“What do you want?” Richie Goren asked sullenly as he was led into the interview room at the prison to find Elliot and Olivia waiting for him, along with his lawyer and ADA Casey Novak.

Elliot paused, eyeing Richie’s swollen left eye with curiosity.

“Get into a fight, Richie?”

The sullen look descended into an angry scowl, and was followed rapidly by a wince of pain.

“Let’s just say that it didn’t take long for the other scum in here to work out that I’m Bobby’s brother. He’s not exactly the most popular guy around here, you know?”

Elliot sat down, fighting down an urge to smirk. He didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty at the thought that Richie had suffered a beating.

“My client has had to be placed in the protective wing, in isolation,” Adams stated angrily.

“Well, I guess he should be grateful he’s not in the same position as his brother,” Olivia shot back. “Don’t look to us for sympathy. We reserve that for victims.”

“We have some more questions for you, Richie,” Elliot said before Adams had a chance to reply to Olivia’s barb. “We want to know if you recognise either of these two men.”

He dropped two photos on the table, mugshots of Matic and Cozza. Richie glanced quickly at them, a little too quickly for Olivia or Elliot’s liking, and shook his head.

“Nope. Don’t know them.”

“Really,” Elliot said calmly. “We find that kind of strange, considering you spent around three and a half years sharing a cell with this guy here.” He prodded at the photo of Matic for emphasis. “And this other guy joined the two of you for six months. Then, all three of you were released at pretty much the same time. In fact, there was only a four day gap between each of your releases.”

“So, would you like to rethink your answer, Richie?” Olivia asked. “Do you recognise either of these men?”

Richie looked away, scowling as deeply as his black eye would allow.

“Simon and Chops.”

“They’re the buddies that took care of you in prison, weren’t they?” Elliot asked. “Kept the other inmates from beating you up?”

“They looked out for me,” Richie muttered. “So what? Is it a crime now to have friends?”

“No,” Elliot said blithely. Olivia leaned in, then.

“But it is to ask for a quarter of a million dollars for protection.”

Richie blanched visibly, and Olivia stared hard at him.

“What happened, Richie? Did they track you down after you all got out? Or was it something you planned together in prison?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Richie exploded. “Will you just fucking leave me alone?”

“Listen to us, Richie,” Olivia snapped, abruptly abandoning the veneer of the sympathetic cop. “At the moment you’re the only one we have. We know these other two were involved, but at the moment we have nothing to nail them on, so if we can’t get them, we’ll just have to settle for laying everything on you.”

“You can’t do that,” Richie whispered, his eyes wide with panic. “I didn’t do anything to Bobby, you gotta believe me!”

“We can do it, Richie, unless you give us some alternatives,” Elliot told him in a more soothing tone. “Why don’t you do yourself a favour, and tell us what really went on? You give up Matic and Cozza, and the DA might be willing to cut you a deal. Minimum time in low security prison…”

Casey spoke up then, her attention focused on Richie’s lawyer.

“Would you like some time to talk sense into your client, Ms Adams? We already have enough in the statement from Detective Goren to convince a judge to commit Richie to trial. Now I’ll wager that sooner or later, Detective Goren is going to remember everything that happened to him, and when he does, I don’t doubt he’ll be willing to testify to all of it. If that happens, if he gives up Matic and Cozza before your client does, any possible deals are going to be out the window. Think about it, and remember that he’s facing a possible charge of attempted murder of a police officer. That’s a straight life sentence, no parole, just for starters. And with all the other charges he’s likely to face, I wouldn’t be surprised if the DA instructs me to request the death penalty.”

“Whoa!” Richie burst out. “Death penalty? No way…”

“Then tell us what happened!” Elliot exploded at him, slamming his fists down on the table for emphasis. Richie jerked backwards, his pale brown eyes flickering between Elliot and Olivia as he tried desperately to gauge just how serious they really were. Finally, he shuddered visibly, and gave in.

“You’ve gotta understand… It was horrible. In prison, I mean… Once it got around that I was Bobby Goren’s older brother, it was open season, you know? And the guards never tried to stop it. In the end, I got beaten up so bad that I landed in the prison hospital for a month. After that, they put me in solitary… Said it was for my own protection. I think I was there… in solitary, I mean… for a couple of months when they took me out. They put me in a cell with a new guy.”

