A/N: Warning for adult content

“Time to go?” Dr Shimo asked as Deakins came back out of the room. He smiled wryly.

“Not yet, Doctor. Give her some more time, please?”

“What happened?”

“Bobby suffered some sort of panic attack, I think. He’s come out of it now, but I don’t think it would be too beneficial to him, or to Frances, if we were to pull her out of there right now.”

Shimo was silent for a long minute as he stared thoughtfully at the door of the detective’s room.

“All right,” he conceded finally. “We’ll give them a while longer.”

Deakins nodded in appreciation.

“Thankyou. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone call that I have to make.”

SVU Headquarters

Elliot, Olivia, Fin and Munch all looked up, caught by surprise, as Cragen strode into the task room, where they were going over the available evidence collected from Bobby’s apartment.

“Captain?” Olivia asked tentatively. “Is something wrong?”

“Not exactly,” Cragen answered tightly. “Elliot, Fin, both of you get your asses over to St Clare’s as quick as you can. I just spoke to Jim Deakins on the phone. It looks like Goren has not only remembered that Richard Cozza was the second assailant, but that his brother was a lot more directly involved than we all thought.”

“His brother aided directly in the assault?” Munch asked, and Cragen nodded.

“It’s looking like it. Get over there quickly, while you still have a chance of getting a reasonably lucid statement from him.”

Neither Elliot nor Fin hesitated. They grabbed their coats and were gone. Olivia looked up at Cragen worriedly.

“Did Captain Deakins say whether Richie raped Bobby?”

“He didn’t specify, but it looks like Richie had a hand in the physical assault, at the very least. I want you two to contact Casey Novak and tell her what the latest is. As soon as Elliot’s finished talking to Goren, I want the two of you to get out to Rikers with Casey, and talk to Richard Goren.”

“What for?” Munch argued. “We’ve got evidence, and we’ve got Matic’s statement dropping Richie right in it.”

Cragen shot Munch a threatening look.

“Humour me. Wait for Elliot to finish talking with Goren, and then get out to Rikers. Just see what you can get out of the slimy bastard.”

Olivia and Munch glanced at one another, and then both nodded in acquiescence.

“Okay,” Olivia conceded. Cragen looked relieved.


Nearly half an hour later

Slowly, Bobby emerged from the shell of his misery, his sobs easing and finally fading altogether. He had no idea for how long he’d lost in his own distress, but he suspected it had been a while. Slowly, he became aware of two pairs of arms holding him, and that his head was being held gently to someone’s bosom. Not Alex, he guessed, feeling his cheeks flush hotly at the mere thought. Which meant it had to be…

“Mom?” he whispered. A hand gently stroked his head.

“I’m right here, sweetheart. So is Alexandra.”

Bobby shifted a little, and finally became consciously aware of Alex on his other side, helping Frances to cradle him gently.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, feeling his embarrassment levels rocket as the realisation struck that he’d just suffered an almost complete emotional breakdown in the presence of the two women who meant the most to him in his whole, miserable life.

“Don’t you dare apologise,” Alex told him firmly, heatedly. “Don’t you apologise at all, Bobby.”

He shuddered, and realised dimly that he had no inclination to argue with her.

“Cozza…” he whispered. “Richard Cozza… Chops… The other man, Alex… It was Cozza.”

“You remember now?” Alex asked softly.

“Yeah. Richie… Richie identified him. He called them both by name. I already recognised Matic… But Richie identified Cozza. I recognised his voice after that. And Richie…”

“I’m sorry, Bobby,” Frances said softly, her voice starting to sound strained and grief-stricken. “I never imagined Richie could turn on you like he has. And to think I favoured him once… My poor little boy…”

“S’okay, Mom,” Bobby said, struggling to put some measure of strength and reassurance back into his voice. “It wasn’t your fault…”

Frances snorted scornfully.

“It’s not for you to be reassuring me, Robert. You shouldn’t contradict me. You always contradict me.”

