and that was what worried him.

Bobby’s inclination to psychoanalyse himself was going to go against him, for starters. But more so than anything else, he feared Bobby’s reaction if it turned out that his brother really was responsible for the horrific assault; or even if he hadn’t committed the deed himself, but had somehow facilitated it.

Deakins fought back a shudder. The onus to prove or disprove Richard Goren’s direct involvement in the assault on his younger brother was now squarely in the hands of the team from SVU, and their assigned CSIs. For Bobby’s sake, Deakins prayed they would find he hadn’t been a part of it.

“Was that all you wanted to say, Doctor?” he asked, wanting very much to get back to Bobby’s room, and rejoin Alex and Lewis.

“There is one more thing, Captain. Is Robert right or left-handed?”

Deakins felt his stomach sink once more.

“He’s left-handed.”

Dr Craig sighed softly.

“I was afraid of that. I’m no detective, Captain Deakins, but I think I can say with reasonable confidence that whoever attacked Robert was out to hurt him as much as possible. His right hand is badly broken, but not to the extent of his left hand. Every bone in his left hand was broken. It’s still too early to make definite judgments, but right at this moment I have to warn you that he may never regain full use of that hand.”

“Thankyou, Doctor,” Deakins muttered as he left the room and made his way back to Bobby’s room.

As he made his way along the corridor, he thought miserably that she hadn’t known how right she was in her speculation that the attack on Bobby had been deliberate and personal, aimed at hurting him as much as possible. He had been to Bobby’s apartment before coming back to the hospital, and he had seen with his own eyes the pile of ash that had been all of Bobby’s books. Though the whole apartment had effectively been trashed, it was the loss of his precious books that was going to hurt Bobby the worst. Whoever was responsible had to know that. Such an act of utter and evil destruction was about as personal as it got where Bobby was concerned – almost moreso than the shocking act of rape.

He walked back into Bobby’s room to find everything as he had left it. Alex looked up at him, tired and sad.

“What did she want to tell you that she didn’t want to say in front of us?”

Deakins hesitated, considering his words. Alex waited just a moment before speaking.

“She confirmed it, didn’t she? She confirmed that Bobby was raped.”

On the other side of the room, Lewis went rigid and his already pale face drained on what little colour he still had. Deakins sighed heavily and dropped back into the empty chair.

“That was one of the things she had to say, yes. They conducted a rape kit after he came out of surgery. It came back positive. They found seminal fluid.”

“CSU have a sample for DNA comparison?”

Alex’s voice was flat, emotionless. Deakins knew she was trying to distance herself emotionally from the awful knowledge. Trying, and probably failing, judging by the tears in her eyes.

“I imagine they do,” he murmured. “Cragen told me Mack Taylor’s team is handling the processing of the forensic evidence. It’s all in hand. We don’t need to worry about that side of things.”

Alex gave a short, gruff laugh, but said nothing.

“That wasn’t all the doctor had to say,” Deakins went on quietly. “She told me there’s a good chance that Bobby will recover his vision. Apparently the burns are on the eyelids, not on the eyes themselves.”

“Great,” Alex said bitterly. “He’ll be able to see what the bastards did to his home… to all his books. They burned his books, Captain. Every single one.”

“I know,” Deakins murmured. “I saw.”

Lewis stared at them, horrified.

“All of his books were destroyed? Oh, man… That’ll kill him…”

He trailed off, acutely aware of what he’d just said. Deakins nodded, pointedly ignoring Lewis’ faux pas.

“We know how much it will hurt him, Lewis. This whole situation is a nightmare, plain and simple, and I’m still trying to understand how whoever attacked Bobby was able to subdue him. Even if there was more than one attacker, he wouldn’t have gone down without a fight.”

“CSU will do a tox screen on his blood,” Alex said numbly. “If he was drugged, we’ll find out soon enough.”

“And if he wasn’t?” Lewis asked uneasily.

“Then whoever attacked him had to have been someone he knew, and trusted,” Deakins said quietly.

“Oh god, I hope not,” Lewis moaned.

“So do we,” Deakins murmured in agreement. “So do we.”

SVU Headquarters

“We’ve got the tox screens back,” Munch announced as he strode into the SVU bullpen. “It’s positive. Goren was doped up to the eyeballs.”

“Well, that partly explains how they got the jump on him,” Elliot said as he scrutinised the results. “I don’t suppose they know how it was administered?”

