ADAs Jack McCoy and Ron Carver arrived at Dylan Black’s hospital room on the far side of the hospital to be confronted with a sight that reminded them distinctly of a Mexican stand-off. On one side was Black’s lawyer and a second man that neither ADA recognised. From his large build, though, both men suspected that he’d been employed to protect Black against cop reprisals.

On the other side stood two detectives from Two-Seven precinct, Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green. Both sides were glaring at each other, and the tension in the air was thick enough to suffocate.

“Mr McCoy,” Jake Martyn spoke up tersely as McCoy and Carver approached. “It’s about damn time. We were starting to get fed up with trying to hold off these pit bulls here from my client.”

“Mr Martyn,” McCoy said coolly, ignoring the derogative reference to Briscoe and Green. “I hear you’re refusing to allow your client to be questioned at all.”

“You think I’m going to let Dylan be questioned by detectives who are incapable of suppressing their own bias? I’m sorry, Mr McCoy, but I have a responsibility to my client to ensure that his rights are upheld.”

His rights?” Briscoe exploded. “What about the rights of the two detectives he tried to kill? He shot them in cold blood!”

“In self defence,” Martyn argued. “Detective Goren and Detective Eames were threatening my client. He did what he did in a moment of panic, and I intend to see that he isn’t held responsible for that!”

“You can stop grandstanding, Mr Martyn,” McCoy cut him off. “We’re not in court yet. As for conducting an unbiased interview, you’re just going to have to accept Detective Briscoe and Detective Green’s method of interrogation. Don’t worry, though. I’m sure they’ll conduct themselves professionally.”

“I’m sure they will,” Martyn retorted. “But be that as it may, no one is questioning my client until a representative from IAB arrives.”

Silence met the statement, and then Carver spoke incredulously.

“You called Internal Affairs, and asked them to send people to oversee this interview?”

“Mr Martyn, you’ve stepped over the line…” McCoy growled, but this time it was Martyn’s turn to cut him off.

“I told you, Counsellors. I intend to see my client’s right upheld and, besides everything else, I think IAB is going to be very interested in what Dylan has to say about the conduct of Detectives Goren and Eames.”

“You lousy son of a bitch,” Green muttered sourly. Martyn smiled smugly.

“Forgive me for wanting to ensure that the ‘buddy-boy’ system doesn’t win out.”

Footsteps alerted them to a new arrival, and they all looked around to see two men approaching.

“I’m Detective John Patrick,” the older of the two men spoke. “This is Detective Aaron Jensen. We’re with the Internal Affairs Bureau.”

Martyn’s grin widened.

“Good. Now we can get started.”

It was almost more than the detectives or the two ADAs could stomach as they walked in to be confronted by Dylan Black’s smug features.

“Well, aren’t I popular all of a sudden,” he said with a sneer. Briscoe glared threateningly at him.

“Oh yeah, real popular. We couldn’t wait to get a crack at you, Black. In fact, we had to practically draw straws to see who got you.”

Green cracked his knuckles ominously, and grinned at Black.

“And we lucked out.”

“All right, enough of that,” Martyn snapped as Black cringed away from the two detectives. “You will conduct yourself appropriately, or I’ll pull the plug on this interview right now, and I promise you’ll never get him inside a courtroom.”

“Relax, Mr Martyn,” McCoy retorted. Then, to everyone’s surprise, Detective Patrick spoke up in a bored voice.

“Don’t flatter yourself, Mr Black. None of us are particularly thrilled at having to be in the same room with a piece of scum like you. Except, perhaps, your lawyer here.”

Black frowned darkly.

“Aren’t you with Internal Affairs? You’re supposed to be on my side!”

“We’re here to get to the truth of what happened, Mr Black,” Jensen replied in an equally bored tone. “We’re not on any one individual’s side. Not yours, and not the detectives that you shot. We’re here to find out what really happened. That’s all. We are certainly not here for your benefit, just because your lawyer thought he’d contact our office and beat everyone else to the punch. Got it?”

