9.11 a.m.
Monday morning
ICU, St Clare's Hospital

Alex stood up slowly, and wandered over to the window. It was just after nine thirty on Sunday…? No, Monday morning, she corrected herself tiredly. The last fourteen hours had been such a nightmare that it had totally screwed up her sense of time. Lewis had left a little while ago. He’d been apologetic, but he had a business to run, and no one to rely on to take care of it for him. Deakins had gone as well, but only for as long as it took him to check in at One Police Plaza, and let everyone at MCS know that Bobby was in hospital. It was particularly important that he do that, because he had to make provisions for being short two detectives, at least temporarily.

She looked back at Bobby, feeling that dull but persistent sensation of panic deep in her gut. As much as she hoped and prayed it would only be temporary, there were so many ‘what ifs’ that it was almost impossible to get her head around them all.

Alex looked away, out the window once more. On any other Monday morning at this time, she would have been just settling in at her desk in the Major Case bullpen. Bobby would arrive shortly after, laden with hot coffee and bagels from the delicatessen down the road. Provided they weren’t already working on a case, they might have perhaps an hour or so of puttering around before the inevitable call came, starting them off on yet another mental and emotional roller coaster ride.

She liked the mornings when they arrived and didn’t have to get started straight away on a new case, or an ongoing investigation. It afforded them the chance to just sit and talk, in a way that they weren’t often able to. When that happened, they didn’t necessarily talk about work, either. Sometimes it would be about what each of them had done on the weekend… Or, perhaps, anything that was going on with their families.

Though, admittedly, if the subject turned to families, it tended to be her that did most of the talking. Bobby rarely spoke to her about his visits with his mother, particularly if it was a less than pleasant visit.

She looked back at him once more, wondering suddenly whether he had visited his mother on Saturday, ahead of the apparently fateful visit from his brother. Of course he had, she thought glumly. She hoped it had been a good visit for him, because God only knew when he might see her again… or if he might see her again.

That was a thought far too painful to contemplate, and yet she couldn’t turn her mind to other paths. In all honesty, she didn’t know what would be worse. If Bobby were to die, no doubt a part of her would die along with him. But at the same time, losing his sight would surely kill him inside. Either way, she was at risk of losing the best partner she had ever had. That was something she could not allow herself to consider. Not yet… and hopefully, not at all.

“Excuse me, Detective Eames?”

She looked up to see Captain Don Cragen from the SVU standing in the doorway. He favoured her with a kindly look.

“Mind if I come in?”

She shook her head wordlessly, not trusting herself to speak. Cragen came in slowly, pausing just inside the doorway to look at Bobby’s battered features.

“Jesus. I read Elliot and Olivia’s report, but I didn’t realise it was this bad. Sons of bitches really did a number on him, didn’t they?”

Alex stared at him questioningly.

“So there was more than one assailant?”

Cragen hesitated in answering, choosing his words with care before going on.

“We’re certain more than one person was involved. Whether more than one person took part in the actual attack, we don’t know yet.”

“But you have his brother in custody.”

“Yes, we do,” Cragen confirmed. “Elliot and Olivia are still questioning him. He’s not exactly been forthcoming.”

Alex sighed softly as she sank back into one of the chairs by the bedside.

“What a surprise.”

Cragen watched her thoughtfully.

“Captain Deakins is back at One Police Plaza, then?”

“He went to organise a few things. He said he’d be back in a couple of hours.”

“Have you had any rest?”

She favoured him with a flat stare, and Cragen smiled grimly.

“Sorry, stupid question. Tell me honestly, how is he doing?”

Alex rubbed her hand over her eyes, struggling to keep alert in the face of growing exhaustion.

“The doctor said he’s not going to die.”

“Thank God for that,” Cragen murmured with sincere relief.

“That’s about all they can guarantee at the moment, though,” Alex said. Cragen crossed the floor to the bedside, and looked down at Bobby’s face with concern.

“His eyes?”

