A/N: I make no apologies for this chapter. I've already had a big fight with my muse over this aspect of the story, and we've come to a compromise. You'll see what I mean when you get to the end of this chapter. Please read it through first, and take note of the author's note at the end before you review this chapter.

Case notes of Dr Graham Thomas, PsyD
Subject: Robert Goren
Review after six sessions.

Subject: white male, 44 years old, suffering extreme physical, emotional and mental trauma. The subject was a victim of a violent home invasion, during which he was drugged, physically assaulted, raped and tortured.

Robert Goren has proven to be quite the challenge. He possesses a tremendous knowledge of psychiatric practises, and has a strong tendency to use this knowledge to keep himself closed off from anyone attempting to reach him. He hides inside his own mind, but those moments when he does surface and allow me glimpses at who he is underneath all the protective layers, make the effort worthwhile.

Robert defies all attempts at classification. His symptoms are widespread, and seem to vary from session to session, ranging from severe depression to an anger that is frightening in its intensity. To a person who didn’t know any better, or didn’t know what to look for, he might appear to be functioning at a normal, reasonable level, but that is definitely not the case.

I’ll summarise from the beginning, for my own benefit.

Robert was referred to me a week and a half after he was assaulted and raped. I was contacted not on an official level, but rather by a colleague – Dr George Huang – who felt I might be able to help. Apparently George had intended to take Robert on as a patient himself, but their initial session was less than positive. I normally don’t take individual cases on recommendations, but I owed George a favour and agreed to pay Robert an initial visit at St Clare’s.

As a rule, I usually avoid taking on police officers as patients, but I admit that I was intrigued by Robert from the start. After reading his family history, what psychiatrist wouldn’t be? This, of course, is not about his mother, though I expect the subject will come up eventually.

George sent me Robert’s file the night before I planned to visit him in the hospital. I admit that I was up most of the night reading through it through. I’ve dealt with victims of rape many times, but I never cease to be shocked by the level of depravity that man is capable of sinking to.

Robert was tortured both physically and sexually over a period of approximately ten to twelve hours by three men, one of whom was his own brother. He suffered critical, life-threatening injuries, and spent over a month in the hospital recovering from those injuries.

Even now he still has a long road ahead of him in terms of a full physical recovery. Part of his current fragile state of mind is a direct result of the uncertainty of his recovery from some of those injuries. Robert’s eyes were burned shut, and both of his hands were broken savagely, leaving him almost completely incapable of caring for himself. As yet, there is no guarantee that his sight will be restored to him, or that his hands will heal.

He is starkly afraid of what will happen to him if these particular injuries turn into permanent disabilities, but he still refuses to be drawn into a discussion on this subject.

Right now, I’m attempting to focus on getting Robert to work through the actual assault. That is no easy task. As near as I can tell, the only individual who has come close to drawing the full story out of him is Detective Stabler, of the Special Victims Unit, and even he admitted there was much that Robert had not been able to talk about.

I see my immediate duty as encouraging Robert to face everything that happened to him, and then I can begin to help him learn to cope with it. Because the one thing I am certain of right at this point, after six sessions with Robert, is that he is not coping at all.

Dr Thomas ceased writing as his intercom buzzed to life, and his receptionist informed him that Robert Goren had arrived.

Thomas’ first reaction was one of surprise. To be perfectly honest, he had expected a phone call at least a half hour ago telling him that Bobby had refused to leave the apartment. Pleased, he put his notes down and went to meet his newest patient.

It was actually big step for the detective to have taken, Thomas reflected. After a week of self-imposed confinement within Alex Eames’ apartment, this was the first time that Bobby had ventured outside. It was a vital step towards reducing the risk of Bobby becoming house-bound.

“Hi, Bobby,” Thomas greeted his somewhat recalcitrant patient as Jo Reilly guided him through into the office. “Feeling ready to talk?”