Before either Black or his lawyer had a chance to react, Patrick turned his attention to Briscoe and Green.

“Detectives, please go ahead with your interview. We’ll just observe for the moment.”

Exchanging looks that were bolstered with new confidence in light of the IAB officers’ indifference to Black, Briscoe and Green began their interrogation.

“Slimy little bastard,” Green muttered as they left the room nearly two hours later. He looked around at Patrick and Jensen, who had followed them out. “Tell us you didn’t fall for that bullshit back there.”

“Well,” Jensen ventured, “he tells a pretty convincing story…”

“I don’t believe this,” Briscoe spat. Patrick laid one hand on his younger partner’s shoulder, while holding the other one up defensively to the other men.

“Calm down, people. Let me elaborate on my partner’s words. He tells a convincing story, if you don’t know Detective Goren or Detective Eames. Now, we don’t know either of them personally, of course, but we know their reputation, and we’ve looked at their records. Neither one has ever done anything even remotely close to what Black is accusing them of. We still need to speak to the detectives, but the truth is I don’t think they have much to be worried about. We’ve studied the forensic analysis of the crime scene, and so far very little of what Black said in there matches with the evidence left behind. Of course, we can’t say anything officially yet, until we’ve completed our investigation, but I will say that between the forensic evidence, and Goren and Eames’ individual records, things are not looking good for Mr Black. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to make arrangements to speak to Detectives Goren and Eames.”

“How about that,” Briscoe said dryly as Patrick and Jensen strode away down the corridor. “Two IAB cops who actually have souls, and more than half a brain between them. Bobby and Alex might just get a fair go after all.”

“I know John Patrick,” McCoy mused quietly. “He’s a decent cop, and he went into IAB specifically to try and safeguard good cops against being railroaded, like Black is trying to do to Goren and Eames.”

“Well,” Briscoe said, “all I can say then is thank God he caught the case, and not one of those other soulless bastards they have working for IAB. There are too many assholes there who’d give their right arms to see the likes of Bobby Goren come crashing down. Now, we can concentrate on our own job of nailing Black, and not worry about whether Bobby and Alex will still have jobs to go back to when this is all over.”

“You may have difficulties with Detective Goren,” Carver warned as they walked away from Black’s room.

“Let me guess,” Briscoe said dryly. “He’s feeling guilty, and he’s taking the responsibility for the shooting.”

“That’s more than likely,” Carver agreed, “but it’s not what I meant. People… It appears that Detective Goren has been left crippled.”

“Define ‘crippled’, Ron,” McCoy said tensely.

“Crippled, as in paraplegic,” Carver answered grimly. “He’s not expected to walk again.”

“Ah, crap,” Briscoe muttered.

“Don’t worry, Mr Carver,” Green promised with quiet sincerity. “We’ll get through to him.”

It turned out to be another five or six hours before Briscoe and Green got the go-ahead to interview Bobby and Alex, after learning they had to wait until the morphine he’d received wore off. And only then, after they’d reassured Captain Deakins multiple times that they would treat both detectives with absolute care and respect.

They arrived at Bobby’s room later that afternoon to a sight that was both touching and heartbreaking. Alex Eames sat in a wheelchair by Bobby’s bed, his right hand clasped in hers while she spoke to him softly. He didn’t seem to be responding to her in any way, though. His gaze was fixed on the ceiling, and he made not a sound. Alex was not deterred, though, and continued to talk to him as though she had his absolute and complete attention.

As Briscoe and Green entered, Alex looked around, and they were both struck by the depths of sadness in her eyes. It was also painfully clear to them both that she’d shed more than a few tears recently.

“Hey, Bobby, look who’s here,” she murmured to her unresponsive partner. Her voice, though soft, still sounded strained from crying. “It’s Lennie Briscoe, and Ed Green, from the Two-Seven.”

