Deakins was the only one at the doorway when Bobby and Alex finally emerged. Jo, Elliot and Olivia were waiting further down the hallway with Chris, Dana and Rosa. He backed away from the door, giving them room to come out.

“Are you okay?” he asked, eyeing Bobby with open concern. Bobby hesitated, and then spoke softly.

“Not really… but I will be.”

Deakins nodded, satisfied by that.

“C’mon,” Alex murmured, rubbing his back gently. “Let’s go.”

She and the captain ushered Bobby down the corridor, but he stopped when they got to where the others were waiting. Alex and Deakins exchanged worried glances as Rosa moved into his line of sight, but neither said a word.

“Robert,” Rosa said softly, looking up at him. “I’m so sorry.”

In response to her tearful apology, Bobby put his arms carefully around her and hugged her to him.

“Thankyou, Mrs Pirelli.”

Confusion filled her aging face.

“For what?”

He favoured her with a small smile.

“For my life, Mrs Pirelli. If you hadn’t come looking for me, I wouldn’t be here now. So I’m thanking you, for helping to save my life.”

Rosa shuddered and hugged him fiercely around the waist.

“Il mio ragazzo prezioso, lei è veramente angelo….”

Bobby smiled sadly.

“Sono nessuno angelo, Pirelli di Signor. Giusto un uomo molto fortunato di avere un amico come lei per guardare fuori per me.”

Rosa gently bracketed his pale cheeks with trembling hands, and brought his face down so she could kiss him gently on the forehead.

“Occuparsi di te stesso, l'angelo prezioso. Non ha mai paura, ed imparare a amare la vita ancora.”

Bobby returned the kiss, pressing his lips lightly to the elderly lady’s forehead.

“I will, Mrs Pirelli. Thankyou.”

He drew back from her, and his attention went to Chris and Dana.

“Don’t be a stranger,” Dana told him, giving him a brief, warm hug. “Come by any time, okay?”

“Sure,” Bobby murmured.

It was a hollow promise, and they both knew it. Once he left the building this time, there would be no coming back again for him.

Chris clapped him lightly on the shoulder.

“It’s good to see you on your feet again, man.”

Bobby nodded wordlessly. Nodding their thanks to the neighbours, Deakins and Alex guided Bobby down the corridor to the lift, where Elliot, Olivia and Jo waited.

Mike was waiting for them in the lobby of the building, looking impossibly casual leaning against the wall just inside the main entrance.

“We all set to go, then?” he asked calmly, as though absolutely nothing had been amiss in the first place, and they were all there because they were supposed to be. They filed out of the building, but before Alex could guide him to her and Mike’s SUV, Bobby paused to look around at Elliot and Olivia.

“Thankyou,” he said softly, sincerely. Elliot smiled reassuringly at him.

“It’s okay, Bobby. Anytime. We’re just glad you’re all right.”

“Just don’t do it again, okay?” Olivia told him teasingly, giving him a quick hug. Bobby smiled a little sheepishly.

“I’ll try not to.”

Olivia rolled her eyes comically, but said nothing else as she and Elliot headed off finally. Once they’d gone, Deakins spoke quietly.

“I know you’re probably sick and tired of being asked this, Bobby, but I’m going to ask it again. Are you okay?”

Bobby let his breath out in a long sigh.

“It… hurts. I won’t deny that. And even though I know it’s not my fault, a part of me still wants to accept responsibility for it.”

“You can’t be held responsible for anyone’s actions but your own,” Mike pointed out firmly. “Your brother was a vindictive coward, Bobby. That’s not your fault, not now and not ever.”

“I know,” Bobby said. “I know that… But knowing it doesn’t make it any easier to… to accept it. And it still hurts…”

“It’s going to hurt for a long time, baby,” Jo murmured. “All we’re asking is that you don’t keep it to yourself. Start learning to share, and you might find it’ll be easier for you to cope with it.”

Deakins nodded his agreement.

“We want to be able to help you, Bobby. But you have to be willing to let us.”

Bobby considered for a long moment.

“I appreciate that… but it’s not that easy.”

“You think we don’t understand that?” Alex asked. “We do. But we’re willing to be patient. You just have to be willing to try.”

Bobby looked around at them, touched to the heart and warmed right through his lonely soul.

“I… I think I can do that. I can try.”

Alex hugged him gently.

“That’s all we’re asking.”

“So do we get to find out exactly what triggered all of that?” Mike asked as they headed into Deakins’ office later that afternoon, after taking Bobby and Jo home. Deakins walked around and sat down in his chair with a thud. After a moment, he reached out and snagged the letter off his desk and held it out to Mike.