Bobby stiffened slightly, and Alex felt a twinge of concern go through her at the subtle change in Frances’s voice. A moment later, Bobby relaxed against her again, and spoke in a soft, almost subservient tone.

“I’m sorry, Mom. You’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. You don’t give your mother enough credit. You never do.”

On the other side of the bed, Alex slipped carefully off onto the floor. Instinct warned her that it was time to put an end to the visit, before things took a turn for the worst. Walking quietly around, she slipped out of the room to find not only Deakins and Dr Shimo waiting there, but Elliot Stabler and Fin Tutuola as well.

“Alex?” Deakins asked, sensing a potential problem.

“Call it female intuition or whatever you like,” Alex said quietly, “but I think it’s time to take her home.”

Dr Shimo nodded in understanding.

“To be honest, I’m surprised she’s managed this long. Captain Deakins, if you could assist me? I’d like to manage this as smoothly as possible.”

Deakins nodded, and looked to Elliot.

“Detective Stabler, would you come in with us, please?”

Elliot nodded in acquiescence, glancing briefly at Alex before following the captain and the doctor into the room.

“Mrs Goren,” Deakins said calmly, walking around to the other side of the bed. “I’m very sorry, but there is a detective here who needs to speak to your son.”

Frances was silent for several seconds, her grip tightening noticeably on Bobby, who stiffened a little in response. Finally, though, her expression relaxed visibly.

“It’s time to go, isn’t it?”

Deakins nodded, smiling reassuringly at her.

“Yes, it is. But I don’t want you to worry. I promise Bobby won’t be left alone. I’ll make sure of it myself.”

Frances nodded passively.

“Thankyou, Captain Deakins.” She returned her attention to Bobby, and leaned down to kiss him lightly on the forehead. “I’ll be back tomorrow, sweetheart. Oh, I almost forgot. Captain Deakins, the bag I brought with me…”

Deakins nodded and picked up a carry bag that Frances had brought from Carmel Ridge, handing to her. Frances fished inside and pulled out two items, a book and a handkerchief. She laid both items gently on her son’s lap.

“This is for when those bandages come off, sweetheart,” she said of the book, “and the handkerchief has some of my perfume on it. When it starts to hurt too much, you just hold on to these. All right?”

Bobby sighed very softly.

“Thanks, Mom. I love you.”

Frances smiled sadly.

“I love you too, my dearest boy.”

She leaned in to give him a last kiss and hug, before finally allowing Dr Shimo to escort her from the room.

Bobby lay in silence, his bandaged hands resting lightly on the book and the handkerchief. He waited patiently until the sound of footsteps had faded completely, and then spoke softly, sadly.

“She won’t be able to come back.”

It wasn’t a question. Deakins answered quietly, without hesitation.

“No, probably not.”

“You organised it, didn’t you?” Bobby asked.

“With Dr Shimo, yes,” Deakins confirmed. “I spoke to him over the phone, and he told me that Frances was making herself sick with worry about you. I went to Carmel Ridge intending to just talk to her, and tell her why you couldn’t call her, but then she asked to come here, to see you. I talked about it with Dr Shimo, and he thought it was worth taking the chance… for both your sakes.”

Bobby sighed softly, touched by the lengths Deakins had gone to not only for him, but also for his mother.

“Thankyou, sir. It… It meant a lot.”

Deakins watched him thoughtfully for a long moment.

“Are you all right?”

Bobby turned his face away, as though he could somehow hide the pain that was all too visible on his bruised face. Damn, he was seriously starting to hate being asked that.

“No,” he answered simply, honestly. His response was no surprise to Deakins. Just quietly, the captain was relieved that Bobby had been honest in his answer.

“Bobby, Elliot Stabler is here. Are you feeling up to talking to him?”

Bobby shifted in the bed. He wasn’t sure how much he was feeling like talking, but it was all the more important considering the new memories that had just surfaced.

“I can talk,” he mumbled, hoping he sounded more positive than he felt. Deakins looked over at Elliot, who nodded encouragingly at the captain.

