Jason sat in silence, listening half-heartedly to the chatter of his old friends as they exchanged stories about what they had been doing for the last five years. In truth, Jason was finding it all deathly boring, but simple manners kept him from simply excusing himself and walking out. It was getting harder, though, to stay looking interested when the reality was that he wanted nothing more than to escape – by just about any means necessary.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to see his friends again. It had been nice to catch up with them… or rather, with some of them. But after spending a couple of hours in such close proximity to Tommy was starting to remind him of why he’d been so relieved to eventually leave Angel Grove. Even they’d spoken no more than half a dozen words to each other the entire time, the tension was rapidly reaching unbearable levels.

“Jason, you’ve hardly said a word all afternoon,” Trini chided him, her light voice drawing him reluctantly back to the present. “We’ve all talked about what we’re doing at the Moment. Aren’t you going to tell us what you’ve been up to?”

Across the table, Tommy made an unintelligible noise behind his hand that sounded suspiciously like ‘nothing at all’. Jason spared the young man a frosty look, then spoke quietly.

“I’m joining the police force.”

Startled silence met his words, and then Zack Taylor chuckled.

“Should’ve known. Someone like you, Jase? It’s the only logical choice, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah,” Tommy muttered. “Jason, the great protector. Perfect choice.”

“Tommy, don’t be an asshole,” Kim said calmly. “Jason, that sounds great. When are you going to apply?”

“I already have,” he admitted. “I put in an application with the police academy in San Diego. I got a letter of acceptance a couple of weeks ago. When I go home, I’ll have a couple of days to sort everything out, and then I’ll go straight into the academy.”

“That’s great news,” Trini said warmly. Billy nodded.

“Yes, it’s exceptionally prodigious news, Jason.”

Jason looked across at Billy for a Moment before a grin broke out across his face, and he laughed openly.

“Haven’t changed much, have you, Billy? You’re still a walking dictionary.”

Billy’s own grin widened.

“No, not really. I don’t down that speech thing a long time ago. But you’ve been so damned quiet and morose, I figured it was time someone tried to get a smile out of you.”

Jason chuckled softly.

“Thanks. I’m sorry, guys. I don’t know what’s wrong. I’ll try not to be so damned miserable, okay?”

That wasn’t entirely true, he reflected as the chatter around the table resumed. He knew what was bothering him, but there was nothing he could do about that until the next day. The bottom line was, he was filled with an almost desperate desire to go to One Police Plaza in Manhattan, where the Major Case Squad was apparently located, and try to meet up with Robert Goren. Since landing in New York, the desire to see the police officer again had become nearly overwhelming, but out of respect for his friends he’d made the decision to put that reunion off until another day.

He took a sip of beer to hide his grimace. Actually, it had nothing to do with respect for anyone. He just didn’t want anyone at this table knowing about that part of his life, and that would become unavoidable if they knew of his plans to track down a police detective who worked for one of the city’s highest profile squads.

He just wasn’t willing to risk them finding out. It was just too damned personal.

Setting his beer down on the table, he looked up and found himself locking stares across the table with Tommy. The other young man’s stare was as hostile as they came, and the hatred that he read in that gaze was unfathomable. He honestly didn’t understand. Was Tommy somehow jealous of him because of the attention he’d garnered? Or was it simply seeing him again that set off old resentments?

He looked away again, in no mood to deal with the other man’s attitude. All of a sudden, any appetite he might have had was gone, and he realised he just couldn’t stay at the table any longer. All he wanted was to get back to his hotel room, have some time to himself, and get up the courage to go and find Robert Goren the next day.

He rose up abruptly, drawing surprised and confused looks from the others.

“Jason?” Kim asked gently. “Is something wrong?”

He shook his head, trying to smile but feeling like a jerk for lying.

“No, it’s okay. Look… I’m just really tired. I think I might go back up to my room… Just try and get a good night’s sleep.”

“Well… Okay, if that’s what you want to do,” Trini said quietly. It was all Jason could do not to cringe. She didn’t believe his excuse, and he knew it. He tried again to smile, but his effort was half-hearted, and quickly stymied when he once again found himself locking stares with Tommy. The cynical look on the guy’s face was almost more than he could bear. Finally, he wheeled around and hurried from the restaurant, pausing just long to tell the concierge to charge his bill to his room.

He never looked back, and if he had he would have seen Tommy get up and, with just a brief word to the others, follow him from the restaurant.


Jason froze in the lobby at the familiar, unwanted voice. After a Moment, he turned slowly to face the one who had come after him.

“What is it, Tommy?”

Tommy slowed to a halt, staring at him piercingly.

“What is with the attitude, bro? This was supposed to a friendly get-together.”

Jason drew in a slow breath that did little to calm him in the face of Tommy’s hostility.

“What attitude? I said I was tired.”

“Yeah, sure. And maybe you could do us all a favour and not treat us like idiots. What’s it really about? Jealousy, maybe?”

Jason stared at Tommy incredulously.

“Jealousy over what?”


“You… You think I’m jealous of you?”

“C’mon, man. I’m successful, I’ve got money… And you’ve done what with your life?”

“That’s my business, not yours,” Jason growled, trying hard to take a pull on his temper. “I came here to catch up with everyone, not have it out with your ego.”

Tommy bristled visibly.

“Ego? That’s a low blow, Jase. C’mon, why don’t you just admit that compared to the rest of us, your life is pretty much a complete flop! This bullshit about going into the police force now… Is that the only thing you could get? After all that attention as the star of Angel Grove when you got chosen for the Peace Conference, I bet it’s a real come-down, isn’t it?”