Bobby’s eyes flickered briefly to the two detectives in the only indication that he was listening to her at all, but then he looked back to the ceiling again without uttering a sound.

“You’re here to talk to us about what happened, right?” Alex asked, trying desperately to inject a note of normalcy and professionalism into her tone. Anything to distract her from the knowledge that Bobby was treating her as though she didn’t exist. Green nodded and answered quickly, as though he understood her need for verbal distraction.

“Yeah, that’s right. We, uh… We really need to talk to you individually, though. If you like, Alex, I can take you out to the waiting lounge just down the hall. Lennie can stay here and talk to Bobby.”

With visible reluctance, Alex released her grip on Bobby’s hand, and allowed Green to take control of her wheelchair.

“I’ll be back soon, Bobby,” she told him. “I promise, I’ll be right back.”

He didn’t answer, didn’t even look at her. Briscoe watched him thoughtfully, waiting until Green had taken Alex from the room before walking around to the bedside.

“So, you gonna tell me which it is?”

For several seconds, there was no response. Then, slowly, Bobby looked around at Briscoe, his gaze inscrutable. The two men locked stares for nearly a full minute, and Briscoe found himself staring into a pair of brown eyes that reflected more pain and grief than he thought he was capable of comprehending. Finally, Bobby looked away once more, still not uttering a sound. Undeterred, Briscoe tried again.

“So, is it that you’re feeling guilty that she got hurt because you fucked up? Or are you just pissed off at her because she’ll walk again, and you won’t?”

Briscoe’s words came at Bobby like a slap in the face, and Bobby flinched visibly before finally speaking in a broken voice.

“I… I’m not angry,” he stammered. “Not at Alex. She… she didn’t do anything wrong. And… it’s not her fault that I’m… that I can’t…”

He trailed off, unable to finish. Briscoe nodded calmly.

“So, you’re feeling guilty then.”

“No… I mean… yes…”

Distress filled his voice, and he looked away miserably. Briscoe nodded his understanding.

“Well, you’d better snap out of it, pal. When Eddie and I came in, it seriously looked like you were royally pissed off at Alex. She’s sitting in here with you, in that chair… and I’m telling you, with her injuries that can’t be comfortable… and you won’t even look at her? What the hell is with that?”

Bobby looked back at Briscoe, a mixture of anger and grief on his face.

“Did you want something in particular, Briscoe?”

Briscoe pulled a tape recorder out of his coat pocket, and set it on the table near Bobby.

“I need to interview you about what happened in that warehouse, Bobby, and I want the no-frills, guilt-free version. Just the facts. Think you can do that?”

Bobby shuddered a little. Could he…? Yes, he decided finally. He could do that.

At the same time, in the currently empty waiting lounge that was part of the ICU wing, Green had just handed Alex a fresh cup of steaming coffee before sitting down opposite her.

“I hear you’re going to make a full recovery,” he said with a warm smile. “That’s great news, Alex.”

Alex, however, could not bring herself to show even a remote amount of enthusiasm.

“Yeah,” she said bleakly. “It’s wonderful.”

Her lacklustre response didn’t particularly surprise Green, given the grim news about her partner. Naturally, it would have been hard to be happy after learning that while you were going to make a complete recovery, your partner was not. He decided to try and bypass that particular subject for the time being.

“Alex, I need to get your statement about what happened in the warehouse. Do you think you’re up to that?”

“Sure,” she conceded half-heartedly. “Why not?”

Green grimaced, hoping that Briscoe was having an easier time of it with Bobby, but at the same time doubting it. He set a miniature tape recorder on the little table beside them, and switched it on.

“This is an interview with Detective Alexandra Eames, from the Major Case Squad on August eighteenth, at ten to four, regarding the shooting incident with Dylan Black. Detective Eames, please tell me what happened when you and Detective Goren went to Dylan Black’s warehouse.”

Alex hesitated for just a brief moment, gathering her thoughts before speaking.

