St Clare's Hospital,
some time just before midnight
Two hours into his watch, and Logan was half wishing he’d not agreed to this. Not that he wasn’t willing to sit with Bobby, but the truth was it was boring as hell. Even the cops outside the door had presented little opportunity to keep his interest.
Sighing a little, Logan got up and walked over to the window, looking out at the nightscape of New York. It was a Monday night, and Monday night was always reserved for a visit to the nearest bar. His buddies would have gone there without him, either unaware or unconcerned about his current location. It was hard not to feel just a little bit resentful that he had effectively cheated himself out of a few much-needed beers in the company of his friends.
Not that he was laying blame, and especially not on Bobby, not by a long shot. He had volunteered for this, and he would sit it out for as long as he was needed.
The fact that he was there at all had nothing to do with feeling like he owed anyone anything – although, truth be told, he felt he owed Bobby big time for saving both their butts when they’d been trapped inside that prison. But this was not about obligation – not that sort of obligation, at least. Bobby Goren was a cop who had been badly hurt, and needed support. For the life of him, Logan couldn’t fathom why Bobby’s fellow Major Case detectives seemed to have such an issue with that concept.
A soft moan reached Logan’s ears, and he turned back in time to see Bobby’s head turning from side to side just a little.
“Alex…” he whispered, and Logan felt a shudder pass through him at how weak his colleague’s voice sounded.
Logan walked back to the bedside, and spoke gently to him.
“She went home to get some rest, Bobby. Deakins insisted on it. But she'll be back here first thing in the morning.”
Bobby suddenly went very quiet. Logan was just starting to wonder whether he’d even woken up at all, and if it had just been his imagination, when Bobby spoke again.
“Yeah,” Logan confirmed, unable to keep a smile completely off his face at Bobby’s incredulous tone. “Yeah, it’s me. How are you feeling? Anything that I can get for you?”
“Is… Is there any water there?”
“Yeah. Hang on a second.”
He poured some water into a plastic cup, filling it to the halfway point, then looked back uncertainly at Bobby.
“How do you want to do this? With a straw? Or can you manage it just out of the cup?”
“Straw,” Bobby mumbled. He hesitated, then added softly, “You’ll need to… to…”
“Hold it for you?” Logan suggested lightly. “I think I can manage that. Okay, here it is.”
He held the cup close, waiting patiently while Bobby sipped at the water. When he’d had enough, Logan set the water down on the table, and then pulled his chair up close to the bedside.
“Feeling a bit more awake now?”
“Yeah,” Bobby answered quietly, though he sounded to Logan as though he wished he weren’t. An awkward silence reigned for a couple of minutes, and then Bobby finally broke it. “Did Deakins ask you to come? Or… or Alex?”
Logan chuckled softly.
“I’ll let that slide, because you can’t possibly be thinking straight if you thought for even a second that Eames would have asked me to come.”
Bobby was clearly confused.
“I came on my own, Bobby. No one asked me to be here. I’m here because I want to be here. Now stop stressing yourself out over it.”
The statement was met with a long silence as Bobby worked that over in his mind. Finally, he spoke softly.
Logan smiled a little. “Yeah, well, I’d like to think you’d do the same for me.”
“I would,” Bobby confirmed. “Thanks for… for giving Alex a break, too.”
“Yeah, well, she looked almost as bad as you.”
The comment was met with a long silence, and for a long moment Logan thought he’d just made a major blunder. Then, to his relief, a smile broke out across Bobby’s face, and he laughed softly.
“She’d cheerfully shoot you for that.”
“Not if you don’t tell her I said it. C’mon, pal, you wouldn’t turn on a brother, would you?”
At that, the smile faded very abruptly from Bobby’s face, and Logan realised too late what he’d said.
“I’m sorry, Bobby,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Not your fault,” Bobby whispered. “I just… I… I don’t…”
He fell silent, and Logan waited a minute before speaking softly.
“If you want to talk, I’m a pretty good listener. For the most part, anyway.”
Bobby let his breath out in a rush.
“My brother… He set me up.”
“Yeah…” Logan muttered. “I heard.”