“Orally,” Munch answered. “CSU found a beer glass with traces of the same drug they found in Goren’s system. Only one set of fingerprints on it, though.”

“Let me guess,” Olivia said. “Goren’s?”

“Bingo,” Munch confirmed.

“So whoever attacked him knocked him out first?” Fin asked, leaning in to read the tox report over Elliot’s shoulder. Munch shook his head.

“According to CSU, going by what was in Goren’s bloodstream, it would have left him fully alert, but almost completely paralysed.”

“Jesus,” Olivia muttered. “So he knew what was going on, he could feel every punch, every kick…”

“But he couldn’t do a damned thing to defend himself,” Elliot muttered. “Son of a bitch…”

“How’s it going with the older brother?” Munch asked.

“Just great,” Elliot retorted. “Soon as they son of a bitch sobered up a little, he clammed up and demanded a lawyer. One arrived a little while ago. We were just getting ready to go in. Munch, was there anything else from CSU that we ought to know about?”

“No other definitive results yet,” Munch answered. “CSU have just started testing the samples they got from the rape kit. They’ll do a comparison against the samples they took from Richard Goren as soon as possible.” He paused, grabbing his coat, and Fin did the same. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re heading back to talk to Goren’s Super about why the sprinkler system never kicked in when his books went up in smoke.”

“My client has nothing to say,” lawyer Kristen Adams announced flatly as Elliot and Olivia walked in. The two detectives exchanged wry looks. What a big surprise that was.

“Well, then, he can just listen for now,” Olivia said as she and Elliot sat opposite their suspect and his lawyer.

“I didn’t do anything to Bobby,” Richard stammered.

“Be quiet, Richard,” Adams instructed him. “You don’t have to say anything to them.”

“By all means,” Elliot said. “Don’t say anything. We’ll let the evidence do the talking.”

Adams threw Elliot a threatening look. “Unless you’re in the habit of manufacturing evidence, Detective, then I don’t see how you can prove my client was even in the victim’s apartment at the time of the assault. No one saw him arrive, or leave, and any fingerprints your CSIs might find are purely circumstantial evidence. He’s been inside the victim’s apartment before, so naturally his fingerprints are going to be found in there.”

Again, Olivia and Elliot traded rueful looks. They hated it when lawyers were on the ball. Elliot got up slowly and wandered over to the wall. Time for Plan B.

“Tell me Richie… You don’t mind me calling you Richie, do you? Tell me, are you particularly close to your little brother?”

Richard shifted nervously.

“No. Uh… We’re not… not really all that close…”

“Different personalities, huh?” Elliot said. “I get that. Me and my brother? We fight like cats and dogs. Half the time I can’t stand to be around the guy. That how it is with you and Bobby?”

“No,” Richard mumbled. “I mean… We argue some. We just have different ideas about things. And Bobby… Well, he’s a little… you know… He’s got a reputation.”

“For being a little out there?” Olivia suggested conspiratorially. Richard nodded quickly.

“Yeah, exactly. Just between us? I think he takes after our mom.”

“How do you mean?” Elliot asked. A deeper instinct was warning him to back off, that this was not a relevant part of the case but Elliot overrode that concern easily – perhaps a little too easily – by telling himself that he was establishing a rapport with the senior Goren brother.

“She’s schizophrenic,” Richard explained. “Lives permanently up at Carmel Ridge. You know, that psyche hospital? She’s the reason our father walked out on us. She’s the reason I cleared out of home as soon as I could. You see, I got myself a scholarship to get away from her craziness, but Bobby hung around to take care of her. I don’t know, maybe he thought I was abandoning them too, but I had my life to live. It wasn’t my fault if he decided he wanted to stay chained to our sick mom.”

“You think he was angry at you over that?” Elliot asked. “That you got away, and he didn’t?”

Richard shrugged.

“I don’t know. The guy’s angry about a lot of stuff. I’m just a convenient target, you know?”

Olivia leaned across the table a little.

“You were there on Saturday night, in his apartment. Weren’t you, Richie?”

“You don’t have to answer that,” Adams advised him quickly. Richard, however, shook his head.

“No, I want to. This is stupid. I’m only getting myself into hot water by not telling everything. Yes, I was there. Okay? I came and saw Bobby on Saturday night. We had a few drinks together. We argued a little, and then I eventually left. That’s all.”

“What time did you leave?” Elliot asked.

“About eleven,” Richard answered after a moment’s consideration.

