Cragen arrived at St Clare’s just over half an hour after getting the call from Olivia telling him what had transpired. He soon found his detectives gathered in a cubicle in the ER, with Mike Logan.

“Logan,” Cragen greeted him with a bemused look. “Have you been pissing people off again?”

Logan managed a lop-sided grin that did little to mask the pain he was in.

“It’s what I live for, Captain.”

Cragen gave a short laugh.

“Don’t I know it. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah,” Logan answered. “I’m a lot worse than… I am… I mean…”

“He’s got a concussion from where Cozza hit him in the head,” Olivia interrupted, barely smothering a grin at Logan’s befuddled reply. “The bullet wound is a through-and-through, and he’s got a broken rib and wrist. They’re going to admit him and keep him here for a few days, just to monitor for infection.”

Cragen nodded.

“Well,” he said to Logan, “it’ll certainly keep you out of trouble.”

“Hilarious,” Logan groaned, drawing amused grins from his colleagues. Cragen smirked right back at him, and then returned his attention to Olivia.

“Where’s Elliot?”

“Four cubicles down, waiting with Alex,” she answered. “She’s pretty badly concussed. She took a really bad knock to the head.”

“Anything broken?” Cragen wondered.

“Nah, she was lucky there,” Fin interjected. “They’re going to do x-rays and scans, just to be sure, but they’re pretty certain that nothing’s broken.”

“Is she awake yet?” Cragen asked.

“Not yet. That’s why Elliot is waiting with her. Then, when she does wake up, someone will be there to tell her that Bobby is okay, and that Cozza is dead.” Olivia paused, and then spoke again slowly. “I’m sorry, Captain. He didn’t give me a choice.”

“It’s okay,” Cragen reassured her. “You did what you had to do, Olivia. You won’t have any trouble with IAD, I’ll make sure of it.”

“Feds aren’t going to be happy with us,” Fin retorted, sounding anything but repentant.

“Don’t worry about the FBI, either,” Cragen told them. “You’ll all be interested to know that I spoke to the Director of the New York office just before coming here.”

“Oh?” Munch asked. “What did he have to say?”

“Quite a bit, actually, but I’ll spare you the intricate details. It turns out that he was kept in the dark about the plans that Cozza, Matic and Richie Goren were making in prison. He told me that if he had known, he would never have authorised Cozza’s release, and he would have informed Jim Deakins immediately.”

“Gee, won’t that just make Goren feel so much better,” Munch sneered. Cragen shot him a warning look before going on.

“He didn’t know about it, and he didn’t know that Cozza had slipped the net and gone AWOL. He’s just as angry over it as we are. He’s already suspended the agents involved, pending an investigation. He’s also asked me to organise for all the bills for Goren, Logan and Eames’ medical expenses to be forwarded to his office.”

“Well,” Olivia conceded grudgingly, “that’s something, at least.”

“And one other thing,” Cragen added, less enthusiastically this time. “He asked that we pass on his personal apology to Goren. He said the attack should never have been allowed to get past the planning stages in prison.”

“Oh, that really will make Goren feel better,” Fin said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Cragen nodded.

“I know, I know. But it’s a pretty big improvement, considering the crap we normally get from the FBI.”

Hey,” Logan spoke up abruptly, “sorry to interrupt your little tête-à-tête, but has anyone called Deakins yet? ’Cause he’s gonna be pissed if you haven’t.”

Cragen looked just slightly uncomfortable at the reminder.

“I’ll do that soon. I wanted to be able to tell him that you, Eames and Goren were all okay.”

“Fine,” Logan muttered, exhaustion from his injuries finally starting to overcome him. “Now, would you mind taking it somewhere else? You’re all giving me a headache.”

A smile quirked Cragen’s lips.

“Okay, Mike. We’ll let you rest. Just take it easy, and don’t get yourself discharged too soon.”

“Yes, Dad,” Logan mumbled, already more than half asleep. Cragen grinned, and led his three detectives out of the cubicle, leaving Logan alone to get some much-needed rest.