Bobby didn’t answer; a response that didn’t surprise Thomas in the slightest. He’d been the same before every session – withdrawn and reluctant. Given time and patience, though, he knew that Bobby would open up slowly. Sometimes it took only a few minutes of coaxing, sometimes it took the better part of their first hour together, but inevitably Bobby would start to open up. Then, that was when they would start to make the real progress.

He stood back patiently and watched as Jo guided Bobby into a seat by the open window. Normally, to minimise potential distractions, Thomas kept the window shut and had his patients sit closer to the centre of the room, but not all of his patients were deprived of the senses of sight and touch, either. In allowing Bobby to sit by the open window, and to experience a fresh breeze and the pleasant scent of the potted flowers there, Thomas hoped it would help to keep him calm and focused.

“I’ll be right outside, honey,” Jo reassured him, taking a moment to smooth back a wayward curl. “I promise I won’t go anywhere.”

Bobby nodded in wordless acceptance of her promise. Thomas saw her out, and then returned to his own seat near Bobby.

“You’re lucky, Bobby. You’ve got yourself a damned good home-care nurse there. I know Jo Reilly’s reputation.”

“I know,” Bobby agreed quietly. “I know I’m lucky.” He paused, turning his face towards the open window. A gentle breeze had just picked up, carrying the scent from the flowers through into the room and, as Thomas had anticipated, Bobby easily picked up on it. “Geraniums?”

“That’s right,” Thomas confirmed with a small smile. “You really do have a remarkable sense of smell.”

“It… It’s something I developed as a… a kid.”

Thomas raised an eyebrow slightly at the unprompted admission. In all of his previous sessions with Bobby, it had been something of a trial to draw any personal information out of the detective. It was a welcome surprise to have Bobby volunteering information for once. Hopefully, Thomas thought wryly, it was a trend that would continue.

“How do you mean, you developed it?”

“Out of necessity,” Bobby explained. “It… It became important… A survival technique.”

“Survival technique? That’s a curious way of putting it. Survival for at school, or at home?”

Thomas suspected he already knew the answer to that, but he was interested to see how far Bobby was willing to explain.

“At… At home. Being able to tell whether my dad smelled of women or liquor when he came home helped me to know when to stay out of his way. It… It meant the difference between getting hit, or not.”

“And that happened a lot, didn’t it?”

“After Mom got sick, yeah. Dad couldn’t cope. He didn’t seem to want to even try.”

It was with difficulty that Thomas concealed his enthusiasm. He didn’t know what had brought on this sudden openness, but it was a welcome change to having to poke and pry for every little bit of information.

“How was your relationship with your brother during that time?”

Bobby fell silent, and Thomas wondered briefly whether he’d tried for too much too soon. He was relieved when Bobby did finally respond.

“We were never close. While Dad was still around, Richie spent most of his time trying to live up to his standards.” A short, bitter laugh escaped Bobby’s lips. “The son of a bitch was a womanising drunk who gambled away all of his and Mom’s savings, but Richie and I were supposed to be perfect. He was a fucking hypocritical bastard.”

Thomas watched Bobby thoughtfully. The anger was not unexpected. Indeed, he welcomed it. Visible shows of emotion meant Bobby wasn’t trying to hide behind the walls of his own mind.

“Richie tried to comply?”

“We both did. Richie was just better at it than I was. Plus, he was the oldest. Mom and Dad favoured him anyway.”

“And so he got all the attention from your father.”

“What attention he bothered to give… yeah.”

“And when your father left?”

“Richie got himself into the high school basketball team. He was good… good enough that Dad came to see all of his games. He used it to get himself a scholarship later on, but until then it was the best and only way of getting Dad’s attention. He was fully into the gambling by then. Sport was the only chance we had of getting his attention.”

“I gather you did the same, then?”

Bobby’s shoulder slumped noticeably.

“I tried. I got myself into the high school basketball team. I was never as good as Richie, but I could hold my own in the team. I figured for sure that Dad would take an interest, but he never showed up at any of my games. In the end, I had to quit.”

“Had to, or wanted to?”