Suddenly, Jason found he had to struggle not to laugh out loud.

“Sounds to me like you’re the one who’s been jealous, Tommy. And I’ve done plenty over the last five years. Unlike you, though, I just don’t feel I need to prove to anyone that I’ve done anything worthwhile. And I sure as hell don’t have to prove anything to you.”

Turning around, Jason headed for the lifts. A Moment later, a hand alighted on his shoulder and dragged him roughly to a halt.

“Don’t turn your back on me, bro.”

Jason looked back at Tommy with such an intense stare, that the other man quickly released his grip.

“I’m not your bro, Tommy. I stopped being your bro about five and a half years ago, when I came back from Switzerland, and you decided I was a threat to your authority.”

“You’re fucking nuts, Jason.”

“Am I? Am I really, Tommy? Why don’t you wake up and smell what you’ve been shovelling? Back when we were still in high school, after you came along and joined the group, you took over from me as leader. I didn’t object to it. You made a good leader, and everyone respected you. That was fine by me, and you knew I had your back. We had a bit of rivalry, but that was all. It was no big deal. Then I left for Switzerland, and you had absolute control. When I came back, you were fine with it at first, but then you decided pretty damn quick that you didn’t like the possibility of having to share again. You didn’t even bother to try and find out if I was even interested in taking control again, which I wasn’t. You just assumed, and then you went all hostile on me. Now, you’re doing it again, and I’m not taking it, Tommy. Just… back off, okay?”

Tommy stared at Jason, unnerved by Jason’s accurate perception.

“I… You… You must think you’re pretty fucking smart, huh?”

“I’m not getting into a pissing contest with you, Tommy,” Jason said coldly as he turned back to the lifts. “I’m going to go up to my room, and go to bed. Then I’m going to spend tomorrow on my own, away from you all, and you can have a pleasant little reunion without me to spoil it for you. Then, the next day we’ll all do something together, and maybe if we try really hard we can get through the day without trying to kill each other. After that, I’m going home, and I won’t be sorry if I never set eyes on you again.” The lift doors opened, and Jason stepped inside. Only then did he finally turn to face Tommy fully. “Goodnight, Tommy.”

The doors slid shut a very explicit signal that the conversation was over. Tommy stood staring at the closed door for a long Moment before walking over and thumping the up button on the wall. Fine, he thought furiously. If that was how Jason felt, then he’d grant his wish and do a disappearing act right then. He wouldn’t even wait until morning, just in case he ran into the son of a bitch by accident the next morning. He would pack his bags that night, check out, and go home. Let Jason explain to the others why he’d gone. Maybe then they’d realise he wasn’t so fucking wonderful after all.

The lift took him up to his floor, and he stomped out and down to his room in fury. In his anger at Jason, Tommy never noticed the light shining out from under his door. He opened the door and strode into the room, ready to pack his bags and clear out.

He was barely inside the room when an arm was suddenly around his throat, cutting off vital air. Almost before he had a chance to register that there was someone else in the room with him, that arm snaked up around his face, yanking his head back hard. Tommy saw a glint of metal reflecting the light of the room, and then there was a fiery pain across his throat, followed rapidly by the strange sensation of drowning as blood spilled out of the open wound across his throat.

It was over in an instant. The arm that held on so powerfully to the young man finally released him, and Tommy’s lifeless body crumpled to the floor. His killer stood over the body in silence for a long minute, observing his work with cool interest before putting his knife away and dragging the body away from the door and over to the bed. Then, confident that everything was as it should be, he left the room quietly and calmly, taking care to hang the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the outside of the door as he went.

The following morning

One Police Plaza wasn’t hard to find. An inquiry with the concierge the next morning had Jason finding his way there on the subway in fairly quick time. Now, he came to a halt outside the tall building, looking up at it with a mixture of nerves and excitement.

He’d left the hotel early that morning, forgoing breakfast in favour of getting out before any of his friends – Tommy, in particular – surfaced. He didn’t care to have to explain to any of them why he wasn’t spending any time with them today. Let Tommy be the one to tell them. Although, he reflected ruefully, that probably wasn’t such a hot idea, either. Tomorrow he would probably find that Tommy had spun them some bullshit story about… well, Jason didn’t know what.

He decided abruptly that he wasn’t even going to think about it anymore. Let Tommy go ahead and do or say whatever he liked. He didn’t care. All he wanted right then was to deal with the one true reason that he had agreed to come to New York.

Clenching his jaw, Jason walked up the steps and into One Police Plaza, approaching the reception counter before he could talk himself out of it.

“Can I help you?” the young man behind the counter asked, smiling pleasantly at Jason.

“I was wondering if Detective Robert Goren was available to talk to,” Jason answered, half-expecting to be told no, or to simply get lost. The young man promptly picked up a small notepad and pencil instead.

“Your name?”

“Jason Scott.”


I, um… He’s an old friend. I was hoping to… to catch up with him.”

The young man raised an eyebrow just fractionally, showing a hint of scepticism. Then he pointed to a row of chairs along the wall.

“Have a seat over there, please, sir. I’ll see whether Detective Goren is available to see you.”

Jason wandered over and sat down with a thud. It suddenly occurred to him that the detective might not even be in the building. In which case, he supposed all he could do was leave a contact number, and hope that the detective remembered him, and called him. He hoped he was there, though. He didn’t particularly fancy having to go back to the hotel, which more than likely meant running into his friends. That was something he just didn’t fancy, not at all.

