A/N: This chapter turned out to be a lot less dark than I'd originally intended. Plus, I'd seriously considered finishing it on a 'did he or didn't he?' style cliffhanger... and decided not to. I know I'm a bitch, but I can be nice. Sometimes.

Frank returned half an hour later with the promised reading material and, to the amusement of all, Sophie took The Times and began to read the articles out in a clear, practised voice. When Bobby expressed interest in something in particular, she would wait patiently for the adults to discuss it before going on to a new article.

Sophie continued doing that until she came to the editorial page, where she gave a chirp of surprise.

“This one’s about you and Detective Alex, Uncle Bobby!”

While Bobby and Alex exchanged suddenly unsettled looks, Fin spoke up quickly.

“Sweetie, maybe you’d better skip that one.”

“No, Fin, it’s okay,” Bobby said softly. “Let her read it.”

“Yeah,” Alex said with a derisive snort. “Let’s hear what drivel they’ve written about us this time.”

Sophie hesitated, looked around at each of the three adults before nervously going on to read the article.

It is with great relief that this newspaper noted the impending recovery of Detective Robert Goren and Detective Alexandra Eames…

“They always use ‘Alexandra’,” Alex huffed in annoyance. “Every damn time…”

Sophie giggled at her exaggerated tone, and then read on.

Detectives Eames and Goren were both shot and critically wounded two weeks ago by a man they allegedly suspected of committing murder. The Times has been following their progress since the incident, and is happy to report that both of these courageous individuals will live.

“Wow,” Alex said dryly. “Someone actually managed to write that without suffering reflux?”

“Alex, be nice,” Bobby chided her, but he couldn’t hide the grin that filtered onto his face at her words. “Go on, Sophie.”

Sophie read on, cheered by the adults’ good humour.

We at The Times wish both detectives a full and speedy recovery, and we all hope they will be back where they belong very soon.

Bobby’s smile faded at the unwanted reminder that a full recovery for him was not going to happen, but he said nothing. When Alex squeezed his hand gently, though, he responded by returning the gesture. Next to him, Alex relaxed just a little. She hadn’t expected the words from the article not to affect him at all, but it reassured her that he was at least responding to her.

On the other side of the coin,” Sophie read, “this paper wonders just what was going through the minds of the authorities in sending the man who shot the detectives to the very same hospital where Detectives Eames and Goren are currently recovering…

Even at her young age, Sophie understood the implications of that last line, and she looked up at the adults in dismay, her eyes filling with tears.

“He’s here? The man who hurt you is in this hospital? What if he tries to hurt you again?”

Neither Bobby nor Alex responded. They exchanged increasingly disturbed stares, their fear and worry reflected clearly in each other’s eyes.

“Okay, Sophie,” Fin murmured, feeling more than a little sick himself at the news. He gently took the newspaper from her, and lifted her off the bed. “I need you to do something important for me. Go find your dad, and ask him to get Dr Fielding. Go on, quickly.”

Sophie ran from the room to do as he’d asked. Fin waited until she’d gone before turning back to his friends.

“Okay, guys, don’t freak out on me now.”

“Freak out?” Alex asked hoarsely, staring at Fin in growing anger as the shock began to wear off. “Freak out? Dylan Black is here, in this hospital, and you don’t want us to freak out?”

“He’ll be under police guard, Alex,” Fin reminded her. “There’s no way he’d get anywhere near either of you. You know that!”

“Unless he’s granted bail on arraignment,” Bobby said softly.

“On a charge of attempted murder of two cops?” Fin snorted. “I don’t think so.”

“It… It could depend on what IAB say about it,” Bobby went on.

“But they seemed okay,” Alex argued in confusion. Bobby, however, was undeterred, and his next words sent a chill down both Alex and Fin’s spines.

“Black made a complaint about us. About our… our methods.”

Silence met his words.

“He… complained… about us?” Alex choked out incredulously. “Over what?”