“Simon Matic,” Elliot said, and Richie nodded.

“Yeah. He told me that Bobby had screwed him over, got him sent to prison, and I thought that was it. I wasn’t gonna live to see the next morning. But Simon never hurt me. He said that he didn’t blame me, that it wasn’t my fault I had a piece of shit for a little brother. Then he said that he’d look out for me, and he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. He protected me, you know? After Simon came, no one hassled me. The only guy who tried ended up in hospital himself.”

“So Matic looked out for you out of the goodness of his heart,” Elliot concluded sarcastically. “And he didn’t even hint that he wanted anything in return?”

“He… He said he might need a favour when we got out… but he said it wouldn’t be anything major. I didn’t care at that stage, okay? All I wanted was to be able to get through each day, and not have to worry about whether I was going to end up crippled… or even dead. I just didn’t care what he wanted in return. I figured I’d deal with that when I got out.”

“Okay,” Olivia said, frowning slightly. “Now what about Richard Cozza? How did he join your happy little family?”

Richie stared intently at the tabletop.

“When he got to Rikers, it didn’t take him long to find out who I was. He came after me, and Simon fought him off. I don’t know what happened, just that Simon talked to Chops, and then he was okay with me. He ended up helping Simon take care of me.”

“Take care of you?” Elliot echoed, raising an eyebrow questioningly, and Richie flushed.

“Not like that. They never laid a hand… or anything else on me.”

“But I bet that happened a lot before Simon came along, huh?” Olivia said, sounding none too sympathetic. Richie glanced at her, then back down again.

“Every fucking day.”

“So Matic and Cozza act like your own personal bodyguards until you get released. Then they get out shortly after… and what happened then?” Elliot asked.

“They came looking for me,” Richie answered sullenly. “I wasn’t expecting to see them, you know? Simon was supposed to be serving minimum of ten years… and Chops wasn’t ever supposed to get out. But Simon told me his lawyer got him a reduced sentence on appeal, and got him before the parole board early. And Chops made a deal with the Feds. He agreed to testify in some of their big cases against one of the big crime families here, and they got him out of prison in exchange for his testimony. I guess they figured the people he killed weren’t as important as their cases. Anyway, they said they needed money, and they wanted me to get it for them.”

“How much money did they ask for?” Olivia asked.

“Two hundred and fifty thousand. I told them I didn’t have that kind of money, and that’s when Chops…”

“When Chops what?” Elliot pressed. Richie shuddered.

“He said ‘I bet your little brother does’. I… I told them Bobby wouldn’t have that kind of money, but they wouldn’t believe me. That’s when Simon said that if I couldn’t get the money, then maybe I could pay them another way.”

Richie fell silent, wringing his hands together incessantly. Neither Elliot nor Olivia spoke, both watching Richie piercingly.

“Chops said that if I couldn’t come up with the money, then I could help them get a little bit of payback with Bobby. I… I didn’t want to… but I was scared of them. I didn’t know if they might do anything to me, but I wasn’t game enough to find out. And besides… they said that all they wanted to do was give him a scare. Chops said they wouldn’t really hurt him, just rough him up a little. He said they weren’t stupid enough to try and do some serious damage.”

“So you agreed,” Elliot said flatly.

“Kind of,” Richie muttered. “Except, I made them promise to wait. I said I’d try and get the money first, and that if Bobby came through with the money, then they’d leave him alone.”

“Except, he knocked you back, wouldn’t give you the money,” Olivia said.

“Stupid jerk,” Richie said miserably. “It’s partly his own fault. If he’d just given me the money…”

“So what happened when you left your brother’s apartment on Saturday night?” Olivia asked.

“When I got outside, Simon and Chops were waiting for me. They asked if I’d gotten him to give me the money, and I had to say no. I should’ve known then. The looks on their faces… They were happy that I didn’t get the money. They told me to get lost, then, and… and I did.”

“All right,” Adams stated crisply. “I think my client has been more than reasonable with his level of cooperation. What is he going to be offered in return?”