“Eleven,” Elliot mused. “Can you prove that?”

“Can you disprove it?” Adams countered.

“Okay,” Olivia said, intervening as she sensed her partner’s growing irritation. “How about telling us how you ended up with your brother’s credit card and detective’s shield? And don’t try telling us that he gave them to you, because we know he didn’t.”

“He did, though,” Richard started to protest, only to be silenced by a warning look from Olivia.

“Listen to me, Richie,” Olivia said sternly, “you’re already looking at a charge of impersonating a police officer. Don’t make it worse for yourself by lying to us.”

Richard looked unhappily from Olivia to his lawyer, and back to Olivia again. He gave in and spoke when there seemed to be no advice forthcoming from his lawyer.

“Okay, I took the card, and the badge. I went through Bobby’s wallet when he went to the bathroom. I found his credit cards, and I took one of them. It was his own fault, anyway. The cheap son of a bitch wouldn’t even lend me fifty for a bus fare home.”

“And the shield?” Elliot pressed.

“Yeah, I took that too,” Richard admitted. “I know I didn’t exactly look a million bucks, and I figured flashing his badge might at least get me into a decent hotel room.”

“And you say that Bobby was fine when you left,” Olivia said. Richard nodded furiously.

“Yeah. He was totally okay. He was a little pissed at me, I guess, but he was fine.”

Elliot walked over, leaning across the table towards Richard.

“Here’s our problem, Richie. When Detective Benson told you that Bobby was unconscious in hospital, you seemed kind of surprised to hear he was still alive.”

Richard could only hold Elliot’s stare for a few seconds before looking down at the tabletop.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, you do. Your exact words to us were ‘You mean he’s not dead’. That’s what you said. Now, we have to wonder why you’d say something like that if Bobby really was fine when you left his apartment.”

“My client was heavily intoxicated when you arrested him,” Adams said coolly. “You can’t hold him accountable for anything he said while under the influence of alcohol.”

Olivia smiled sweetly at her.

“No? Watch us.”

Adams glowered back at her.

“If that’s the stance you’re going to take, Detective, I’ll put an end to this interview right now. So if you want to continue questioning my client, you’ll take a pull on the attitude.”

Olivia acquiesced with a nod, though the look in her eyes suggested she had no intention of following that directive.

“All right, let me put it another way. Richie, what do you think Bobby is going to tell us when he wakes up? And he is going to wake up.”

“So what are you going to do?” Elliot asked. “Are you going to clam up and wait for him to point the finger at you? Or are you going to come clean and tell us what really happened?”

“I didn’t hurt him,” Richard mumbled, starting to sound hoarse with fear and agitation. “I… I never touched him. I swear I never.”

Elliot stared piercingly at him.

“But you know who did, don’t you? C’mon, Richie, help yourself out here. You really think Bobby won’t finger you for this? How far do you think sibling loyalty goes? His home was trashed, just about everything he owns was destroyed, and he was beaten almost to death and raped!”

Richard’s head snapped up, his eyes going wide with genuine shock and horror.

“Raped…? Bobby was raped? No… No way… That’s not possible! Oh god…”

Elliot and Olivia exchanged glances. That was the first truly sincere reaction Richard had had since the interview started. It was the first reaction that they believed.

“He’s going to pick you for this, Richie,” Olivia said firmly. “You know he will as well as we do.”

“He wouldn’t,” Richard stammered. “He… He just wouldn’t…”

“Wouldn’t he?” Olivia asked. “Are you willing to stake your life on that, Richie? Because that’s what you could be facing, life in prison.”

“I’ll thank you not to jump the gun, Detective,” Adams said dryly.

“I’m not,” Olivia shot back. “We suspect there was someone else involved in the assault on Bobby Goren, but unless your client is willing to give up that person and come clean about his own involvement, he’s looking at being charged with the attempted murder of a police officer. That’s a life sentence, with no hope of parole, and we’re not even taking into consideration all the other charges Richard is facing.”

Adams looked grimly from one detective to the other before speaking.

“I’d like some time alone with my client.”

Elliot and Olivia left in silence, making their way around to the observation room where Cragen waited with their ADA, Casey Novak.

“So what do you think?” Cragen asked. Elliot paused, looking through the viewing glass thoughtfully before answering.

“Well… Compared to his brother, this clown has the IQ of a rock. And he’s got form for violence, though admittedly it’s not usual for him.”