“The detectives from IAB wouldn’t tell me the details,” Bobby answered softly. “But… they told me we didn’t have to worry.”

“Detectives from IAB told you that?” Fin asked, more than a little disbelieving.

“Yeah, Fin, they told me that. They said that they couldn’t say anything officially, but that they’d looked at the reports from CSU, and Black’s statement wasn’t supported at all by the forensic evidence.” He looked to Alex. “They said my statement was.”

“They’d better not be trying to sucker you,” Fin growled, but Alex shook her head.

“I don’t think they were, Fin. I talked to them, too. Let’s just say they didn’t come across as your standard IAB officers. They were…”

“Considerate,” Bobby offered when Alex hesitated. She nodded her agreement.

“And kind. They were kind to us.”

“They told me we don’t have to worry,” Bobby added. Fin snorted.

“Well, I hope that’s true, but if you’re right, it’d be a first.”

The conversation was interrupted when the door opened, and Fielding strode in, worry etched on his face.

“I just got a very convoluted message from a frantic little girl that the bad man was after her uncle.”

“Dylan Black,” Alex said grimly. “We just found out that he’s here in this hospital.”

Understanding dawned on Fielding’s face.

“Oh. I see… Well, it may not seem like much comfort at the moment, but I can assure you that he’s well guarded and, unless I’m mistaken, your captain is trying to organise protection for the two of you, as well.”

“Well, I’ll be easy to protect,” Bobby muttered dismally. Alex frowned at him, and he shrugged. “It isn’t as though I’m going anywhere soon.”

“Actually, Bobby,” Fielding said as he walked over, “that might not be entirely accurate.”

“What do you mean?” Bobby asked, sounding confused. Fielding offered him a smile.

“What I mean is that I think we can look at trying to get you into a wheelchair some time in the coming week or two so that you can start adjusting to being in a chair, if you’re agreeable with that.”

Bobby fell silent, his tired mind suddenly swamped with fear and anxiety over the concept of adjusting to life in a wheelchair, and before he could stop it his eyes filled with fresh tears.

“I’m sorry,” Bobby whispered, filled with a deep shame at his apparent inability to control his own emotions.

“Don’t apologise, Bobby,” Fielding told him gently. “I’d be concerned if you didn’t shed a few tears over this. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s why I raised it with you now. You’re not quite ready to get out of bed yet, but hopefully by the time you are, you’ll be ready for it mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Now, I have to go. I have another patients to see, but don’t worry yourselves too much about Dylan Black. He’s on the other side of the hospital, under strict guard, and I promise you won’t be running into him at all.”

“Don’t worry,” Alex echoed bitterly once Fielding had gone. “Easy for him to say.”

“Look,” Fin murmured, “how about I go talk to your captain? See what’s happening?”

Alex hesitated, and then nodded in appreciation.

“Thanks, Fin. We’d appreciate that.

She waited until he’d gone, and then returned her attention to her partner, and taking in his deepening distress that was clearly reflection on his pale face. Alex felt her heart break all over again, and she reached for him, clasping his free hand in hers.

“I’m right here,” she told him softly, fully anticipating him shutting down again. She was surprised and relieved when he didn’t. Instead, he looked across at her through a blinding veil of tears that spilled from his eyes.

“Alex…” he whispered in distress, and she looked up at him in equal distress.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I don’t want to be in a wheelchair,” he choked out in a broken tone that threatened to tear her apart.

“I know,” she said, stretching up a little further so that she could cup his stubbled cheek with her hand. The contact was nowhere near enough for either of them, and Alex tried unsuccessfully to hold back her own tears at the inadequacy of it. “I want to hug you so tight,” she choked out, grasping his hand as tightly as she could.

“It’s not fair!” Bobby cried, finally giving in to the misery that had been threatening to overtake him.

“No,” Alex agreed, similarly in tears. “It isn’t fair. You deserve better than this.”