“Not so fast, Ms Adams,” Casey said coolly. “There are still a few cloudy issues here, like the chlorphenesin that Mr Goren here drugged his brother with.”

“Chops got that stuff,” Richie explained. “He told me to slip it into whatever Bobby was drinking if it looked like I wasn’t going to get the money. I didn’t even know what it was. Chops just said it’d guarantee Bobby couldn’t fight back too much.”

“Too much?” Olivia echoed incredulously. “It left him completely paralysed! He couldn’t fight back at all!”

“And this nice, neat little story doesn’t explain the fact that when we picked you up at the hotel, you were surprised to hear that your brother wasn’t dead,” Elliot added harshly. Richie looked up, then, staring at Elliot with a blank look.

“I don’t remember that. I was pretty shit-faced when you arrested me. I don’t remember it at all.”

“Hearsay, Detective Stabler,” Adams said, sounding smug. Elliot shrugged.

“Fine. Okay, Richie, just one last thing. Do you know where Simon Matic or Richard Cozza are?”

“Not a clue,” Richie answered. “I didn’t see them again after Saturday night. If they’re smart, they’ll have gotten out of New York, not hang around like I did.”

Adams looked to Casey.

“Now, about that deal…?”

“Do you believe him?” Olivia asked as they left the prison after seeing Casey off. Elliot shrugged.

“I suppose it could be what happened… and so far, everything Richie’s told us has matched what we’ve been told by Goren. I’m sceptical, though. It’s too neat, and he gave up Matic and Cozza too quickly.” He paused, then added wryly, “Or, he’s just totally piss-weak, like we thought all along.”

“It’ll be interesting to see what the other two assholes have to say when we nab them,” Olivia mused.

“More specifically, what they’ll say when they find out just how fast Richie gave them up,” Elliot added. “C’mon, Liv. Let’s get to the hospital, see if Goren has anything more to tell us.”

Alex walked back in to Bobby’s room just before seven-thirty that morning to find not Logan, but an unfamiliar man sitting in the chair by her partner’s bedside. Her first thought was one of anger – damn Logan, that lying son of a bitch – as she stared at the stranger. Then, his head came up, they locked stares for a moment, and he offered her a lop-sided grin that was oh-so-familiar.

“You’ve gotta be Alex,” the man said quietly, getting slowly to his feet. He stuck his hand out to her. “I’m Danny Cooper. I’m Bobby’s cousin.”

She allowed her hand to be shook, still feeling vaguely unsettled.

“When did you get here?”

“Last night… Just before midnight, I think. I flew out from DC on the first flight I could get after the hospital contacted me.”

She was silent for a moment, looking at Bobby’s sleeping form before venturing a question.

“Was there anyone in here when you arrived…?”

“There was another detective here,” Danny confirmed. “Logan, I think he said his name was. He was talking to Bobby when I got here. Got all suspicious and protective, until Bobby recognised my voice. He was kind of reluctant to leave, actually… like he wasn’t sure if I should be trusted.”

Alex sighed inwardly, her anger fading some. At least Logan hadn’t left Bobby alone. She stepped past Danny, and over to the bedside.

“Did he manage to sleep okay?”

“He woke up a few times… pretty nasty nightmares, you know. Uh, listen… I haven’t talked to anyone yet… His eyes…?”

Alex regarded Danny for a long moment before returning her gaze to Bobby.

“His eyes were burned. We don’t know yet whether the damage is permanent.”

“Hell… Bastards really did a number on him, didn’t they?”

Alex didn’t answer, consumed as she was with the awful memory of walking into Bobby’s bedroom to see him lying on his bed, beaten… raped…

“Yes,” she said finally, blinking back tears. “They did.”

“You’re his partner, right?” Danny asked finally, sensing the need to shift the subject.

Alex nodded warily, not quite knowing where he was going with that line of questioning.

“Okay,” Danny murmured. “It’s just that he didn’t seem to want to tell this to anyone else except you. Does the name Simon Matic mean anything to you?”

Alex went very still where she stood, her face going grey. It seemed Stabler and Benson had been right after all. God, how she’d wished they weren’t.

“He told you that it was Matic who attacked him?” she asked finally, her voice flat and cold. Danny looked at her for a long moment, chewing lightly on his lower lip before responding.