A shadow fell across him, and he looked up to see the young man standing there, holding out a visitor’s badge to him.

“Please put this on. Detective Goren requested that I take you straight up.”

Jason let his breath out in a rush and pinned the badge to his shirt pocket. Then, standing up, he followed the young man to the lifts.

“You know, you can’t put off the paperwork forever.”

Bobby looked up at Alex, a faint smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. She was regarding him with a smirk, and a Moment later he knew why. She had almost finished her own pile of paperwork, while his still sat on his desk, waiting for him to start.

“I can try.”

Alex chuckled softly to herself and shook her head. With every day that passed, she was becoming more certain that she’d made the right choice in offering to take Goren on as her partner. Where the rest of the clowns who worked for Major Case treated her like a sort of mascot, simply because she was the only woman there, Bobby Goren treated her like an equal. Any of the others, after her comment about the paperwork, would have suggested they were waiting for her to offer to do it, but not Bobby.

She watched in amusement as he sighed comically and pulled the first sheet of the pile and started to look it over. He hated paperwork as much as she did. Hell, no one liked paperwork. But, it was an unfortunate necessity. It had to be done, and putting it off only meant a build-up that usually resulted in having to stay late on a Friday night. And that was something that not even workaholic Bobby Goren liked doing.

She’d found the last month or so, since he started at Major Case, to be very interesting. Although, interesting was probably a massive understatement. Eye-opening might have been a better choice of phrase. On his first day, as Deakins had suggested, they had exited One Police Plaza and made their way to a little coffee shop a couple of blocks away. She’d ordered coffee for the both of them, an exotic brand of her choice, and he had paid. Not an arrangement of her choice but she’d sensed that, like with his opening the door for her in Deakins’ office, it hadn’t been some misguided sense of ‘I am the man, you are the woman’. Rather, he was just trying to be polite. She guessed he probably would have paid regardless of who had partnered him.

The conversation that followed had been fairly superficial to start with as they felt each other out. Then, getting tired of the tiptoeing around each other, Alex threw at him much the same question that Deakins had asked him earlier.

“Why did you want to join Major Case?”

Bobby had stared at her for a long Moment before looking back down at his coffee.

“I wanted… I needed a challenge.”

“And Narcotics wasn’t doing it for you?”

To his credit, he actually smiled at her snarky question. Most of the other cops in Major Case never seemed to know how to take her sarcasm and her attitude. That he smiled at her quip was promising.

“Narcotics was good… Actually, it was good while my partner was still there. Fin Tutuola… We worked well together. But he got himself a transfer to SVU. It meant I’d have to go through the motions of finding a new partner, and I knew there wasn’t anyone who’d be willing to… I mean, I’d been through all that before Fin agreed to work with me, and I knew that if no one would work with me, then I’d have to transfer somewhere else… I just decided I wasn’t going to wait and see.”

“In other words,” Alex said bluntly, “you jumped before you were pushed.”

He nodded, looking genuinely embarrassed.

“Y… Yes.”

She didn’t smile, or laugh. She understood how he felt better than he realised.

“I suppose you noticed when you came in that most of the detectives there weren’t all that receptive,” she said quietly. Bobby nodded, his gaze still fixed firmly on the tabletop.

“Yeah… I noticed.”

“Well, don’t worry about them. Most of them as assholes anyway. My opinion, and Deakins’ opinion are the only ones you need to worry about. And as for me, you’ve made a pretty good start.”

He’d looked up at her, then, curiosity and hope written clear on his face. She offered him a crooked smile.

“Just always be honest with me, Goren, and I think we’ll get along just fine.”

Now, more than a month and two cases down the track, she still hadn’t forgotten that hopeful smile that lit up his face, sending a wave of warmth through her body.

It hadn’t all been plain sailing to start with, of course. With the advent of their first case together, Alex had finally gotten an eyeful of why Bobby had such a notorious reputation. Deakins had sent them to a crime scene the day after Bobby started working at Major Case. She had been busy talking to the patrol officer who had been first at the scene, when the young cop’s eyes widened. She’d turned to see what had startled him, only to find her partner crouching low over the body of the victim, sniffing at the corpse’s fingertips. She’d simply stood and stared at him, not knowing what to make of the sight. When he’d finally looked up and seen her staring at him, a strange look came into his eyes.

At the time, she hadn’t understood what that look was, but upon their return to Major Case, realisation had finally dawned. That look in his eyes had been resignation. He thought she was going to dump him as her partner.

He’d stared at her openly as they returned to their desks, and Alex had taken it for nearly five minutes before looking up at him in frustration. She hated being stared at by anyone, and if he had something to say, she wished he’d just damn well come out and say it.

“What is it, Goren?”

He’d looked taken aback.

“I… Uh… Nothing…”

Her expression softened at his visible embarrassment, and she spoke more gently to him.

“If it’s about your little show at the crime scene, I wouldn’t be too worried about it. I’ve seen some strange things in my time here. I’m not going to turn tail and run just because my partner has a weird fetish for sniffing corpses.”

Again, to his credit, he’d grinned in reply, and once again Alex had felt that small surge of warmth through her system. She felt much like a girl scout who’d just done her good deed for the day, and her reward had been ample in watching her partner cheer up noticeably.

It puzzled her, this odd protectiveness that seemed to have come over her. In the end, though, she decided it wasn’t worth stressing about, and simply decided to ride the wave, and see where it took her. Now, over a month down the track, things seemed to be working pretty damned well.