A bitter laugh escaped him, sounding slightly strangled.

“Mom is going to have a field day with me over this. If… If she even notices, that is. She probably won’t even notice I haven’t been… been calling her… or that I haven’t been to see her… unless she wants to rip into me over it.”

“Why would she do that, Bobby?” Alex asked, disturbed that he seemed to believe that would happen. “You’re there for her all the time. You call her every day, and you go to see her every week. That’s a hell of a lot more than Frank ever bothered to do.”

“And yet it’s always Frank that she asks for,” Bobby said miserably. “It’s only ever Frank that she wants to know about. I… I’m a failure in her eyes, because I didn’t follow the same path as Frank.”

“What, and become a vindictive, abusive alcoholic and gambling addict, with a fondness for drugs?” Alex retorted acidly. “Oh yeah, you’re a real failure. C’mon, Bobby, didn’t you tell her what your wonderful brother did to you the last time you saw him?”

Bobby rubbed self-consciously at his eyes.

“I tried to tell her. She accused me of spreading lies, and started hitting me with whatever she could lay her hands on. I didn’t try again. In… In her eyes, Frank can’t do anything wrong, but me…”

He trailed off, unable to bring himself to finish that sentence, and instead he looked away as he struggled uselessly to contain his tears.

“Oh, Bobby,” Alex whispered.

“It hurts,” Bobby admitted in a small voice. “And… I try not to be, but I’m jealous of you.”

“Me? Why?”

“B… Because you have parents who… who love you more than anything. My… my mom stopped being capable of loving me a long time ago… and my dad never loved me at all.”

Alex shut her eyes for a moment in an effort to regain control of her emotions before looking back at her distraught partner.

“I know it doesn’t make up for anything, but Mom and Dad took you into their hearts virtually right from the moment they met you. You’re a real part of our family now, as far as they’re concerned. They love you, Bobby. Don’t every doubt that.” She paused, and then added softly, “And so do I.”

Bobby quietened just a little, his nervous gaze coming to rest on her. For several seconds they just stared at each other, and then Bobby spoke in a voice so soft that she had to strain to hear it.

“Thankyou. I… I love you, too, Alex.”

She wondered with a sharp pain in her heart just how much of him being able to say that now was solely because he truly believed his career as a cop was finished. That was too painful a thought to consider, though, and she thrust it away. She squeezed his hand again, and was both grateful and relieved when he responded in kind.

“We’re going to get through this, Bobby, together. Okay?”

He nodded, but she couldn’t help but notice with a growing feeling of unease that he would no longer make eyes contact with her.

That afternoon
Internal Affairs Bureau

John Patrick and Aaron Jensen stood in their supervisor’s office for what felt like an eternity, while he read through the report they’d compiled. Neither man had to be a genius to know that he wasn’t happy, and both of them knew why. All they could do, though, was stand there, and wait for the inevitable explosion.

Finally, Brian Crockett set the pages of their report down, and regarded the men standing before him with an inscrutable stare.

“Well, this is a very comprehensive report, gentlemen. Not a bad effort for just a couple of days’ work. I have to wonder whether perhaps you tweaked the facts a little. Did you?”

“No, sir,” Patrick answered tonelessly. “And it’s more than two days’ work. Prior to conducting the interviews yesterday, we’ll spent four solid days examining the forensic reports, statements, and everything else case-related. And then, after we conducted out interviews yesterday, we came back and spent half the night comparing our interviews to the interviews conducted by the detectives from the Two-Seven. We didn’t take short-cuts, we didn’t tweak the evidence and we didn’t make anything up. That’s our report, and we’re standing by it.”

Crockett, however, looked unimpressed by Patrick’s resolve.

“This report completely exonerates Detective Goren, and places all responsibility on Dylan Black.”