Alex awoke to bright lights and a splitting pain in her face and skull. She groaned and tried to move, but hands on her shoulders kept her still. Gradually, her mind cleared and her memories began to filter back. Her last clear memory being…

Panic hit, and Alex tried again to sit up, but the hands on her shoulder pushed down more firmly still. She moaned again, struggling even harder, until a familiar voice cut through her distress.

“Alex, calm down. You’re safe, and so is Bobby. Do you hear me, Alex? You’re both okay.”

Slowly, very slowly, Alex relaxed. Then, as she tried to look up, a tall figure moved around to block the bright lights that stung her eyes.

“Elliot…?” she mumbled dazedly. He smiled reassuringly at her.

“Hey. How’s your head?”

“Hurts,” she answered bluntly, in too much pain to even contemplate sarcasm. “Bobby’s really okay?”

“He’s okay,” Elliot assured her. “I won’t lie to you. Cozza got to him first… He managed to turn off the ventilator and it sent Bobby into cardiac arrest, but the doctors were fast. They were able to revive him pretty quickly. There was no harm done.”

“Please, tell me you got him.”

“More or less. Olivia took him out.”

He fell silent, waiting patiently as his words sank in.

“Olivia took him… He’s dead?”

“He tried to shoot her. She shot him first.”

Alex sighed softly.

“Good. He can’t hurt Bobby anymore, then.”

“Alex, do you remember what happened?”

She was silent for nearly a minute while she tried to form a cohesive answer in her mind, and then put it into rational English.

“I was in the stairwell… Just needed a bit of privacy. Someone came up behind me… I thought it was Danny, but it wasn’t. It was Cozza. He grabbed me, had me pinned to the wall. He said he had unfinished business with Bobby, and that he didn’t want me getting in the way. Then he pushed me… I don’t really remember anything after that, but he pushed me down the stairs, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, he did.”

She started to reach up towards her face, but Elliot gently caught her wrist and pushed it back down.

“No, Alex, you won’t want to be touching it. It’s gonna hurt bad enough without doing that.”

Alex moaned softly.

“Great.” She fell momentarily silent before speaking again tensely. “Wasn’t anyone with Bobby?”

“Logan was there…”

“Goddamn it,” Alex whispered. “What the hell was he doing, napping?”

“Cut him some slack, Alex. He didn’t go down without a fight. Cozza broke his wrist and one of his ribs, and shot him in the shoulder.”

Alex’s breath caught in her throat at the news.

“Is he okay?”

“He will be. He’s gonna be stuck in a hospital bed for the next few days, just like you…”

“What? No, I can’t. I have to be with Bobby…”

“Stop worrying about Bobby,” Elliot ordered her, his voice taking on a distinct edge. “He’ll be okay. We’ll make sure someone’s with him when he wakes up. If I need to, I’ll stay with him myself.”

Tears filled Alex’s eyes.

“Then you’d have more loyalty than his cousin.”

Elliot started a little in surprise.

“What do you mean?”

“Danny’s gone,” Alex said bitterly. “His boss called him, and he’s gone running back home to Washington.”

“Ah, crap,” Elliot muttered. “That’s just great. Look, Alex, I’ll stay with Bobby myself, okay? I promise I won’t leave him alone.”

“I just don’t want him to wake up with that… that tube down his throat… and for there not to be anyone there that he knows… anyone that he trusts. He trusts you, Elliot. That… That’s a big thing at the moment.”

Elliot nodded.

“I know it is. I promise you that I’ll look out for him, if you promise me that you’ll stay put and let yourself be looked after. You had a bad fall, Alex. You’re not going to be able to just pretend it didn’t happen. Trust me, you’re going to really feel it tomorrow morning.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Alex muttered ruefully. “And I bet I’ll look a treat, too.” She paused, and then asked tensely, “Has anyone called Deakins yet? He’s going to hit the roof when he finds out…”

“Cragen will take care of that. Just stop worrying, okay?”

Alex slumped back gloomily against the pillows.

“Easier said than done, Elliot,” she said softly.

Deakins came to a halt in front of St Clare’s Hospital, looking up at the building with a weariness that seemed be trying to drain the last dregs of his energy. He had been back and forth between this place and One Police Plaza so many times over the last few days, that he had lost track completely.

