A/N: This is veritable proof – miracles do happen. I was ready to consign this story to the scrap heap. It was going nowhere, and proving to be a real white elephant. Then, just as I was psyching myself up to hit ‘delete’, the muse struck. I had sudden inspiration for where to take this story, and subsequently I’ve decided to give it another chance.

Yes, more Bobby-whompage is on the way.

As a matter of note, I have made a series of minor changes through the story. Specifically, I’ve changed the name of Bobby’s brother from Richie to Frank, in order to fall in line with the show’s canon. Secondly, I’ve re-written a discussion that takes place between John Eames and Jimmy Deakins – I believe, at the end of the first chapter. They discuss Bobby and Alex’s initial time together as partners. The original discussion placed Bobby in Major Case ahead of Alex. The changed version doesn’t actually specify which of them was there first, but I think more clearly indicates Alex as being the more senior detective. It’s not vital to the story – I just prefer it.

So here we go. Chapter 4, after a long, loooooooooooooooooooooooong wait…

36 hours later

Jimmy Deakins arrived at the ward with a nauseating mixture of relief and unhappiness. The relief he was experiencing was for Alex, who had been moved out of ICU just that morning, and into a regular ward. Though she was yet to undergo the reconstructive surgery that she needed on her shoulder and knee, she was well out of the woods – well out of danger. Her doctor was confident that she would make a full recovery, and that was welcome news to Deakins’ tired ears.

Bobby, however, was another matter.

The big detective was now Deakins’ prime source of concern and unhappiness. He seemed to be trapped in limbo – currently stable, but at the same time showing no sign of waking up. That in itself was a growing concern. He knew that it was well past the time now when his doctor had expected him to start showing signs of awareness, but so far there was nothing.

Bobby remained comatose – unresponsive and unaware. It was unnatural, and frightening, and Deakins had received very little in reassurance from Dr Fielding when he’d spoken to him last night. The bottom line, Fielding had confessed reluctantly, was that the longer Bobby remained comatose, the worse his chances were of waking up.

He’d been in to visit Bobby the previous evening, after speaking with Fielding. Bobby’s brother Frank had been there, along with Fin Tutuola. Though he could sense the animosity between that was festering between the two men, it was also clear that they were operating under some sort of uneasy truce.

Deakins was quietly relieved. He wanted to believe that Frank was genuine in his concern for Bobby, but it wasn’t going to matter either way if he and Fin were at each other’s throats. Deakins was relieved for Bobby’s sake that they had been able to set aside their differences, at least for the time being.

His reason for calling into the hospital that morning, though, was not to see Bobby – although, he would call up to the ICU before heading on to One Police Plaza. No, this morning he’d come particularly to see Alex.

He rounded the corner, and was brought to an abrupt halt by the sounds of angry, frustrated shouts coming from within Alex’s hospital room. He paused, his gaze going to John Eames, who was waiting outside the room with what looked like a cold cup of coffee in his hand, and an exasperated look on his face.

“John?” Deakins asked as he walked slowly over to join the retired cop. “What’s going on? Is Alex okay?”

It was a ludicrous question, and it came out sounding ludicrous, but fortunately John seemed to understand what he meant without needing it spelt out. He nodded in answer.

“Oh, she’s okay, Jimmy. Just extraordinarily pissed off.”

“Dare I ask why?”

“She wants to go and see Bobby in ICU. She’s convinced that the reason he’s still in a coma is because she’s not up there with him. The problem is that her doctor stated categorically that she’s not leaving that bed until after she’s had the reconstructive surgery on her shoulder and her knee, and she’s not due to have that for another couple of days. As for me, I’m out here because I made the mistake of agreeing with the doctor.”

“And she shouted you out?”

John grimaced.

“Mm, something like that. I can see her point of view, and I know I’d feel the same way if I were in her position. I’d be wanting to see my partner, too. But I can’t help thinking that she’s forgotten just how badly she was hurt. If she tries extending herself too far, it’s only going to set her back, and that won’t help Bobby at all.”

