“I don’t believe Jason had anything to do with Tommy’s death.”

Alex let her breath out in an audible sign of frustration.

“That’s pure speculation, Goren. You damn well ought to know better than to decide a person’s guilt or innocence on gut instinct.”

“All the same… I don’t think Jason did it, and he’s not hiding anything from us.”

“Goren, you’re a smart guy, but you aren’t omniscient.”

“You think he’s guilty.”

“I just think we need to keep our options open. You might not like it, but it’s entirely possible that he did actually do it. Like it or not, it’s in his blood.”

“You mean genetics?”

“I guess so.”

“Like father, like son?”

Alex glanced sideways at him as she guided the SUV through the heavy traffic.

“Yes, now that you mention it.”


Alex couldn’t contain her surprise at his outright rejection of the theory.


Bobby was looking out the window, then, and seemed in no hurry to look back at her.

“You can’t label someone on the basis of what their parents have done. It’s wrong. Alan Scott is a killer, but why stick his son with that tag? If that were true… that genetics ruled our lives like that… then none of us would be free. We’d all be locked up in prison, or in the psyche hospitals, because every family has someone who’s committed some sort of terrible crime.”

“If I didn’t know any better,” Alex said thoughtfully, “I’d say you were speaking from personal experience.”

Bobby looked back at her fleetingly, then out the window again. It was enough, though, however brief. In that instant, she was sure he was talking from personal experience, but at the same time decided it was his business, and he would share it with her when he was good and ready.

“I’m just saying, don’t judge Jason on the basis of what his father has done.”

She glanced at him piercingly once more.

“I’m going to speak to Deakins when we get back. You’re too close to a potential suspect. We should be handing this case over to someone else.”

Bobby tensed visibly.

“I can handle it, Eames.”

She couldn’t hide her scepticism from him, and nor did she try.

“Can you, Goren? Can you really stay objective? You took a knife attack for that kid. What are you going to do if the evidence says he’s the one who’s committed this murder? Can you really look me in the eye, and tell me you won’t have a problem with arresting him for it?”

He didn’t speak, but stared wordlessly out of the side window. Alex sighed faintly.

“Okay. Let’s just agree to disagree, all right? And we’ll talk to Deakins about this when we get back.”

Bobby said nothing, but continued to stare silently out of the SUV’s window.

Deakins was watching for Bobby and Alex as they came around the corner into the Major Case bullpen. Even from his office, he sensed the rift, and his heart skipped just slightly as he wondered what could have happened to set them on edge with each other.

Great, he thought dismally as he retreated to his desk and picked up the letter that had been delivered to him less than half an hour ago. They were going to absolutely love this aggravation, on top of whatever disagreement they’d had.

He looked back to his door just as Alex appeared in the doorway, with Bobby just behind her.

“Come in, both of you,” he told them. “Goren, shut the door, would you? And both of you, have a seat.”

Both Bobby and Alex exchanged puzzled looks. Surely Deakins couldn’t have somehow found out already about their little disagreement? Or even about Bobby’s connection to the murder they’d just been assigned to investigate?

Deakins looked from Alex to Bobby, his face grim and pale.

“I have something to tell you both. It’s primarily for you, Goren, but it involves Eames as well, since she’s your partner. Just promise me that you won’t hit the roof, because I promise you that I’ve already done that.”

Bobby stared at him apprehensively.

“What’s it about?”

“Alan Scott’s been released from prison on parole.”

Bobby sat frozen, staring at Deakins in abject disbelief.

“That… That’s not possible. Captain, it isn’t possible! He was sentenced to life, without parole! And what do you mean, been released? He’s already out?”

“The parole hearing was three weeks ago,” Deakins answered grimly. “He was released two weeks ago. And in answer to your question, Goren, I don’t know. I’m still trying to get answers. From what I’ve been able to find out so far, and it isn’t much, some of Scott’s more powerful friends pulled some strings high up, and got his case before an appellate judge. How they pulled it off, I don’t know, but the point is that he’s out.”

Bobby sat stiffly in his seat.

“I should have been told he was going before a parole board. I had the right to be there, to speak…”

“I know,” Deakins agreed. “Damn it… Here, look at this.”

He handed Bobby the letter he’d been clutching, and waited wordlessly while the big detective read through it.

“What is it?” Alex asked as Bobby read it in silence. Deakins explained.