“Alex and I will be right outside,” Deakins reassured Bobby, and then quietly exited the room. Elliot waited until the door had closed completely, then walked over to the bedside.

“That was your mom, huh?”

“Yeah,” Bobby mumbled.

“You’re lucky, it’s easy to see she loves you a lot.”

Bobby didn’t respond to that, but felt his throat tighten almost painfully at Elliot’s understanding words. Instead, he asked a question of Elliot.

“Is Olivia outside?”

“No, she’s working with Munch at the moment. Fin’s waiting out there with Alex and Deakins. It’s just us two, pal, like you wanted. Are you ready to talk again?” Elliot asked carefully.

No… Bobby thought miserably.

“I guess.”

“Okay. Let me start the recorder, and then we can get started.”

Bobby listened silently to the distinct click of the recorder being switched on, and Elliot’s voice intoning that it was an interview with Detective Robert Goren, interview conducted by Detective Elliot Stabler, followed by the date and the time.

“Okay,” Elliot said quietly. “Whenever you’re ready, Bobby.”

Bobby answered Elliot’s invitation with silence. If Elliot was waiting until he was ready, they were going to be waiting a damned long time. A moment passed, and then Elliot spoke again, his voice laced with wry humour.

“Sorry. That was a dumb thing to say, wasn’t it? Okay… How about we start from where we left it last? What happened after your eyes were burned?”

Bobby drew in a ragged breath. He had never, in his worst nightmares, imagined it could be this hard to make a statement, even taking into account the horrendous nature of what had happened to him. He could barely sort it all out in his own mind, let alone put it into words for Elliot’s tape. What he did know, though, was that he had to try.

“The belt,” Bobby said suddenly as a fresh, grim memory came back to him, triggered in its turn by the memories of his brother’s involvement. “After they burned my eyes… they whipped my back with a belt. They took it in turns… When one got tired, the other one took over. It just kept going… but I never passed out. I wanted to by then. I wanted to just go to sleep… but I couldn’t.”

Elliot grimaced a little, recalling the sight of Bobby where he had been found chained and cuffed to his own bed. His back had been one big open wound, covered in thick welts and lacerations, and bleeding profusely. Quietly, Elliot suspected that Bobby had to be on an enormous dosage of painkillers. Otherwise, lying on his back as he was would have been unbearable for him.

“When they finished with the belt,” Bobby said, straining to keep his voice at an audible level for the recorder, “one of them left the room. When he came back… they covered my back with salt.”

Elliot winced, unable to help it. He had worked with victims before who had suffered through all manner of nightmarish experiences, but he never ceased to be horrified by new tales of torture. Using salt on his back at that point seemed to Elliot to be the height of cruelty. And yet, he knew there was still so much more to come.

“I… I can’t…” Bobby choked out abruptly. “I can’t talk about everything. Not… Not now. Not yet…”

His miserable plea didn’t especially surprise Elliot. It was something that he was well prepared for.

“It’s okay, Bobby. I don’t expect you to be able to talk about everything that happened, not in one go. But how about you try to talk about the things that you feel are important for us to know?”

Bobby contemplated that, and as he did so his breathing slowly evened out and his stress levels dropped considerably. Yes, he thought he could do that.

“They both raped me,” he admitted hoarsely. “I don’t know how many times. I… I wasn’t exactly keeping count. They took turns raping me, and then they beat into me some more. It felt like hours. Maybe it was… I don’t know. I couldn’t keep track of the time.”

Elliot didn’t speak, but he suspected that Bobby probably wasn’t far off in his estimates. The alternating between been raped and being beaten probably had gone on for some hours.

“And… and then Richie came back.”

Elliot hesitated, then stepped closer to the bed. This corroborated the statement that Simon Matic had given in Olivia and Munch’s presence. The question was, how much did Bobby actually remember? He kept silent, not daring to say a word for fear it would later be suggested that he had led Bobby with his questions. Bobby gave a short, bitter laugh.