“He may or may not lose his sight. The doctor told Captain Deakins that the burns were on his eyelids, and not on his eyes, so there’s a chance he may see again.”

“You don’t sound as though you’re being very positive.”

She accepted the gentle admonishment without rancour, too tired to take offence.

“Hope for the best, but expect the worst. What else can I do?”

“I know,” Cragen murmured. “It’s not easy being strong in the face of so much uncertainty.”

Alex looked up at him.

“Did his brother do this?”

It was all Cragen could do not to flinch at the blunt question.

“We don’t know, Alex. Elliot and Olivia are still talking to him.”

“You must have some idea,” she pressed. “Please, Captain, I need to know. If Bobby wakes up, and doesn’t remember anything, what am I supposed to tell him? I, for one, would really like to not have to tell him his brother beat him up and raped him.”

“His brother didn’t rape him,” Cragen said softly. “I don’t know whether he had anything to do with the beating, but he didn’t know about the rape until Elliot told him. He was genuinely horrified. Trust me, no one can fake a reaction like he had.”

“But it’s possible he was involved in the assault.”

“Yes,” Cragen answered. “It’s possible.”

Alex looked away, fighting the tears that threatened.

“Son of a bitch.”

“If he had anything to do with it at all, he won’t get away with it,” Cragen assured her. “Whether Goren can testify to his involvement or not, we’ll get the evidence, and we’ll bury the bastard with it. I promise you. The bastards that did this are not going to walk free. We will get them.”

She didn’t respond. Cragen watched as she focused her complete attention on her unconscious partner, struggling to hold in the emotions that were persistently trying to push their way to the surface.

He sympathised with her, he really did. It was hard enough when any cop came under attack. Solidarity amongst cops was expected when one of your own went down, whether you knew the unfortunate officer or not. When it was your partner, though, that made everything so much worse. Alex Eames was trying to put up a brave front, and that was commendable, but in unnecessary in Cragen’s eyes.

A sudden gasp of surprise from Alex brought Cragen abruptly back to the present, and he looked down at her questioningly.

“What is it?”

Again, Alex didn’t respond, but instead leaned in closer to her partner.

“Bobby? Can you hear me?”

Cragen frowned a little, wondering how she could possibly think he was waking up so soon. On his way up to ICU, he’d spoken to one of the doctors assigned to care for the detective, and they’d told him that Goren would probably remain unconscious for the next two to three days. He was about to gently remind her of that when he finally saw what she had seen only seconds before.

In a slight, almost imperceptible movement, Bobby Goren had just turned his head.

Ignoring Cragen, Alex leaned in as close as she could reasonably get, laying one hand gently on Bobby’s bare arm in an effort to let him know she was there. For nearly a minute, there was no further movement from him, and she was about to resign herself to the likelihood that the movement was only reflexive when a faint moan came from his bruised lips.

“I’ll find a doctor,” Cragen said, not entirely sure if she’d even heard him. He hurried from the room without waiting for a response.

Alex barely noticed him go. Her attention was fixed solely on her partner.

“C’mon, Bobby, wake up,” she begged him. “Show me you can hear me. Please…”

Slowly, obviously painfully, his lips parted just slightly, and another soft moan issued from them.


The word came out garbled and barely audible, but Alex understood regardless.

“I’m here,” she said, tears filling her eyes with a mixture of relief and sorrow. “I’m right here, Bobby.”

He tried to speak again, but no sound came out, only a pained moan.

“Hush, don’t try to speak,” she murmured. “Here…”

Pressing her thumb over the protruding end of the straw that sat in a glass of water on the mobile table, Alex allowed a few drops at a time to fall in his mouth, until the straw was empty. He answered her gesture with a shudder, but didn’t try to speak again.

Putting the straw aside, Alex reached across and gently pressed her palm to his cheek. She wanted so badly to take his hand, and yet she couldn’t do even that simple thing to reassure him of her presence. God only knew what was going through his mind right at that moment, whether he remembered anything of what had happened to him, or if he even knew where he was.

His head turned again, this time turning in towards her touch.