“This was delivered to Bobby this morning. Read it through, and when you’ve done that I want you to find out just how the hell it made it out of Bellevue and into Bobby’s hands.”

Mike took the letter and read it through with a deep frown on his face.

“Son of a bitch… No wonder Bobby went off the rails. That selfish, vindictive bastard…”

“It’s from Richie?” Alex asked as she crossed to the other side of the office to examine a picture. Mike nodded.

“Yeah. You probably don’t want to hear it.”

“Just read the goddamn thing and get it over with.”

Mike sighed softly, and did as she asked.

Bobby, if all goes to plan, by the time you get this, I’ll just be a memory. I wonder what memories you’ll keep of me. Will you remember how I used to look out for you when we were kids? Or will you prefer to remember how you turned me against you? I won’t turn this into your typical sappy goodbye letter, because nothing about us was ever typical, and you deserve to know just how much you contributed to the way my life turned out. I did my best for you when we were kids, and you repaid that debt by turning your back on me when I needed you most. I don’t regret what I did to you, Bobby, and the truth is, you deserved a lot worse that what you got. You at least have a chance to get your life back again. That will never happen for me now. It’s another thing you’ve robbed me of. All I wanted when you came to see me was for you to say you forgave me, and you couldn’t even do that much. You accused me once of turning out just like Dad, but you’re the one keeping the hate in your heart. I hope you realise how much you’re responsible, both for your own circumstances, and my death. It’s all on your head, Bobby. My only comfort is in knowing you’ll take that guilt with you to your grave. I’ll see you in hell, little brother.”

“That son of a bitch,” Alex whispered, tears pricking at her eyes. Mike tossed the letter down on Deakins’ desk.

“He had to take one last shot. Fuck…”

“He was wrong, though,” she said, turning back to look at her captain and her temporary partner. Deakins looked back at her quizzically.

“About what, Alex?”

“About Bobby taking the guilt with him to his grave. Bobby knows he’s not responsible. He knows that nothing Richie did is in any way his fault. He’s accepted that.” She motioned at the letter. “That will have hurt him… but it’s not going to emotionally cripple him. He’s going to be okay, despite Richie’s worst intentions.”

Deakins smiled a little.

“You really got through to him before, didn’t you?”

Alex sighed.

“The irony of this situation is that he’s gained more close friends than he ever had before, but I still know him better than anyone. I got through to him because he trusts me like no one else. He was willing to let me in, even if he wasn’t consciously aware of it.”

“Captain,” Mike asked tentatively, “how did Richie kill himself? The guy was locked up in high security.”

“He cut his wrists open,” Deakins told them softly. “He bled out before anyone realised there was a problem.”

“Cut his wrists?” Alex asked in disbelief. “With what? He wouldn’t have been allowed access to any sharp objects at all!”

Deakins looked slightly sick to his stomach.

“He had his teeth.”

Stunned silence met the statement.

“His… teeth?” Mike echoed in shock. “He… bit his wrists open!”

“Now you know why I refused to tell Bobby,” Deakins said. “And I think it would be best if he never finds out.”

“Are you kidding us?” Alex retorted. “This is Bobby we’re talking about! If he wants to know how it happened, he’s going to find out, one way or another. You can’t sit there and say it’d be best if he never finds out, and then expect him to accept that.”

“You said he trusted you, Alex. Well, I’m hoping he’ll trust me enough to accept it when I told him he was better off not knowing.”

“You’re assuming an awful lot,” Mike pointed out. Deakins nodded.

“Maybe. But I think this time might be an exception. At least, I’m hoping it will be.”

“I think it might be,” Alex said quietly. She regarded the men with a quiet confidence as she recalled witnessing Bobby’s recovery from his breakdown in his old apartment. “This time… I think it just might be.”


Jo came out of the kitchen, and blinked in surprise to find Bobby standing by the front door of the apartment, fumbling awkwardly with his coat.

“Bobby? What do you think you’re doing?”

“Can you help me with my coat?” he asked softly. “I… I can’t manage it on my own.”

Jo, however, didn’t move, raising an eyebrow quizzically at him.

“I repeat, what do you think you’re doing?”

“Going out.”

“I can see that. Considering everything that’s happened today, don’t you think it might be a good idea to rest up for a while? Then, if you still want to go for a walk later, we can do that.”

“I don’t want to go for a walk,” Bobby admitted uncomfortably. “I… want to go out.”

Jo sighed faintly.

“Honey, I hate to have to be blunt, but you look like you haven’t slept for a week. You need to rest. Don’t make me get tough on you.”