The phone rang, and it took her a Moment to realise it was Bobby’s phone that was ringing, and not her own. Looking torn between wanting to ignore it so he could make a proper start on the mountain of paperwork in front of him, and being grateful for the interruption, Bobby finally picked up the handpiece – almost dropping it in the process – and spoke detachedly into it.


Alex watched her partner’s expression wordlessly, her curiosity leaping when he suddenly sat up a little, his attention well and truly grabbed by whatever he was being told over the phone.

“Right now?” he asked, more than a touch of excitement in his voice. “He’s down there? …Yes, please, bring him straight up. …Thankyou.”

“Old friend?” Alex inquired curiously when he hung up. Bobby stared at her for a long Moment, and she could see in his eyes that he was debating over what to tell her.

“Sort of,” he said finally, quietly. “It’s a boy that I helped out about thirteen years ago… His name’s Jason Scott. You might have heard of his father… Detective Alan Scott.”

Alex gaped at him as the pennies suddenly all dropped into place, and she finally understood what the other detectives had been talking about when they’d spoken of trouble early in Bobby’s career.

“So that’s what the rumours were all about!”

A puzzled, wary look clouded his eyes.

“What rumours?”

Alex hesitated, then spoke in a low voice, not caring to attract the attention of their fellow detectives.

You’re the cop that nailed Scott for those serial killings thirteen years ago. Damn, I should have known!”

Bobby said nothing, still staring at her with an openly wary look. Alex finally registered that look, realised he was expecting negative reaction from her, and smiled reassuringly at him to let him know she wasn’t feeling at all badly towards him in light of this newest revelation.

“Relax, Goren. I think you did the right thing, even if there were a lot of assholes around at the time that didn’t. That bastard was a sadist, and he needed to be taken down.”

When he still looked uncertain, she added with a grin, “Believe me, you were a hero in our house while that was in the news, even if we didn’t know who you actually were. I remember my dad saying that any beat cop who had the balls to take on a senior detective to try and protect a mother and her child was a hero in his books.”

By then, Bobby looked more embarrassed than wary.

“It… It wasn’t really me, so much. The detective I was assigned to… Ben Paxton… He was really the one…”

“Bullshit. I remember the stories, Goren, very distinctly. And the story was that a beat cop got into some serious shit because he refused to turn a blind eye to the fact that a detective was using his wife and kid for crowd control practise. So what happened? Are you going to tell me?”

Bobby shifted uncomfortably.

“I… We didn’t save his mother. Scott cut her throat before I could get to him. He was going to kill Jason as well… ”

“And you took him down?”

“Ben did,” Bobby mumbled. “I wasn’t exactly in a position to do anything. He… He’d already been shot, but he still managed to take Scott down. He’s the one who deserved the credit for saving Jason. Not me.”

Alex watched him thoughtfully. She knew without a doubt that there was more to the story than he was letting on – far more. But now was not the time to push for details, she thought as her gaze went to the entrance to Major Case, where one of the civilian admin workers was leading along a young man.

Alex sat back in her seat and watched as her partner crossed the floor to meet the young man. She watched as the two shook hands enthusiastically. Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, Alex got up and went to join them.

Bobby saw Alex’s attention divert to the entrance of the Major Case bullpen, and he looked around in time to see a young man being led into the Major Case area. For just a split second, the thought raced through Bobby’s mind, that can’t be him, as he mentally compared the tall, muscular young man to the waif-like eight year-old from his memory. Then he saw the young man’s eyes, and for just an instant he flashed back to that Moment when they’d been lying on the floor together, staring at each other silence, each rendered immobile by their individual injuries. He knew those eyes, there was no mistaking them. It really was him…

He got up quickly and crossed the floor, nodding a quick thanks to the admin staff member.


Jason offered the detective a nervous smile.

“Hi… uh… Detective Goren?”

“It’s just Bobby, please… I… I mean, I didn’t expect to see you again.”

Jason shrugged. “I got suckered into coming to New York for a reunion, so I figured I’d at least do something worthwhile while I was here… And besides, I never had the chance to thankyou… for saving my life.”

Bobby’s smile widened a little, and his cheeks flushed red.

“I’m just glad you… you came through all right.”

Jason nodded.

“Yeah, I did, thanks to you and that other detective.”


He looked around as Alex joined them, a curious smile on her face.

“Uh… Eames, this is Jason Scott. Jason, my partner, Detective Eames.”

“Nice to meet you,” Alex said, shaking hands with the young man. She looked up at Bobby. “I imagine you two must have lots to talk about. Why don’t you get out of here, and go somewhere where you can talk?”

Bobby looked back to Jason, who nodded tentatively.

“Okay,” Bobby said with a small smile. “Let me just grab my jacket.”

As soon as they were out of the building, Alex headed straight back to her desk and began to search the police database. She had a general idea of the timeline, and she knew the names of the officers involved (now), but not much more than that. Eventually, though, it was in searching under the perp’s name, Alan Scott, that she finally got a result.

She sat back a little, a frown creasing her features as she scrolled through the reports. Most of the reports were fairly superficial, for the most part just glossing over the details of the case. Someone’s idea of keeping the brass happy, she supposed with just a touch of bitterness.

The further she read, the angrier she got. The reports all said much the same thing – that the actions of the officers involved had been unnecessary and detrimental to the department, but that the prime responsibility for any embarrassment suffered by the NYPD lay with one Officer Robert Goren.