“He’s got a modest rap sheet,” Olivia explained. “He’s better known for straight robbery and trying to con people out of their money, but he did go down for assault in the course of a robbery four years ago. He did the full sentence, just got out of prison a couple of months ago. I suppose he came looking for a hand up from Goren.”

“You know, I could see this guy maybe having a hand in the beating,” Elliot said quietly, “but his shock when we mentioned rape was too real to be a put-on. I think he had something to do with it, maybe helped facilitate it… Maybe he thought he was helping to set Goren up for a beating, but I don’t think he was actually there when it happened. Because he sure as hell didn’t know until now that his brother was raped.”

“Whether he knew or not, it doesn’t matter,” Casey said firmly. “If he set Detective Goren up to be attacked, then he’s as guilty as the one who actually conducted the assault, and I'll prosecute accordingly.”

“Let’s just hope that when Goren wakes up he’ll be willing to give up his brother to us,” Olivia said. “Because I have a horrible feeling that his lawyer is talking him out of saying anything else to us, and the bottom line is that we don’t have any hard evidence yet that he did have anything to do with the assault. There’s no bruising on his knuckles to suggest he threw any punches, no blood on any of his clothes. Right at the moment, we don’t have anything at all besides speculation.”

“Well, keep working at him,” Cragen told them. “And hopefully when Fin and Munch get back, they’ll have more ammunition for you.”

“Where are you going?” Casey asked as Cragen headed for the door.

“To the hospital,” Cragen answered. “I’ll see how Goren’s doing, and at the same time I’ll talk to Deakins and Eames. Maybe they can give us more of a heads-up on Goren’s relationship with his brother.”

Fin and Munch arrived back at Bobby’s apartment building to speak to the superintendent, only to be confronted on arrival by a small group of residents.

“Mr Trent, isn’t it?” Fin asked, recognising one of the neighbours that he’d spoken to earlier. The man nodded in confirmation.

“That’s right. We want to know, what’s happening? Is Bobby going to be okay?”

Fin and Munch traded glances.

“All we can tell you is that he came through surgery,” Munch said. “Beyond that, we haven’t heard anything more.”

“And what about his asshole brother? Have you found him yet?”

Once more, Fin and Munch exchanged looks.

“We can’t discuss that,” Fin said.

“Look,” one of the other members of the group said testily, “Bobby’s a cop, and we know what cops get like when one of their own goes down. Normally we wouldn’t buy into that thin blue line crap, but Bobby’s a good guy. Any time any of us had a problem and needed help, he never thought twice about lending a hand. If there’s anything at all we can do now to help him, then we’ll do it. Just tell us what we can do.”

“Right now?” Munch asked. “You can all help right now by going back to your apartments and letting us do our job. Right now that’s the best thing any of you can do. Please, just go back to your apartments, and I promise we’ll keep you updated on Detective Goren’s condition.”

Slowly, reluctantly, the group dispersed. Fin and Munch waited until they’d all gone before finally letting their breaths go in a rush.

“Nice neighbours,” Fin muttered.

“Oh, yeah,” Munch agreed. “Give ’em half a chance, and they’d probably form a lynch mob to hang Goren’s brother.”

Fin grunted. “Hey, if the asshole had anything at all to do with the attack on Goren, I’d be in half a mind to join the mob.”

“Careful,” Munch warned him as they came to the door of the Super’s apartment. “Those are the kind of thoughts that got Elliot into trouble.”

“You gonna tell IA I contemplated lynching the son of a bitch who tried to kill a fellow cop?”

“Not me,” Munch said. “Just make sure you keep those pleasant thoughts between us.”

Fin smirked, but said nothing as he approached the door and rapped on it hard. Nearly a minute passed, and Fin was about to try again when the door opened.

“Mr Tony Hollis?” Munch asked. “I’m Detective Munch, and this is Detective Tutuola. We’d like to ask you a few questions about the incident that took place in this building last night. Can we come in, please?”

Hollis stepped back, letting them in with obvious reluctance. He showed them through to the living room and waved half-heartedly at the sofa.

“Have a seat, Detectives. Make yourselves comfortable.”

“You sound stressed, Mr Hollis,” Munch observed. “Any particular reason for that?”

Hollis stared balefully at Munch.

“One of my best tenants is in hospital after getting the crap beaten out of him. The whole damn building is freaking out, and you ask why I’m stressed? Why do you think?”

“I don’t suppose you noticed anyone around who shouldn’t be around?” Fin asked. “Today, or maybe yesterday?”