“It’s a letter notifying Goren of the parole hearing. It was apparently sent to his original precinct, the Two-Seven, two weeks before the parole hearing. They should have sent it on to us immediately, but it somehow got lost under a mound of other crap.”

Bobby muttered something under his breath that Deakins couldn’t quite catch, but was sure it was not in English. He decided not to press for a translation, considering he had a reasonably good idea of what it was he’d probably said anyway.

“Goren, that isn’t all,” Deakins said quietly. Bobby looked back at him slowly. Deakins picked up a scrapbook that had been sitting innocuously on his desk, then continued to speak. “Scott’s missing. He failed to report to his parole officer three day after his release. When his room at the boarding house was searched by the officer, this was found hidden behind a wall heater.”

Goren reached out and took the scrapbook from Deakins. This time, as he opened it up, Alex got up and moved over behind him to look as well.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Alex burst out after Bobby had flipped through a few of the pages. “They seriously thought this guy was okay to let out of the nuthouse?”

“I know,” Deakins agreed. “The problem right now, though, is that we have a man out there on the streets who appears to be dangerously obsessed with you, Goren. We need to decide what we’re going to do about it.”

Bobby looked at Deakins for a long Moment, then looked back down at the scrapbook pages that were open in front of him.

It was an article from two and a half years ago, a little more than six months after he’d started working with Fin. They’d led an undercover operation together, and though the operation had resulted in a perfect number of arrests and subsequent convictions, it hadn’t been without its downside. The downside being that at the time of the arrest, one of their targets had pulled a gun and fired at Fin. Bobby had pushed him out of the way, only to be hit by the bullet himself. It had punctured his lung, and he’d damn near drowned in his own blood before staff at the hospital where he’d been taken managed to get the bullet out and repair the damage.

The article itself didn’t bother Bobby, though, so much as the words scrawled onto the page next to it.

Should’ve aimed at his head

There were more articles throughout the scrapbook, almost completely filling it, and they covered the length of Bobby’s career more or less from the time of Alan Scott’s incarceration at the Stanhope Institute. Every article that specified an injury that Bobby had received on the job had a similar comment attached, while plainly vicious and insulting comments filled the pages that contained regular articles about solved cases that had been attributed to Bobby.

“Look at the last page,” Deakins told him grimly. Bobby hesitated, then flipped to the final page. He stiffened visibly at what was there, and Alex gasped aloud in shock.

At the end of the scrapbook, in blood red ink and covering the entire page and inside back cover, was the following scribbles, written over and over again.


Over, and over again…

Bobby closed the book, and handed it back to Deakins. He was a little pale from the shock of the news, Deakins noted, but admirably calm. In all honesty, Deakins had expected him to go absolutely ballistic. He was pleased that Bobby had managed to control his anger. It boded well for him for the future.

“So he’s obsessed. It doesn’t surprise me, it’s no big deal, just ranting…”

“Goren, that wasn’t ink,” Deakins interrupted quietly. “It’s already been analysed. It’s written in his own blood. And if it’s just ranting, then it’s very targeted ranting, and you aren’t the only target.”

Bobby fell abruptly silent, waiting for an answer. Deakins gave it reluctantly.

“There’s a scrapbook that indicates a threat against his son, as well. It suggests that Scott might be intending to go after his son, but that he might also be planning to attack anyone that Jason is close to, in order to hurt him as much as possible.”

Bobby and Alex looked at each other, their eyes widening slightly in realisation. Deakins saw the look, and realised something had just occurred to them both.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Sir, Jason Scott is in New York right now,” Bobby explained. “I met up with him this morning. He’s here meeting a group of old high school friends for a reunion.”

“And that case you handed us this morning just happens to be those old high school friends,” Alex added. It took only a second for Deakins to add two and two.

“Christ, he’s already started.”

Alex glanced again at Bobby, half-expecting him to give her the standard ‘I told you so’ look, but she saw nothing of the kind in his expression. Rather, he sat staring at his hands, his face pale from the shock of what they’d just learned. Her heart went out to him, but she restrained herself from touching him in any way, not wanting to over-step the boundaries of their fragile, fledgling partnership.

“Goren, I’m putting you and the son into protective custody,” Deakins said.

That drew a reaction. Bobby looked up, startled.

“What? No! Sir, with all due respect, I’m not going into hiding just because some piece of scum out there has a grudge against me.”

