A/N: This is just a short chapter compared to the previous one, but that’s how it goes. And I wanted to get something up while I flesh out what happens next.

Deakins strode back into his office and snatched up the offending letter. He peered at it for a long moment before shaking his head in disgust and dropping it back onto the desk. He then strode back out into the bullpen and looked around.

“Jackson, Hanlon!”

The two detectives immediately left what they were doing and hurried over.

“Problem, sir?” Jackson wondered.

“You saw Bobby Goren leave?”


“Okay. I need the two of you to drop what you’re doing, get your SUV and get out on the streets and start looking for him. He is not physically or emotionally fit to be wandering around on his own.”

“Sure,” Hanlon agreed. “But, what’s happened?”

Deakins hesitated, and then spoke in a more subdued tone.

“Bobby’s brother committed suicide in custody at Bellevue last night.”

“Shit,” Jackson muttered. “No wonder he flipped out. Okay, Captain, we’re outta here.”

Deakins watched them go, and then turned and trotted back into his office, snatching up the phone and dialling Mike Logan’s cell phone. It was answered on the third ring.


“Mike, this is Captain Deakins. Where are you and Alex?”

Just heading back from Queens now. Why?

“We have a problem. Bobby’s taken off.”

There was the sound of a ruckus over the phone, and then Alex’s voice sounded loudly, forcing Deakins to hold the phone away from his ear.

What do you mean, he’s taken off? Where? Why?

“Richard Goren is dead,” Deakins told them grimly. “He committed suicide in custody last night.”

Oh, fuck…” Mike’s voice sounded in the background.

“Bobby took off from One Police Plaza,” Deakins went on quickly. “I’ve already sent Hanlon and Jackson to look for him on the streets, but you two would have a better clue about where he might go.”

Okay, Captain,” Mike answered. “We’ll find him.

Deakins hung up just as Jo came into the office.

“Jim? Where’s Bobby?”

Deakins looked around at her.

“Grab your coat, Jo.”

She regarded him in visible surprise.

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going to go searching for Bobby. We just found out that his brother committed suicide last night, and he took off.”

“Oh no… Jim, anything could happen to him!”

“I know. That’s why we have to find him as quickly as possible. C’mon, Jo, let’s move.”

“So where would he go?” Mike asked as Alex took the next right, accelerating as much as she dared in the busy midday traffic.

“Somewhere he’d feel safe,” Alex guessed. “The library, maybe.”

Mike nodded.

“Okay, we’ll start there.”

Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson were just emerging from the New York Public Library when Olivia spotted Mike and Alex coming up the steps.

“Hey, guys,” Olivia greeted them. “Something wrong?”

“Very wrong,” Mike confirmed grimly. “We’re looking for Bobby. You didn’t happen to spot him in there, did you?”

Elliot shook his head.

“No, but we didn’t get past Reception, either. Isn’t Jo with him?”

“He took off from One Police Plaza,” Mike explained.

“Took off?” Elliot echoed. “Why? What’s happened?”

“Richie Goren is dead,” Mike said.

What…?” Olivia asked incredulously.

“He killed himself last night,” Alex told them, her voice high with stress. “Bobby didn’t take the news too well. He skipped out from One Police Plaza, and now none of us know where he is. We have to find him. He’s not in a fit state to be on his own.”

“But he can see, right?” Elliot asked, frowning. “I mean, I know this sounds dumb, but he isn’t wandering around somewhere blind, is he?”

“The bandages came off a couple of days ago,” Alex answered. “He’s got limited sight in one eye, and he has an eye-patch over the other eye. Anything could happen to him!”

“Okay,” Elliot said firmly. “We’ll help. Do you have any other ideas where he might be?”

Frowning, Alex ran off a list of places where she thought Bobby might go for sanctuary. Elliot nodded.

“Okay, we’ll check the library together, because it’s a damned big place to hide in, and then Liv and I will take the east side of Manhattan, and you guys take the west side. Okay?”