Deakins nodded in wordless agreement, looking thoughtfully towards the closed door, through which he could make out Alex’s angry voice. He could understand her point of view, no matter how illogical it seemed, and he wondered whether it might really be to Bobby’s benefit to let Alex spend some time with him in ICU. If nothing else, it would be to Alex’s benefit, he mused.

“What are you thinking, Jim?” John asked softly. Deakins smiled knowingly.

“I’m thinking that maybe I’ll go in and suggest a compromise.”

The sight that Deakins was met with as he walked into the room was as amusing as it was heart-breaking. Alex was glaring furiously at her doctor, but beyond her anger Deakins could see the grief and fear she was suffering over Bobby’s fate. It was tearing her apart to be separated from him, particularly when she knew how bad a condition he was still in.

She looked around as he walked in, and it was all he could do not to cringe at the raw desperation, fear and borderline panic that were reflected in her pale features. Those were all unnatural states for Alex Eames, and Deakins found himself desperate to take any steps that would see her completely free from them.

“Captain! Can you please talk to this idiot, and tell him that I have to see Bobby?”

Deakins threw her a stern look. As much as he understood her feelings, he was not going to tolerate her being in any way abusive to the person who had saved her life.

“Detective, this… idiot, as you so eloquently put it, saved your life. I suggest you show a bit more respect, if you hope to have any leverage for negotiation.”

Dr Danny Thomas frowned at Deakins, unappreciative of his choice of words.

“There’s nothing to negotiate, Captain Deakins,” he said in a warning tone. “Alex is not leaving this bed, and that’s final. In fact, she won’t be leaving it for anywhere up to a week after she’s had the reconstructive surgery that she needs. And until she can get out of bed, and into a wheelchair, she won’t be going anywhere, let alone ICU. I’m sorry, but that is simply not negotiable.”

Alex opened her mouth, ready to protest furiously, only to scowl sullenly and clamp her jaw shut when Deakins shot her a warning glare.

“Fair enough, Dr Thomas,” Deakins acquiesced. “I understand. But I wonder if you might be willing to consider a compromise?”

Suspicion filled Thomas’ face, and he peered at Deakins critically.


Deakins nodded, resisting the urge to grin for fear it would seem he was insincere.

“Yes. A compromise.”

Thomas looked from the captain to his patient, and then back to Deakins. He didn’t want to hand an easy victory to his rather recalcitrant patient, but at the same time he could clearly see how much it was hurting her to be separated from her partner. Her pain at not being able to see him with her own eyes was so acute that he could almost feel it himself, and he would have had to have been a moron not to know how detrimental it was to her, and to her recovery. Thomas knew, with absolute certainty, what an impediment it would be to her recuperation if a solution could not be found.

So, he reasoned in his own mind, if her captain was offering a rational compromise, then surely it would be to everyone’s benefit to make it work.

“All right,” he conceded finally, and tried to ignore the way that Alex’s face lit up. “What did you have in mind?”

A thick, uncomfortable silence had long since descended between Fin and Frank. To begin with, Frank had tried to make light conversation in an effort to ease the almost palpable tension, but was soon discouraged when all he could get in response from the SVU detective were monosyllabic grunts. Now, they sat on either side of Bobby’s bed, facing off like opposing war parties at a peace talk, with Bobby as the neutral territory that was all that kept them from breaking out into outright war.

Every so often, one man would glance up at the other, but not a word was spoken between them except for the occasional encouraging murmur to the man who lay comatose between them.

Neither was prepared, therefore, when the door of Bobby’s room suddenly swung open, and orderlies appeared, guiding along an occupied hospital bed.

“What on earth is this?” Frank exclaimed, startled and perhaps just a little resentful of the unexpected interruption. Fin, however, instantly realised what was going on when he recognised who was in the bed. Getting up, he moved both himself and his chair away to make room for the gurney to fit in beside Bobby’s bedside.