“I’m asking you to lay low, Goren,” Deakin growled, “not go into witness protection. It isn’t hiding out, it’s staying safe!”

“I appreciate your concern,” Bobby said tersely, “but I won’t do it.”

“I could order you to,” Deakins reminded him. Bobby flinched a little, but didn’t back down.

“Yes, sir, but then you’d have to charge me with insubordination, because I’d still refuse.”

Deakins looked to Alex, hoping to get some help from her quarter, but there was none forthcoming. She was too busy watching her partner with a mixture of amusement and respect.

“Okay,” Deakin conceded finally, trying unsuccessfully to hide his frustration. “All right, I’ll let it go for the Moment. But you both get yourselves back to that hotel, and make sure that Jason and his friends don’t go anywhere. Oh, and Goren…?”

Bobby looked back at Deakins as he and Alex headed for the door.


“If anything happens… anything at all… that suggests you’re at risk, I’ll have you locked away under police guard so fast it’ll make your head spin. Do you understand me? I didn’t work this hard to get you on my team just for some nutcase to take you out.”

Bobby grimaced a little, but nodded in acquiescence.

“Yes, sir, I understand.”

Deakins nodded, satisfied that his point had been made.

“Good. Now get going.”

“I’m waiting,” Alex said ruefully as they headed back down to their SUV. Bobby looked at her, puzzled.

“Waiting for what?”

“C’mon, Goren,” Alex grumbled, wishing he’d get it over with and put her out of her misery. “Just say ‘I told you so’, and be done with it.”

He looked at her, genuinely surprised.

“Why would I say that?”

She paused in getting into the SUV, looking at him wonderingly. Any of the other detectives would have wasted no time rubbing her face in the fact that she’d been wrong about Jason, and yet Bobby apparently had no such desire.

“Forget I said anything,” she told him finally, and he nodded in wordless acquiescence, turning his attention to the passenger window. Alex bore the silence for nearly five minutes before speaking again.

“Are you okay?”

Bobby nodded, though she noticed he didn’t look at her as he spoke.

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Don’t worry, Goren,” she said flippantly after observing him for a long moment while they sat at traffic lights. “He won’t get near you.”

Bobby glanced at her quizzically. She grinned at him in response to the look her gave her.

“Hey, I’m just getting to like you. I can’t let anything happen to you now. It’d mean having to break in a whole new partner, and I doubt I’d be lucky enough to find another one quite like you.”

Once more, she was treated to that small, shy smile that lit his face up so beautifully. Satisfied, Alex turned her attention to the road and focused on getting them back to the hotel as quickly as possible.

Not knowing what else to do, or where else to go, Jason soon found himself back in the hotel lobby, and back with his friends.

“Thought you would’ve been arrested by now,” Zack said coldly. Jason froze, staring at Zack in disbelief.

“You don’t honestly think I killed him?”

“We don’t know what to think, Jason,” Trini said tearfully. “You were the last of us to see Tommy alive… Or are you going to deny seeing him last night after you left the restaurant?”

Jason walked around and sat down in an empty chair with a heavy thud.

“No, I’m not denying that I saw him. He followed me out of the restaurant, and he bailed me up near the lifts. We argued, and then I went up to my room and went to bed.”

“And what about this morning?” Kim demanded. “Where were you this morning?”

At that, Jason fell silent, staring anywhere but at his four friends.

“How are we supposed to trust you when you won’t be honest with us?” Billy demanded. “Why can’t you just tell us where you were, and what you were doing? Don’t you see how suspicious it looks to us that you won’t tell us?”

“I know how it looks to you,” Jason admitted. “And I’m sorry, but it’s my business, and it’s personal. If you can’t trust me, then I’m sorry, but I’m not going to tell you what I was doing.”

“Son of a bitch,” Zack snarled, and he possibly would have launched himself at Jason, but for Trini and Billy grabbing him and holding him back. Jason, for his part, never made an effort to move away.

“Knock it off, guys,” Kim said in a strained voice. “Those detectives are coming.”

Jason looked around, and felt his stomach drop at the sight of Bobby Goren and his partner coming towards them. Had they come to arrest him? he wondered dismally. He braced himself, getting slowly to his feet as they approached.

“Detective Goren,” he said flatly. “Detective Eames. Long time no see.”

Alex glanced at Bobby, rolling her eyes in mock exasperation.