Alex let her breath out in a rush. The bastards, she though heatedly. He’d stopped a serial killer, and they hung him out to dry for it. It was a wonder he’d stayed with the NYPD, she thought morosely, after having something like that slapped on his record, and probably only because the brass were embarrassed that they’d been shown up by a beat cop, of all people.

She sighed softly. She thought she’d had it tough coming up through the ranks, but clearly it hadn’t been all plain sailing for her partner, either.

Alex was about to log off the database when she spotted one more report, one that she’d very nearly missed altogether. It was a report specifying the injuries incurred by the two police officers involved. According to this report, Ben Paxton had received a bullet wound to the chest. That was the extent of his injuries. Bobby, however…

She stared at the report in disbelief, stunned by what she was reading. Bobby had been shot in the abdomen, then stabbed a total of eight times. Exactly how those injuries had been incurred, though, was not included in the report. Alex could only assume that Bobby had been in one hell of a fight with Scott. She shook her head incredulously.

Paxton had been the one to finally take down Scott, she thought ruefully, but she was betting that her partner probably held Scott off from attacking Jason until he did.

“I wondered how long it would take you to find that.”

Alex looked back over her shoulder to find Deakins standing there, watching her calmly. She shook her head, frowning deeply.

“It’s a wonder he ever made it to the rank of detective, the way they hung him out to dry.”

“He’s had to fight hard to get where he is now,” Deakins agreed. “It’s the main reason why I hope your partnership works out, because this is Goren’s last opportunity.”

Alex looked up at him, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“I had a call from the Chief of Detectives the day after I accepted Goren into Major Case. He wasn’t happy about it, and he tried damned hard to talk me out of it. When I refused, he said outright that if it didn’t work out, for whatever reason, then Goren was finished with the NYPD.”

“That son of a bitch,” Alex growled.

Deakins was silent for a long Moment before speaking again.

“I’m not telling you this to put pressure on you, Alex. I just want you to understand. He’s fought to get this far, and by rights he should have gotten his promotion to First Grade years ago… but thanks to some of the jerks upstairs, you might just be his last chance.”

Alex frowned a little. She understood what Deakins was saying, but it was hard not to take it too personally. To be told she might be largely responsible for whether or not her partner was able to continue his career with the NYPD was not exactly what she needed to hear. Still, she thought she could go some way to assuaging her captain’s concerns.

“I can’t tell you what the future is, Captain,” she told him quietly, “but I can say that so far everything is good. He’s not exactly your Average Joe, but we’re getting along okay.”

Deakins stared at her for a long moment.

“Do you mean it, Alex? Because I meant it when I said I didn’t want to pressure you. If it really isn’t working, I don’t want you feeling obliged to say otherwise.”

She smiled in amusement.

“Relax, Captain. We’re doing okay. I think I’m going to have my hands more or less full with him, but it’ll be okay. Truth is, I like him. He doesn’t treat me like the rest of these guys do.”

A smile quirked the corners of Deakins’ mouth. He knew exactly what she meant by that.

“Like an appendage?”

“Exactly. And as long as he keeps on like that – treating me like a detective, not an accessory – I think we’ll do just fine.”

The relief on Deakins’ face was palpable.

“Okay, then. But you’ll come to me if there are any problems?”

She couldn’t quite keep the grin off her face.

“If he starts hanging upside down from the rafters, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Deakins laughed softly and headed back to his office. Alex watched him go, then logged off the database, and got back to the task of finishing off her paperwork.

“Well, this blows one theory out of the water.”

Bobby looked questioningly at Jason as he ordered coffee and fresh bagels for the two of them in the little coffee shop that he and Alex frequented.

“What theory is that?”

“Cops and donuts.”

Bobby grinned in amusement.

“Oh, we save the donuts for special occasions. Like all-day lectures and conferences.”

“All the boring shit?” Jason wondered, and Bobby laughed aloud.

“Yeah, something like that. Come and sit down.”

The two found a corner booth out of the way, and soon found themselves staring at each other in open curiosity.

“It’s funny,” Jason said with a small smile. “You’re still as big as I remember.”


“I know, it seems a stupid thing to remember, but that really stuck in my mind. I remember lying on the floor, with this enormous man lying over the top of me… protecting me. You took most of the attack that was meant for me.”

Bobby’s smile had faded almost completely, and he regarded Jason soberly.

“You remember that much?”

“Yeah… And it’s a lot more than I’ve ever let my Mum and dad know about.”

Bobby frowned, then, until Jason quickly elaborated.

“My aunt and uncle, I mean. They adopted me. They’re my Mum and dad now.”

“They’re good people,” Bobby murmured, recalling the kind couple that had come to see him in hospital before taking Jason away, out of New York. “You were lucky to have them.”

“I know,” Jason agreed. “I still am lucky. They’ve been great, and I love them a lot.”

“So what are you doing in New York?” Bobby asked. “I wouldn’t have thought you would ever have willingly set foot here again.”

“Normally I wouldn’t have, but a couple of friends organised a reunion of sorts, and they decided to have it in New York. I was going to say I wasn’t coming, but then Mum reminded me that it’d be a good chance to find you… and thank you.”

“Jason, you thanked me by surviving. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to save your mother as well.”

“That wasn’t your fault,” Jason said firmly, his voice almost a growl. “It was him. You did everything you could, and then some. I would have been dead too, if it hadn’t been for you and that other detective… but especially you.”

To Jason’s amusement, Bobby appeared to be blushing. His suspicion that the detective was embarrassed was confirmed when Bobby abruptly switched the subject back to the reunion that Jason had briefly mentioned.

