A/N: In the interests of not leaving everyone hanging for a prolonged period, I’m posting a shorter chapter, so you can find out what happened with poor Bobby at the end of chapter 18.

Deakins paused as they came back along the corridor, only to find the cop who should have been standing watch outside Bobby’s room gone.

“What the hell?” Deakins growled. “Where is he…?”

“Relax, Jim,” Cragen told him with a wry smile. “He probably just had to go to the bathroom.”

Deakins conceded, if somewhat reluctantly. Picking up the pace slightly, though, he hurried up the corridor and strode into Bobby’s room. He was barely inside the doorway when he froze, horror dawning on his face.

“Oh god… No…”

“What is it…?” Cragen started to ask, only to stop when Deakins broke into a run, darting around to the other side of the bed and falling hard to his knees beside Bobby’s still convulsing body. Cragen and Casey came around the bed, and Casey promptly spun on her heel and shot out of the room in search of help.

“Bobby?” Deakins spoke loudly and clearly to the detective, while at the same time trying to hold him down. “Can you hear me?”

It was a pointless question, and both men knew it. Bobby was far beyond being able to respond, even if he was aware of his captain’s presence.

“Get your knees under his head,” Cragen told him quickly. “So he doesn’t crack his head on the floor.”

Deakins did so, shifting around to lift Bobby’s head up off the floor and rest it on his knees.

“He’s not breathing,” he said tensely, struggling to keep the panic out of his voice.

Footsteps in the corridor alerted them to someone coming, and they both looked just as Dr Craig ran into the room, followed closely by a second doctor and a couple of nurses. She took one look at Bobby, and promptly moved in, pushing Deakins unceremoniously out of the way.

“He’s in respiratory distress,” she said urgently, speaking to the other doctor and nurses. “We have to intubate, immediately.” Her sharp gaze went to Deakins and Cragen, who were both looking on in numb shock. “Out. Now.”

Her tone of voice denied all arguments, and both captains quickly found themselves bundled out of the room, and the door slammed shut after them.

Alex, Logan and Danny returned to the ICU just fifteen minutes after they’d left for a hit of much-needed coffee. They’d relaxed considerably, and were ready to face Bobby again. Their new-found relief was diminished with painful abruptness as they returned to find Deakins standing outside the room, with both Don Cragen and Casey Novak attempting to offer him quiet words of comfort.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Logan asked, a frown quickly replacing the smile that had been on his face only moments before.

“Something’s happened to Bobby,” Alex said softly, the panic only too audible in her voice. Deakins stared at them for a long moment, but before he had a chance to even start trying to explain, the door of Bobby’s ICU room swung open, and Dr Craig emerged.

“I need to know,” she said grimly, “how long was he left alone for?” Deakins looked helplessly at Cragen. In the panic, he’d lost complete track of how much time had passed. Cragen answered firmly.

“No longer than fifteen minutes… Twenty at the absolute most.”

“What’s happened?” Danny asked, echoing Logan’s question from less than a minute before.

“Bobby went into respiratory arrest,” Craig explained. “His throat became so swollen that he couldn’t breathe on his own, and on top of that he seems to have developed an infection that has severely compromised his lung functionality. His lungs couldn’t cope with the effort it was taking to breathe, and they more or less just shut down.”

“Are you saying you had to trache him?” Danny asked, paling noticeably.

“Hang on,” Logan growled before Craig had the opportunity to respond. “Trache…? As in, tracheotomy? You’re saying you had to cut a hole in his throat?”

“Calm down, everyone,” Dr Craig ordered. She looked around at the small group in mild frustration. “Let me finish, please?” Silence fell, and she nodded in relief. “Thankyou. I thought I was going to have to perform a tracheotomy, but we successfully intubated him instead.”

“Intubate?” Cragen queried.

“We were able to get a tube down his throat,” Craig explained. “We have him on a respirator to keep the oxygen flowing through his body, and doing the job that his lungs just aren’t capable of at the moment. Yes, this is a setback, but it isn’t as bad as it could have been. You all need to understand that.”