“No, I didn’t see anyone.”

“Okay,” Munch said. “Now, do you think you could explain why the sprinkler and fire alert systems in Detective Goren’s apartment never activated?”

Hollis stared at Munch blankly.

“You mean there was a fire in there?”

“A controlled one,” Fin answered, struggling not to blanch in the face of Hollis’ unbelievable performance. “Whoever attacked Detective Goren decided to torch all of his books into the bargain.”

“Jesus. Look, I don’t know why the sprinkler or the alarms never went off. As far as I know, everything’s in working order, but I’m not a fucking fireman.”

“You are the building superintendent?” Munch asked.

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Then that makes it your responsibility to know, and to make sure that everything is in working order. Now tell us, if you wanted to shut down the sprinkler and fire alarm systems for just one apartment, could you do that? Or would you have to shut it off for the entire floor?”

Hollis was starting to look thoroughly sick by then.

“You… You’d have to turn it off floor by floor.”

“And if we called in a CSU team to check it out right now, what do you think they might find?” Munch wondered. “Your fingerprints all over it, maybe?”

Hollis was pale and sweating by then.

“That doesn’t prove anything. Like you said, I’m the Super. It’s my business to make sure it’s working. Of course my fingerprints would be all over it.”

“Like you said,” Fin countered softly, “you’re not a fucking fireman. And if you really haven’t done anything wrong, what are you so damned nervous about?”

Hollis moaned, then, and buried his face in his hands.

“Oh, god… I didn’t realise anyone was going to get hurt, I swear! Especially not Bobby Goren. If I’d had any idea, I would have gone straight to the cops. I swear I would have.”

“You turned off the sprinkler and fire alarms on Goren’s floor, didn’t you?” Fin asked.

“Yeah,” Hollis admitted, his voice muffled by his hands. “Not just the fire alarms, though. It was all the security alarms, too, for the front entrance and the fourth floor apartments. Door alarms, security cameras, the works. He gave me really specific instructions.”

“Who did?” Fin asked with a frown.

“I don’t know who he was. He turned up at my door a couple of weeks ago. Told me to make sure I turned everything off for the fourth floor, and the front entrance alarms as well, before ten o’clock on Saturday night, and then to put them all back on before noon on Sunday. He didn’t tell me why, and I wasn’t game to ask. I wish to God I had known, though. If I’d known the son of a bitch had been out to hurt Bobby, I never would have done it.”

“Just how much did you get paid to perform this service?” Munch asked as he began to rifle through his folder. Hollis gave a short, bitter laugh.

“That’s just it. I didn’t get paid to do it. The guy that came to me? He told me if I didn’t do it, he was gonna kill me. And that if I warned anyone, he’d make me wish I’d never been born.”

“And you believed him, of course,” Munch said dryly.

“Hell, yeah. If you’d seen the look in his eyes, you would’ve believed him, too. But he didn’t just rely on verbal threats. Look at this.”

Fin and Munch both looked, and saw what Hollis was indicating. On the side of his neck was a thick wad of surgical gauze.

“He cut you?” asked Fin.

“Yeah. He cut me deep, and he said he’d come back and finish the job if I didn’t do what he told me.”

Munch finally found what he was searching for – a copy of the photo of Richard Goren that they had taken from Bobby’s apartment – and held it out for Hollis to look at.

“Is this who told you to shut down all the alarms?”

“Richard Goren?” Hollis asked in surprise. “No, that’s not who came to me. That’s Bobby’s brother. I know he was here earlier on Saturday night, but I wouldn’t have thought he’d have anything to do with what happened. The guy’s a jerk, but I can’t see him wanting to hurt Bobby. Hell, I can’t see him having the balls to try.”

Fin and Munch stood up, indicating for Hollis to so the same.

“We’re going to ask you to come back to the precinct with us, Mr Hollis,” Munch told him. “We’ll need you to make a statement, and describe this mystery man to a sketch artist.”

“I’m in trouble, aren’t I?” Hollis moaned. “I’ve never been in trouble before.”

“Yeah, you are,” Fin confirmed.

“But not as much trouble as the assholes that hurt Detective Goren,” Munch added. “Not as long as you keep cooperating with us.”

“Could you do one thing for me?” Hollis asked as they ushered him into the back of their car. “Please, just one thing? When Bobby wakes up, tell him I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Fin muttered as he closed the car door. “You and everybody else.”

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