St Clare’s Hospital

“Jason’s parents shouldn’t be too far away,” Deakins said, almost as an afterthought when he and Alex had been sitting in the waiting room for a couple of hours. Bobby had been rushed off to surgery almost immediately on arrival, while Jason was being seen to in the ER. As he’d claimed, with the exception of a single knock to the head, his own injuries consisted primarily of small cuts and bruises. Aside from the shock of all that had happened, Jason was more or less unharmed. Bobby, unfortunately, was another matter entirely.

Alex didn’t answer, lost in her own thoughts and oblivious to her captain. Deakins watched her wordlessly for a minute before speaking in a slightly firmer tone of voice.

“You ought to get that bump on your head looked at properly while we’re here. Alex? Did you hear me?”

“I heard,” she said dully. “I don’t need to see anyone for it. It’s fine.”

Deakins watched her thoughtfully, then reached up and very gently brushed his fingertips across the spot where Alan had struck her. Her response was instantaneous. She howled in pain, jerking away from him, and a strangled sob escaped her as her hands came up to gingerly cover the wound.

“If that’s what you think is fine…” Deakins growled warningly.

“Okay,” Alex choked out. “All right, I’ll see a doctor. But please, can it at least wait until we hear how Bobby is?”

He couldn’t begrudge her that, and nodded with a sigh.

“All right, Alex. But I expect you to report to the ER straight away, as soon as we know his condition. No more excuses, and if you make me pull rank on you, I promise you’ll regret it.”

She pulled a face, but didn’t protest further.

“Tell me something…?” Deakins asked after another prolonged silence.

“What?” she asked. He decided to ignore her snappish tone, putting it down to a combination of stress and pain.

“At what point did he go from being ‘Goren’ to ‘Bobby’?”

Alex met that question with silence. Finally, she answered, deciding that Deakins was professional enough not to misunderstand.

When you left, after telling us about Ben Paxton, I went and talked to Bobby. I won’t go into what was said… but he told me to call him Bobby… if I wanted to. I told him he was welcome to call me Alex, but he said he preferred to call me ‘Eames’, at least when we’re on duty.”

Deakins smiled at that.

“If nothing else, he’s very professional.”

“It’s not so much a matter of him being professional,” Alex said quietly. “It’s respect, Captain. He wants everyone to know he respects me. I appreciate that.”

He nodded thoughtfully. “I know.”

She looked over at him.

“I’m glad you were willing to fight for him, sir.”

He couldn’t resist a smile. “I’m always willing to put a fight when it’s worth the effort, Alex. Goren was worth the effort… and so are you. You could be my best team, you know, you and Goren. If you keep going on together the way you have been, you could be just about the best team the NYPD has seen for a long time.”

She looked away from him again, wishing she could feel some comfort at his words. There was nothing, though, only an incredible sense of guilt that just wouldn’t go away.

Deakins was still watching her, aware that something was bothering her greatly, but unable to pinpoint exactly what it was. Before he had the opportunity to ask her anything, though, a couple entered the waiting room, spotted him and Alex and headed quickly over to them. Guessing that this couple was Jason’s adoptive parents, Deakins rose up out of his seat to meet them.

“Dr and Mrs Scott?”

The man nodded.

“Yes, I’m Donavon Scott. This is my wife, Sarah.”

Deakins accepted the man’s outstretched hand.

“I’m James Deakins. This is Detective Eames. It’s good to meet you both.”

“Please, is Jason all right?” Sarah asked anxiously. Deakins nodded, relieved that he could at least provide someone with some good news.

“He’s fine, Mrs Scott. He’s in a minor state of shock, and he has a few cuts and bruises, but other than that he’s intact. He’s still being seen to by the doctors in the ER, but you should be able to see him soon.”

Sarah sighed heavily. “Thank God for that.”

“And what about Alan?” Donavon asked.

“Locked up,” Deakins reassured him. “Permanently, this time.”

Donavon frowned darkly. “Good… Although, I have to admit that I’m sorry someone didn’t just shoot the son of a bitch, and put him out of all our misery.”

Deakins grimaced. “Well, he almost was, except for Detective Goren’s actions.”

“How do you mean?” Donavon asked, puzzled. “I thought Alan was holding Detective Goren hostage along with Jason?”

“He was,” Alex spoke up. “Alan took cover behind him when we got there with SWAT, and none of us could get a clear shot at him. Lieutenant Reed was going to shoot him through Goren…”

Through him?” Sarah echoed in horror, and Deakins nodded.