“A bit of both. By then, Richie had his scholarship and was gone. I was looking after Mom on my own. My grades weren’t too good, and eventually I had to make a choice. I couldn’t take care of Mom, do my school work and play basketball. Something had to go, so I quit basketball.”

“That must have been a difficult choice.”

“Not so much. I stopped enjoying basketball when I realised I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it.”

“Your father’s attention?”


“Tell me, Bobby, did you ever resent that Richie got the attention from your father that you were never able to get?”

“I used to,” Bobby admitted quietly. “But somewhere along the line, I realised that the attention Dad gave Richie wasn’t a good kind of attention. There was a lot of pressure on Richie from Dad to excel… I remember one time, just before Dad finally walked out on us. Richie brought home his report card from school, and he’d gotten a C in something. Dad hit the roof, started screaming at him… At one point he told him that he had to knuckle down and do a lot better than that, or he’d end up just like Mom.”

Thomas winced a little, but said nothing. Bobby went on in a heavily subdued tone.

“It took me a while, but I eventually understood that I was better off for not having had that sort of pressure put on me. I stopped resenting Richie, and I started to feel sorry for him instead.”

“Is that why you never pressed charges when he attacked you that time?”

For just a moment, Bobby appeared to be confused. Then, Thomas saw the realisation dawn on his face.

“Oh… When I was with Narcotics, you mean. Yeah, that was part of it. I knew that trying to live up to Dad’s expectations screwed Richie up. But the reason I never pressed charges back then was because of Mom. She’d been in the middle of a really bad time back then, and news would have gotten back to her eventually. She couldn’t have coped.”

Thomas paused, wondering whether Bobby was ready to confront how he was really feeling now about his brother. He decided to try.

“So, you had sympathy for him then, even though he stabbed you… how many times?”

“Five times. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was in withdrawal, and he was half out of his mind. He… He just didn’t know what he was doing.”

“As opposed to this time?”

Bobby fell abruptly silent. Thomas watched him intently, waiting to see how Bobby would respond, or if he would respond at all.

“He knew what he was doing this time,” Bobby said finally, his voice so soft that Thomas almost missed the words. “I know he’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but he still knew what he was doing. He… He deliberately set out to hurt me as much as he could. He… He wanted me dead. My own brother…”

He didn’t break down, though Thomas had fully expected him to. A slight shudder passed through him, but that was all. When Bobby spoke again, his voice was steady once more.

“I don’t hate Richie. I… I want to… but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to hate him. But I don’t understand how I became the focal point of his anger… of his hatred. It had to be based on more than just me refusing to testify for him that time.”

“I expect you’re right,” Thomas agreed. “It’s probably been a long simmering issue within him, twisted by his own illness.”

“How could he come to hate me so much?” Bobby asked softly, and now Thomas could feel the intense sadness and confusion radiating off Bobby like heat.

“I’m sorry, Bobby. I don’t have an answer to that question. That’s something that you may never know, unless you can eventually bring yourself to face him”

“I don’t know if I can do that.”

“You don’t want to face Richie again? Or do you just feel that you can’t?”

Bobby didn’t answer, and Thomas waited a good couple of minutes before trying again.

“Do you think you might want the opportunity to face Richie further down the track?”

Bobby turned his head away, towards the open window.

“I don’t know.”

Thomas nodded. He was starting to be able to recognise certain body language, and he could easily tell that Bobby was done talking about his brother, at least for the time being.

“Bobby, do you remember where we left off last time?”

Silence. Thomas spoke again, patiently.

“You told me what happened when Matic and Cozza left you alone with Richie. What happened after that?”

They sat in silence for nearly five minutes, Thomas waiting quietly for Bobby to respond. He would eventually – it was very much a case of asking the question, and then having the patience to let Bobby take his time to answer.

“Richie didn’t stay.”

Thomas silently picked up his notebook again, and began to write. Bobby went on softly, his face still turned away, towards the window.