“Detective Goren and I went to Dylan Black’s warehouse to talk to him. We’d tried to get a warrant to search the warehouse previously, but we were refused, so we went back hoping that he’d trip up and say something to give us probable cause… or to be able to get the warrant we needed. Detective Goren was talking to Black, and I stood back by the wall, watching. He was trying to intimidate him…”

“Detective Goren was trying to intimidate Mr Black?”

“Yes. He followed Black all around the floor… He was getting into his face… The usual Goren show. He was talking about Black’s relationship with his uncle, the man that we believe Black murdered. Detective Goren believed that Black was sexually abused by his uncle as a boy. He was using that to try and get Black to talk.”

“How did Black respond?” Green asked when Alex paused.

“He… He acted very timid and scared to start with.”

“To start with?”

Alex drew in a long, shuddering breath.

“It… It happened when Bobby stopped. He looked over at me… I signalled him that it was time to back off…”

“You signalled him how?” Green asked. He was intrigued. He’d heard plenty of rumours of the connection that Bobby Goren and Alex Eames had, and of their uncanny ability to communicate almost telepathically.

“A look was enough,” Alex answered. “He knew, and then he took a step or two back…”

“Detective Goren backed away from Black?” Green asked in a suddenly tense voice. “Are you absolutely positive about that?”

“Yes,” Alex answered without hesitation. “I am. He backed off to give Black a little breathing room. That was when Black moved. It… It happened so fast, I wasn’t quick enough to stop him. Neither was Bobby. Black just grabbed Bobby’s wrist. His left wrist… He broke it. I heard the bone snap. Then, he dislocated Bobby’s left shoulder, as well. He… He grabbed Bobby’s gun, and then he shot him four times. Why did he have to shoot him four times?”

“So, Detective Goren never had his gun out at any time?” Green wondered, and Alex shook her head decisively.

“No, he didn’t. We weren’t there to arrest Black. Only to talk to him. We weren’t anticipating that he’d just blow like that. Neither of us were expecting any trouble from him.”

Green felt a rush of excitement that he had to struggle to hide. That statement was in direct conflict with Black’s accusation that Bobby had held a gun to his head, and threatened to shoot him, and Alex’s words were far more believable that Black’s hysterical ranting.

“All right. So what happened after he shot Detective Goren?”

“I pulled out my gun, but he’d already turned and started shooting at me. I was hit three times. I managed to shoot back as I went down, and I guess I winged him, because he dropped Bobby’s gun. He was going to kill me, though. With or without a gun… and I wasn’t able to shoot again. He kicked my gun away, and he said ‘I’m going to kill you’… or something like that. But there was another gunshot, and Black fell. I thought it was back-up, but it wasn’t. It… It was Bobby. He dragged himself across the floor to get to his gun, and he managed to shoot Black. I guess Black didn’t have any fight left in him after that, because he got up and took off.” She paused, and then shook her head. “I… I’m sorry. It gets pretty hazy after that. I don’t really remember anything much else.”

“You’re doing great, Detective Eames,” Green told her encouragingly. “Tell me, can you remember specifically what sort of things Detective Goren said to Black?”

Alex sighed softly. She was tired, miserable and hurting, and she certainly did not want to be remembering what had happened in that warehouse.

“I remember him telling Black that he understood him. He… He said that he hadn’t been sexually abused like Black had been, but he had been physically abused by his mom and dad. So, he could sympathise. He knew why Black felt so much rage.” Alex shuddered. “He got inside Black’s head, and he pitied him. I… I think that Black saw that to… and that’s what pushed him over the edge. He didn’t want pity from anyone, but especially not from a cop.”

Green was silent, wondering how he could raise the accusations that Black had made without tipping Alex off. The last thing she needed was to have the added burden of knowing there was a formal complaint against her and Bobby from the man who had shot them both. Especially, he thought grimly, considering Bobby Goren’s physical condition. He was still thinking it over when Alex suddenly spoke.

“That was it.”