“Alex, how’re you doing?”

“I’m going to be okay, Fin,” she murmured. “I was lucky.”

He offered her as sincere a smile as he could manage.

“And you finally talked them into letting you come up to see Bobby, huh?”

“Actually,” she admitted sheepishly, “Captain Deakins did the talking. They wouldn’t listen to me. This…” She indicated the hospital bed with the hand that wasn’t currently immobilised. “This was the only way my doctor would let me come up here.”

“Hey, whatever works,” Fin said with fresh enthusiasm. He looked around at Bobby’s still form, and spoke cheerfully, ignoring the frown that he thought he saw on Frank’s face. “Bobby, look who’s here, buddy!”

Alex strained to look around at her injured partner as her bed was manoeuvred fully into the room, but she was unable to get a clear look at him until they’d manoeuvred her bed right up next to his. When she finally laid eyes on his still, pale form, it was all she could do not to cry.

“Oh god… Bobby…”

“He’s still fighting, Alex,” Fin told her softly.

She barely heard him, though, with her attention focused exclusively on her comatose partner. Ignoring the protests from those around her, Alex pushed herself up with some difficulty, and stretched her uninjured arm out to try and make physical contact with him. She couldn’t quite reach him, though, and a distressed whimper escaped her lips.

“Hang on,” one of the orderlies said, stepping in and lowering the bed until Alex was able to close her hand over Bobby’s arm. As her hand came into contact with warm flesh, she realised that yes, he was indeed still alive, and the tears came in a flood.

“Bobby, you have to wake up,” she begged him. “Please, wake up.” She hesitated, as though expecting a response, but there was none. He remained still and silent, locked away within his mind and body. She tried again, desperate to keep her voice even and steady. “I’m going to be okay, Bobby. Just… Just scratches. So, you’d better be okay, too. Because if you’re not, I swear to God, I’ll follow you and I will kick your ass so hard… Do you hear me, Goren? Wake up, goddamn you!”

As she spoke, her voice rose steadily in volume until she was one step shy of shouting at him. When she’d finished speaking, an awkward silence fell, until Frank suddenly sucked in a sharp breath and let out a surprised yelp. All eyes turned to him, and he returned their stares with a baffled one of his own.

“Um… This is going to sound like something out of one of those ridiculous soap operas, but Bobby just squeezed my hand.”

“Keep talking to him, Alex,” Deakins encouraged her, feeling a sudden surge of hope. She didn’t need to be told twice.

“Bobby Goren, don’t you dare give up on me. I’ve just gotten used to you, and if you make me have to break in a new partner, I swear to God you’ll never hear the end of it.” She hesitated again, and then tightened her grip fractionally on his arm, as if the physical contact alone would be enough to bring him out of the coma, and back to her. When she spoke again, it was in a broken, grief-riddled voice. “Bobby, don’t you leave me behind. Don’t you make me bury you. I swear, I’ll never forgive you if you do.”

“He did it again!” Frank exclaimed, the excitement suddenly obvious in his voice. Alex stretched out further, and was just able to brush her fingertips against his cheek.

“Please, Bobby,” she begged him. “It’s time to wake up.”

Minutes passed, and Bobby’s fingers tightened around his brother’s hand three more times, each time clearly in response to Alex’s voice, proving it was not a fluke, or a muscle twitch.

By the time Dr Fielding arrived, signalling the end of Alex’s visit with her partner, Bobby’s vital stats had very gradually begun to rise.

“Well,” Fielding said with a smile as the orderlies prepared to take Alex back to her own room. “If I’d known you’d have this effect on him, I would have had you brought up to him as soon as he came out of isolation.”

“Can I come up again tomorrow?” she asked hopefully, and Fielding nodded, much to her relief and delight.

“We’ll need to clear it with your doctor, but it’s fine by me. Obviously it’s doing you both a world of good.”

The relief on Alex’s face spoke in volumes, and she looked back at Bobby anxiously.