Alex nodded, grateful for the welcome offer of help.


“Hey, he’s our friend, too,” Olivia told her with a reassuring smile.

“Don’t worry, Alex,” Elliot promised her. “We’ll find him.”

After more than an hour of frantic searching, Mike and Alex finally rendezvoused back at the library with Deakins, Jo, Elliot and Olivia. All of them were frustrated, and increasingly fearful for the welfare their friend and colleague.

“No luck at all?” Deakins asked.

“I think between us, we’ve covered just about everywhere that’s within walking distance of One Police Plaza,” Mike said ruefully. “The guy just doesn’t want to be found.”

“He could have taken the subway somewhere,” Olivia suggested, but Jo shook her head.

“He doesn’t have any money on him. He couldn’t manage it if he did.”

“Well, what about a taxi?” Elliot asked. “He might have tried to catch a taxi somewhere.”

“Again, no money,” Jo pointed out.

“Unless,” Mike mused, “he was going some place where he was pretty sure he could get the cab fare at the other end.”

“What are you thinking?” Elliot asked, but Alex had already guessed where Mike’s train of thought was going.

“Carmel Ridge…”

“I’ll call them now,” Deakins said, snapping out his cell phone. “…Hello? Yes, this is Captain James Deakins, Robert Goren’s commanding officer. Could you please tell me if he’s turned up there…? All right, thankyou. If he does show up, could you please let me know immediately…? Thankyou. Yes, you have my cell phone number on file. Yes, that’s right. Thankyou.”

He closed his phone and found himself returning five disconsolate expressions that he imagined mirrored his own.

“He’s not there. They’ll let us know if he does show up there, though.”

“Goddamn it, where could he be?” Alex burst out, tears brimming her eyes. “I’m going to hit him so hard for this…”

“Alex, calm down,” Deakins directed her. “Now, think. You know him better than anyone. Where might he have gone?”

“I don’t know!” she choked out. “I don’t know where he could have gone! We’ve already checked all the places I could think of. I don’t know where else to try!”

“Maybe he’s just gone home,” Elliot suggested with little hope. Jo shook her head.

“No, that was the first place Jim and I tried.”

“And the fifth,” Deakins added ruefully. Alex suddenly froze, her breath catching in her throat as a new idea occurred to her.

“Alex, honey, what is it?” Olivia asked softly, but Alex didn’t respond directly.

“He wouldn’t have…” she whispered, a frown creasing her face, but even as she tried to dismiss the thought, she knew deep in her gut that she was right.

“Alex?” Deakins asked tensely. “What have you thought of?”

She blinked hard and looked up at him finally.

“I think I know where he might have gone.”

“Where?” Mike asked anxiously. “C’mon, Alex, spit it out!”

“I think he might have gone home.”

Momentary confused silence reigned, and then Jo spoke tentatively.

“But we’ve already checked there twice, and he wasn’t there…”

Alex shook her head.

“No, not my home. His home. Jo, what was it that Bobby said to you yesterday when you got back from Bellevue?”

“He said he wanted for none of it to have happened.”

Alex looked back at Deakins.

“He’s gone back to his apartment, where the attack happened. I’m sure of it.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Olivia argued. “Why would he go back there? It’s not logical.”

“We’re not talking about someone who is operating in a logical frame of mind,” Deakins pointed out. “But besides that, we’ve looked everywhere else. It’s at least worth a try.”

Mike nodded his agreement.

“We’ve looked in all the rational places. Let’s start looking in the irrational ones.”

Elliot clapped his hands together, anxious to get moving.

“Let’s go, then.”

They arrived at Bobby’s old apartment building to a surprising sight. Several of the tenants were out on the street, blocking the entrance and arguing with a man who they suspected was the new building Superintendent.

“Hey,” Elliot shouted above the angry din as they approached the group. “What’s going on?”

The Super spoke up angrily.