“I’m here,” she whispered again, struggling to keep her voice even. The last thing she wanted was to upset him because she couldn’t control her own emotions. “I’m right here beside you. I’m not going anywhere, I promise.”


The word came from his lips like an exhaled breath. It was barely audible, and it took her a moment to decipher what it was that he’d actually said. He was in pain, she realised numbly, and probably a lot of it.

Movement behind her drew her attention, and she looked around just as Dr Craig strode in, followed by two nurses.

“I’ll be damned, he is awake,” she murmured. “Detective Eames, I’m going to have to ask you to move aside…”

“No,” Alex growled, suddenly galvanised by the threat of being removed from her partner’s side, even if for just a short time. “I won’t leave him.”

“I’m not asking you to leave the room, Detective,” Dr Craig said patiently, “just to move aside for a few minutes. Please, we need to be able to do our jobs, and we can’t with you right there.”

“C’mon, Alex,” Cragen murmured, his grip firm on her shoulders as he guided her away from the bedside. “Come and stand over here. The sooner they do whatever it is they have to do, the sooner you can be at his side again.”

Alex conceded with visible reluctance, and allowed Cragen to lead her over to the far wall. Dr Craig flashed them a reassuring smile, then turned her attention to Bobby.

“Robert? Can you hear me?”

A weak, tired moan met her question, followed by a rasping answer.

Y Yes…”

“Good,” she said. “That’s good. I need to ask you a couple of questions, and I just want you to answer yes, or no. Can you do that?”


“That’s really good, Robert. Now, do you know where you are?”

Silence. Dr Craig waited for a long moment, and was about to ask again when Bobby finally responded.


“You’re in hospital, Robert. You’re in the Intensive Care Unit, at St Clare’s Hospital. Do you know why you’re here?”

Again, there was silence, this time considerably more prolonged. Finally, when he still didn’t answer, she spoke again.

“It’s all right if you don’t remember anything. You’ve only just woken up, and everything is going to be hazy for a while. Now I just want you to relax as much as you can, and let us do everything. All right?”

Can’t see.”

“Your eyes are bandaged, Robert,” Dr Craig told him. “That’s why you can’t see anything at the moment. But I don’t want you to worry about that.”


“What was that?” Dr Craig asked.

“He said it hurts,” Alex spoke up impatiently.

“Okay,” Dr Craig said. “We’re going to put a shot of morphine through your IV drip, Robert. That should take the edge off the pain. Just hold on, there.”

Alex continued to watch with growing impatience as Dr Craig and the two nurses saw to her partner, checking all of his vital stats with what seemed to her to be excruciating slowness. It was what seemed an age to her before the doctor finally sent the nurses out of the room and back to their regular duties, and motioned for Alex and Cragen to come back to the bedside. Alex was there in an instant, one hand on Bobby’s arm and the other gently stroking his damp, matted hair.

“Alex…” he whispered, finding his voice more easily as the minutes passed.

“Yes, I’m here,” she told him.

“What… What happened… to me?”

Alex looked from Dr Craig to Cragen, at a loss for what to say. Cragen stepped in, then.

“This is Captain Cragen, Detective Goren. Can you tell us, what’s the last thing you remember?”

Bobby answered that question with a long silence. Alex dreaded to know whether he was trying to sort out an answer in his mind, or whether he was trying to work out just why the Special Victims Unit captain was in his hospital room.

“My brother,” he mumbled finally. “Richie… He came to see me… Saturday night… What day is it?”

“It’s Monday morning, Bobby,” Alex told him. “Do you remember anything from Richie’s visit? Anything at all?”

Again, there was silence as Bobby racked his exhausted mind for an answer.

“He wanted money… Something about a debt… I said no… We argued… I think he left… I don’t really remember.”

“That’s good, Detective,” Cragen said quietly. “Don’t force yourself to remember. It’ll come back to you soon enough.”

“Was I… attacked?”

Cragen stared at Alex, who looked back at him, distraught. Finally, he answered grimly, in the affirmative.

“Yes, Detective. You were.”