“I know we never really got along,” Bobby went on, his voice trembling just slightly. “But I never thought he’d… he’d do anything like that to me. Even if we weren’t really friends… I should have been able to trust him, Logan. My own brother…”
“I know, it stinks,” Logan agreed. “But you know as well as I do how families can fall apart. We see it every day. The same blood doesn’t always make for good trust.”
Bobby fell silent once more, and Logan felt the first serious twinges of concern. Though he wasn’t the best at dealing with victims, he had enough experience that he could tell something more was eating away at Bobby. He was about to try another tact when Bobby spoke once more.
“My… My neighbours… They heard noises… Sounds of a fight… But none of them called 911. And… And… someone called my apartment. I remember the phone ringing. Whoever attacked me… They picked up the phone next to my… my bed, then hung it up… Then they left it off the hook. Whoever called… They could have sent help… but they didn’t.”
Logan felt his stomach churn unpleasantly as he began to understand the implication of Bobby’s words. More than one person had had the opportunity to help him, and all had ignored the warning signs that he was in trouble. He grimaced. No wonder the guy was feeling let down.
Logan desperately wanted to say something to help, only to find he just didn’t know what to say.
Bobby lay silently, making no effort to talk to his companion. He was finding it hard enough to deal with everything in his own mind without coping with Logan as well. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate what appeared to be a genuine offer of solidarity and understanding, but the hard truth was that everything just hurt too damned much to be able to deal with any of it.
His brother… His neighbours… Whoever it was that called... He even found himself harbouring anger towards Alex, and yet he logically knew there was no way on God’s earth that she could have known he was in trouble. He knew, without a shred of doubt in his tired mind, that if Alex had been given even the smallest hint that he was in any sort of trouble, she would have come running – just as he would for her. So Alex was not a fair target for his anger, and he made a valiant effort to turn it away from her.
But for those people who had had some warning signs of trouble, and had done nothing… The anger and emotional hurt he felt almost outweighed the physical pain he was in. He couldn’t begin to find words to describe how he felt.
And then there was his brother…
It was true, what he had said to Logan about not really being friends with his brother. They had never really been friends in any sense of the word. But Richie was still his brother… Still his own flesh and blood, and Bobby had honestly thought that would have counted for something. Obviously he was wrong.
What really stung was the knowledge that of the two of them, Richie had always been their parents’ favourite. His mother’s favourite before she became sick, and his father’s favourite afterwards. It had hurt, knowing that nothing he did had ever been good enough in his father’s eyes, while Richie only had to walk a straight line to be praised.
Okay, perhaps that was an exaggeration, Bobby conceded reluctantly, but not by much. As the oldest, Richie had always been their parents’ special son, the one who was going to do something with his life.
The irony almost made Bobby laugh. Richie was the one who had ended up more or less destitute, his life wasted by the casual use of drugs, and a severe addiction to gambling that had resulted in him committing various crimes, while Bobby had gone out and forged a career for himself. A career that was now in threat because of that same selfish, vindictive brother…
A choked sob escaped him before he could stop it, and a moment later he felt a hand come to rest lightly on his shoulder.
“What is it?” Logan asked in concern. “Are you hurting?”
Really, Logan couldn’t have made a bigger understatement if he’d tried. Yes, he wanted to scream, he was hurting. He was hurting far worse than he ever imagined could have been possible and, more than anything, he wanted to know why. Why had his brother betrayed him? Why had he sold him out like that? Why…?
“I can’t answer why, Bobby. Only your brother can answer that.”
Bobby sucked in his breath sharply. He hadn’t said that aloud, had he? Apparently he had.
“I just wish I knew,” he whispered.
“You wanna ask him for yourself?”
The simple question caused Bobby’s breath to catch in his throat. Yes, he wanted to know, but at the same time he honestly felt he never wanted to speak to his brother again. At this point, never seeing him again didn’t seem as though it would be a problem…
“I don’t want to talk to him… Never…” Bobby said hoarsely.
Logan wasn’t entirely surprised. He was at a loss, though, for what he could possibly do or say. He was still racking his mind for something to say when movement in the doorway drew his attention, and he looked up to see an unfamiliar man standing there.