“Yes, sir,” Patrick said firmly. “That’s the conclusion we reached. Detective Goren and Detective Eames acted appropriately and with reasonable force. Dylan Black was not threatened, and he was shot once by both detectives who were acting in clear defence of each other. We concluded that they did nothing wrong.”

Crockett sat back slowly.

“I thought I made it clear what conclusion you were to reach when I handed you this case to you.”

Patrick flushed red with anger at that.

“So let me get this straight. If I’d tweaked the evidence in favour of Goren and Eames, then that would be wrong. But it’s okay to do that if it gets a result in favour of the man who tried to murder them?”

Crockett stiffened, his features darkening at Patrick’s words.

“Watch yourself, Patrick. You’re out of line, there…”

“No, sir, you’re the one who’s out of line. Don’t ever ask us to manipulate evidence, especially when the only reason is because you happen to have a grudge against the detective who’s been complained about.”


“No, sir. We will not twist evidence to get a particular result, not now and not ever And especially not to bring down two good cops who have done nothing wrong!”

Crockett looked sharply to Jensen, who stood tall under the sudden scrutiny.

“What about you, Jensen? Do you agree with Patrick? I promise you won’t suffer any retribution for saying no…”

Jensen raised an eyebrow at his boss.

“But I will if I say yes? Is that what you’re saying, sir?”

Again, Crockett glowered.

“Damn it…”

“Yes, sir, I do agree with him,” Jensen said quickly. “One hundred percent. Goren and Eames didn’t do anything that Dylan Black says they did. They didn’t threaten him, and they acted well within the boundaries of proper police protocol. They did nothing wrong.”

“Fine,” Crockett said tonelessly, deciding abruptly to take a different tact. “I’ll consider the report, but be aware that I’ll probably have Somers and Aldridge review it before I formally respond.”

Patrick barely withheld a smirk. Somers and Aldridge were notorious for their ruthlessness in pursuing investigations against good cops, no matter how flimsy the evidence. He’d seen it coming a mile off that Crocket would employ those two with the intention of tampering with the report, and he was well prepared for it.

“I thought you might be inclined to do that,” he said calmly. Crockett was all but sneering at him.

“Did you just?”

“Yes, sir. And that’s why I’ve already forwarded copies of my report to Lieutenant Van Buren at the Two-Seven, the Chief of Detectives, the Commissioner, Captain Deakins at Major Case, the DA’s office, the Association reps assigned to Goren and Eames, and several media outlets.”

Crocket froze, his chubby face going red with fury as Patrick’s words gradually sank in.

“You… You… Patrick, you son of a bitch!”

Patrick took an incongruous step towards the door, and Jensen followed suit.

“Just hedging my bets, sir,” Patrick said in an almost cheerful tone. “You’re welcome to have anyone you like review our report, but if anyone tried to change it behind our backs, all hell will break loose.”

“Get the hell out of my office!” Crockett bellowed. “Both of you, out!”

They went, not even attempting to hide their grins.

“So, what now?” Jensen wondered. “Because you know that Crocket is going to try and undermine our report somehow, to make Goren and Eames seem like the bad guys.”

“I know,” Patrick agreed. “And we’re not going to let him. Get on the phone and contact the Police Association. Have them send a rep to the hospital.”


“Yes, now. I’m going to call Captain Deakins, the Two-Seven and the Chief of D’s. We’re going to go and talk to them again, and make sure the people who matter know what really happened in that warehouse, before Crocket tries to trash their careers.”

When Patrick and Jensen arrived at the hospital, they were not at all surprised to discover all those whom they had contacted were already there, including the Chief of Detectives.

“Patrick,” Chief Bradshaw said quietly in greeting. “Jensen. You’ve got us all here. Care to explain what this is all about?”

“First of all,” Patrick said, “did you all receive the report that we sent?”

There was a collective nod in answer to that, and the relief on Patrick and Jensen’s faces was visible for all to see.

“Good,” Patrick said. “The reason we’re here now is because we want to take you up to hear Detective Goren and Detective Eames’ accounts first hand.”