“Relax, Jason,” Bobby told him wryly. “We aren’t here to arrest you, but we do need to talk to you, and your friends.”

“What about?” Kim asked tersely. “We’ve already told you everything we know. Although, we can’t speak for Jason.”

“Knock of the attitude, Miss Hart,” Alex said crisply. “We know none of you are responsible for Mr Oliver’s death.”

Jason blinked, startled.

“You know who killed him?”

“We have a pretty good idea,” Bobby replied. “Jason… We think your father did it.”

Jason stood frozen, his face literally draining of colour as he stared at Bobby. A moment later, his legs buckled beneath him, and it was only a swift response from Bobby that saved him from a potentially nasty fall.

“Sit,” Bobby murmured, guiding the young man to the nearest chair and sitting him down in it.

“What do you mean, his father?” Zack growled. “Dr Scott wouldn’t hurt anyone. That’s fucking crazy!”

Bobby and Alex looked at each other, and then at Jason.

“They don’t know, do they?” Alex asked.

“Don’t know what?” Trini asked, turning an intense frown on Jason.

Jason shook his head slowly, pushing his face into the palms of his hands.

“No. I never told them.”

“Told us what?” Kim demanded to know, her voice rising with mounting anger. “Jason, what have you been hiding from us?”

“I told you,” Alex snapped, “can the attitude. Now, I suggest we go somewhere that we can talk privately. I’ll speak to the concierge.”

“What the fuck is going on here?” Zack asked softly, staring hard at Jason. Slowly, Jason lifted his head to look at each of his friends. His eyes were rimmed with tears, and his face was the colour of ash.

“I killed Tommy. I mean… I didn’t kill him myself… but I might as well have.”

“Don’t say that,” Bobby murmured. Jason looked up at him, growing more distressed with every second that passed.

“Why not? It’s true!”

“No, it isn’t,” Bobby growled. “Because if you’re responsible, then so am I.”

Jason jerked a little.

“That’s insane.”

“No more than you saying you’re responsible.”

Jason stared up at him for several long, painful seconds, then moaned softly and dropped his head back into his hands. Moments later, Alex returned.

“The concierge is opening up an office for us. This way…”

“Okay,” Kim said tensely once they were seated in the office. “What is this all about?”

“Hang on a second,” Jason growled. He looked at Bobby and Alex, confused and increasingly angry. “He’s supposed to be locked up. Are you telling me he’s been released?”

“Released on parole two weeks ago,” Alex confirmed, and Jason groaned.

“Can someone please tell us what the hell is going on?” Zack burst out.

“Do you want to tell them?” Bobby asked quietly. “Or do you want me to?”

Jason hesitated, considering the offer. He knew that Bobby had as much right to tell the story as he did, but he had a responsibility to come clean with his friends – especially in light of what had happened to Tommy.

“No. No… I’ll tell them.” He looked up at Zack, Billy, Trini and Kim, ashen-faced and sick. “My father… my real father’s name… is Alan Scott. He was sent to prison when I was eight, for murdering my mother, and for trying to murder me and Detective Goren, and one other detective. He should have still been in prison… He was never supposed to be let out.” He looked up at Bobby. “How did he get out?”

“He still has friends in high places,” Alex said quietly. “They pulled strings… got his case before an appellate court, and that got him before a parole board. No one who would have protested it knew about it until it was all done with. We never found out until this morning ourselves.”

“Jesus…” Jason whispered, distraught.

“So if your real dad is in prison for killing your Mum,” Trini said in confusion, “then who is it that you’ve been calling Mum and Dad all these years?”

“Mum and Dad are really my Aunt Sarah and my Uncle Donavon,” Jason explained hoarsely. “They adopted me after my father was found guilty and sent to prison. I never thought of them as my aunt and uncle. They were… They are my Mum and dad.”

“So let us get this straight,” Zack said quietly. “Your real father is a lunatic who killed your Mum, and tried to kill you. And now he’s out of prison and… what, just decided to start picking us off, just for the hell of it?”

“Not just for the hell of it,” Bobby corrected grimly. “And you aren’t his only target, Jason.”

Jason stared at Bobby in dismay.

“You too?”

“Yes,” Bobby confirmed. He looked to the others. “Alan Scott made some very specific threats in a couple of scrapbooks that were found by his parole officer. It indicates that he would try to hurt Jason by killing anyone he cares about… is close to.”

Zack grunted.