“I have to go back to my own room now, Bobby, but I’ll be back again tomorrow. I promise I’ll be back, and I’m going to keep giving you a verbal ass-kicking until you wake up. You got that, partner?”

Frank laughed softly.

“He got it all right. He just squeezed my hand again.”

Fin leaned over to kiss Alex lightly on the forehead.

“You go and have a good night’s sleep, girl. He’s heard your voice now. He’s going to be okay.”

She smiled gratefully at him, and then she was gone, taken out again by the orderlies. Deakins hesitated in following, look quizzically to Fielding as the doctor began to record details on Bobby’s chart.

“Doctor Fielding…?”

Fielding looked around at Deakins, and then smiled reassuringly at him as the mixture of hope and concern in the captain’s eyes registered with him.

“There’s a definite improvement, Captain Deakins. It’s not huge, but it is still an improvement. I wouldn’t recommend celebrating just yet, but I think I can safely say there’s a good reason to hope.”

Deakins let his breath out in a rush. In the time since Bobby and Alex had been brought to the hospital after the shooting, the one word that he hadn’t heard being used in connection to Bobby was ‘hope’. To hear it now, and directly from the doctor, was a huge weight off his mind. When Fielding spoke again, it was to urge quiet caution.

“He’s not out of the woods yet, Captain. Not by a long shot, and there is still the issue of him waking up. The fact that he clearly responded to Alex is encouraging, but I’m not going to relax until he’s awake and responsive.”

“So, what do we do?” Frank spoke up, from where he still sat at his brother’s side.

Fielding glanced around at him as he replied.

“Right now, I suspect that the best thing we can do for Bobby is to make sure that Alex is brought back up here tomorrow. He definitely responded to her voice, and I don’t want to see that bit of ground lost.” He paused, smiling faintly at Deakins. “That was your idea, bringing her up here, bed and all?”

Deakins felt inexplicably defensive, although there was no confrontation in the doctor’s tone.

“She needed to see him,” he answered simply.

“And he needed to hear her voice,” Fin added fiercely. Fielding nodded placidly.

“Please, don’t think I’m being critical. I’m not. I agree with you, and I think it was a damned good idea. Thankyou, Captain Deakins. Sometimes we doctors can be kind of blinkered when it comes to our patients. Sometimes, it takes something like you to think outside the box, and come up with those unusual ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. So again, thankyou.”

Deakins smiled in response, embarrassed, but at the same time relieved.

“You’re welcome.”

“So, that was his partner.”

Fin looked back at Frank with a slight frown as he pulled his chair back over to the bedside and resumed his vigil at his friend’s side after both Deakins and Fielding had gone.

It was all Fin could do not to snap outright, but there was something in Frank’s voice that set him on edge. Perhaps it was the instinctive irritation he felt on Bobby’s behalf every time he’d heard someone make a lewd suggestion about Bobby and Alex’s partnership, but he felt his hackles immediately rise up at the seemingly simple comment.

“Yeah,” he answered tonelessly, making every effort to keep his voice neutral, and his emotions in check. “That was Alex.”

“She seemed pretty tough,” Frank mused.

Again, Fin felt his irritation levels rise. He hoped this was not going where he thought it was, but by all indications so far, it seemed that Frank was heading towards a major verbal faux pas.

“She was shot three times, Frank,” Fin said bluntly, staring at the other man with a deriding glare. “She stayed conscious long enough to call for help, even though she could hardly talk. So yeah, she’s tough.”

“Actually, I meant…” Frank faltered, then, and eyed Fin intently for a long minute before finally shaking his head. “Never mind.”

By then, Fin was intensely suspicious, and he leaned forward, focusing his best ‘cop versus suspect’ glare on Bobby’s brother – something that he had partly developed himself over the years, and had also partly learned from Bobby himself during their time together in Narcotics. It had the desired effect – Frank began to squirm uncomfortably in his chair, and found himself unable to hold Fin’s interrogating stare.

