It was a bizarre experience, walking into a completely emptied apartment that she had once been so familiar with. She paused just briefly inside the door, looking around with a sickening feeling deep in her gut. She had only set foot in here once since the attack, and that was to recover for Bobby what few articles of clothing had not been ruined. The place had been cleaned thoroughly and showed no outward sign of the horrific crime that had been committed within its walls, but it still felt tainted. She fervently hoped that, once they got Bobby out of there, she would never have reason to set foot in the apartment again.

Withholding a shudder and reminding herself why she was there, Alex crossed the floor to the room that had once been Bobby’s most private and cherished sanctuary.

He sat on the floor on the other side of the room against the wall, knees drawn up to his chest, rocking back and forth ever so slightly and looking for all the world like a little lost boy. He was trembling badly, in visible distress with his chest hitching with ill-suppressed sobs and distraught moans escaping from his lips.

Alex bit down on her lower lip, suddenly struggling to hold back her own tears. It was a heartbreaking sight; this once strong man, a confident police detective, reduced to such a state of complete vulnerability. At that moment, Alex was bitterly sorry that Richard Goren was dead, because she would have dearly loved to have killed him herself.

She paused in the doorway, considering how best to approach him. With the state he was in, she couldn’t know if he would be aware of her presence or not. For all she knew, Bobby would see not her, but rather Matic, Cozza, or even his pathetic excuse for a brother. It wasn’t that she feared him lashing out at her; she didn’t. But at the same time, nor did she wish that sort of guilt on him, and he would feel guilty for striking out at her, regardless of whether he was in his right mind or not.

Finally, she walked over and knelt down on the floor immediately opposite him, taking care to stay just out of reach.


She spoke quietly, calmly, making every effort to suppress the anguish she was experiencing for him. When he came back to reality, she did not want him to see her upset. It would only serve to upset him even more than he already was.

There was no response from him. He continued to stare ahead, not at her but straight through her, trapped as he was by his terrifying memories. Alex drew in a steadying breath and tried again.

“Bobby! Look at me!”

She raised the volume of her voice a little, hoping that she could snap him out of it without bringing the others in. The last thing he needed right then was to be inundated by other people. She was sure she could bring him around, but she needed time and privacy, without interference from anyone else. Bobby was her partner, and this was her task alone.

That time she got a reaction. Slowly, Bobby blinked and his gaze finally focused on her. For nearly a minute, he just stared at her, and she found herself wondering if he even recognised her. Then, he spoke in a soft, shaky voice.


“I’m here,” she reassured him, but still refrained from moving any closer. “Talk to me, Bobby. Show me that you’re still here with me.”

Bobby shuddered and started to look away.

“No, look at me,” Alex insisted. “Focus on me. Don’t slip away from me, Bobby. Stay with me. Talk to me.”

To her relief, he allowed himself to be drawn back to her by the power of her voice. He looked back to her, and it was all she could do not to cringe away from the sheer pain and misery that she saw in his face.

“Why are you here, Bobby?” she asked softly. “Why are you doing this to yourself?”

Tears spilled down his cheeks.

“I… I want…”

“You want what?”

“I want everything to be the way it was.”

Slowly, she began edging towards him.

“I wish that too, Bobby. But we both know it won’t happen.”

“Everything’s changed,” he whispered, looking away.

She moved up beside him, but was careful to avoid touching him, at least for the moment.

“Some things have changed,” she conceded gently, “but not everything.”

For nearly a minute, he didn’t respond, and Alex continued to wait patiently until he did. Finally, he looked back around at her as her words gradually sank in. She continued to speak once she was sure she had his attention.

“I’m still here, Bobby. No matter what happens, nothing’s going to change that. I’m not going to leave you. And there are people waiting outside who care about you, and who aren’t going to abandon you either.”

The look on his face was gut-wrenching. She knew he wanted desperately to believe her, but couldn’t quite bring himself to.