“After Richie used the… the poker on me, he left. He never said anything, he just left. I think they left me alone for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. I couldn’t really tell. I could hear them in the bathroom, though. It sounded like they were cleaning up. I… I remember praying that they were nearly done with me. I wanted to die by then. I knew they weren’t going to let me live, so by then I’d stopped praying that I’d live through it, and started wishing they’d kill me and get it over with. I was scared to die… but I was hurting so badly, that I didn’t want to live anymore, either.”

Thomas bit down on his lower lip, silently thanking the deities for doctor/patient confidentiality. If Bobby’s captain and colleagues were ever to hear any of this, god only knew what reaction they would have. Alex Eames, especially…

“There’s no shame in giving up,” Thomas pointed out gently. “Like you said, you were hurting more than you could stand.”

Bobby shuddered a little.

“I wanted to give up, but I couldn’t. When Matic and Cozza came back in, and started on me again, all I could think of was…”

At that point, Bobby trailed off, sitting trembling and silent. Thomas watched him in mild concern, giving him a reasonable gap before prompting him gently.

“All you could think of was what?”

“Alex,” Bobby whispered. Thomas sat forward just a little, his interest piqued.

“Alex? Your partner?”

Bobby lifted his head fractionally.

“I couldn’t stand the thought of letting her down.”

Slowly, Thomas set his notes aside.

“You think that by dying, you’d be letting Alex down.”

“In… In the worst way.”

“Let me make sure I’ve got this straight. You clung to life… literally… to keep from disappointing your partner.”

Bobby shifted uncomfortably.

“You make it sound like a crime in itself.”

Thomas laughed softly, then.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to. I’m just amazed, that’s all.”

“By what?”

“The depth of your connection to Alex. Bobby, you just admitted that she was what kept you from giving up! That’s no small thing. And the fact that she’s taken you into her home says she cares just as deeply for you.”

“We’re not… not in love…”

“I know that. It is possible for two people to love each other deeply without it becoming sexual. Clearly, you and Alex have that something special… True friendship. It’s nothing to be sneered at, believe me.”

Bobby slumped back in the chair. He was nervous, and had no way to expend that nervous energy. It was frustrating the hell out of him.

“She’s my best friend. For a long time she was my… my only friend.”

“You really believe that?”

“Well… maybe not my only friend. But it felt like it.”

“What about Lewis?”

At the mention of his long-time friend, Bobby suddenly went completely silent.

Thomas watched him piercingly. Dropping Lewis’ name into the conversation had been no accident. Two sessions ago, Bobby had let slip that he had literally exploded after finally learning that it had been Lewis who had made that phone call on the Sunday morning – the phone call that either Matic or Cozza had answered, and hung up on straight away. The phone call that should have alerted the caller to the fact that something was wrong. The phone call that could have resulted in help reaching Bobby several hours sooner.

The force of Bobby’s anger had apparently been heard all the way down the length of the hospital ward. Later on, everyone within earshot would admit to being unable to remember exactly what had been said – or yelled, as it were – only that Lewis had fled the hospital and had not been anywhere near Bobby since.

Bobby’s reaction may have seemed harsh, but Thomas suspected that learning about that so soon after the perceived betrayal of his cousin had simply been more than Bobby could cope with in his fragile state of mind. Danny had failed to come back, despite his promise, which had been yet another blow to Bobby’s emotional wellbeing. The detective had always had issues with trust, but it was more pronounced now than it ever had been before.

Right at that point, Thomas was aware of just four people that Bobby seemed to trust implicitly: Alex Eames, Jim Deakins, Jo Reilly and, much to the surprise of everyone, Elliot Stabler. Beyond those four, Bobby trusted no one.

“You feel betrayed by a lot of people, don’t you?” Thomas persisted. “By Lewis… By your neighbours… Your cousin.”

Still Bobby said nothing.

“It’s okay to admit to being angry,” Thomas said. “It’s a natural enough emotion, and you do have justification for feeling like that. In fact, I’d be worried if you weren’t.”

“I can understand, though,” Bobby said finally, miserably. “I don’t want to understand, but I do.”

“What do you understand?”

“Everyone else’s perspective.”

“Explain that to me, Bobby.”