“What, exactly, did you mean?” Fin demanded. When Frank didn’t respond, Fin let his breath out in an angry hiss.

“What you meant was that she must be tough to be partners with Bobby. That’s what you really meant to say, wasn’t it?”

The silence from the other side of the bed spoke in volumes, and Fin looked away in anger.

“You lousy son of a bitch.”

Frank flushed red with anger, and finally looked back up to meet Fin’s angry gaze.

“Hey, give me a break here, Tutuola! I wasn’t trying to insult Bobby. All I mean is that I know from experience how hard it is to get along with him! Even Bobby wouldn’t deny that, and you damn well know it! I was trying to compliment her… You know, to say that she must be something special to have gone the distance as his partner… and also to get him to respond to her like he did.”

Fin, however, was not placated by Frank’s explanation.

“Bullshit,” he spat, as all of his vehemence towards Bobby’s brother rapidly bubbled to the surface. “You never even tried to get along with him. You spent half the time comparing Bobby to your mom and telling him he was gonna end up just like her. The rest of the time, you treated him like shit just to try and impress your old man. He’s your little brother, Frank. You should’ve looked after him, but instead you never gave him a chance. You were an asshole back then, Frank, and you’re an asshole now.”

“I’m here now, aren’t I?” Frank protested weakly, but Fin snorted derisively.

“Yeah, and out of the goodness of your own heart, too. What is it that you really wanted from him, Frank? Money, to pay off your bookie? That’s usually what it is.”

Frank bristled visibly, then.

“Maybe you ought to remember that you’re only in here at all because I said it was okay. I only have to speak to the nurses, and you’ll be out of here so fast…”

The rage that flashed across Fin’s face at the not-too-subtle threat was enough to truly give Frank pause, but before either man could say a word, the door swung open and Dr Fielding strode in, looking at the two men in genuine anger.

“What in the name of God is going on here? I was two rooms down, and I could hear you both arguing from there!”

“Just a disagreement,” Fin said in a guttural tone when Frank remained silent. Fielding glowered fiercely at the two of them.

“Then take it outside this hospital. Of all the inappropriate places to be fighting, this is absolutely the worst choice you could make! If you can’t both stay in here without getting into it over… well, over whatever it is that you were arguing, then I promise I’ll kick you both out. I would rather arrange to have Alex Eames in here with Bobby than the two of you if you can’t keep it civil!”

“We’re sorry,” Frank murmured, genuinely chastened. “It won’t happen again, I promise.”

Fielding regarded them piercingly before nodded.

“I hope not.”

With a final glaring look, the doctor exited the room once more, leaving two very subjugated men in his wake. Frank peered at Fin, his head tilted on a slight angle in a gesture that was disturbingly reminiscent of Bobby.

“So… Do you think we can manage not to argue? Because if Bobby really can hear us, then listening to us go at each other can’t be doing him a hell of a lot of good.”

For several seconds, Fin remained where he was, glaring furiously at Frank. Finally, though, he sat back with a heavy thud.

“Whatever, man.”

A weary sigh escaped Frank, and he reluctantly accepted that that was all the concession that he was likely to get out of the SVU detective.

“Okay, then.”

Over the next twenty-four hours, Bobby finally began to show signs of waking from the coma and, in response to slowly strengthening lung functionality, Dr Fielding had the ventilator and accompanying tubing removed. Bobby’s breathing was shallow, but he was at least breathing on his own, and that was another encouraging sign to bolster their hopes.

Bobby also began to noticeably respond not only to Alex, but to others who spoke to him as well. Most particularly, he seemed to respond well to Deakins, Fin and, to the interest of all, John and Helen Eames. Though no one said a word about it, it was a telling sign that the one person who could get no response from Bobby was Frank Goren.

It was a curious irony, then, that it was only Frank who was with him in ICU when, nearly seventy-two hours after coming out of isolation, Bobby Goren finally woke up.