“What sort of reunion is it? Not a school one, I’m guessing.”

“Not exactly. Just a group of us that used to be friends in high school. Although, I’m kind of wishing that I hadn’t met up with them now.”

“Not so pleasant memories?”

“In a way,” Jason admitted. “One of the guys… Tommy Oliver… we used to be best friends, but then something happened. I’m still not sure what. But towards the end of high school, and just before my folks and I moved to San Diego, it seemed like we only had to be in the same room, and it nearly ended up in a fight. It was the same last night. We were just having dinner. I left the table early, and Tommy followed me. Next thing I know, we were almost shouting at each other in front of the lifts.”

“It’s tough when friends fall out,” Bobby mused. Jason gave a short, bitter laugh.

“I’ll say. I’d just like to know why.” He paused, then smiled ruefully and shook his head. “But I don’t want to talk about that.” He threw a wry grin in Bobby’s direction. “That was slick.”

Bobby took a bite of his bagel, and tried to look innocent.

“What do you mean?”

“One second we were talking about what happened thirteen years ago, the next we’re talking about my reunion. Are those the kinds of tricks you pull with suspects?”

Before Bobby had a chance to reply to that, a new voice spoke behind them.

“Oh, for sure. He just loves messing with their heads.”

Both Bobby and Jason looked around to see Alex standing there, an apologetic smile on her face.

“Eames…?” Bobby asked tentatively.

“Sorry, kids,” she apologised to them. “Goren, we’ve got a call-out. You’ll have to continue this later.”

Bobby started up, then looked back to Jason.

“Which hotel are you staying at? I’ll get in touch with you there.”

“I’m at the Crest Hotel, on Fifth Avenue.”

Bobby nodded, oblivious to the odd look that flickered across his partner’s face.

“Okay, I’ll call you there this evening.”

Jason nodded amiably. “Okay, Det… Sorry… Bobby.”

Bobby smiled and, with a nod to Jason, hurried after his partner.

“I found the case.”

Bobby looked at Alex, puzzled.


Alex hesitated, wondering how to put it without getting offside with him. Finally, she decided to simply be straight-forward.

“The Scott case. After you and Jason left, I looked up the case on the police database.”

Bobby fell abruptly silent, his gaze fixed on the dashboard.

“I wanted to know the whole story,” Alex said quietly. “I didn’t mean to overstep…”

“You didn’t,” he interrupted suddenly. “You… you have every right to know… But those reports don’t give the full story.”

Alex glanced at him curiously. “So what is the full story?”

For a long Moment Bobby didn’t speak. Finally, though, just when Alex thought he wasn’t going to answer at all, he began to speak in a low, sad voice.

“I first came into contact with the Scotts when I was sent to their home to answer a call of domestic disturbance. Scott answered the door. At first he tried to get all buddy-buddy with me… You know, the whole ‘you don’t turn in a brother’ thing? When I didn’t buy that, he tried to brush me off. I asked to speak to his wife, wouldn’t leave until I did. He got pretty well pissed off at me, then, but he brought his wife out. Melissa Scott… She had a huge bruise on her face. Said she’d got it walking into a door, or something like that…”

Beside him, Alex gave a derisive snort, and Bobby smiled grimly.

“That’s what I thought, too. Anyway, I couldn’t do anything, then. Scott pulled rank on me, and threatened to report me to my superior officer if I didn’t leave. The next day, I started pushing with the brass to initiate an investigation.”

“And they stonewalled you.”

“Totally. Scott whispered in a few ears, and the next thing I knew, I’d been removed from my precinct and dumped with SVU.”

“SVU? To do what?”

“Any odd job they wanted to push on me. Basically, the whole idea of it was to humiliate me… teach me my place.”

“At the bottom of the ladder, huh?” Alex muttered, feeling sourer with every minute that passed. Bobby nodded reluctantly.

“Yeah. That was where Scott wanted me, where I couldn’t cause him any problems, and where I couldn’t do anything to help his wife and son. All because I didn’t want to turn a blind eye.”

Alex regarded him thoughtfully.

“So what happened after that?”

“I’d been at SVU for about two months, I think… Melissa called me there. She was terrified. She said she’d found a bag in her husband’s closet with a knife and… and women’s underwear.”

“The Bronx Killer,” Alex murmured. Bobby nodded.

“Yeah. Melissa made the connection almost straight away, but Scott found out that she knew, and he was heading home… to deal with her. She begged me for help, she was terrified that he was going to kill her, and her son. I went to the captain at SVU, and he told me to forget about it, that there was nothing we could do. Son of a bitch wouldn’t even send a car around. I was ready to argue… probably would have gotten myself fired for it. But then the detective that I’d officially been assigned to at SVU, Ben Paxton, he hauled me out. We went around to the house together, got there just ahead of Scott. Ben tried to take control… He was the epitome of good manners. But Scott… he was in a rage. He…. He pulled out his gun, and he shot Ben in the chest. Then he… he shot me in the gut. He took his wife and kid inside… We could hear her screaming from outside the house. Ben… He told me I had to get in there. I had to stop him. So I… I got up… I don’t know how, but I got up, and went inside.”

“But Melissa was already dead,” Alex guessed. A pained look crossed Bobby’s face.

“Not quite. He slit her throat just as I got to the family room. She was… She was dead before she even hit the floor. Then he turned on Jason. He stabbed him a couple of times before I got there. Then I tackled him… but I was already weak from being shot. He got the upper hand pretty quickly. He stabbed me a few times and then pushed me away. He was going for Jason again, and I managed to get enough strength together to push him away once more… But I didn’t have the strength for anything else. So in the end, the only thing I could do was cover Jason with my own body.”