“Why?” Van Buren demanded to know. “We have their statements recorded, and so do you. Why do they need to be put through giving them a third time?”

“Because we believe that Captain Crockett intends to have our final report altered in order to implicate Goren and Eames, so that he can label them as being culpable in the shooting,” Patrick said flatly. “We want to get in before that happens.”

Stunned silence met Patrick’s words, and the first one to break it was Chief Bradshaw.

“Detective Patrick, you are aware that you’re accusing your captain of interfering with due process? That is a very serious allegation.”

Patrick nodded.

“I’m aware of that, sir, but we can prove it. Jensen…?”

His colleague produced a mini tape recorder from his coat pocket, and hit play. A moment later, they all heard Crockett’s voice telling the detectives he thought he had ‘made it clear what conclusion they were to reach’, followed by Patrick’s angry response.

“That son of a bitch,” Van Buren hissed, while Deakins stood beside her in stony silence. Bradshaw was equally angry.

“We trusted him to deal with all of these matters fairly! How dare he think he can act as judge and jury!”

“How long has this been going on for?” the Police Rep asked coolly, and they could already see him calculating in his mind just how many officers might have suffered unjust results in their cases as a result.

“Over twelve months,” Jensen answered. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to provide proof of it before now. This was the first time we actually caught Crockett out on tape.”

“All right,” Bradshaw said soberly. “I don’t think we need to put Goren and Eames through the trauma of having to tell their side of the story again. Not in light of that tape. Patrick, I want you to make copies of it. I want one, and I want to give one to the Commissioner.”

“We’re way ahead of you, sir,” Jensen said, and produced two tapes, which he handed to Bradshaw. He then handed a copy to Deakins, one to Van Buren and one to the Police Rep.

“Hedging your bets well and truly, aren’t you?” Bradshaw asked wryly. Patrick smiled, unapologetic.

“Maybe, but we’re fed up with it. There’s been a mindset in IAB for far too long that our fellow cops are the bad guys, and anyone who makes a complaint must be on the level. Yes, we know there are dirty cops out there who need to be stopped, but there is a equal number of good, honest cops who’ve had their reputations and their careers ruined because IAB refused to look beyond the complaint… or the politics… and thoroughly examine the evidence. We weren’t going to let that happen this time.”

“Thankyou,” Deakins said softly, speaking for the first time. Bradshaw nodded his agreement.

“Yes, thankyou, for both your honest and your integrity. I promise you, this will be dealt with swiftly. As I said, though, I don’t think there’s any need to bother Goren or Eames for another rendition of their experience.”

On that note, the group slowly dispersed, until only Chief Bradshaw and Captain Deakins were left.

“Jim?” Bradshaw inquired. “Are you coming?”

“Actually,” Deakins murmured, “I was planning on going up to see Bobby. I had a call from his doctor earlier this afternoon. He’s struggling, mentally and emotionally, and it’s not helping him at all that he’s still in ICU, and visiting hours are limited.”

He began walking towards the elevators, and Bradshaw fell in step beside him.

“Mind if I join you, then? I’m afraid I’ve been very remiss in not coming to see either of them, and it’s high time I did, and let them know they have my full support.”

Deakins nodded his gratitude.

“Thankyou. I appreciate it, and I know they will, too.”

They arrived in ICU only to be confronted by the same nurse who Fin had less than affectionately compared to Attila the Hun, and she had no hesitation in blocking their access to the rooms beyond the nurses’ station.

“It is well after visiting hours,” she snapped, glaring at them both with a ferocity that would have turned lesser men to jelly. “You cannot come in!”

Before Deakins had a chance to get a word out, Bradshaw spoke up for the both of them in a tone that had a rarely-used authority.