Darkness and pain. To begin with, that was all that Bobby was aware of. Dimly, somewhere in some distant corner of his mind, he wondered whether he was dead, but dismissed that almost straight away. He was sure that being dead couldn’t possibly hurt as much as this.

He tried to move, found he couldn’t, and then wondered if he really had tried to move, or whether he just thought he had. God, what a mind-bender to put on himself. He moaned, only to realise that he couldn’t hear himself, either. So he was either paralysed and deaf, or still asleep. He hoped to God it was the latter.

He groaned again, and this time was gratified to actually hear the sound, faint though it was. So his ears were working. Now, for the rest…

A hand closed over his own, with just enough strength in the grip that he could not doubt that someone was there. He struggled to regain some clarity of thought, and as he did so, a familiar voice rang distantly in his ears.

“Bobby? C’mon, kid, it’s time to wake up. Please, open your eyes…”

Goren felt a dull jolt through his system. At forty-five years of age, there was only one person on the face of the planet who might have called him ‘kid’, and that was someone that he hadn’t seen for a long time. Feeling dazed, sick and confused, Bobby Goren slowly opened his eyes.

Frank Goren smiled in relief as his brother’s eyes flickered open, and gradually focused on him. He squeezed Bobby’s hand again, and spoke softly to his brother.

“Hey, Bobby. Welcome back, little brother.”

F... Fr…”

“Yeah, it’s me,” Frank murmured. “It’s Frank. Don’t try to talk, okay?”

That was an instruction that Bobby had no problems following. He had no strength to talk, anyway. It was hard enough trying to sort out his thoughts and memories without trying to vocalise them as well.

Still smiling, Frank reached across and pressed down hard on the button that would summon a nurse or doctor to the room, and then he sat back down to wait. He felt a brief moment of guilt that none of Bobby’s friends or colleagues were there for his initial moment of waking, but that was all too easily brushed aside. Bobby was his brother, and he had no problems seeing himself as being entitled to the privilege of being the one whom Bobby woke up to.

A nurse came promptly, and smiled with visible relief when she saw Bobby stirring.

“I’ll call for Dr Fielding, and then I’ll be right back,” she told Frank, and hurried from the room. Frank watched her go, and then returned his attention to his brother.

“Bobby? You with me?”

A slight shudder passed through Bobby’s body, and his eyes opened again and looked questioningly to Frank. The older man grasped his hand firmly.

“Boy, you gave me one hell of a scare,” Frank told him gently. “I came all the way to New York with my family to see you, only to find you in the hospital after being shot! Damn, Bobby…When you piss someone off, you really go all the way, don’t you?”

Even in his semi-aware state, Bobby felt his heart clench with a sickening combination of guilt and fear as memories of the shooting began to trickle back into his conscious mind. He remembered the physical agony as four bullets tore through his body, and he remembered the emotional agony as he watched Alex be gunned down as well. He had vague recollections of dragging himself across a cold, hard floor… picking up his gun… firing…

Did he shoot back? He couldn’t clearly remember. All he knew was the last clear, conscious memory he had, which was of Alex lying on the floor across from him, her precious blood seeping out onto the cement. After that, there was nothing.

He came back to awareness to find not Frank but someone else hovering over him, someone whom he was fairly sure was a doctor. His assumption was confirmed when the stranger spoke.

“Hello, Bobby. I’m Dr Fielding. I’ve been looking after you. Can you tell me, do you know where you are?”

That was not a hard question to answer, Bobby thought ruefully. He promptly changed his mind when he opened his mouth to answer, and could not get anything out other than a strangled moan. A moment later, he felt the tip of a straw being placed against his lips. He parted them, and managed to suck a little bit of cool water into his dry mouth.

“There you go,” Fielding murmured. “How’s that? Better?”

“Thanks…” Bobby whispered. He drew in a shuddering breath, and then added, “I’m… in the hospital.”

“That’s right,” Fielding confirmed. “You’re in the ICU at St Clare’s Hospital, Bobby. Do you know why?”