“When there’s no other alternative, they’ll take whatever shot they have, even if it’s through the hostage. Goren knew it would have been a possibility.”

“Except, he got in first,” Alex said. “He pushed his chair over backwards, so that he landed on top of Scott. It gave us the chance to arrest him…”

“But Detective Goren was injured in the process?” Donavon guessed, and Deakins nodded in grim confirmation.

“Alan was holding a knife to his back at the time,” Deakins explained, and both Donavon and Sarah cringed in anticipation. “The knife went all the way in, up to the hilt. He’s in surgery right now… We’re waiting to hear whether he’s all right.”

“It’s serious, then?” Sarah asked in concern. Deakins nodded.

“Yes, I’m afraid it is.”

Donavon and Sarah exchanged looks, then sat down together to wait with Deakins and Alex.

“Well, we’ll wait with you, if that’s all right,” Donavon said quietly. Deakins smiled his gratitude for their support.

“Of course, and thankyou. We appreciate it.”

Jason’s face lit up as his parents came through into the cubicle in the ER along with Alex and Deakins.

“Mom! Dad…”

Sarah hurried over and wrapped him up in a fierce hug.

“My baby… Are you okay? Really okay?”

“I’m fine,” Jason reassured her, his voice muffled by her shoulder. “Really, Mom...”

When he’d finally managed to detach himself from his mother’s embrace, he looked anxiously over at Deakins and Alex.

“How’s Bobby? Have you heard anything? No one will tell me anything.”

“We haven’t heard anything,” Deakins told him reluctantly. “As far as we know he’s still in surgery. We just have to hope and pray that he’ll be all right.”

Jason sat back with a thud, then winced at the jarring pain through his body.

“Ow…” he muttered. “That was dumb.”

“Take it easy, kid,” Alex told him. “You’ll feel lousy enough tomorrow without exacerbating it now.”

“Gee, thanks, Alex,” Jason said dryly, and she had to smile despite the circumstances.

“Jason,” Donavon growled, only half joking. “It’s Detective Eames…”

“It’s okay,” Alex said with a soft laugh. “We’ve already argued that one out. He’s got official permission to call me Alex… Or, at least until he’s officially a rookie cop, and then it’s back to Detective Eames.”

Jason grinned, but that smile soon dropped away as a doctor came through the curtains into the cubicle.

“Doctor…?” Deakins asked, and the woman smiled reassuringly at them.

“Yes, I’m Dr Andrews, and before you ask, yes, I’m here to tell you about Detective Goren’s condition. I thought you’d like to know as soon as possible. He’s going to be all right.”

The relief on all five faces was palpable. Dr Andrews went on quietly.

“He’s out of surgery. He’s going to need a fair bit of recovery time, and he won’t be moving anywhere very quickly for a while, but he is going to recover.”

“Can we see him?” Alex asked, not quite able to keep the anxiety out of her voice.

“Yes, I think that should be okay,” Dr Andrews replied. “He’s just been moved into a ward from Recovery, and he is awake, although I can’t guarantee just how alert he’ll be.”

Deakins nodded.

“Detective Eames and I would like to see him, thankyou, Doctor.” He looked back to Donavon, Sarah and Jason. “I’ll come and see you again before you’re discharged, Jason. We have just a few things to sort out.”

Jason nodded.

“Okay, sir. Ah… Could you tell Bobby I’m sorry…?”

Deakins smiled reassuringly at him. “I’ll tell him, Jason, but it’s not necessary.”

Then they hurried out after the doctor.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about, Jason,” Donavon told him gently once they’d gone. Jason sighed softly.

“I know… I can’t help feeling like I need to apologise, though. And I know it’s not my fault, that none of what Alan did was my fault, but it was still because of me, wasn’t it?”

Donavon sighed. “Maybe, Jason, but that still doesn’t make you responsible.”

Jason lay silently, staring up at the ceiling as the grief and shock finally started to take hold.

“They’re gone, Dad. Tommy… and Trini… He killed them both… He killed them because of me.”

Donavon reached across and gently gathered his son to him. A moment later, Jason finally broke down in a flood of tears as he finally let go of the horror of everything that had happened.

“Let it go,” Donavon murmured, hugging him tightly. “It’s okay, just let it go. My poor boy…”

“I’m going to have to testify, aren’t I?” Jason asked finally in a strained voice once his sobs had subsided. “Against Alan, I mean. I’ll have to testify again.”