He was silent for a long moment, and Jo could almost hear the gears in his head turning as he tried to figure out how to get around her. She waited, curious to see what he would come up with. He’d learnt quickly that she took no nonsense, and gave little ground, but that knowledge hadn’t kept him from pushing the boundaries. It had almost become a game of sorts, with Bobby pushing to see how far she was willing to let him go; and Jo letting him, just to see how far he was game to try her patience.

Bobby rarely came out on top, but every so often Jo had allowed him a small victory in their private battle of wills just to keep his self-confidence up.

“I wanted to go and see Lewis,” Bobby finally admitted, in a voice that was little more than a whisper. Jo faltered at that. She had not actually met Lewis herself, but she’d heard all about Bobby’s clash with his long-time friend through Mike. She’d offered a few times early on to help Bobby talk to Lewis on the phone, but he’d turned incredibly hostile at the suggestion, and so she’d stopped offering.

“Lewis?” she echoed. “Bobby…”

“I need to talk to him,” Bobby said softly. “I… I can’t stay angry forever. That’s the mistake Richie made. He let himself stay angry… at Mom… at Dad… and at me. I don’t want to make that mistake, too. I need to see Lewis. Now… before I chicken out.”

In the end, Jo wasn’t sure what it was that tipped the odds in Bobby’s favour. Whether it was his choice of words, or the pleading look on his face, she quickly realised she couldn’t deny him.

“Okay,” she conceded with a sigh as she walked over to help him with his coat, “but only on the condition that you agree to have a proper rest when we get back.”

He frowned, but said nothing. Jo caught the look, and rubbed his back soothingly.

“You’re exhausted, Bobby. You look it, and you sound it. You might not like being told you have to rest, and have a sleep, but it doesn’t change the fact that you need it all the same.”

“I wasn’t going to argue,” he pointed out, a little sulkily. “I never said a word.”

Jo snorted.

“No, you didn’t need to. The look on your face spoke volumes. You might have your sight back, honey, but you have a ways to go yet before you can claim back your independence. Don’t get me wrong. It will happen, and I’ll be celebrating right along with you when it does, but until then you’re stuck with me telling you what to do.”

Bobby offered her a small, genuine smile.

“Thanks, Jo.”

She chuckled softly.

“C’mon, you goose. Let’s go.”

Lewis’ Auto Body Shop

Lewis was busy working on the underneath of an old Thunderbird when he heard the sound of footsteps on the cement floor of his workshop. He frowned to himself, and made no effort to extricate himself from beneath the car. A glance, though, told him that whoever it was had come to a halt right by the car, and was simply standing there without saying a word.

“Hey, look, I’ll be out from under here in a minute,” Lewis called out, deciding that he’d better at least make an effort to be polite to what could easily be a prospective customer. “Uh… don’t s’pose you could lend a hand, and pass me the number four spanner?”

There was a long silence, and Lewis was just starting to get irritated when a familiar spoke tentatively.

“Sorry, man. The hands still aren’t coping too well with picking stuff up.”

Lewis sucked in a sharp breath, and then slid out quickly from underneath the car.


Bobby smiled hesitantly. All of a sudden he was unsure of the wisdom of coming here. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk to Lewis. He did, but he suddenly was uncertain about whether Lewis would want to talk to him.

“Hey,” Bobby greeted him softly.

“Hey,” Lewis murmured.

For several seconds, neither man spoke, or even made direct eye contact. Finally, Lewis spoke tentatively.

“You got the bandages off. Man, that’s great.”

“Yeah,” Bobby mumbled.

The silence that followed was almost painful as the two men floundered for some common ground. Then, abruptly, they both spoke at once.

“I’m sorry…”

Lewis’ eyebrows shot up incredulously.

You’re sorry? For what?”

Bobby shifted uncomfortably.

“I… I was angry at you… and I shouldn’t have been. What are you sorry for?”

Lewis looked faintly embarrassed.

“Well, for the reason you were so angry at me. I let you down…”

Bobby shook his head, then grimaced and swayed a little as the motion brought on a wave of vertigo. Seeing his friend’s distress, Lewis reacted quickly, taking him by the arm and leading him into the office.

“You’re not here on your own, are you?” Lewis asked as he guided Bobby to sit on the sofa, and set about getting him a glass of water.

“No,” Bobby answered. “Jo’s outside. We came in her car.”

“Jo? Who’s that?”

“She… She’s my home care nurse.”

Lewis flushed red as the implications of that sunk in.

“Oh. Sorry, man. Here…”

Bobby gladly took a sip of the water that Lewis offered him, pulling his head back a little to indicate that he’d had all he wanted.

“Look, Bobby…” Lewis began as he sat in a lumpy-looking armchair opposite his friend. “I really am sorry. When… When I called your place that morning, I was already pissed off that you hadn’t shown. I didn’t stop to think that you wouldn’t just hang up on me without saying anything… and that you wouldn’t have stood me up like that without any explanation at all. I just didn’t think.”