“Not as bad?” Deakins echoed incredulously. Craig smile reassuringly at him.

“It was respiratory arrest, Captain, not cardiac arrest. His heart never stopped beating, which means that the blood never stopped flowing.”

“Well, isn’t respiratory arrest just as bad as cardiac arrest?” Casey wondered.

“It can be,” Craig confirmed, “if the brain is without oxygen for long enough. As near as I can tell, Bobby was in complete respiratory arrest for a couple of minutes at the most. We’ll be monitoring him very closely, but I can say with reasonable certainty that he wasn’t in that state long enough to cause any long term damage. Now, we need to focus specifically on why this happened, and how to fix it.”

“Can we go in now?” Danny asked, keeping one eye on Alex who had fallen into a worrying silence. Craig nodded her agreement.

“Yes, that’s fine, but keep in mind that we had to sedate him fairly heavily. He probably won’t wake up now for another twenty-four hours. And the intubation may look a little frightening, but it’s keeping him breathing.”

“Thankyou,” Deakins murmured and, led the way back into the room.

They entered in silence. Alex immediately abandoned all caution and went straight to her partner’s side, looking down at his now passive features with an intense feeling of misery.

Dr Craig had been right. The sight of the thick tubing down Bobby’s throat was frightening to look at, but that was countered by the reassuring sight of his chest moving up and down in a rhythmic motion, thanks to the steady, even breaths the respirator was ensuring that he took.

“I’ll be organising to have him moved to a new room, where he’ll be on twenty-four hour watch by the nurses,” Dr Craig explained. “It’s more a precaution than anything else, but if anything else happens, I don’t want there to be any delay in our response. He was lucky this time. If there is a next time, I don’t plan on leaving it up to luck.”

“Alex?” Danny asked finally, once Dr Craig had left the room. “Are you all right?”

Alex didn’t look up at any of them. She kept her gaze fixed on Bobby, as though she could keep all dangers at bay just by not taking her eyes off him.

“I shouldn’t have left him alone,” she said in a strained voice.

“It’s not your fault, Alex,” Deakins told her as he joined her at the bedside. “It’s no one’s fault. And he got help in time to stop any real harm from being done…”

“That’s not the point!” Alex burst out. “There should have been someone here with him when it happened. Then he would have gotten help straight away! He could have ended up brain damaged… or even dead… and then there’s this damned tube!”

“Alex, that ‘damned tube’ is keeping him breathing,” Danny pointed out gently.

“It’s also taken away his only means of communicating with us,” Alex snapped. The men exchanged dismayed looks as they realised just how right Alex was. With the tube down his throat and his hands bandaged up, Bobby no longer had any way to communicate with anyone.

“It won’t be for long, I’m sure of it,” Danny murmured, though he suddenly looked less than certain.

“We just have to give them time to figure it out,” Logan said. “You know, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Grim determination filled Alex’s pale features, and she pulled a chair over to the bedside and sat down.

“You’re right. It won’t.”

“Alex, you can’t just stay indefinitely…” Cragen started to point out, only to trail off when she glared at him threateningly.

“No? Just watch me.”

Elliot and Olivia sat slumped in an inconspicuous Ford across the road from the staff side entrance into St Clare’s. They’d come prepared for a prolonged stakeout, and were well-stocked with thermoses of coffee, plenty of fruit and a few cinnamon buns.

“You think Cozza would really try anything?” Olivia asked. “He’d be stupid to think that Bobby wouldn’t be well-guarded.”

“Hatred is a pretty powerful driving force,” Elliot said with a shrug. “The guy hated Bobby enough to blow off his chance at freedom. I don’t think the threat of a few cops is going to stop him now. So yeah, I think he’d try.”

Olivia sighed softly.

“He’d be a fool. Alex would cheerfully shoot him on sight. In fact, I think Deakins would, too.”

Elliot grunted wordlessly around a mouthful of coffee. Olivia looked sideways at him, concern in her brown eyes.