Bobby shuddered violently.

“How bad…?”

“I don’t want you worrying about that at the moment, Robert,” Dr Craig told him firmly, at the same time firing Cragen a threatening look. “You’re being taken care of by my staff now, and that’s all you need to worry about.”

“And I’m not going anywhere,” Alex promised him. “I’m staying right here. Okay?”

Cragen laid a hand encouragingly on Alex’s shoulder before exiting the room. Only a minute later, after determining that all was as it needed to be, Dr Craig left as well, leaving Alex alone with her partner.


She watched him tearfully.

“What is it?”

“Talk to me. Tell me… Tell me what happened.”

Alex felt sick to her stomach. As reluctant as she was to tell him the truth, she knew Deakins was right. She had to be honest with him, little though she liked it. Maybe, though, she could be selective in how much she actually told him.

“No one knows the full story, yet. I… I got a call last night, from Captain Deakins. Captain Cragen contacted him. Your neighbour, Mrs Pirelli… She found you in your… your apartment, Bobby. You were in a really bad way.”

“She… okay?”

“Who, Mrs Pirelli?”


Alex swallowed a sigh. Typical that Bobby should worry about the wellbeing of another when he was the one critically injured in hospital.

“She’s fine, Bobby. Just… in shock. We all are.”

“SVU’s investigating?”

Alex’s stomach churned. She’d wondered how long it would take him to focus on that.

“Yes,” she confirmed softly. “They’ve got the case.”


She suspected it was a pointless question; that he already knew why even if he hadn’t actually remembered yet. She could have throttled him for asking, though.

“You… You were assaulted, Bobby. Physically and…”

She faltered, damn near choking before she could get anything more out. God, why was she having such a hard time saying it? It wasn’t as though it wasn’t something they often dealt with. In the end, he said it for her.


It wasn’t a question, and Alex felt her heart break at the pain that his voice radiated. For just a split second, she was grateful for the bandages that covered his eyes. Had he been able to see, she didn’t think she could have stood the anguish that she knew she would have seen there in his chocolate brown eyes.

“Yes,” she whispered, fighting with every ounce of emotional strength she had to keep her voice steady; to be strong for him.

“I don’t remember.”

She was quietly grateful for that. She knew it would come back to him soon enough, and then it would be hell to deal with, but right then? He didn’t need to be burdened with what was sure to be some truly horrific memories.

“Don’t try,” she told him. “Just… try and rest, okay?”

He was silent, and she was just starting to wonder whether he’d fallen asleep again when Deakins strode in, his face a mixed mask of anxiety and hope.

“I just saw Dr Craig. She said Bobby was awake…”

“He was,” Alex murmured.

“Still am,” Bobby whispered, startling them both just a little. Deakins moved up beside Alex, and reached down to lay his hand gently on the detective’s arm.

“How are you feeling, Bobby?”

“Like crap.”

Deakins managed a small smile.

“I don’t doubt it. You look like crap, too.”

A tiny smile quirked the corners of Bobby’s mouth in appreciation of Deakins’ humour.



“How’s the pain level?” Deakins asked, his smile fading as concern took over. Bobby drew in a forcibly slow breath before answering.

“Getting better.”

“Dr Craig gave him a shot of morphine through the IV,” Alex explained quietly. “He was in a lot of pain when he woke up.”

“Not surprising,” Deakins muttered. “Listen to me, Bobby. Everyone at Major Case is waiting to hear how you are. Anything you’d like me to pass on?”

Bobby didn’t answer immediately. Alex was about to make a suggestion for him when he did finally mumble an answer.

“Hanging… in there.”

Even as they watched, exhaustion mixed with the effects of the morphine took hold, and Bobby slipped once more into the pain-free peace of sleep.

“He’s out again,” Deakins murmured. “I take it he wasn’t awake for long?”

“Fifteen minutes, at the most,” Alex said.

“Well, that’s something, at least. Does he remember anything?”

“He said he didn’t. But he knows he was assaulted.”