“Got… shot…” he mumbled tiredly in answer. Fielding nodded approvingly. He was more than pleased with Bobby’s level of awareness, but he had to ask at least one more question.

“And how are you feeling right now?”

Even with the scatty state that his mind was currently in, that seemed to Bobby to be a phenomenally stupid question. He was sorry that he had no energy to give his tone the level of sarcasm that he felt his answer warranted. Instead, he settled for giving the doctor his most incredulous look. Fielding smiled apologetically, and Bobby knew the doctor was aware how idiotic his question was.

“I’m sorry, Bobby,” Fielding apologised. “But I always ask that question just to see what sort of a reaction I get. It’s actually easier to gauge how alert you are by asking the fool questions rather than the sensible ones.” Fielding looked around at Frank, who was watching anxiously. “He’s going to be okay, Mr Goren.”

Frank let his breath out in a rush.

“You’re serious…?”

“I am. This is what I was waiting for, for him to wake up and show that he’s rational and lucid. It’s a good thing, Mr Goren. A very good thing. His vitals are improving steadily, and now that he’s awake I can officially downgrade his condition from critical to serious. He’s going to get through this.”

“Thank God,” Frank murmured.

“Of course, I can’t speak yet for the other issues… such as what sort of damage we might yet find has been done by that last bullet, but he is going to live through this.”

Frank nodded, swallowing hard.

“Well… That’s the important thing, for now at least.”

Bobby gradually became aware that there was a conversation going on about him that he wasn’t being directly involved in, and decided somewhat muzzily that it was time to be included back into the discussion; which he did it by asking about the one thing that was weighing most heavily on his exhausted mind.


Fielding looked back to Bobby, and momentary confusion was quickly replaced with sympathetic understanding.

“She’s fine, Bobby. She’s healing well. Believe me when I tell you that she’s going to be incredibly relieved to hear that you’re awake, finally.”

The word ‘finally’ registered in Bobby’s subconscious, and he wondered dimly just how long he’d been unconscious for. As far as he was aware, the shooting had happened only hours ago, and not days. He decided it was not a question to waste precious energy asking. Fielding went on, speaking clearly to ensure that Bobby comprehended what he was saying.

“Once you’ve had a chance to wake up a little more, we’ll take you to run some tests, so you’ll have to be patient with us, while we poke and prod at you. Right now, though, I’m going to get a couple of nurses in here, and we’ll see about getting you cleaned up, and a little more presentable. Okay?”

Bobby sighed faintly, and managed to nod. Right at that moment, he would have gone along with just about anything the doctor said. He was simply too weak and in too much pain to argue. Fielding smiled with visible relief, and headed for the door.

“Hey, Doc…” Frank called after him, and Fielding looked back questioningly.

“Yes, Mr Goren?”

“Um… Detective Tutuola… He had to leave to answer a call-out… or, whatever it is they call it. He… He’d really want to know that Bobby’s awake, but I don’t know how to contact him.”

Fielding smiled and nodded in understanding.

“Don’t worry, Mr Goren. I’ll be letting Captain Deakins know in very short order, and trust me; the word will spread very quickly from there on.”

“And his partner… Alex?”

Fielding’s grin widened.

“I’ll organise for her to come up as soon as we’re done with all the preliminary tasks. We need to run a number of tests, just so we can be sure that everything is functioning as it should be, neurologically speaking. I don’t believe there’ll be any problems in that respect, but I plan to cover all the bases.”

Frank nodded in understanding.

“Thankyou, Dr Fielding. Thankyou for saving my brother.”

The doctor’s gaze went to Bobby. His eyes were closed, but Fielding could tell he hadn’t slipped back into unconsciousness primarily by the way that he was struggling to keep his breathing even. He was in pain, but he was alive, and awake. Miracles really did happen, Fielding mused silently. Then, with a last nod of acknowledgment to Frank, Fielding hurried from the room.

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