“What was what?” Green asked, baffled.

“What triggered the attack,” Alex explained shakily. “Bobby… he was standing in front of Black and he said… he said ‘I pity you, Dylan. You didn’t have any control when you were a child, and you still don’t now that you’re an adult, but that’s not your fault. You’re still going to have pay the penalty for it, but it isn’t your fault. I really do pity you’.” Tears filled her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. “Bobby’s always been good at finding which buttons to push to but this time he was a little too good at it. He… He looked at me then, and he nodded to show he understood. It was time to go. There wasn’t anything more we could gain by staying there. And that was when Black grabbed Bobby… broke his wrist… shot him… He kept shooting him… and Bobby… He looked so surprised, like he had no idea it was coming. I… I guess he didn’t, really. Neither of us did. There was no reason… no sense to it. Bobby actually felt sorry for that piece of scum, and now he’s never going to walk again because of him!”

Green shifted forward as she began to cry, and hugged her gently in reassurance.

“Do you need anything else?” she asked in between hiccupping sobs.

“No,” Green murmured as he finally sat back. “That’s all I need right now. Interview terminated at four-twenty-five.” He switched off the recorder, and offered her a warm smile. “You did just fine, Alex. Now listen, there are a couple of guys from IAB here, but they’re okay. As long as you and Bobby are straight-forward with them, you’ll be fine. Okay?”

“I will be,” she assured him. “But I really don’t know what Bobby might do. He’s so lost at the moment, it’s scaring me to death.”

“Lennie will sort him out over that,” Green promised her. “Try not to worry about him, okay?”

“Easier said than done,” she said softly. “You know he hasn’t said a word to me since this morning? He wouldn’t even look at me before.”

“Yeah, we noticed,” Green murmured. “Hang in there, Alex. He’ll find his way forward sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.”

Briscoe and Green left ICU together, and were on their way out of the hospital when they ran into Patrick and Jensen, who were on their way in.

“You guys headed up to ICU?” Briscoe asked, and Patrick nodded.

“Yeah. That where you’ve just come from?”

“Yeah,” Briscoe confirmed. “Listen, tread carefully with Goren. He’s not doing so great at the moment.”

“Physically?” Jensen wondered. “That’s not surprising, considering the battering he took.”

“The physical side is only a part of it,” Green told them. “Emotionally, he’s pretty wasted.”

“You haven’t heard yet, have you?” Briscoe asked suddenly, drawing confused looks from both Patrick and Jensen.

“Heard what?” Patrick asked, and Briscoe answered grimly.

“Goren’s paralysed. One of the bullets he took hit his spine, or something like that. He’s not going to walk again.”

“Ah, hell,” Patrick muttered. “So… no matter what the results of our investigation are, his career as a cop is over.”

“Pretty much,” Green confirmed.

“Okay,” Patrick said grimly. “Thanks for the heads-up, guys. Listen, could we get copies of your interviews with Goren and Eames? So we can compare them? If the stories you got from them match whatever we get, then they’ll pretty much in the clear.”

“You got it,” Briscoe agreed.

Despite Alex’s very vehement protests, her doctor ordered her back to her own room for the evening meal and to receive her night time medication, rather than allowing her to return to Bobby’s room as she had promised him. She protested furiously, but to no avail, and in the end she could do nothing but sit and fume as the orderly wheeled her out of the ICU wing, and over to the elevator.

The doors of the elevator slid open, but before the orderly could push her inside, two men in suits appeared – men that Alex immediately pegged for being cops and, most likely, Internal Affairs. She felt an instant dislike permeate her senses, and had to struggle to suppress it, remembering what Green had said to her about the two men.

“You must be Detective Eames,” Patrick said as they stepped out into the corridor. Alex eyed them sceptically.

“And you must be from Internal Affairs.”

“Guilty as charged,” Patrick admitted with a shrug and a wry smile. “We were just heading to ICU to talk to your partner.”