“When… When I was a boy,” he told her in between hitching breaths, “I just wanted a family like everyone else seemed to have. Richie understood… and he looked after me. But somewhere along the line, we… we lost that connection. I don’t know if… if it was my fault… or his… or no one’s.”

“You weren’t to blame for any of this,” she insisted. “You have to believe that, Bobby. It was not your fault.”

Bobby’s head dropped, but not before she caught sight of fresh tears in his good eye.

“I want my brother back,” he whispered moments before he dissolved once more into tears.

Alex couldn’t hold back any longer. Shifting across, she slipped her arms around him and drew him to her in a loving embrace. Gradually, Bobby relaxed and allowed himself to be pulled the hug and, for the time being, lost himself in his grief.

She continued to hold him, even after his sobs eased. His words had given her an insight, however small, into his heartache. As dysfunctional as his family had been in the past, it seemed that a not-so-small part of him had clung to the hope of reconciliation. Richie’s actions towards Bobby, and then his subsequent death, had effectively shattered beyond repair what slim hopes Bobby had.

He was not grieving now for the monster that had attacked and brutalised him, Alex realised. He was grieving for the brother that he remembered from his fractured childhood; the brother whom he had loved, and had loved him in return.

“Let us help you,” Alex murmured, hugging him to her. “Let us help you, Bobby.”

“I knew,” he whispered suddenly. Alex was puzzled, but continued to stroke his cheek gently, soothingly.

“You knew what?”

“That it was Richie. Before… Before I recognised Matic, I knew Richie was responsible… but I blocked it out. I didn’t let myself remember… until that day that Captain Deakins brought Mom in to see me.”

“I don’t blame you for repressing that,” she murmured. Bobby shuddered against her.

“Knowing Richie had done that to me… That hurt worse than anything that Matic and Cozza did to me. I… I thought, if I can’t trust my own brother, tho the hell can I trust?”

“Me,” Alex told him firmly. “You can trust me. And there’s also Mike, the captain, Jo, Elliot and Olivia. We all care about you, Bobby.”

“I trust you,” Bobby admitted tremulously. “I do…”


“But it still hurts. And… I keep asking myself why? What did I do? Or what didn’t I do?”

Alex sighed softly.

“It’s nothing you did, or didn’t do. It wasn’t karma, or some sort of divine retribution. It was just three men who couldn’t let go of a grudge.” She hesitated, and then spoke tentatively. “Bobby, why did you come back here? What were you hoping to find?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted miserably. “Maybe… Maybe I was just hoping that by coming back here, I could face it all head on, and… and…”

“Take your life back?” she queried. He let his breath out in a rush.


“A bit like you hoped to do yesterday by facing Richie?”

“Yes. But it didn’t work. I still had nightmares last night. I… I feel like a coward…”

Alex’s grip on him tightened just fractionally.

“You are not a coward, Bobby Goren. Don’t you dare put that label on yourself. You survived hours of horrible torture, and you never gave up, even though you might have wanted to, so don’t you ever, ever call yourself a coward. Because that’s the last thing that you are. Now, you listen to me. The nightmares will go away eventually. It’s going to take time, though. You know that. Face your fears, and everything else, but be realistic, too. There’s no miracle cure available here.”

“I just want it to be over,” he choked out. “Why is that so much to ask?”

“It’s not,” Alex said with a sigh. “But the hard truth is that it just doesn’t work like that. You are claiming your life back, but you’ve got to accept that it’s only going to happen one step at a time.”

“It hurts, Alex,” Bobby said plaintively. “It hurts so much. I always thought that nothing could ever hurt as much as learning the truth about Mom… or as much as Dad walking out… but I was wrong.”

She kissed his temple softly.

“There’s a difference between then and now, though, Bobby. Do you know what it is?”

He drew in a shuddering breath.


“You have another family you can rely on. We might not be related by blood, but that doesn’t make the bond between us any less.”

Bobby looked up at her quizzically.


“Yes, me, you big dope. I love you like a brother, Bobby, and you’ve always taken care of me like a sister. And I know you look up to Captain Deakins as a kind of father figure.”