The faintest of sighs escaped Bobby’s lips before he spoke again.

“With my neighbours, they all know I’m a cop. I remember one of them saying once how glad they were that I was in the building… because any criminals would just take one look at me and run in the other direction.”

Thomas chuckled softly, and was pleased when his laughter drew out a small smile on Bobby’s face.

“I can see where that would make them feel better,” Thomas remarked amusedly. “After all, you’re six foot four and built like a brick wall.”

The smile faded from Bobby’s face as fast as it had appeared.

“It didn’t help me much, did it?”

“You were drugged, Bobby,” Thomas pointed out. “It wouldn’t have mattered if you were ten feet tall, and made of metal. You still wouldn’t have been able to fight back. But I don’t want you focusing on that now. You were saying that you understand your neighbours’ lack of action.”

“Like I said… They know I’m a cop. I guess they thought I could handle it.”

“But you wish one of them had called 911.”

“Yeah, but at the same time…”

“What is it?” Thomas encouraged quietly.

“I… I wonder whether, if they had called… whether Matic and Cozza might have just killed me outright.”

“They might have done,” Thomas agreed, quietly impressed that Bobby had the presence of mind, even in the midst of his current state of depression, to see the situation from that perspective. Bobby’s shoulders slumped further.

“I just don’t know anymore. Nothing was ever simple or straight-forward before, but now… Everything’s so mixed up.”

“Are you still angry at Lewis?”

“Yes… and no. I want to be angry… and I guess I still am… but I know Lewis. He’s a good guy… but he’s not the brightest guy around. He… He knew I was meeting Richie that night. When he called on Sunday morning and the phone was just hung on him, he probably figured I was in a bad mood from that, and just didn’t want to talk. I… I can’t hold that against him. It would have been a reasonable assumption.”

“You know, Bobby,” Thomas said quietly, “you’re putting a lot of effort into understanding everyone else’s perspective. I can’t help but wonder how much of that energy you’re directing towards understanding what’s going on inside your own psyche.”

Even as Thomas watched, Bobby literally seemed to shrink into himself.

“I see,” Thomas murmured after a couple of minutes of uncomfortable silence. “It’s easier for you to try to understand other people’s motives, rather than your own.”

“It… It’s what I do.”

“Profiling, you mean.”


“Okay, I get that. But now, you need to stop.”

The silence that met that statement was profound. Then, slowly, Bobby’s head came up and Thomas imagined that if he had been able to look into Bobby’s eyes at that moment, he probably would have seen a world of pain there.

“I… I can’t.”

“You can’t stop?”

“I can’t t… turn it off. I… I just can’t.”

Thomas watched him thoughtfully. Over the last few minutes, Bobby’s voice had gotten progressively softer, until he was speaking in barely more than a whisper.

“It’s my… my connection. I can’t stop.”

“Your connection?”

“To… to everything. To everyone.”

Thomas bit down lightly on his lower lip as he mulled that over.

“You feel disconnected if you try to… turn your mind off, as it were.”

“Not so much disconnected…”

“What, then?”


Again, it was spoken so softly that Thomas had to strain to hear.

“That’s the bottom line for you at the moment, isn’t it?” Thomas asked quietly. “What’s happened to you has effectively left you feeling useless, and you don’t know how to reverse that.”

“Jo… She said that… that I’m not…”

“But you can’t quite bring yourself to accept it.”

“How can I?” Bobby asked plaintively. “How can I accept it? Look at me!”

“I am, Bobby. I am looking at you, and I see a man who is far from useless. Do you want to know what I see?”

Bobby shifted forward slightly in the chair, his agitation starting to show through.

“I’m tired. I want to go.”

Thomas regarded him critically.

“What is it, Bobby? What are you afraid of hearing?”


It was said a little too defensively for Thomas’ liking.

“Then hear me out. Can you do that?”

Bobby slumped back in the chair, reluctantly accepting that he wasn’t going to be leaving yet. Thomas went on quietly.