“Well… He seemed pretty sure that this Matic was one of the two guys that attacked him. He said he remembered one of them whispered into his ear. Apparently he said ‘I got you’… whatever that means. But yeah… Bobby was fairly certain it was this Matic guy.”

Alex’s eyes closed. The significance of that statement was not lost on her, and for a split second she recalled an image of Bobby in the interrogation room, leaning in towards Matic, pushing his face right in close in that way he had… and saying those words that had invoked so much rage in their suspect.

You raped her body, you… raped her mind, you turned her head inside out, but she got you. She… got… you

“Oh god…” Alex gasped in shock as she came back to reality with a jolt. “That son of a bitch…”

“Hey, you want to sit down?” Danny asked worriedly, watching as Alex swayed slightly. She shook her head wordlessly, and instead walked around and poured some water into an empty cup and downed it in one hit. Danny watched her wordlessly for a long moment, then spoke carefully.

“Bobby said his brother Richie set him up. Is that true?”

Alex looked up at Danny slowly. Even in her stricken state, she didn’t miss the cold, hard anger in his voice.

“Please tell me the truth,” Danny pleaded with her. “I know you don’t know me at all, but I promise you, I’m here for Bobby. But I need to know the truth. Did Richie have anything to do with this?”

“It’s looking that way,” Alex said finally, with extreme reluctance. Danny sighed.

“Goddamn it...”

Anything Alex had been of a mind to say was lost when a soft moan from the bed drew both her and Danny’s attention.

“Bobby?” Alex asked quickly, leaning over the bed a little. “Are you awake?”

There was no answer for a moment. Then, his voice answered her, soft and yet not sounding quite as fragile as it had the past twenty-four hours.

“Yeah… I guess so. Danny…?”

“I’m right here,” Danny answered quickly. “I was just having a nice talk with your pretty partner, bud, when you had to go spoiling it by waking up.”

“Keep your grubby hands off her,” Bobby muttered. “You’re married.”

Danny chuckled softly, and was gratified to see a ghost of a smile pass fleetingly over Alex’s lips.

“Anything you want, Bobby?”

Bobby was silent as he considered that. Finally, he answered tentatively.

“It’d be nice to… to be able to sit up… a little. Getting sick of lying down.”

It didn’t surprise Alex. Bobby had never been one to be static for any prolonged length of time. Most of the time he was just one step away from insomnia, his mind always moving in high gear. His body tended to follow the example set by his mind, and he could never stay still for very long. Being able to do nothing but lie in bed and sleep had to be driving him insane.

“I’ll go find a nurse, or someone who can help,” Danny offered. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Alex watched him go, then looked back to Bobby.

“So that’s your cousin.”

“Yeah. What… what do you think?”

“He seems okay.”

She didn’t offer any further comment. In truth, she had nothing to say on the subject of his cousin. She knew nothing about him, and felt out of place making any sort of observation.

“He’s a… a good guy. He looked out for me when… when I was a kid… after my father left us.”

Alex bit down on the inside of her cheek. She desperately wanted to ask why he’d never mentioned this cousin of his to her, but at the same time the last thing she wanted to do was upset him.

“You… You want to know why I never told you about him.”

“What are you, a mind reader?” she grumbled as she sat down beside the bed.

“I never told you about Danny… because then I would have had to tell you what happened that led to me being put with his parents for six months… and I didn’t want to have to face that again. I… I couldn’t face it again.”

Alex laid her hand gently on his arm.

“Bobby, it’s okay. I understand. But maybe we could talk about it some time, when you’re ready.”

A sigh escaped his lips.

“I’m sorry, Alex.”

“Don’t apologise. I told you, I understand.”

“I’m lucky,” Bobby murmured. Alex looked at him, puzzled.

“How do you mean?”

“Lucky… to have you. Others knew…”

Alex stared at him, feeling thoroughly confused by then. “Bobby, what do you mean? What others? Who knew what?”

Bobby shuddered slightly.

“My neighbours… They must have heard… But they didn’t do anything. They just… just ignored it.”

Alex gently traced an invisible line over his forehead with her thumb.

“Don’t be angry, Bobby. None of them knew.”