“Yes, you will,” Donavon confirmed. “And this time, you’ll have to be in the courtroom with him. Do you think you’ll be able to cope with that?”

“I have to,” Jason whispered. “I have to cope with it. It’s not just for myself, though… It’s for Bobby, as well. So… So we can both be safe from him.”

“That’s true,” Donavon agreed. “If you both want to have some peace of mind, it’s something you’ll both need to do.”

Jason shuddered.

“I wanted to do something to protect Bobby… like he protected me when I was just a kid. I felt so damned helpless, tied to that chair. I was so scared, but I was angry, too. I kept thinking, why the hell couldn’t he just leave us alone?”

“He’s a sick man, Jason, but that’s no reflection on you. The important thing is knowing that he’s finally been caught, and he won’t be able to hurt anyone again. Not you, not Detective Goren, and not anyone else. It’s going to be all right, Jason. It might hurt for a long time, boy, but it is going to be all right. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah,” Jason whispered. “I hear you. Thanks, Dad.”

Donavon smiled sadly.

“You’re welcome, son.”

Bobby was, indeed, awake when Alex and Deakins came in. He lay awkwardly, with a special pillow propped under him to take as much pressure as possible off the knife wound in his back.

“Second time in three days,” Deakins commented dryly as he and Alex walked over to the bedside of their recovering colleague. “Damn, Goren, if you really wanted time off work this badly, all you had to do was ask.”

The joke fell flat. Bobby couldn’t summon the strength to so much as smile. Sparing Deakins a wry look, Alex leaned over and gently grasped his left hand in hers.

“How are you feeling, Bobby?”

“Been better,” he mumbled, echoing his words of that same morning, with even less enthusiasm.

“You’re going to be okay, though,” Alex murmured. She hesitated, then spoke in a shaky voice. “Bobby, I’m sorry…”

He looked over at her, some clarity returning to his eyes as he struggled to focus.

“What for?”

“I let you down,” she said, feeling stricken all over again. “I’m so sorry…”

“Don’t be,” he murmured tiredly. “Wasn’t your fault, Eames.”

Alex bit down on her lower lip for a long moment before speaking again, barely able to get out what she wanted to say without her voice cracking.

“I’ve been thinking… perhaps, when you’re ready to get back to work… You might be better off with a new partner.”

Bobby stared at her, the dazed and pained look in his eyes fading to make way for plain shock. Deakins, too, was looking at her as though she’d grown a second head.

“Are you out of your mind?” Bobby asked hoarsely. “I don’t… don’t want another partner. You’re my partner.”

“You could have been killed, Bobby!” she protested. “I let that son of a bitch take both you and Jason, and I was supposed to be in charge of protecting you! What sort of a partner lets that happen?”

He watched her through half-closed eyes that were still alert.

“What sort of a partner digs her heels in, and won’t be left behind when her partner’s life is in danger?”

That silenced her. He was right, of course. Once they’d known there was a clue to where Bobby and Jason were, she’d refused to entertain the thought of being left behind, and she had refused to stay outside when SWAT had descended on the apartment building in the Bronx.

Of course, Deakins had been just as adamant, but she knew he would have had the same reaction for any of his detectives. She wouldn’t have.

“We’re… We’re good for each other,” Bobby said softly. “Please… don’t leave me now.”

“He’s right,” Deakins told her with a smile. “You are good together, and it’d be a huge shame to split you up now.”

Alex stood silently for a long minute, considering their words. She had to concede that over the last couple of months, working with Bobby had turned out to be extremely fulfilling. Sure, it had been a little hairy to start with, but they were working their differences out all right, weren’t they? And, more importantly, she actually liked the quirky detective.

It didn’t take her long to accept in her own mind that she didn’t want a new partner now any more than he did.

“Are you sure you can cope with having a woman for a senior partner?” she teased him lightly, and a small smile lit up his pale face.

“I can cope with you… if you can cope with me.”

Alex paused at that, pretending to think it over, and Bobby burst out laughing, only to have his tears of laughter turn into tears of pain. She smiled warmly at him, and gave his hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

“I think we’re going to be just fine, partner,” she told him, aware that Deakins was standing close by, looking on with a relieved smile of his own. Bobby returned her smile with a small, shy one of his own.

“Yeah,” he murmured, even as he finally gave in to the need for sleep, and his eyes slid shut. “I know we are… Alex.”


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