“When I look at you, I see a good, brave man who survived a horrific ordeal. I see a man who needs time, patience and understanding to recover from his injuries… the emotional ones as well as the physical ones. I see a man who is down, but definitely not out. Now, you may or may not want to accept what I say right now as gospel, but I’m hoping that eventually I’ll be able to get you to believe that just about everyone who knows you thinks the same thing.”

He wasn’t the least bit surprised when Bobby didn’t respond. Thomas took a moment observe him. Shoulders slumped, head down, hands resting on his lap… Bobby looked defeated.

“Okay,” Thomas conceded gently. “All right, Bobby. We’ll leave it there for now. But before we meet again, I want you to give something a try.”

“What?” Bobby asked dully.

“Pick someone… preferably not Alex or Jo… and put those profiling skills of yours to use. You say you can’t turn it off? Then we’ll use it to your advantage. Pick one person, and see if you can determine what they’re really thinking about you. I think you might just get a surprise.”

Leaving his chair, Thomas helped Bobby gently to his feet, and guided him out of the office into the waiting room, where Jo had been waiting patiently.

“Finished?” she asked, and Thomas smiled as she took Bobby’s arm.

“Yes. He’s all yours, Jo. So, what’s the plan for this afternoon? Going to take advantage of the good weather?”

Jo looked up at her charge.

“I could go for a hotdog in Central Park. How about you, Bobby?”

He didn’t answer, though. Jo smiled sadly, and began to usher him towards the door.

“C’mon, baby. Let’s go.”

They got as far as the door when Bobby suddenly stopped and turned back a little towards Thomas.

“You didn’t see me as a cop.”

Thomas’ smile faded, to be replaced with visible confusion and just a touch of concern.

“How do you mean, Bobby?”

“You told me how you see me, but you never said you see me as a cop. That’s what I am… It’s who I am… But you didn’t see that in me. That’s what this has really stolen from me. My… my identity.”

Turning, Bobby continued on, forcing Jo to move as well.

Thomas stood there for nearly a minute after Bobby had gone, weighing up the implications of Bobby’s words in his own mind before finally turning and walking silently back into his own office, and closing the door behind him.

“You’re still a cop, Bobby,” Jo said quietly as they exited the building. “If Dr Thomas doesn’t see that in you now, maybe that’s just because he didn’t know you before this all happened.”

“And what about you? How do you see me, Jo? As an injured cop or as a useless cripple who needs everything done for him?”

Anger flashed briefly in Jo’s eyes, but she reined it in and spoke in a forcibly calm voice.

“Bobby, honey, I know you’re hurting. I know you’re confused, and I know you’re angry. But so help me God, if I hear the word cripple pass your lips again, I will slap you all the way into next week. You got that?”

He didn’t respond, but the way he shifted uncomfortably on the spot told Jo that he’d gotten the message loud and clear. She nodded, satisfied.

“Okay, then. Now, to answer your question, I see you as a good, somewhat stubborn detective who happens to need help while he recovers from some pretty nasty injuries.”

A small smile tugged at the corners of Bobby’s mouth.


“Hell, yes. Lucky for you, so am I. Now, move yourself, Detective Goren. It’s a beautiful day, and I am not going to stand for being cooped up in an apartment while the sun is shining. And besides, I really want that hotdog.”

“You sure you don’t want something?” Jo asked a while later as she collected a heavily garnished hotdog from a vendor near Central Park.

“I’m sure,” Bobby murmured. “Alex’s mom and dad are coming for dinner tonight. They’re bringing the food, so there’s bound to be a lot of it. I couldn’t eat any of the last meal that Mr Eames prepared. I… I don’t want that to happen tonight.”

“Fair enough,” Jo conceded. “Maybe another day, then. So how are you feeling, hon? Really…”

“Drained,” Bobby admitted softly as Jo led him into the park in search of a seat. “I feel like all I’m ever expected to do is talk… about what happened, and how I feel about it. But… he doesn’t offer any solutions.”

“And you’re frustrated.”


“Be patient, Bobby. It’s a slow process. You, of all people, ought to understand that.”