Alex stared at him in shock. That was something that hadn’t been in the reports.

“You used yourself as a shield?”

“There wasn’t anything else I could do,” he said softly. “I… I really expected to die then. I was just hoping that… that when I did, my body would lock around Jason, and Scott wouldn’t be able to get to him.”

“Jesus, Goren…”

“Scott went nuts. I think he stabbed me maybe four or five times…”

“Try eight all together,” Alex said. Bobby winced a little.

“Was it that many? I don’t really remember. Anyway, there was a gunshot, and then Scott fell away from me.”

“Paxton to the rescue?”

Bobby smiled faintly, understanding there was no malice in her tone.

“Yeah. He saved my life.”

“Okay, so you stopped Scott, and saved Jason. What happened then? Obviously you didn’t get any standing ovations from the brass.”

A bitter look flashed in Bobby’s eyes.

“You know, that’s really the only time I seriously considered quitting? When I got out of hospital, I was informed that I’d been suspended indefinitely on partial pay while IA investigated my, quote, insubordinate actions. Unquote. They left me hanging for three months before they decided to reinstate me, and only then with a demotion back to rookie status. I’d been with the NYPD for five years at that stage, but I had to start over literally from scratch after that. Ben got an informal reprimand, but that was all. The brass put pretty much everything on me. And when I did eventually become eligible to be promoted to detective, it took me four tries before I was successful.”

Alex bit lightly on the inside of her cheek as she pulled up outside the Crest Hotel.

“You really have had to fight to get to where you are, haven’t you?”

He smiled a little.

“No more than you probably have.”

She looked across at him, renewed respect in her eyes firstly for the way he’d handled the hand he’d been dealt, and secondly that he freely recognised that she, too, had earned her place through pure hard work and determination.

How about that, she thought with a widening smile. I have a partner who doesn’t subscribe to the buddy-boy system.

“Well, just for the record,” she said finally, “I’m glad you didn’t quit.”

The smile that lit up his face, albeit briefly, was more than enough reward for her thoughtful remark.

“C’mon, Goren,” she said, reaching for her door handle. “Move your ass, partner. There’s a crime scene waiting for us.”

Bobby grinned with an eager anticipation that drew a brief but genuine laugh out of her, and followed her into the hotel.

“That’s a hell lot of blood,” Alex said flatly as she stood in the doorway of the hotel room. Bobby ventured in, peering down at the trail of blood that began just inside the door, and led all the way over to the bed, where the body had been found.

“The killer was waiting just inside the door when the victim came in. He jumped him right here… Cut his throat… then dragged him over to the bed. It was fast and brutal, probably only took a few minutes.”

Alex nodded her thanks to the uniformed officer who handed her an information sheet on the victim. A glance revealed that Bobby was already over at the bed, looking closely at the body. She barely suppressed a grin as she began to read off the sheet.

“Our vic is one Thomas Oliver…”

Bobby looked up sharply before she had a chance to go any further.

“Thomas Oliver? Tommy Oliver?”

Alex shrugged. “I suppose so. You know the name?”

Bobby frowned a little.

“Yeah, I do. Jason mentioned the name… one of the people that he was meeting for a reunion.”

Alex’s eyebrows shot up as she looked down at the dead body.

“Really? Interesting. Did he say any more about it?”

At that, Bobby hesitated. Alex moved forward slowly, watching her partner piercingly.

“What else did he say, Goren?”

“He said he had an argument with the victim last night, after dinner.”

A look that Bobby had come to clearly recognise descended on Alex’s face, and he stood up quickly.

“Jason couldn’t have done this.”

“Why, Goren? Because he was a victim once himself?”

Bobby had begun to look agitated, she thought bemusedly.

“No… But if he’d killed his friend last night, why would he come looking for me this morning? Why bring unnecessary attention to himself? Why tell me that they’d had an argument?”

Alex sympathised with him, she really did. Placed in his position, she supposed she would have been reluctant to believe that the young man who had met them that morning was capable of taking a life. On the other hand, grim experience had taught her not to discount any possibility, and Jason Scott certainly had the height and strength to do such a deed.

“Maybe we should call Deakins, and pull ourselves off this one,” she suggested. Bobby paused in recommencing his examination of the body. Finally, he looked up at her grimly.

“No, we don’t need to do that. We’ll follow it where it leads us, and if it leads us back to Jason… well, then so be it.”

Alex nodded, satisfied with his resolve.

“Okay, then. When you’re ready, we’ll go and speak to the friends…”

She trailed off as a familiar voice reached their ears from out in the hallway.

“No, damn it! Let me past! That’s my friend in there!”

Bobby looked up at her ruefully, then abandoned his examination of the corpse, and followed his partner out into the hall.

Jason arrived back at the hotel to find chaos. There were a couple of police cars, an ambulance… and wasn’t that the same SUV that Bobby’s partner had been driving when she picked him up from the coffee shop? He headed in, and was halfway across the lobby when he spotted his friends sitting huddled together on a couple of couches that lined the far wall. After a Moment’s hesitation, he went to join them, noting wordlessly as he got closer that Tommy was not there. It was only as he got up close, though, that he finally saw their tear-streaked faces and shell-shocked expressions.

“Hey, guys…”

Kim looked up at him, and Jason started a little, caught by surprise at the ferocity in her expression.