Immediately going on the defensive, Logan stepped quickly around the bed, putting himself between Bobby and the newcomer.
The man was tall – not as tall as Bobby, but he had a similar build. A pair of dark brown eyes peered at Logan from behind a pair of glasses with thick lenses.
Logan couldn’t keep a frown off his face as the man tried to look around him at Bobby. Were the cops outside the door asleep?
“You lose your way, buddy?”
The man shook his head.
“No, I don’t think so.”
At the sound of the new voice, Bobby’s head turned a little.
Logan looked around at Bobby in surprise, and the man took the opportunity to step around him and up to the bedside.
“Yeah, Bobby, it’s me. Oh, man… Look at you…”
Logan coughed loudly, drawing the attention of the newcomer. Once he had his attention, Logan offered the man a half smile, and stuck out his hand.
“Detective Mike Logan. And you are?”
“Sorry,” the man apologised, and accepted the offered hand. “My name’s Danny Cooper. I’m Bobby’s cousin.”
Logan blinked in surprise.
“Bobby’s old man was my mom’s brother.” He turned back to his cousin. “I came as quick as I could, after I got the call from the hospital. I just got off the red eye flight from DC.”
“How… How’d they find you?”
“Apparently one of your buddies knew, and let them clued them in. Some guy called Lewis…?”
Bobby sighed faintly. Lewis…
“I… I’m glad you’re here.”
All of a sudden, Logan felt like an intruder. Feeling intensely self-conscious, he took a step towards the door.
“I might go… if you’re planning on staying, that is.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“Logan…” Bobby said softly.
“Yeah?” Logan asked.
Bobby tried to lift his bandaged hand off the bed but he lacked the strength, and the limb collapsed against the bed again. A sigh of frustration escaped his lips.
“Take it easy,” Logan murmured, stepping in and laying a hand gently on his shoulder. “I’m here.”
“Thankyou…” Bobby said softly. “I… I just wanted say… thankyou. For… For staying here… with me.”
Wow, Logan thought. That couldn’t have been easy to say.
“Anytime, pal,” Logan told him firmly. “Listen, I’ll come by again tomorrow evening, if you want me to.”
“Yeah,” Bobby mumbled. “That’d be good.”
Logan nodded, then remembered Bobby couldn’t see him, and spoke quickly.
“Okay, then. I… I’ll see you later.”
“That a friend of yours?” Danny asked once Logan had gone. Bobby grimaced a little.
“Not… Not exactly.”
“Define ‘not exactly’.”
“I worked with him a few months ago on a case.”
“Let me guess. Two alpha males, both trying to be the one in control.”
“Something like that,” Bobby admitted. Danny chuckled.
“Well, he obviously has enough respect for you that he was willing to sit here with you. And what about those guys outside the door? They from your squad?”
“No,” Bobby answered tentatively. “Alex told me that SVU organised a vigil, because no one from Major Case would.”
Danny bit back a sigh. He could hear the pain in his cousin’s voice as clear as anything.
“Who’s Alex? Is he your partner?”
A small smile touched Bobby’s lips. He remembered making the mistake of that assumption himself before being introduced to Alex for the first time.
“Yes, she’s my partner,” he confirmed. Danny laughed.
“Oh. Sorry, bud.” He paused, looking up and down the length of his cousin’s battered body once more. “Look at you,” he said again, this time with a hint of anger in his voice. “Bastards really worked you over, didn’t they? Has anyone been arrested yet?”
Bobby sucked in a long breath. Did he dare tell Danny the truth?
“They… They haven’t arrested anyone for the actual assault yet,” he said carefully. Danny’s gaze narrowed.
“But they have arrested someone. Who?”
“Richie,” Bobby confessed softly. Danny froze, his face going positively white.
“You… You’re not serious… What the fuck did your brother have to do with it?”
“He… he set me up, Danny.”
“That son of a bitch,” Danny whispered, and even Bobby winced at the vehemence that Danny poured into those words. “I always knew that piece of shit was no good, but your old man wouldn’t ever hear a wrong word against him. Goddamn it…”
“Please, Danny, don’t,” Bobby pleaded. The sheer pain and misery in his voice cut through Danny’s anger like a knife, piercing him right to the heart. The older man leaned over and gently closed his hand over Bobby’s shoulder.