She was right. He knew she was right. But at the same time, the hurt was so great that trying to accept that the healing process was a slow one was almost impossible. He wanted so much to just be over it, and to be able to reclaim his life… to be able to just go back to work. Knowing that couldn’t happen… that it wouldn’t happen for some time was just about killing him inside.

“Here,” she murmured, guiding him to sit on a bench. She sat next to him, took a bite of her hotdog, and moaned blissfully.

“Oh, that’s good,” she mumbled around a mouthful of meat, bread and condiments. “Bobby, you’ve got to have a bite.”

“No, thanks. I’m fine, Jo.”

“Oh, don’t be so uptight. Here, open up.”

Bobby opened his mouth to protest that he was fine, and nearly gagged a moment later when she pushed a portion of her hotdog past his lips. Unprepared as he was, the sauce, cheese and onions missed his mouth entirely, and landed in a messy blob on his shirt.

“Oops,” Jo said, and then snorted with ill-concealed laughter. Bobby tried to look irritated, but it was damned hard to be angry with someone whose laughter was as infectious as Jo’s was.

“And now you get to clean me up,” Bobby grumbled after he managed to swallow the portion that actually made it into his mouth. Jo giggled like a schoolgirl as she pulled a tissue from her handbag and carefully mopped the worst of the spillage off his front.

“Hang on. I’ll bin this, and go get a bottle of water from the vendor just over there. We’ll have you cleaned up in no time. Wait here, I’ll be back in a minute.”

Bobby shook his head slightly as she hurried off.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere.”

Jo dropped the tissue in a nearby bin, and hurried over to the nearby vendor to buy a bottle of water. She had been momentarily afraid that he would explode at her, but he’d surprised her by taking it in good humour. Of course, she was still likely to get a serve from Alex later on, but Bobby was her primary concern, and that she looked back now to find him sitting and smiling to himself could only be a good thing.

Abruptly, her own smile faded. Standing almost directly in front of Bobby – not attempting to interact with him in any way, just watching him – was a slim woman of average height, with light brown hair down to her shoulders. She made no effort to speak to him, she simply stood watching him in silence with an expression on her face that Jo couldn’t interpret.

Gradually, Bobby seemed to become aware of this newcomer’s presence, and he lifted his head slowly. Forgetting about the water, Jo began to walk back to the bench; slowly at first, and then faster. She was within metres when the woman suddenly looked around, and their eyes locked. Then, the woman spun on her heel and fled.

Jo slowed to a halt beside Bobby, confused and worried. She didn’t know who the woman was, or whether she had presented any sort of a threat to Bobby, but there had been no mistaking the tears that welled in her eyes in that moment before she hurried away.

“Jo?” Bobby asked tentatively. “Is that you?”

She sat down beside him, and slipped an arm protectively around his shoulders.

“It’s me. Bobby, there was someone standing here just a moment ago, watching you.”

“Describe them.”

“It was a woman… maybe a few inches taller than Alex. Shoulder length light brown hair… and she was just slightly buck-toothed.”

Bobby’s breath caught audibly in his throat at the description. He stood up quickly… a fraction too quickly, and staggered a little as he nearly lost his balance.

“Hey, easy,” Jo said, jumping up and catching hold of his arm to steady him. “You don’t need to be falling over. You don’t want to end up back in the hospital.”

“Take me to One Police Plaza.”

“What? Why?”

“Nicole… It was Nicole. I… I have to tell Alex… and Deakins.”

“Bobby, let me take you home. We can call Alex and Jim from there.”

“No. I need to tell them. Please, Jo, just take me to One Police Plaza.”

Jo stared up at his pale face, debating the wisdom of taking him to his place of employment as opposed to taking him home when he clearly did not want to go.

“Jo, please…” Bobby pleaded softly. She sighed softly,

“Okay, Bobby. Okay.”


A/N: I do not intend to write into the story any direct contact between Bobby and Nicole. But her inclusion does have a purpose which should prove beneficial to Bobby. I'm not elaborating any further than that. It'll spoil the plot.

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