“Nurse… Murphy, is it? I am Chief of Detectives Bradshaw, and one of my detectives is currently in the ICU after being critically wounded. Now, we are going in to see him, and we are not waiting until tomorrow morning to do so. If you have an issue with that, then I suggest you speak to your superior, because she is the one who assured me that Captain Deakins and I could come in to see Detective Goren at any time, day or night. Now, step aside!”

Still huffing like a dragon that had just had its fire doused, the nurse stepped aside and let them through.

“That was impressive,” Deakins remarked amusedly. “She has a reputation for intimidating pretty much everyone.”

Bradshaw grinned at him.

“Not really. Truth is, the head of the nursing staff here is my sister in-law. As long as I don’t flaunt it, I can pretty much get away with anything I like.”

Deakins laughed, quietly grateful for the moment of levity, although recent revelations quickly dimmed his good humour.

“I just can’t believe Toby Crockett would do that. And to Goren and Eames…? I know Goren isn’t the most popular detective in the NYPD, but for God’s sake, everyone knows he’s honest!”

“We’ll get to the bottom of it, Jim,” Bradshaw promised. “Not only for Goren and Eames’ sakes, but for the sake of any other cops out there who might have caught the wrong end of the stick thanks to Crockett. Now, which room is he in?”

“Next one on the right.”

Bradshaw nodded and started to turn into that doorway, only to freeze.

“What is it?” Deakins asked tensely, his hackles going up at the way that Bradshaw suddenly blocked him from so much as seeing inside.

“Jim,” Bradshaw said in a preternaturally calm voice, “go and get help. Now.”

Deakins couldn’t possibly miss the underlying tension and fear in Bradshaw’s voice, and he obeyed instinctively, turning and running back down the long corridor to get help. Bradshaw waited for just a moment before striding in and over to the bed.

To say that Bobby was in a bad way would have been a gross understatement. He lay in the bed, by all appearances unconscious, and the sheets that covered him were saturated with his own blood. Fearing the worst, Bradshaw felt for a pulse, and was relieved almost to the point of tears when he found it. It was frighteningly weak, but it was there.

Peeling the sheets back, he quickly discovered the apparent source of the blood. One of Bobby’s gunshot wounds had reopened, and was bleeding profusely. The Chief had no way of knowing how long Bobby had been left alone in this state for, and he could barely suppress a surge of rage at the thought that it had been long enough for him to virtually be at the point of death.

“What on earth is going on here?” Attila thundered as she rounded the corner into Bobby’s room. She was brought up short, however, by the sight of Bobby.

“Oh, dear God…”

Deakins followed her in, and froze, his face going a deathly white as he took in the terrifying sight before them.

“Out,” the nurse demanded suddenly, even as she rushed over and hit the alarm that would summon help. “Both of you, out!”

They went, with the terrible sight burned into their minds, and the piercing wail of the alarm ringing in their ears.

Over an hour later, Dr Fielding found them both in the waiting lounge within the ICU, both very pale and cloaked in heavy silence.

“Gentlemen?” Fielding asked quietly, and had to take a step back when Deakins virtually leapt to his feet.

“Is he…?”

“He’ll be fine,” Fielding answered quickly. “It will take a while to replace the volume of blood that he lost, but he will be all right.”

“How the hell did it happen?” Bradshaw asked in concern. Fielding hesitated, and then motioned to the chairs.

“Perhaps we should all sit down.”

Deakins sat with a thud, and Fielding followed suit.

“All right,” he said quietly. “Now, the cause was fairly straight forward. One of Bobby’s wounds reopened, and bled badly. We scanned his abdomen, and there was no internal bleeding, so we didn’t need to take him back into surgery.”

“How did it reopen?” Deakins asked hoarsely, dreading the answer, but needing to know all the same. “Did he… do it himself?”

Fielding regarded Deakins sombrely.

“You believe this may have been a suicide attempt?”

Aware that Bradshaw’s eyes were on him, Deakins forced himself to nod.

“I have to think it’s a possibility, yes.”