“For all I know… Richie never actually left. He came into the bedroom… He said he hoped they were leaving some for him. They said I was all his… Then Richie… he said…”

“What did he say, Bobby?” Elliot asked quietly. Bobby drew in a ragged breath.

“He said… ‘you’re definitely going to kill him, right?’. That’s what he said. Then, they left the room… Left me alone with Richie. Richie… said some things…”

“I need you be a bit more specific, Bobby,” Elliot interrupted gently. “What did he say to you?”

Bobby wished he could do something other than simply lie there, but he didn’t even have the option of gripping the bed covers with his hands. All he could do was talk, and he hated it with every fibre of his being. Even so, he found himself opening up to Elliot and, over the next twenty minutes he described everything Richie had said to him. Elliot listened intently, feeling his stomach churn unpleasantly as the grim story was told in an unsteady voice.

“Did he carry through on that threat?” Elliot asked when Bobby fell silent after telling about Richie’s ominous threat about the piece of metal. Bobby was silent, his head turned away. Elliot felt his stomach roll again as he read the horrific truth in Bobby’s silence.

“It’s okay, Bobby. You don’t have to tell me that until you’re ready. In fact, I think we can leave it there. You’ve done really…”


Elliot faltered, staring at Bobby in momentary confusion that rapidly made way for a dismayed understanding.

“Yes…?” he echoed, wondering whether Bobby had it in him to actually come out and put it into a cohesive statement.

“He went through with it,” Bobby said almost tonelessly. Elliot felt a slight twinge of concern at the lack of emotion in Bobby’s voice, but opted to stay silent. Bobby went on slowly. “After he said that… about the piece of metal… He knelt behind me on the bed… He… Richie pushed the poker… The same thing they’d burned my eyes with… He pushed it into my… my anus… He raped me with the poker. My own brother raped me… with a metal poker…”

Bobby’s voice broke, and he began to sob softly. Elliot stood limply, shaken to the core by what he’d just listened to. As one of his colleagues had said, they had seen people perpetrate all sorts of shocking acts upon members of their own family, but he never failed to be horrified anew by it.

One thing was certain, though. When Casey Novak heard this latest recording, Elliot was certain she would take it straight to Arthur Branch and tell him she was going to demand the death penalty for Richard Goren. Elliot couldn’t help wonder whether Bobby would still be willing to testify against Richie, knowing that could be a possible outcome… His stomach lurched again unpleasantly. Would Bobby be willing to testify at all…?

Shaking himself back to reality, Elliot returned his attention to Bobby. They would face that issue later. Now was not the time to be pressing for those sorts of answers. Mumbling quickly into the tape to put an end to the interview, Elliot switched off the recorder and spoke gently to Bobby.

“Do you want me to bring Alex back in here?”

Bobby didn’t answer, though, lost in the muddy waters of his own desolation. Elliot hesitated for just a moment, and then reached out and laid a hand gently on Bobby’s shoulder.

The response was immediate, and violent. In a panic-driven burst of strength, Bobby lashed out at Elliot, swinging his bandaged left hand around and connecting his forearm solidly with Elliot’s face. The detective tried too late to duck out of the way, and he went over backwards with a loud crash, his back grazing hard against the chair by the wall as he went down. He was still sitting on the floor, his face smarting and his back throbbing, when the door swung open and Deakins ran in, followed quickly by Fin and Alex. Fin went immediately to his side, while Deakins and Alex moved to see to Bobby. The injured detective lay stiffly in the bed, his breath coming in rapid gasps as he struggled to stave off the panic attack.

“What the hell did you do to him?” Alex demanded, glaring at Elliot as Fin helped him up. Elliot swallowed the urge to snap back at her, and instead made his way back over to the bed.

“I’m sorry, Bobby,” he apologised quietly. “I shouldn’t have tried to touch you. That was a stupid thing to do.”