“I’m not angry,” he whispered. “But…”

“But what?””

“If you’d thought anything was wrong, you would have come straight away.”

He was right, she thought ruefully. If she’d had even the smallest inkling that anything was wrong, she would have been over there in an instant. She probably would have walked straight into the middle of whatever nightmare Bobby had endured, but she would have gone. She could understand, she supposed, his frustration and hurt at the knowledge that his neighbours had made no effort to do anything to help, despite apparently clear indications that he was in trouble.

She had no opportunity to reflect further on that. Danny arrived back with Dr Craig and one of the male nurses.

“Detective Goren, how are you feeling?” Dr Craig asked, nodding silent thanks to Alex as she reluctantly moved out of the way.

“Tired of lying down,” he mumbled. She smiled sympathetically.

“I imagine you would be. Okay, I think we can get you sitting up a little, if that’s what you feel like. Benji, help me here…?”

Between the two of them, they raised the bed carefully to allow Bobby to rest in a half-sitting position. Then, when the nurse had been excused to return to his duties, Dr Craig returned her attention to her patient.

“How is the pain? Tolerable?”

Bobby was silent for a moment before nodding slowly.


“Good,” Dr Craig murmured. “Now just bear with me while I check your blood pressure.”

Alex and Danny watched in silence from the end of the bed while Dr Craig went through the motions of checking Bobby’s blood pressure.

“A little high,” Dr Craig murmured as she unstrapped the pressure band from his arm. “Not too bad, though, considering.”

“No heart attack yet, then?” Bobby asked softly, and Dr Craig smiled in appreciation of his attempt at humour.

“Not quite yet. All things considering, you’re not doing too badly at all, and that’s taking into account that you’ve only been here in hospital for around thirty-six hours. Now, I want to leave you hooked up to the IV for a couple of days yet, but if you think you could stomach a little bit of solid food, then that would be a good thing.”

“Maybe… maybe some soup.”

Dr Craig nodded in acquiescence. Soup wasn’t exactly what she considered solid food, but it was a start.

“I’ll let the staff know. They’ll get that organised straight away. Any particular soup?”

“Minestrone,” Alex and Danny both said at the same instant, before Bobby had a chance to reply. Dr Craig regarded them curiously, and then looked back at Bobby. There was a small, sheepish smile on his face. She laughed softly.

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.”

“I guess some things just don’t ever change,” Danny said with a laugh as he and Alex returned to the bedside after Dr Craig had gone. To Alex, he said, “He never would have anything except Minestrone when he was living with us. The rest of us got sick to death of it, but Bobby could never get enough of it.”

Alex smiled.

“He’ll have other soups, now, but I’ve seen him work himself into a royally foul mood if we go to a diner or a restaurant, and they don’t offer Minestrone on the menu.”

“Hey,” Bobby spoke up, his voice sounding a little hoarse as he raised the volume slightly to get their attention. “Newsflash, I’m right here. If you want to talk about me behind my back, at least have the decency to leave the room.”

Alex’s smile widened a little. She leaned over to kiss him gently on the forehead and was gratified to notice that, this time, he didn’t flinch away from her.

“We’re sorry. You’re just such an interesting topic of conversation.”

Bobby sighed comically.

“That’s me, the conversation ice-breaker.”

Danny stood back, watching his cousin and the beautiful, petite woman who was his partner with a growing sense of appreciation. He’d always had a close relationship with Bobby, and he knew Bobby looked to him as the big brother that Richie had never been to him. But the dynamics of his relationship with the woman at his side were not quite yet within his grasp to understand. There was, however, one thing he did think he understood, and that was the fact that he needed to give them some time together, away from prying eyes and ears.

“Listen, I’m gonna go find the cafeteria, and get something to eat and drink, okay? I’ll be back in half an hour or so.”

“If you want coffee,” Alex advised him, “then you’d be better off going across the road to Starbucks. The food here is okay, but the coffee is lousy.”

Danny grinned.

“Duly noted. Be back in a while.”

Alex watched him go, then looked back to Bobby.

“He does seem like a good guy.”

Bobby sighed softly.