“It really was bad, wasn’t it? Everything that Bobby told you…”

“It was as bad as anything I’ve ever heard,” Elliot mumbled, not entirely sure he wanted to talk about it to her. “I guess you were right, though.”

“Hmm? About what?”

“About him opening up better to just one of us. I have to say, though, I wish it wasn’t me.”

Olivia mulled over that for a minute before responding carefully.

“You really don’t like Bobby very much at all, do you?”

Elliot looked sharply at her, but quickly took a pull on his temper.

“I didn’t… Before all this happened, I mean. I’ll admit it. The guy pissed me off. Fucking know-it-all most of the time. I always thought he was the darling of the brass. It was almost like he wasn’t even human. Like some entity that was above the rest of us.”

“And now?” Olivia pressed gently when Elliot hesitated. He grimaced.

“I guess he’s human after all.”

“You’ve done well with him, Elliot. And you can’t tell me that it’s all just for show.”

“It’s not,” Elliot admitted. “Seeing Bobby like that… First in his apartment, and then in the hospital… No one deserves to be treated like that. And what the hell did he ever do to deserve it, anyway? Not a goddamn thing.”

Olivia nodded in wordless agreement, even as her gaze spotted a familiar figure crossing the road towards them.

“Heads up,” she murmured. “Captain’s coming.”

Both detectives watched curiously as Cragen hurried over to their car, and slipped into the backseat.

“Anything wrong?” Olivia asked.

“Depends,” Cragen answered. “Elliot, did you get pretty much everything we needed from Goren the last time that you talked to him?”

Elliot shrugged.

“Well, there’s still a hell of a lot he hasn’t told me, but we’ve got what we need to nail Cozza with… if we can nab him before the Feds do.”

“Why do you ask?” Olivia asked, sensing a problem.

“Because it may be a while before Goren can talk to you again. He went into respiratory arrest about half an hour ago, and they had to shove a tube down his throat to get him breathing again. He’s not going to be talking to anyone until they can get him breathing on his own again.”

“Shit,” Elliot muttered. “It just keeps going from bad to worse for the poor guy, doesn’t it?”

“How long is this going to be for?” Olivia wondered. Cragen shook his head.

“No way of knowing. I suppose it depends on how long it takes them to find out why it happened in the first place, and then what they have to do to fix it.”

“What the hell is there to figure out?” Elliot retorted. “He was tortured physically and sexually for more than ten hours, and then left to die. Hell, it’s no wonder vital parts of his body are packing it in.”

“Elliot’s right,” Olivia agreed. “It’s going to be some time before he’s completely out of danger, and I think we all keep forgetting that it’s only been four days since it happened.”

Cragen grimaced.

“Damned easy to lose track of time…”

He trailed off as his cell phone rang. Frowning, he checked the caller ID before answering, and then swore softly.

“Fucking Feds…”

Elliot and Olivia exchanged barely suppressed smirks, but kept silent as their captain took the call.

“Cragen here… Oh, really? When the hell did this happen…? Well, that’s really fucking sweet of you to let us know. I don’t suppose you’d let us talk to him out of the spirit of cooperation…? No, I didn’t think so. Well, I suggest you just keep him sitting tight for the time being, and don’t get any ideas about losing him in the system. We will be challenging this in court.”

Cragen snapped his cell phone shut, and then looked back up at Elliot and Olivia.

“Stakeout’s over, kids. The Feds nabbed Cozza an hour ago.”

“Fuck,” Elliot muttered heatedly. “And they’re not going to let us talk to him, are they?”

Cragen snorted.

“Not a chance. We need to get back to SVU. I have to talk to Casey. If need be, we’ll go to Branch and have him step in. We’re not giving that mutt up without a fight, I promise you.”

“Don’t promise us,” Elliot muttered as he pulled the car away from the curb to head back to the SVU squad rooms. “We’re not the ones lying in a hospital bed with a tube shoved down our throats.

Back                         Home                              Law and Order: Criminal Intent Main Page                              Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!