Now, he was back again, having gotten a call from Don Cragen less than an hour after he arrived back at the Major Case headquarters. Richard Chops Cozza had turned up at the hospital, attacked Alex and Mike Logan, and then tried to kill Bobby.

According to Cragen, all three were okay. Alex had been shoved down a flight of stairs, but there were no broken bones, just a bad knock to the head and nasty concussion. Logan was slightly worse for wear, having suffered a bad blow to the head, a broken rib, a broken wrist and a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Again, though, it was nothing life threatening. Logan would need some recuperation time, but he was going to be fine.

And then there was Bobby.

Deakins felt sick to his stomach. Cozza had gotten to Bobby by going through Logan, according to Cragen. He’d pulled the plug on the ventilator, which had sent Bobby into cardiac arrest. The doctors had reacted promptly, reviving Bobby and restarting the ventilator, but it was a scare that none of them needed.

As for Cozza, he was no longer a danger to anyone, shot dead by Olivia Benson.

A grim smile touched Deakins’ lips as he made his way back into the hospital. He’d been angry at Olivia for her attitude towards Bobby, but he found himself feeling immensely grateful to her for dealing with Cozza in such a decisive manner. There was one piece of scum who would never hurt anyone again, especially Bobby.

He made his way through to the ER, and found Cragen waiting for him in the waiting room.

“Jim,” Cragen greeted him. Deakins looked past him into the ER.

“Where are they? Where are Eames and Logan?”

“Eames has been taken for x-rays,” Cragen told him. “Logan is in cubicle three, if you want to see him.”

Deakins nodded. Yes, he wanted to see Logan, but not until he had some reassurance.

“And Goren?”

Cragen smiled ruefully. He knew instinctively what Deakins meant, and was well prepared with an answer.

“Elliot went up to sit with him, once Eames was awake. Don’t worry, Jim. We won’t leave him alone.”

Deakins sighed softly.

“Thankyou. I’m sorry, Don, but the thought of him waking up with that tube down his throat…”

“Eames said much the same to Elliot. Don’t worry. We’ve got it covered.”

“Okay,” Deakins conceded. “Thankyou. I’ll go and see Logan, then.”

“All right. And don’t be too harsh on him, Jim. He didn’t exactly just step aside and let Cozza do what he liked.”

Deakins paused on his way past Cragen, looking back at the other captain with a slightly puzzled look.

“You think I was planning on ripping into him?”

“According to Elliot, Eames would have, given half the chance. And, you have to admit, you are a little sensitive over anything to do with Goren at the moment.”

For a split second, as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Cragen was sure he’d just made a huge verbal blunder. To his surprise, though, Deakins smiled tiredly.

“I guess I am, aren’t I? I’m sorry, Don, but I can’t help that.”

“I understand,” Cragen assured him, privately relieved that his tactless choice of words hadn’t resulted in another explosion. “Go and see Logan. And by the time you finish with him, Eames will probably be out of x-ray.”

Deakins nodded appreciatively, and disappeared through the doors into the ER.

Logan was dozing, slipping in an out of consciousness. He was unaware of pretty much anything happening around him, until a hand alighted on his uninjured arm, and a familiar voice spoke.

“You know, Logan, if you really didn’t want to come to Major Case, you only had to say so.”

A single eye opened to peer at Deakins, and then Logan groaned softly.

“Yeah, sure. I got myself shot, and got a broken wrist and ribs just because I couldn’t stomach the thought of leaving Staten Island.”

Deakins smiled appreciatively at Logan’s sardonic humour.

“How are you feeling, Logan? Seriously.”

“Seriously? I’m feeling seriously like crap. I’m sorry, Captain.”

“For what?”

“For letting you down. I let that son of a bitch get to Bobby.”

“Well, from what I’ve been told, and what I’m looking at right now, I figure that I ought to be thanking you.”

Logan shook his head.

“I never even looked around when the door opened. One moment I was standing there beside the bed, and the next I was on the floor with a cracked head, broken ribs and a broken wrist.”

Deakins nodded slowly.

“Okay. So what did you do then? Just lie on the floor and watch Cozza?”

“No! I tried to get up, but he’d taken my gun off me. I got up and tried to tackle him, but he shot me first.”