Deakins raised an eyebrow questioningly, and Alex reluctantly explained.

“He knows he was beaten up and raped. Captain Cragen was in here when he woke up. It was kind of a big give-away.”

“Don was here? I must have just missed him. Did he say anything to you about the case?”

“Not much. He said Benson and Stabler are still questioning Bobby’s brother. I got the impression he didn’t just come here to see for himself what condition Bobby is in, but if he was going to ask about anything, it got left by the wayside when Bobby woke up.” She looked up at him questioningly. “You told everyone at Major Case?”

“Just that he was attacked, and that he’s in hospital,” Deakins told her. “The details are under wraps.”

Alex wiped furiously at the tears that were trying so hard to work their way out of her eyes.

“Did any of them even care?”

Deakins felt a simultaneous sensation of horror and understanding.

“Of course they do, Alex. Why would you even ask that?”

She looked up at him, and it was all he could do not to flinch at the sight of her tear-streaked face and eyes that were red and swollen from shedding tears.

“You know as well as I do that none of them really give a damn about Bobby. They just see him as some sort of freak. The only reason they tolerate him is because he’s so good at the job.”

Deakins wanted desperately to dispute that, but in the end he couldn’t. Unwittingly, his mind slipped back a couple of hours ago to his arrival at the Major Case Squad room. Ron Carver had been there, waiting for him in his office, clearly agitated. He had been in the final stages of planning for his latest court case, and needed to go over some vital information with Major Case’s two best detectives, and hadn’t been happy to find them absent from the office. He recalled the ensuing event with nausea in his gut.

They’re not coming in, Ron. You’re going to have to ask for a postponement on this one.”

Ron Carver stood frozen, staring at Deakins in disbelief.

You can’t be serious. This case has already been postponed twice. Judge Saunders is not going to make allowances again.”

He’s going to have to, Ron. Goren and Eames aren’t going to be available… Goren, especially… not for some time.”

Ron faltered, suddenly realising something was very wrong.

What’s happened?”

Goren was attacked in his home some time over the weekend, Ron. He was attacked, and left for dead. It was only his neighbour finding him last night that probably saved his life. If he’d gone much longer than he did without medical assistance, he wouldn’t be alive now.”

Good god. Do you have any idea who’s responsible?”

It’s not our case. SVU are handling it.”

Ron froze, his face reflecting his shock. “Special Victims Unit? You mean… he was raped?”

I’m afraid so,” Deakins confirmed grimly. “But I’d appreciate it if you’d keep that information under wraps, Ron.”

Of course. Do you know how he is?”

Alive. Beyond that, I can’t really say. Can you give me a few minutes, Ron? I need to let everyone here know.”

Ron nodded amiably, and stood watching in the doorway of Deakins’ office as the captain called the attention of the detectives and other staff there.

Everyone, listen up. I have some bad news. Bobby Goren was attacked and left for dead some time over Saturday night in a violent home invasion.”

A murmur of shock swept through the small crowd that had gathered to listen to Deakins. The captain went on grimly.

He’s in St Clare’s right now, in the Intensive Care Unit. He’s in a critical condition.”

But he’s gonna pull through, right?” someone called out.

Deakins nodded, feeling a sensation of warmth at the question. Perhaps Bobby Goren wasn’t quite as unpopular as he thought he was.

Yes, he’s going to live.”

Good,” the same person muttered in a lower, but still audible voice. “Because the rest of us don’t need to be doing double-time trying handle that freak’s workload.”

Deakins had reeled with shock at the callous comment, even more-so because no one made the effort to rebuke the one who had spoken.

That freak,” Deakins snapped angrily, “is a fellow cop who was brutally attacked in his own home. And yes, I am going to need you to pull together, at least for a while, to cover Goren and Eames’ cases. And I expect you to do it without the derogatory comments!”

To his dismay, the detectives had dispersed, quietly grumbling amongst themselves.

I would have thought the situation would have encouraged them to put aside any personal dislikes,” Carver mused as Deakins came back into his office. “Apparently I was wrong.”