Slowly, Bobby’s breathing began to even out again as the panic and fear subsided.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered hoarsely. “I didn’t mean… I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Elliot smiled crookedly.

“Nah. I can take it. And I probably deserved it, anyway.”

“No,” Bobby argued, distressed. “I… I shouldn’t have…”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Elliot insisted. “I’m not. It’s okay.”

Bobby sighed softly, and finally relaxed. Elliot spoke again, acutely aware of the way his stomach was rolling ominously and knowing he had to get out of there quickly before he really was sick.

“We’ll leave it there for now, okay, Bobby? I’ll come and talk to you again when you’re feeling more up to it.”

Bobby nodded once.

“Thanks, Elliot. And… tell Olivia… I’m sorry she got stuck with Munch.”

Elliot smirked, then snorted with ill-suppressed laughter. Despite his distress, a small smile found its way onto Bobby’s face in response to Elliot’s amusement.

“Don’t you worry about that, either,” Elliot said with a chuckle. “She’ll cope. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

Avoiding looking at either Deakins or Alex, Elliot stepped around the bed and hurried from the room, with Fin on his tail. After a moment’s consideration, Deakins quickly followed them.

“Detective Stabler?”

Elliot slowed to a halt halfway down the corridor, cursing softly under his breath. Ignoring the puzzled look he was getting from Fin, Elliot turned slowly to face the Major Case captain.

“What is it, sir? We need to get back to SVU…”

Deakins stared at Fin piercingly.

“What did Bobby tell you?”

Elliot answered the question with silence. Impatience and annoyance flashed in Deakins’ eyes.

“Detective, don’t force me to put in another call to your captain.”

Elliot bristled at the not-so-subtle threat.

“Captain Deakins, this is our case. Bobby might be your best detective, but you can’t keep butting into the case like this. You have to let us do our job! And we can’t do it properly if you keep trying to interfere!”

Deakins stood frozen for several seconds before suddenly relaxing and offering Elliot an apologetic smile.

“I’m sorry, Detective Stabler. I understand your point of view, and I don’t mean to be interfering with your methods… but I’m concerned for Bobby. If I understand the situation correctly, then his brother is a lot more directly involved than we thought. If that’s true, then I can’t imagine the damage it’s going to do to Bobby. I’m asking you what he told you not because I’m trying to follow your every move. I want to know so I can be prepared to give Bobby the help that he’s going to need to recover from this.”

Elliot glanced at Fin, who gave the slightest of nods. Finally, he sighed and motioned Deakins into an empty room, closing the door behind them.

“Captain Deakins, Richie didn’t just aid and abet in the lead-up to the assault. He orchestrated the entire thing.”

Even as Fin and Elliot watched, Deakins turned a sickening shade of grey.

“He… He planned it? Not the other two?”

“That’s right,” Elliot confirmed. “He planned it, and he recruited the two men to commit the assault.”

“He took part as well, didn’t he?” Deakins asked hoarsely. Again, Elliot nodded.

“Yes, he did. He beat Bobby with a belt…”

“And?” Deakins pressed, sensing there was more.

“Captain, do you really want to hear this?” Elliot asked wearily.

“Whether I want to, and whether I need to are two completely different things,” Deakins answered grimly. “Please, just tell me.”

“Okay,” Elliot conceded grimly. “Richie violated Bobby with the metal poker.”

Deakins felt as though he’d just been sucker-punched in the gut. All the air left him, and he was left staring at Elliot in numb horror.

“He… raped him with…”

“A metal fireplace poker,” Elliot confirmed grimly. “And, he stated a clear threat to kill. He told Bobby that he wasn’t going to live through it. Sir, when our ADA hears this tape, she’s going to ask Arthur Branch to give the go ahead to push for the death penalty. It was a carefully planned attack, and Bobby wasn’t meant to survive. At the very least, Richard Goren is going to be charged with the violent assault and attempted murder of a police officer.”

Slowly, Deakins recovered his lost composure, and he responded with a single nod.