“I haven’t seen you hurting this much since that night you turned up at our place, covered in blood.”
Bobby was silent for a long moment before venturing another grim revelation.
“They… They didn’t just beat me up, Danny.”
Danny felt a chill race down his spine.
“You don’t mean…”
“They raped me,” Bobby whispered, his voice cracking audibly from the strain as he struggled to face the shocking reality in his own mind. “They raped me, Danny… Both of them…”
“Do you know who it was?” Danny asked softly, fighting the desire to cry himself even as he watched his cousin struggle to hold back tears that seemed determined to come.
“I… I never saw their faces. They… They wore masks, at least to start with.”
Danny bit down lightly on his lower lip.
“So there were two of them. Neither one spoke to you at all that you remember?”
“I heard them talk to each other, but… but not clearly enough to understand. I don’t think either of them said anything to… to…”
Abruptly, Bobby trailed off. Danny watched him intently, wondering whether he was remembering something, or whether the exhaustion had just become too much.
“What is it, Bobby?” he asked finally. “Do you remember something?”
Bobby shuddered violently as he came back to the present.
“One of them spoke… spoke to me… After he raped me the first… the first time…”
Danny felt another chill at Bobby’s choice of phrase. The first time…? Just how many times did those sick fucks assault him…? He said nothing, though, waiting patiently for Bobby to work through his memory.
“I… I remember his breath on my face and… and he laughed… He said… He said just three words…”
“What three words?” Danny asked when Bobby fell silent and didn’t seem intent on elaborating.
“I got you,” Bobby whispered, feeling sick to his stomach. “Simon Matic…”
“You recognise one of them?” Danny asked.
“Yes,” Bobby confirmed, his voice barely audible. “It was Simon Matic. But… he should have still been in prison…”
“Do you want me to get one of those cops in here?” Danny asked, but Bobby shook his head.
“No. I… I’ll tell Alex when she comes back.”
“Okay, then,” Danny murmured. “Why don’t you try and get some more sleep, bud?”
“You… You aren’t leaving, are you?”
Danny patted Bobby’s shoulder reassuringly.
“I said I wasn’t going anywhere, and I’m not. I promise you, Bobby, I’ll be right here when you wake up again.”
Bobby didn’t respond to that, and Danny realised with concern that his cousin didn’t really believe the promise. He tried again, trying to put it in terms that Bobby would accept.
“Listen to me, Bobby. I took care of you once before, and I’ll do it again gladly. You might not be twelve anymore, but you’re still my little cuz. And I’m telling you, I’m not leaving you. I will be here when you wake up next.”
“Okay,” Bobby whispered finally.
Danny sat back a little, but still kept one hand on Bobby’s arm for reassurance. Only a few minutes passed before Bobby’s breathing slowed and evened out, telling Danny that he was asleep. He watched his cousin’s bruised and battered face with growing distress and anger.
He’d never liked Richie, very much, but now that vague sense of dislike had descended into outright loathing. He couldn’t begin to fathom how someone could sell out his own brother, so how must Bobby be feeling? It was the ultimate betrayal, and he wished heartily that Richard Goren Snr was still alive so that he could see for himself what a waste of space his oldest son had become.
Danny slumped back in the chair, fighting to regain some self-control. Judging by the way Bobby had reluctantly accepted the promise that Danny would be there when he woke up, it seemed Bobby’s trust in others had been deeply shaken. He could only hope it hadn’t been shattered altogether.
His expression hardened with grim determination. He’d told his wife before leaving DC that he would do whatever was necessary to help his cousin, even if it meant taking him away from New York and home to Washington DC, to look after him there. Hopefully it wouldn’t be necessary, but the option was there, and his wife had readily agreed.
Danny sighed softly. He would help Bobby, and hopefully he would be able to do it together with his cousin’s partner, because he suspected she’d be none-too-receptive to the idea of him being taken away from New York. One way or another, he thought sadly, as he settled down for the long night ahead.
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