Alarm flashed across Alex’s features at that. When Green had told her that IAB were around, she’d expected that she and Bobby would have to deal with them tomorrow. She couldn’t imagine her traumatised partner being able to cope with an IAB interrogation on top of being interviewed by the likes of Lennie Briscoe.

“Now?” she asked anxiously. “Can’t it wait? Can’t you give him some more time?”

“Detective Eames,” Jensen said quietly, “we’re not here to make things worse for either one of you. We just want to get the complete picture of what happened in that warehouse.”

“We know Detective Goren is going through a very difficult time right now,” Patrick went on, “and we definitely do not want to do anything to make it worse for him. But you know that we need to talk to him… and you… as soon as possible.”

“A difficult time,” Alex retorted bitterly. “Do you know how much of an understatement that is? And do you even know why he’s having such a difficult time?”

“We know he’s paralysed,” Patrick told her, and Alex quickly looked away as her eyes filled with tears once more.

“He didn’t die,” she said shakily, “but I’ve lost my partner all the same.”

“Don’t make assumptions, Detective,” Patrick admonished her gently. “Anything could happen.”

Alex looked up at him incredulously.

“Anything? The nerves in his spine were severed, Detective Patrick. So unless you can work miracles, or you know someone who can, my partner is going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Can you give Bobby back the ability to walk?”

Patrick sighed softly.

“I wish I could, Detective Eames. I really do.”

Bobby heard movement just outside the door of his room, and relief flooded through him. Alex was coming back after all, just as she’d promised she would when Ed Green took her out. After Briscoe had left, he’d lain there in quiet terror as it occurred to him that perhaps he had pushed it that one step too far in his refusal to talk to her or even look at her.

He’d wanted her to understand that his behaviour had not been meant as a personal slight towards her. It was simply that he couldn’t cope with it all right then. It was hard enough lying in bed, staring at the legs that he no longer had any control over…

He lifted up the blankets briefly to look at the now useless limbs… even the family jewels… which no longer functioned properly… or at all; tried to comprehend the future in store for him as a paraplegic, and his mind just about went into meltdown.

He dropped the blankets again and shuddered violently and uncontrollably. No, it was not a personal slight against Alex. He was just plain terrified, and he didn’t know how to deal with it. All of his life, shutting down had been the only way he’d been able to cope with being seriously afraid, and some habits were impossible to break. He wasn’t shutting Alex out with the intention of hurting her. He was shutting down in an instinctive attempt to protect himself from further harm – physical, mental and emotional.

He’d been terrified that she would just not bother to come back, despite her promise, and with every minute that passed it became easier to convince himself of that. But hearing someone approaching gave him fresh hope and he watched the doorway eagerly, determining to make a genuine effort to communicate with her when she came back in.

A moment later, his feeling of relief was shattered when two men that he did not recognise walked into the room.

Bobby’s stomach rolled unpleasantly as he realised no one else was with them. No Alex… no one. She wasn’t coming back after all…

“Detective Goren,” Patrick said quietly, aware of the stark disappointment that lit up the bed-ridden man’s face, “I’m Detective John Patrick, and this is my partner, Detective Aaron Jensen. We’re with IAB. We need to talk to you about the incident at Dylan Black’s warehouse.”

Bobby stared at him momentarily, and then his gaze went back to the open doorway.

“Are you waiting for someone, Detective Goren?” Jensen asked.

“My… my partner,” Bobby admitted, despising the way his voice shook. “She was being interviewed by Detective Green, from the Two-Seven. She… said she’d come back afterwards.”

The two IAB detectives exchanged rueful looks. Alex had very obviously been on her way back to her own hospital room when they’d met up with her although, granted, she hadn’t looked at all happy about it. But how to tell Bobby so that he didn’t just shut down on them…?

“She was coming back,” Jensen said, opting to wing it and hoping his partner caught on. “We intercepted her, in a manner of speaking. We’re very sorry, Detective Goren, but we do need to speak to you separately, so we told the orderly to take her back to her room. We promise that we’ll keep this as brief as possible, though, and hopefully her doctor will let her come back up to see you after dinner.”