“So be it. If that’s what’s going to happen, then I won’t protest… and I have a feeling that neither will Bobby. Thankyou for your honesty, Detective. Excuse me, I’d better get back.”

Stepping past the two SVU detectives, Deakins headed out and back to Bobby’s room. Fin watched him go, and then looked back to Elliot, who was leaning back against the wall, his eyes shut.

“His own brother… Shit, that’s lousy.”

Elliot pushed slowly away from the wall. He wondered if he looked as crappy as he was feeling right then.

“Wait till you hear the tape.”

Fin raised an eyebrow as Elliot walked past him back out into the corridor.

“It’s really that bad, huh?”

“Yeah,” Elliot muttered, and kept walking. “It’s that bad.”

Fin shook his head and was about to speak again when his cell phone rang. Pausing in the corridor just outside the ICU wing, Fin pulled out his cell and answered the call.

“Fin. …Yes, sir, Elliot’s finished. We were just coming back now… Uh, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask. Hang on… Elliot, did Bobby name Cozza as the second guy?”

Elliot nodded, looking increasingly more puzzled. “Yeah, I’ve got it all on the tape. He was really specific.”

Fin returned his attention to the phone call. “Yes, he says he did. …What? What the hell have they got to do with any of this…? You’re shitting me… Okay, we’re coming back now.”

“What is it?” Elliot asked as they started walking again. “Or don’t I want to know?”

“You probably don’t want to know,” Fin growled. “You remember Richie Goren said something about Cozza cutting a deal with the Feds to testify against members of the Masucci family in exchange for getting out of prison? Well, guess who’s just turned up back at SVU.”

Elliot slowed to a halt.

“You have got to be kidding! The Feds are there?”

“And apparently they’re not happy that we’re chasing after their witness.”

“Shit,” Elliot hissed. “This is all we need.”

“We’ve gotta get back there, Elliot,” Fin pressed, and Elliot nodded in acquiescence, launching into a brisk trot.

“I’ll tell you something, Fin. I don’t give a fuck who Cozza promised to testify against. He’s going down for what he did to Bobby. He’s not going to worm his way out of it.”

Deakins walked in to find Alex still standing by Bobby’s bedside, watching him with tears on her face. He glanced concernedly at Alex, then returned his attention to Bobby.

“Bobby? You still with us, pal?”

Bobby drew in a shuddering breath.

“My brother… He wanted me dead… He wanted Matic and Cozza to kill me…”

“But they didn’t,” Deakins murmured. “You’re still here, and now you have the power to put all three of them where they belong, in prison for the rest of their lives.”

Bobby considered that for a long moment before speaking in a trembling voice.

“Is that what their ADA is going to ask for? Life in prison?”

“I expect so,” Deakins answered carefully. “Why? What are you thinking?”

“My brother wanted me dead,” Bobby said again. “He’d been planning it for a long time… If he goes to prison with a life sentence, a lawyer could get it reduced.”

“Bobby, if he’s sentenced to life, then that’s what he’ll serve,” Alex said. “He won’t get out of this, not for what he’s done to you.”

Bobby was silent for a moment.

“As long as I testify.”

“I think that’s a pretty important factor,” Deakins agreed quietly. “Why? Are you reluctant to testify against him?”

A tired sigh escaped Bobby’s lips.

“No. I know I’m going to have to. I don’t want to think about that yet. It just… It hurts.”

Alex and Deakins exchanged sad looks across the bed. That had to be the biggest understatement either of them had heard yet. Deakins started to reach for Bobby’s arm, but stopped short of actually touching him. After a moment’s consideration, he withdrew his hand.

“It’s always going to hurt, Bobby, knowing that Richie did this to you. But given time, the hurt will get easier to cope with. And don’t forget that we’re here to support you. You’ve got us, and you’ve got your cousin. Whatever happens, that’s not going to change.”

Not true, Bobby thought miserably. Everything had changed, and right at that moment he couldn’t see any way out of the darkness that he felt like he was drowning in.

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