Seems we both were,” Deakins muttered.

“I’m right, aren’t I?”

Deakins looked at Alex, snapped out of the unpleasant memory by her voice. She was watching him with a mixture of pain and resignation.

“What you told Bobby about everyone at Major Case waiting to hear how he is. They’re not, are they? They don’t care.”

“It’s not that they don’t care,” Deakins said, trying to choose his words carefully. “They just…”

“Don’t care,” she concluded abruptly. “Don’t try to sugar coat it. None of them care about Bobby. As long as he does his job, that’s all they care about. Everyone in Major Case, and the brass upstairs.”

Deakins sighed softly.

“I wish I could say you’re wrong, Alex. Maybe before too long the attitude will change, but until then, I suppose it’s up to us to help Bobby get through this.”

Alex stared at her partner, fresh tears in her eyes. Sometimes she hated being right. She really did.

Elliot and Olivia came out of what felt to them like a marathon interrogation session, with little more to show for it than what they’d had when they first started. So far, they’d managed to confirm that Richard Goren had been in his brother’s apartment on Saturday night. Beyond that, they had nothing.

“No joy?” Munch asked as they came back to their desks. Elliot sighed and shook his head.

“No. His lawyer talked him into shutting up. God, I hate lawyers.”

“Well, here’s something that may or may not cheer you up.”

“What is it?” Olivia asked as Fin handed her and Elliot each a copy of a sketch artist’s picture.

“Apparently that’s the guy that threatened Goren’s Super. He said this guy showed up about two weeks ago, and told him to make sure that all the alarms on Goren’s floor were disabled for Saturday night. He said he threatened to kill him if he didn’t do it, and left a nice, deep cut on the guy’s throat to emphasize how serious he was.”

“And he didn’t call the cops?” Olivia asked incredulously. “Or even got to Goren about it?”

“Says he didn’t dare,” Munch answered wearily. “He says he had no idea what was being planned, or that someone was going to get hurt. He says he would have gone to the cops if he’d known that.”

“That’ll be a big comfort to Goren,” Elliot muttered.

“Captain’s back,” Olivia murmured. They all looked around as Cragen came through the archway into the SVU bullpen, and crossed the floor to where they were sitting together.

“Did you see Goren?” Fin asked, and Cragen nodded.

“Yes, I saw him. And after seeing him there, in hospital, I can only imagine how terrible he looked when he was actually found.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Elliot confirmed. “Did you talk to Eames? Or Captain Deakins?”

“I didn’t have a chance to ask Eames about Goren’s brother, and Deakins wasn’t there. But Goren woke up while I was there.”

“You’re serious?” Olivia asked in astonishment. “Damn, he must have some incredible strength of will. The doctors said he wasn’t likely to wake up for a couple of days.”

“Did he remember anything?” Munch asked.

“Nothing of the actual assault,” Cragen replied. “He did remember his brother being there on Saturday night, but nothing beyond that. He said he remembered Richard asking him for money, and that they got into an argument over it when he said no. But he doesn’t remember whether Richard stayed or went after that.”

“It’s not enough,” Olivia said with a sigh. “We’re going to have to go to the hospital, and wait. We need to be there when he wakes up next, so we can talk to him.”

Cragen nodded.

“Go ahead. I think Alex Eames could probably do with the company, too.”

“I would have thought Major Case would have had a vigil up and running by now,” Elliot said, frowning a little. Cragen shrugged.

“I would have thought so, too, but maybe they’re just too flat out busy. You two go. You can’t do much else now until you’ve spoken to Goren anyway. Just remember to call in, and keep me updated.”

They watched him retreat into his office, and then Olivia and Elliot rose up together from their chairs.

“Don’t forget this,” Munch said, holding a copy of the sketched suspect out to Elliot. “Show it to Eames while you’re there. Maybe she’ll recognise him.”

Elliot slipped the page into his jacket, and looked across at Olivia, and motioned towards the exit.

“Shall we?”

She smiled faintly.

“Let’s go.”

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