“I… I always imagined that’s what my father might have been like, if he’d given a damn.”

Alex nodded, understanding what he meant.

“Tough, but understanding.”

“Willing to listen,” Bobby added softly, thinking of the many times Deakins had offered him an open ear, and listened to him when no one else would. He paused, a small smile flickering across his lips.

“So… if we’re family, what does that make Mike?”

Alex hesitated in answering. There was a tone in his voice that set off alarm bells in her mind.


“Yes. Mike.”


“Well, he can’t strictly be a part of our little family,” Bobby pointed out. Alex was starting to feel distinctly uneasy.

“Why is that?”

Bobby’s smile widened and he pulled back from her just a little. After the distress and despair of the past couple of days, it was a change to be able to tease Alex a little, and he was going to milk it for all it was worth.

“Well… unless they’ve changed the laws without telling anyone, it’s still considered illegal for a brother and sister to engage in… pre-nuptial relations.”

Alex nearly choked.

“You… You jerk! You mean you know?”

He smiled fondly at her.

“Once the bandages came off, it wasn’t hard to see the way you two look at each other.”

Alex felt her cheeks burn red, and had to resist the urge to hit him. She was torn between feeling embarrassed and being elated at the knowledge that he was feeling inclined to make jokes at all.

“You… don’t mind?”

Bobby leaned into her embrace once more.

“Why should I? He’s a decent guy. He’ll treat you right.”

“And if he doesn’t?”

“I’ll kick his ass,” Bobby said matter-of-factly, bringing a smile to Alex’s face. “And believe me, that’ll be a lot easier to do now that I can see again.”

“Not to mention he’ll be too scared to fight back in case he hurts you?”

“Damn straight.”

Alex chuckled softly.

“That’s my Bobby. And you’re right. You can see. Your body is starting to heal, Bobby.” She gently placed the palm of her hand over his heart. “And this will heal too, with time and patience.”

Bobby sighed softly.

“I can’t promise that I’ll always be patient.”

“I know. I wouldn’t ask that of you. But what I will ask is that you don’t ever try to push me away. I’ll always be here for you, Bobby, but you have to come to the party, too, and not push me away when you’re hurting.”

“Like now, you mean.”

“No, this falls into the category of running away, and warrants a whole other lecture on its own.”

Bobby grimaced.

“I can’t wait.”

Alex grinned. “I’ll bet you can’t. Because Deakins is probably the one who’ll be giving it to you.”

Bobby sucked in a sharp breath as he realised what she was talking about.

“I… I ran out on him, didn’t I?”


“Is he… mad at me?”

Alex hugged him more fiercely this time.

“No, he’s not. He was just worried. We all were. Bobby, I love you, but don’t you ever take off like that again!”

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I know you told me never to apologise, but I’m sorry for that. I didn’t mean to scare everyone, but when the captain said Richie had suicided… It was like my mind just shut down. I couldn’t think straight, and suddenly all I could think of was getting the hell out of there, and away from everyone. I… I didn’t think at all about it. I just ran.”

She leaned in to kiss him once more, this time on the cheek.

“Well, next time you feel like running, try running to me.”

Bobby sighed softly.

“I can’t promise that for sure… but I’ll try.”

She smiled warmly at him.

“That’s all I’m asking. Now, do you think you might be ready to get out of here?”

Bobby looked around them slowly, a deep sadness reflected on his pale face.

“Yeah… I guess so.”

She pulled back from him and got to her feet.

“Do you need any help to get up?”

He flashed a crooked smile at her and, with careful manoeuvring, shifted onto his knees and from there got awkwardly to his feet.

“Let’s get out of here.”

She took his arm gently, only to look up in surprise when he didn’t move.

“Bobby? What is it?”

He hesitated for just a moment before leaning down and kissing her lightly on the lips.

“Thankyou, Alex. I love you, too.”

Her face literally melted into a radiant smile. Then, feeling better than either of them had for some time, they headed out of the apartment together.

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