Bobby sighed softly. He looked at Lewis for a moment, and was encouraged to realise that Lewis was looking straight at him without flinching and without hesitation, despite the way he knew his face looked. It gave him courage, and he spoke with growing confidence.

“That wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I was just angry and frustrated…”

“I understand that, Bobby…”

“No, Lewis, let me finish. Please…”

Lewis fell silent, and Bobby went on after a moment, confident that Lewis would let him say what he felt he needed to say.

“I needed an outlet… a target for my anger, I guess. You were just the poor sap who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I… I’m not really angry at you, Lewis. I never was. Not directly. I guess, in the end, I was more angry with myself that I let it happen, but I didn’t know how to express that, and so I started taking it out in other ways… Like on you.”

Lewis hesitated, waiting to see if there was anything more to come. When Bobby didn’t continue on, he took the opportunity to speak.

“You had every right to be angry, Bobby. You still do. But not at yourself, pal. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Bobby looked away, but not before Lewis caught a glimpse of tears on his friend’s cheeks.

“I know that, but… I can’t stop feeling like I did.”

Lewis shifted quickly from the chair, over to the sofa to sit beside Bobby.

“Hey, pal, you wanna cry, scream, rant… anything like that, be my guest. The neighbours are used to weird noises coming from in here, anyway.”

Bobby gave a short laugh that sounded half strangled.

“Have you been having S&M parties in here again?”

Lewis grinned and punched Bobby lightly on the shoulder.

“Juvenile, man.”

“Me? I’m not the one who tried to throw lesbian party in the hopes of adding a threesome to my scorecard.”

“That would’ve worked if you hadn’t threatened to tell Alex about it. Spoilsport.”

Bobby smiled tiredly. He’d sorely missed this kind of banter.

“I’m sorry, Lewis.”

“You don’t have to be sorry, Bobby. I understand. And, I mean, I know it’s been rough for you.”

Bobby shuddered, torn between wanting to cry and wanting to laugh. He settled somewhere in between the two, and managed a grim chuckle.

“You always did know how to understate things.”

“Hey, everyone’s gotta have a skill. So… you got your sight back. What about your hands?”

Bobby looked down at his hands, and felt a familiar twist deep within his gut.

“My right hand is healing. They… They don’t know yet if my left hand is going to heal properly. I might never get back full use of it.”

“Shit,” Lewis muttered. “That’s lousy.”


“So, you gonna hang out for a while?”

Bobby had to smile. That was Lewis, able to switch directions at the drop of a hat.

“Not today. Jo only brought me out here because I promised she could take me straight home again. She said I need a nap…”

Lewis sniggered, and then burst out laughing.

“You? Napping? Oh man, that’s priceless!”

“Shut up,” Bobby grumbled, his face heating up with embarrassment. Lewis snorted.

“Sorry, but you should’ve picked your words more carefully. And, I just can’t picture you taking a nap.”

“You’re not going to let me live that down, are you?”

“Not a chance. I mean, seriously, Bobby. What are you, henpecked already? You’re not even married!”

Bobby glowered at his friend as he got awkwardly to his feet.

“C’mon outside, Lewis. I want to introduce to Jo.”

Back home over an hour later, Bobby lay on his bed, quietly reflecting on the day’s events. He’d suffered the most extreme swing of emotions yet, going from content, to shock, to grief, to despair, and finally to acceptance and hope. He still grieved for his brother. Nothing anyone said or did could change that for him. But he was starting to accept in his own heart and mind that Richie’s fate was not his fault, not in any way. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely Richie’s fault, either, but the bottom line was that he was not responsible, and he knew it. He knew it, and he was starting to be able to accept it.

It was a huge step for him to take.

His thoughts slid forward, to his time spent with Lewis that afternoon. It was a step he was glad he’d had the courage to take, to go to Lewis and try to reconcile with him. They’d had a brief but productive conversation, and now Bobby had definite plans to meet up with Lewis on the coming weekend, for what Lewis had called some serious ‘guy time’. Whatever that meant.

He sighed softly, smiling to himself as he found himself slipping into a light sleep. He had his sight back. God willing, he would soon get the use of his hands back, and though his brother was gone, he had a good friend back on his side.

Maybe, just maybe, life was still worth the effort after all.


A/N: Following is the translation of the Italian conversation held between Bobby and Rosa.

Bobby: I’m no angel, Mrs Pirelli. Just a very lucky man to have a friend like you look out for me.
Rosa: Take care of yourself, precious angel. Don’t ever be afraid, and learn to love life again.
My precious boy, you truly are an angel.

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