“Where the fuck have you been?” she exploded, pulling away from Zack and launching herself to her feet. Jason stared at her, dumbstruck.

“I… I was catching up with a friend. Why? What’s happened?”

“It’s Tommy,” Kim said bitterly. Jason couldn’t stop himself and, in retrospect, he supposed she should have been more tactful, but at that stage he’d still been stinging from his argument with Tommy the night before.

“What happened? The stupid son of a bitch finally OD on all those drugs he’s been pumping into his system ever since we finish high school?”

The sound of Kim’s palm hitting his cheek sounded eerily like a bullwhip being cracked. Jason’s head rocked to the side from the force of the slap, and when he recovered enough to look, he found himself staring into not one, but four accusing stares.

“Where were you, Jason?” Zack asked quietly, and this time Jason heard the suspicion in his friend’s voice.

“I told you, I was meeting an old friend,” Jason growled, suddenly on the defensive and not liking it one bit.

“Who?” Kim demanded to know.

“An old friend,” Jason snapped. “Who is my business.”

“And were you meeting with that friend last night, too?” Zack asked tersely. Jason looked at each of them, confused and angry.

“No! I was in my room, sleeping! Look, what the hell is going on? Where is Tommy?”

“He’s dead,” Trini answered, watching Jason with a piercing stare. Jason blanched, his face going white in a matter of seconds.

“Dead…? No way… That’s not possible…”

“He’s dead, Jason,” Billy said in a numb voice. “I found him this morning. His… His throat was cut. He’s dead. And I think you might find the police want to talk to you about where you’ve been.”

The implied threat went straight over Jason’s head. He stood frozen for several seconds, digesting what he’d just been told, before turning and bolting for the lifts.

He strode into the first one available, waiting impatiently for it to open on the fourth floor, where Tommy’s room was. He stepped into the hallway, and was immediately confronted by a couple of large uniformed police officers, both of whom blocked his path to Tommy’s room.

“You’ll need to go back the way you came, young man,” one of the two cops told him. “No one’s permitted through here just at the Moment.”

“I have to get past,” Jason protested. “That’s my friend’s room…”

“You can’t go any further,” the cop told him in a firmer tone. “You’ll need to wait downstairs in the lobby with everyone else.”

“No, damn it! Let me past! That’s my friend in there!”

The cop’s gaze hardened.

“Look, kid, if you don’t back off, you’re going to get yourself arrested. Do you hear me?”

“It’s all right, Officer,” a voice called out, and Jason wasn’t sure whether or not to be relieved when he spotted Bobby and his partner, Detective Eames, coming down the hallway towards them.

“We’ll take care of this,” Alex said firmly, and ushered Jason through and into an empty room a couple of door down from Tommy’s room. Bobby followed wordlessly, watching with uncertainty as his partner geared herself up to tear into Jason.

“Is it true?” Jason asked hoarsely, looking from Alex to Bobby. “Is Tommy dead?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Alex said, her voice flat and emotionless. The consummate cop, Bobby thought ruefully. He hoped Jason had nothing to hide from them, because otherwise, he wasn’t going to know what hit him.

“We need to ask you a few questions, Mr Scott,” Alex went on calmly.

“Let me guess,” Jason interrupted, his voice starting to sound strained. “Where was I last night? I was in bed, asleep.”

Alex raised an eyebrow at him.

“And how, exactly, do you know that he was killed last night and not earlier this morning?”

Jason blanched in the face of her near-blunt accusation, but recovered himself admirably.

“I assumed. I’m human. Humans do that occasionally. As far as this morning goes, you already know what I was doing this morning.”

“We know what you were doing from the moment you actually arrived at One Police Plaza,” Alex corrected him, causing Bobby to wince a little.


She shot him a look that warned him to keep quiet. He fell back, trying to keep his agitated fidgeting to a minimum. Alex returned her attention to Jason, who had sat down with a thud in a nearby chair and buried his face in his hands.

“You had an argument with the victim last night.”

It wasn’t a question. Jason looked up, past Alex to Bobby, who had the good grace to blush. He looked back at Alex, and held her gaze as he answered.

“Yes, I had a fight with him. It was totally verbal, and it basically came down to male egos clashing. He thought I was jealous of his success, and he wouldn’t believe it when I denied it. We threw a few insults at each other, and then I went up to my room. The last I saw him, he was standing outside the door of the lift in the lobby. As soon as I got up this morning, I got dressed and headed straight for One Police Plaza. I never saw any of my other friends. I was deliberately trying to avoid them, because I was still feeling pretty pissed off about Tommy’s attitude last night, and I didn’t want to have to face any of them.”

Alex stared at him critically. His story was pretty vague in her opinion, and yet had enough element of truth in it to come across as fairly rock solid. As much as she wanted to take him with them back to One Police Plaza for further questioning, instinct warned her against it. Best that they bide their time for the Moment, continue to gather evidence and information and then, if the path of suspicion still led to Jason, then deal with it accordingly.

“Okay,” she said, stepping to the side. “You can go, but don’t go far. We’ll probably want to talk to you again.”

Jason stood up and walked slowly to the door. He paused, looking up at Bobby as he passed him.

“I didn’t kill Tommy. I’ve spent most of my life doing everything I could to make sure I didn’t turn into a replica of my father. I didn’t kill Tommy.”

Bobby watched him go, and then turned back to Alex to find her staring intently at him.

“C’mon,” she said flatly, walking past him. “Let’s finish up here, and get back to One Police Plaza.”

He withheld a sigh as he turned and followed her from the room.


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