Fielding sighed, and rubbed at his temples.

“Well, you’re both right and wrong about that. We were able to wake Bobby up, and though he wasn’t exactly talkative about what happened, I was able to determine that the wound opening up was an accident. He apparently was trying to sit up to reach for a magazine, and the sutures broke. And trust me, I’ll be looking thoroughly into how that happened. I tied those sutures myself. They should never have broken like that.”

“So, if it wasn’t anything deliberate on his part…” Bradshaw started to say, but Fielding cut him off.

“Let me finish, Chief Bradshaw, please. No, that part was not Bobby’s doing. However, he was awake and alert when it happened, and he could easily have summoned help immediately… but he didn’t. He chose instead to just lie there and bleed, until he did lose consciousness.”

“Suicide by apathy,” Deakins said, feeling sick to his stomach, and Fielding confirmed his diagnosis with a nod.

“I’m afraid so.”

“Why?” Bradshaw wondered, baffled. “Both he and Eames will be all right. No one’s blaming him for what happened, except that idiot Crockett, and that won’t be an issue for much longer. Why would he be so willing to let him die?”

Fielding raised an eyebrow at Deakins, who groaned softly into his hands.

“He doesn’t know,” Deakins told the doctor. “Not many people outside those who have been visiting Bobby over the last couple of days do know.”

“Know what…?” Bradshaw asked, frowning. Fielding answered.

“One of the bullets damaged Bobby’s spine. He’s not going to walk again, Chief Bradshaw.”

“Hell… Jim, why didn’t you tell me?”

Deakins’ gaze was fixed on the floor.

“I was in denial about it,” he said simply. “I didn’t want to accept it.”

“If the people around him can’t accept it,” Fielding pointed out, “then it’s going to be damned hard for Bobby to come to terms with it. We need to be working to secure a future for him, and if we can’t figure out what that might be soon, then I’m afraid there will be a next time, and that next time won’t be an accident.”

“We’ll work on figuring that out together,” Bradshaw promised. “Doctor, can we see him now?”

“You can go in to see him, of course, but I put him back under sedation, at least for the next twenty-four hours. His body needs time to recover from the shock of what just happened.”

Bradshaw stood up, and Deakins followed his lead.


“Paraplegic,” Bradshaw muttered as they stood by Bobby’s bedside a couple of minutes later, and sounding as though the word itself had a bad taste attached to it. “That’s a hell of a blow.”

“His entire world has been turned on its head,” Deakins said sadly.

“He probably can’t see past the fact that he career as a cop is finished. Can’t say I blame him for reacting like this. I probably would too, in the same situation.”

Deakins hesitated, and then spoke tentatively.

“Matt, I wanted to raise an idea with you… about Bobby. There might be a way to keep him on the Force, if you and the Commissioner are open to it.”

Bradshaw looked up quizzically at Deakins.

“What is it, Jim? What are you thinking?”

“A consultant position,” Deakins told him. “A profiling consultant, to be exact. He could stay on with Major Case, and act as a general profiler. Active duty would be out of the question, of course, but he could assist all the detectives there with profiling suspects, as well as assist in interrogations.”

The thoughtful look on Bradshaw’s face gave Deakins a feeling of hope that the suggestion would at least be considered.

“I’ll look into that possibility,” he confirmed. “God knows it’d be a waste to lose a mind like Goren’s from the NYPD… and I suspect that if we don’t find a place for him, then some other department will gladly snap him up. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he starts getting job offers from the FBI… or even the DA’s office. I’m meeting with the Commissioner at the end of the week, Jim, and I’ll raise it with him then. Hopefully we’ll be able to come to a compromise that will be satisfactory for all of us, and especially for Goren.”

Deakins nodded, his gaze falling on Bobby’s pale features as he lay there under heavy sedation.

Yes, he thought dismally, I hope so, too. For Bobby’s sake, I really do hope so.

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