“He is. Alex…”

She felt a tiny smile edge its way onto her face before she could stop it. She doubted he was even aware of it, but he was no longer calling her ‘Eames’, but rather ‘Alex’. She liked it, hearing her first name from his lips. Oh, she appreciated his professionalism at work – calling her ‘Eames’ let everyone who heard know that he saw her as an equal, and not just a female with a badge. But she’d often thought that, off-duty, he should have been able to call her ‘Alex’. Up until now, that hadn’t been the case, but now… Well, now was a different situation entirely.

“Mm, what is it?” she asked.

“Could you get some things for me… from my apartment?”

The smile that had crept onto her face dropped, right along with her stomach. She hoped to God that he wasn’t about to ask what she thought he was.

“What did you want me to get?”

“Just a few books. I… I mean… If you could… could read to… to me…”

His stammering was steadily getting worse, she noted in quiet dismay, and God only knew what state he would be in after she’d told him the truth about his beloved books.

“What’s wrong?”

His voice startled her back to reality, and a stressed whimper escaped her lips before she could stop it.

“Alex, what’s wrong?” he asked again, and this time she could hear a genuine spark of fear in his voice. She had to tell him, hard as it was. It was pointless to hide the truth from him, because the longer she waited the harder it was going to be for him to deal with.

“Bobby,” she said softly, “there’s something I have to tell you. It… It’s about your books.”

He’d suddenly gone very quiet, and his entire body had gone tense in the bed. She felt the tears fresh in her eyes, but forced them back almost brutally. She went on slowly, silently marvelling that she was able to keep her voice steady. There was no easy way to say it, and so she simply said it.

“Bobby, they burned them. The men that attacked you… they burned your books.”

Her words were met with absolute silence. She watched him worriedly a long moment before speaking again.

“Bobby, are you…?”

“All of them?” he asked suddenly. She swallowed hard.

“All of them,” she confirmed.

He fell silent, not responding to her at all. Alex watched him worriedly, desperately wishing he would react in some way, even if it was to start screaming hysterically. His absolute silence and stillness frightened her more than any tantrum would have done.

“Bobby, say something please,” she pleaded with him softly.

“What do you want me to say?” he asked, his voice barely more than a whisper. “Some of those books… Mom gave them to me. I can’t ever replace them. So what, exactly, do you want me to say?”

A hard as he tried, he couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice.

“I’m sorry,” Alex whispered, feeling woefully inadequate all of a sudden. She wished she had something more, something better to say, but nothing else was forthcoming.

Bobby shuddered visibly.

“What… What else?”

She didn’t need to ask what he meant. She already knew, and she would have been an idiot to think that he wouldn’t work out that if they’d had the balls to destroy his books, then they would have trashed anything else they could get their hands on as well.

“It… They trashed everything pretty thoroughly, by the looks of it.”

Bobby’s head turned towards her slightly.

“You’ve seen my apartment?”

“Bobby, I think I got there only a few minutes after Benson and Stabler did. Cragen called Deakins as soon as he got the notification, and Deakins called me straight after that. I couldn’t get around there fast enough.”

“You… You saw me.”

“Yes, I did,” she confirmed. “And I came to the hospital with you in the ambulance. The only times I haven’t been right here with you were when you in surgery, when Benson and Stabler talked to you yesterday, and when Logan agreed to stay last night on the condition that I went home and got some sleep.”

He was silent for a moment while he digested that knowledge. Finally, when he spoke again it was in a soft voice that exuded a vulnerability she hadn’t seen in him since that moment so long ago when he’d finally realised just how viciously he had been manipulated by that bitch Nicole Wallace.

“E… Everything’s gone…?”

She couldn’t bring herself to answer that, but her silence spoke louder than any words. A choked sob suddenly escaped Bobby’s lips.


“I’m here,” she whispered, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks once more. She leaned over, gently drawing his head to her shoulder and hugging him as best as she was able. He clung to her clumsily, any efforts at returning the embrace hindered by his broken hands.

“Help me,” he whispered into her shoulder, shuddering sobs rippling through his body, one after another. “Please… Help me…”

She hugged him back, wanting to help and not knowing how. In the end, all she could do was hold him, and continue to offer silent comfort. In the end, there was nothing else she could do.

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