“Then he fucked up royally. Jase and Tommy hated each other.”

“But it wasn’t always like that, was it?” Alex asked, and Jason shook his head.

“No. There was a time when we were close… like brothers. Damn, how could this happen?”

“We’d like to know the answer to that question, too, but what’s important right now is how we deal with this,” Alex said. “Now, this is what’s going to happen. We are going to place a watch on this hotel, and none of you are to leave unaccompanied, for any reason. We’ll contact any family members that you’d like us to, and we’ll organise to get you all on flights home as soon as possible. But until then, consider yourselves under police guard, at least for the time being.”

Alex’s words were met with a murmur of dismay, but none of them objected. Then, while Alex and Bobby drew away from the group to discuss the finer points of the operation, Jason spoke guiltily to his friends.

“Guys… Look, I’m sorry I never told you the truth.”

“You should have trusted us, Jase,” Zack said softly. “I mean, we all went through so much crap together in high school… we literally had to trust each other with our lives… but you couldn’t trust us with this. Do I need to tell you how much that hurts, man?”

Jason stared down at the floor.

“No. But you have to understand my point of view. It was something that I didn’t ever want to relive, and I wanted to just forget it had ever happened. I mean, c’mon! I watched my father murder my mother! And then he tried to kill me as well! If I’d had to tell you guys that, it would have just been rehashing painful memories that I didn’t want. And as far as I was concerned, that part of my life was over with. The son of a bitch was supposed to be in prison for the rest of his life. He wasn’t ever supposed to get out! I never saw a reason to tell anyone… It just hurt too much to even consider talking about it.”

“We understand,” Trini said softly, and Jason looked up to find that his friends were no longer looking at him with anger, but with understanding and compassion. Trini smiled reassuringly at him. “We do, Jason. We wish you’d trusted us to begin with, but I think I can safely say we all understand why you never told us. Don’t we, guys?”

A murmur of agreement went through the group. Jason sighed softly.


Kim reached across, and gently grasped his hand.

“We’ll support you, Jase, just like always. Just don’t hide from us again, okay? We might not be kids in high school anymore, but everything we based our friendship on is still important.”

“Yeah,” Zack said. He paused, then grinned. “And if that creep tries to get near you, we’ll cheerfully kick his ass. Right, guys?”

There was a collective and resounding reply to Zack’s affirmation. Jason smiled tiredly, warmed by the whole-hearted support of his friends.

“I guess old friendships die hard,” Alex mused with a smile as she and Bobby watched the reconciliation between the group of friends. Bobby looked on for a long moment before turning away.

“I guess so.”

Alex regarded him thoughtfully, wondering whether he had ever experienced a friendship like that which Jason seemed to have with his friends. Perhaps not, she mused, and felt a touch of sadness at the thought. She’d had plenty of good friends herself over the years, but she suspected that Bobby, with all his quirks and oddities, had never had the good fortune to experience that level of support.

She hesitated in speaking, considering whether she was ready to take their partnership to a new level, then decided it was time to take a chance. The worst he could do, she thought ruefully, was throw it back in her face.

“Goren… It’s going to be okay.”

He looked back at her, puzzled, and she mentally kicked herself for the lame way that had come out.

“What I mean,” she went on, fumbling for the right words, “is that you’ve got my support. If that son of a bitch wants to get at you, he’ll have to go through me first.” She paused, then smiled. “After all, you are my partner, and I figured that since we seem to be getting along, I might as well do what I can to keep you. Right?”

There it was again, that endearing, lopsided grin, and Alex felt a rush of warmth through her. She loved that he got her attitude.

“Thanks, Eames. I… I appreciate it.”

She clapped him gently on the back.

“Anytime. Now, I think we’d better get back before Deakins has a fit.” She turned her attention back to the group of friends, reluctantly interrupting them.

“All of you, listen up,” she told them sternly. “Don’t leave the hotel unless you absolutely have to, and don’t go without an officer to accompany you. Stay here, and stay together, and you should all be okay. Understand?” A murmur of agreement went through the group. Alex nodded, satisfied. “Good. We have to go now, but we’ll check back in with you this evening. And if you need to get in contact with us, Jason has our number.”

They left the group, heading back out to the SUV.

“They should be fine,” Alex said quietly, “as long as they do the right thing.”

Bobby nodded in agreement, though Alex quietly suspected that he wasn’t anywhere near as certain about it as she was.


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