“These clowns won’t let me in. I’m the Super here, and they’re keeping me out of my own building! And to top it off, I’ve got a nutcase up on the fourth floor who’s broken into one of the apartments!”

“Nutcase…?” Mike echoed, feeling his hopes soar.

“Nutcase my ass!” one of the tenants exploded. “That’s just Bobby Goren, and it’s his goddamn apartment!”

“Not anymore, it’s not!” the Super roared back. “That apartment was sold just this morning. It’s not his anymore, and if he doesn’t clear out I’ll call the cops!”

Mike clapped a firm hand onto the Super’s shoulder.

“Newsflash, pal. We are the police. Now, I suggest you go and shut yourself in your apartment, have a nice cup of coffee and let us deal with this.”

“You’re going to arrest him for breaking and entering, right?” the Super asked as Mike directed him through the crowd of angry tenants, and back into the building. “I want to press charges!”

“Did I forget to mention that Bobby’s a cop, too?” Mike asked casually. The Super’s face fell.

“Great. So what you’re saying is that you’re not going to do anything.”

Mike slung his arm around the guy’s shoulders and ushered him to the door of his apartment.

“Let’s go into your place, Mr… Sorry, what was your name?”

“Crandall. Matt Crandall.”

“Okay, Mr Crandall. How about we go into your place, and I’ll explain a few facts.”

Mike glanced back towards Deakins as he followed Crandall into the apartment, and Deakins nodded in wordless acknowledgement and gratitude as the detective disappeared from sight into the apartment.

“Okay,” Deakins said firmly, looking back at the group of tenants who had followed them back into the building. “Bobby’s up in his apartment right now?”

One of the tenants nodded, all anger vanishing from his features with the removal of the Super from the situation.

“Yeah. He’s in a really bad way.”

“How do you mean, in a bad way?” Olivia asked as they began to make their way up the stairs.

“Like he doesn’t even know where he is. He was pretty distressed when he got here, but now we can’t get through to him at all. Even old Mrs Pirelli hasn’t been able to reach him. He’s really out of it, you know?”

“And that idiot Super was just gonna call the cops,” someone else said heatedly. “That’s why we had him bailed up outside. Bobby’s not doing any harm. The guy needs help, not some asshole turning him in for some trespass bullshit.”

“And he didn’t break and enter,” a third man said. “The apartment door was unlocked when he got there. That stupid moron Crandall left it unlocked this morning after a realtor took someone through it.”

“Okay,” Olivia said firmly as they came out onto the fourth floor. “Thankyou all for your concern, but we’ll take it from here.”

“Look, just make sure that he’s okay?” someone asked. “Bobby’s a good guy… He didn’t deserve all the crap that’s been dealt to him. He doesn’t need anymore trouble.”

“He’s not going to be in any trouble,” Deakins assured them. “We’re here to help him, I promise you.”

They reached the door of the apartment to find Bobby’s former neighbours, Rosa Pirelli and Chris and Dana Watson, hovering by the door and looking in anxiously.

“Alexandra,” Rosa exclaimed, audibly relieved. “Thank God you’re here. Poor Robert… He needs you badly.”

“He’s in there?” Alex asked, and Chris Watson nodded.

“Yeah. We tried talking to him, but he got kind of hysterical, so we came out again.”

“He’s in the bedroom,” Dana said softly, tears in her eyes. “The poor thing, I’ve never seen anything like it. We just couldn’t break him out of it. It… It’s like he’s reliving the attack all over again.”

Alex started into the apartment, only to be halted by a firm hand on her shoulder.

“Alex,” Deakins said softly, “maybe you should let Elliot and Olivia try first.”

She shook his hand off, though.

“He’s my partner. I’ll go in to him. It’ll be okay.”

For a long moment, it seemed as though Deakins was going to argue. Then, finally, he conceded reluctantly.

“All right. But if things get out of hand, you call for us.”

She nodded wordlessly, and walked into the apartment.

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