The captain smiled reassuringly at Logan.

“You risked your life to stop Cozza, and you think I should be angry with you? What sort of medication have they got you doped up on, Logan?”

Logan fell silent, looking suddenly baffled that he’d scuttled his own argument. Deakins chuckled softly.

“Bobby is going to be fine. The doctors got to him in time to revive him. Now, I just want you to rest, and focus on healing up, because I promise you that the moment you’re up to it, I’m going to have you in Major Case working your ass off. You hear me, Logan?”

A crooked smile found its way onto Logan’s face, gratitude mixed with a hefty dose of relief. Though exactly what he was relieved over, Deakins didn’t know and wasn’t going to ask.

“Loud and clear, Captain.”

Deakins nodded, satisfied.


Deakins found he had nearly twenty minutes to wait before Alex was finally returned to the ER from X-Ray. She was accompanied by the doctor, who threw Deakins a questioning look.

“Are you her father…?”

Despite the situation, Deakins couldn’t fight the grin that found its way onto his face. Lying on the gurney, Alex moaned aloud.

“God, if that gets out, I’ll never live it down.”

“Watch it, Detective,” Deakins told her in a mock stern voice. “I’m the one who ought to be insulted at the inference that I’m old enough to be your father.”

Alex mumbled something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘bite me’ to Deakins, but he chose to ignore it.

“Sorry,” the doctor apologised, a sheepish smile on his face. “I didn’t mean to upset the balance. You’ll be happy to know, though, that there is definitely nothing broken, although she’s going to be very sore for a couple of weeks. We’ll keep her in overnight, but she should be fine to go home tomorrow, provided she gets plenty of rest.”

Deakins shook his head in bemusement.

“In that case, you may as well set up a bed for her upstairs in ICU, with Detective Goren. Because I can tell you right now that nothing anyone says or does is going to drag her away from him.”

The doctor looked at Alex apprehensively before shrugging.

“Well, I suppose there’s no reason why she can’t come to the hospital each day, but no driving for at least a week, preferably two. That eye is going to be closed over completely by tomorrow morning, and even after it does open up again, you’re going to have a magnificent black eye.”

“Badge of honour,” Deakins offered, trying not to laugh out loud at the sour look on her face at learning she couldn’t drive. Alex grunted.

“Yeah, right. I might have been willing to believe that if I’d actually fought back.”

Deakins’ smile faded, and he looked across at the doctor.

“Would you mind, Doctor…?”

The doctor nodded and left the cubicle, taking care to draw the curtains as he went.

“Don’t say it,” Alex said as Deakins turned back to her.

“Don’t say what, Alex? That you didn’t do anything wrong? That none of what’s happened is your fault? That I’m thanking God that you’re still here? He could have killed you, Alex. He could have killed Logan, and he could have killed Bobby. Do you have any idea how hard and fast my heart is beating right now?”

She looked up at him with her one good eye, which was rapidly blurring with tears.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, and in that moment Deakins understood that she was, in fact, apologising not to him but to Bobby. She honestly believed that she had let her partner down. “He could have killed Bobby,” she went on in a strained voice. “You said it yourself. I should have been more watchful, but I wasn’t. I let him down again…”

Deakins felt his heart tighten almost painfully, and he leaned down to envelope her in a gentle, paternal hug.

“How can you think that, Alex?” he asked as she broke down and cried softly into his shoulder. “You’ve never let him down, not once. When he’s able to, I know he’ll tell you the same. All of this…? It wasn’t your fault. I know without a doubt that if you’d had any idea that something was wrong that night, then you would have been there to help him in an instant. You don’t have anything to feel sorry for.”

“Then why do I feel like I do?” she choked out. Deakins rubbed her back gently, aware of the bruises that were already coming up on her body from the fall she’d had.

“I know,” he murmured. “I feel the same.”

“I… I don’t want to be like this in front of him,” she sobbed. “I need to be strong for him.”

“I know,” Deakins agreed quietly. “But that just makes it all the more important to be honest with each other. You don’t have to be strong in front of me, Alex. I already know you’re strong.”

Alex only shuddered violently in answer to his gentle words, and began to cry in earnest.

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