Bobby considered that for a long moment before speaking tentatively.

“She… was going to come back?”

“Yes, she was,” Patrick confirmed, quickly catching on. “She was pretty pissed off at us, actually, for not letting that happen. Your partner’s quite a spitfire, Detective. It doesn’t surprise me at all that she had the gumption stay conscious long enough to radio for help for the both of you. You must have a lot of respect for her.”

It was clearly the right thing to say. Even as they watched, Bobby visibly relaxed, reassured by their praise of his partner, and relieved by their reassurances that Alex had not lied to him about returning.

“Okay,” he conceded finally. “I… I’ll talk to you.”

“Thankyou, Detective,” Patrick said. “We’re going to record this, okay? So, hopefully, we’ll only need to bother you just this once.”

He set a tape recorder on the table beside the bed, and switched it on, giving his name and his partner’s, as well as the date and time before asking his first question.

“Detective Goren, please tell us why you and Detective Eames went to Dylan Black’s warehouse.”

“Dylan Black was our only suspect in the murder of his uncle, Colin Black, but we didn’t have solid evidence about it. We wanted to search his warehouse... My partner and I believed that there was evidence there that would link him to the murder, but our ADA wouldn’t give us a warrant. We decided to go back there to talk to Black. I thought that maybe I could catch Black out.”

“Catch him out in what way?” Patrick asked. Bobby was silent for a moment before answering.

“I... I’m a profiler. I get inside people’s heads. It’s how I trip them up, trick them into giving themselves up. I thought I could do that with Black. I suspected he’d been abused by his uncle, and that was why he’d killed him. It was a rage killing. Colin Black had been stabbed twenty-three times, and then shot once... in the genitals.”

Both Patrick and Jensen winced at the thought. Bobby went on, oblivious to their reaction.

“When we got there, Eames stayed back. She watched... and let me talk to Black.”

“Were you aggressive in the way you spoke to Black?” Jensen asked, taking care to keep his tone even and calm. Bobby considered that before replying.

“Yes... Verbally aggressive,” he admitted. “I followed him around the floor, talking about his uncle... about what his uncle had done to him. I talked about how he had no control over his actions. All he knew was rage...” Bobby trailed off, and a look of dismay filled his face. “Rage... I... I never saw it. I should have seen it...”

Patrick and Jensen exchanged glances. They knew where Bobby’s train of thought was headed, and neither one could say or do a thing to stop it without jeopardising their objectivity.

“What do you think you should have seen, Detective?” Patrick asked, hating himself for pushing a line of questioning that could potentially result in Bobby sinking into an even deeper misery than before, but having no choice.

“Black’s rage,” Bobby said in a strained voice. “He only knew rage. We’d dealt with another killer once before who was like that. The only emotion he truly knew how to express was rage, and we knew how careful we had to be when we took him down. Black was exactly the same. He only knew how to express rage. Everything else was just a facade. I should have seen the danger, but I didn’t. I... was just looking for a result that would get us what we wanted. I kept pushing the fact of the sexual abuse at Black, harder and harder. Then I saw Eames looking at me. She... She was telling me that it was time to stop, time to back off.”

“Your partner was telling you?” Jensen queried. “She actually told you to back off?”

“No... She just had to look. I know the different looks she gives me. That one... it said it was time to step away. I did... and that was when Black grabbed my wrist.”

“When you say you stepped away,” Patrick asked, “do you mean that literally? Or just figuratively?”

“Literally. I literally stepped away. Black sort of lunged at me. He grabbed my wrist and twisted it. I remember a lot of pain... In my wrist, and then in my shoulder... Black grabbed my gun out its holster and...”

Out of your holster?” Patrick echoed. “He actually reached over and took your gun out of your holster, and not out of your hand?”

“No,” Bobby said with a weary sigh. “I never took my gun out while we were there. I never saw any need. I... I thought I could talk my way through it.” He paused, as the question suddenly sank into his exhausted mind. “What do you mean, not out of his hand?”

“We’re just trying to determine exactly what happened, Detective Goren.”

Bobby stared piercingly at Patrick.

“Where is Dylan Black?”

“In custody,” Patrick answered, doing his level best to hold Bobby’s stare. “He won’t be going anywhere quickly.”

“But... he’s said things... Things that have raised questions about mine and Eames’ conduct. What did he say?”

“You’re very perceptive, Detective Goren. But here’s the thing. We need for you to not think about that right now. What we need is for you to keep on telling us what happened, from your perspective, straight up. Can you do that?”

Bobby continued to stare at Patrick for nearly a minute before conceding and going on with his story.

“Black took my gun out of my holster and he shot me... four times. I... I remember falling, and then I hit the floor. I... don’t remember much else. It’s not very clear... But I remember watching Black walk towards Eames. She was on the floor too... and there was blood. So much blood... I remember thinking he was going to kill her... and then I saw my gun. It was on the floor. I... think I dragged myself across and picked it up... and I think I managed to shoot Black once. I... I don’t remember anything after that.”

“Okay, Detective,” Patrick murmured. “That’s great. I think that’s everything we need. Interview terminated at seventeen-oh-five.” He switched off the recorder, and then looked back at Bobby, pausing to take in his pale features. “You’ve probably already guessed that Black’s version of events are considerably different to yours, but I want you to believe me when I say that you have nothing to worry about. I know I probably shouldn’t say it, but I’m going to anyway. We’ve heard Black’s version of what happened, and when we line up his version against yours, there’s only one version that is supported by the forensic evidence that CSU have analysed, and it’s not Black’s.”

“He... He made a complaint against us, didn’t he?”

Patrick smiled wryly.

“You really are incredibly perceptive. Yes, he has, but between his less than honest account of what happened, and your very impressive records, again you have nothing to worry about.”

“You don’t belong in IAB,” Bobby mumbled, starting to lose out to the exhaustion that was taking hold of him. “You’re too... too considerate.”

Patrick chuckled softly.

“Yeah, so we’ve been told more than once. Listen, Detective, we know how bad things must seem for you at the moment, but it’s not going to last.”

“It’s not going to last,” Bobby echoed softly. “Detective Patrick, I can’t walk. My legs are paralysed, permanently. Don’t… don’t stand there and tell me it’s not going to last.”

“We’re just trying to say you need to hold on,” Jensen said. “Hold on and things will eventually get better.”

Bobby turned a bitter look on the younger man.

“My… my career is over. My career was my whole life. Tell me, Detective Jensen, exactly what am I supposed to hold on for?”

Patrick leaned in closer to him, unperturbed by the other man’s distress.

“How about that partner of yours? She’s not giving up on you. Do you really want to disappoint her by giving up on yourself?”

Anger flashed across Bobby’s face.

“Screw you,” he snarled. “You have no right to talk about Alex. You don’t know her, and you don’t know me!”

“We know you have the reputation of being one of the best partnerships in the NYPD,” Patrick answered back firmly. “And we know that no decent cop worth his badge would give that up without a fight. Are you going to prove us wrong?”

The anger faded as fast as it had appeared, and Bobby looked away from them in grief.

“I don’t know,” he whispered, stricken. “I… don’t know what to do.”

“That’s easy,” Patrick replied as he stepped away from the bed. “Don’t give up, Detective.”

And then they were gone. Bobby was barely aware of their departure, lost as he was within a storm of misery and despair. And, in the silence that followed, Bobby Goren wept.


A/N: I was quite surprised by the attitude of the IAB officers in this chapter. But apparently the muse decided Bobby had enough to worry about without IAB on his case as well. Also, I know this chapter was rather bleak, but I think that Bobby might get a little boost in the next chapter...

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