My turn to write a post-ep fic for "Endgame"! I'vekept two things in mind when writing this - the fact that Bobby's parentage was not definitively revealed, and that Eames and Ross were apparently not clued in to what went on during Bobby's final confrontation with Brady. With that in mind, the following is MY slant on how things might have gone after the ep finished.

Warning: This fic may contain some spoilers for the episode.

I don't know who I am.

The was the one, solitary thought running through Bobby Goren's mind and, in stark contrast to the many times when he had a million and one thoughts and ideas racing around inside his head, that was now all he could think of. His mind had fixated on it, and refused to switch tracks to any other topic. Even the shock and grief of his mother's death had suddenly taken a back seat.

As he drove away from Carmel Ridge for the last time, his mother's words haunted his exhausted mind.

'I just never knew for sure...'

Despite his reaction at the time... and he severely regretted that... he didn't hold it against her. He couldn't, but nor could he dismiss the world of doubt that it had opened his mind up to.

Why did it have to matter? That was what his mother had asked, and in one way she was right. The past was past, and he could do nothing to change it. So why did it matter?

It mattered, he mused grimly, because he was a man who had always valued truth. To tell himself now that it didn't matter or, worse, to tell himself that his fears were misplaced, would only have been lying to himself. That was something he could not do, even if he wanted to.

And so, he continued to contemplate the possibility that he was the bastard son of a vicious serial killer. The next thing he knew, he was pulling off the road as fast as he could, almost falling out of the car and throwing up violently.

His stomach continued heaving long after it had emptied itself, and he stayed there, kneeling on the side of the road as car after car rushed by, until it had finally settled enough for him to continue on his way.

He'd almost arrived at his destination before it suddenly hit him that he was not headed towards his home, but rather someone else's. As he pulled up out the front of the property, he briefly considered simply driving on, and not disturbing the good people who lived there with his problems. But again, his body seemed to be acting of its own accord, and he was out of his car and moving towards the front door before he could change his mind.

Someone had seen him coming. He had not even reached the doorstep when the front door swung open.

“Bobby? What are you doing here? Is something wrong?”

Bobby opened his mouth to answer the question, but could not get anything out. Before he could stop himself, his features crumpled and the tears came in a flood.

“Oh, sweetheart, come inside...”

And he allowed himself to be drawn inside like a little, lost boy.

Alex arrived at her parent's home that evening, feeling more than just a twinge of worry for her partner. Hours had gone by since he'd made that all-too-brief phone call to tell her that his mother had died. She'd heard nothing more from him since, and neither she nor Ross had been successful in reaching him.

To her personal relief, Ross was showing more understanding and sympathy towards Bobby now than he had in virtually the entire last twelve months. His instruction to tell Bobby to take as much time as he needed had so surprised her that she hadn't even had the presence of mind to thank him on Bobby's behalf. Or her own, for that matter. Maybe, she reflected as she drove along, Ross was not such a hard-ass after all.

She had to admit, though, that she was seriously concerned now. She had not actually seen Bobby since he'd gone back to see Brady yesterday morning. He'd been in and done his paperwork, but apparently at some ungodly hour of the night, when no one had been there to witness him. She remembered coming in that morning, and finding Ross confused at how a comprehensive pile of paperwork from Bobby had suddenly appeared on his desk between the previous night and that morning. A quiet word with the cleaning staff who were just in the stages of packing up and going home revealed Bobby had been there nearly all night, arriving just after the last person – Ross – had exited the squad rooms, and leaving just before the first detectives arrived in that morning.

A query about how he had looked got them both a raised eyebrow, and a quiet, 'he didn't look so good. If I didn't know better, I would've sworn he'd been crying'.

It was at that point that Ross had drawn Alex into his office, showed her the package from Brady that had arrived early at the front desk of One Police Plaza that morning, and then told her to pass that message to about Bobby taking whatever time he needed. It had proven Ross's point, though. Bobby was not sleeping.

Partly out of curiosity, and partly out of concern for her partner's wellbeing, Alex had contacted the prison in Pennsylvania in an effort to find out what had gone on Bobby and Mark Brady. After several tries, one guard finally told her that Bobby had snapped, attacked Brady and made a more than half decent attempt to strangle him.

Her blood had run cold at that news, but that same guard had been quick to assure her that no harm had been done, and that none of the guards who had witnessed the incident were going to say a word about it. Apparently even Brady himself had refused to level a complaint against Bobby.

She wondered at that, marvelling that he hadn't attempted to use it as a means to get his execution delayed yet again. She also wondered at the detailed confession Brady had made on paper.

A birthday present for Bobby...? Just what kind of fucked up joke was that meant to be? The idea that Brady was implying some level of intimacy with Bobby literally turned her stomach and left her wanting to throw up. And yet, she couldn't help thinking that this time, Brady had not been playing mind games. There had been something more, something deeper to that statement; something that she was afraid Bobby would understand only too well.

She let herself into her parents' home, and found them eating in the kitchen. They greeted her with enthusiasm, but Alex quietly declined the offer of a meal.

“I'm sorry,” she murmured. “I'm just not hungry.”

“Tough day, huh?” John inquired lightly, leaving the ball entirely in her court as to whether she answered him or not. She did, nodding wearily as she spoke.

“Yeah, it was. We closed the Mark Ford Brady case this morning.”

“That serial killer?” John mused. “He was executed last night, wasn't he?”

“Yes, thank God,” Alex said. “We had to spend a little too much time with that slimy son of a bitch, and he really tormented the hell out of Bobby.”

“Gotta be careful with scum like that,” John agreed. “They get inside your head and it’s damn near impossible to get them out again. As good as Bobby is...”

He trailed off, and Alex sighed and nodded.

“I know. He was okay to start with, but Brady... That son of a bitch... And it’s not as if Bobby didn’t already have enough to worry about. Uh... Look, this might sound like a stupid question, but Bobby hasn’t called you, has he?”

John and Helen exchanged looks.

“No, honey, he hasn’t,” Helen told her. “Why? Is something wrong?”

She decided to stick to tangible facts, rather than vague feelings.

“His mom died today.”

“Oh, no,” Helen murmured. “The poor boy...”

“And you don’t know where he is?” John asked, frowning with worry.

“No. All I know is that he left Carmel Ridge about three hours ago.”

“He probably just needs time to work through it, Alex,” John told her gently. “Give him time. Everything will be fine.”

She nodded mutely. She hoped he was right. She really did, but she had a horrible feeling that things were as far from being fine as they could possibly get.

Jimmy Deakins arrived home tired, but satisfied. He had been working for six months now for a private security consultancy firm, and it still amazed him just how satisfying it was. More to the point, he was no longer forced into daily games of political cat and mouse. That alone had boosted his life expectancy by a good twenty years, or so he liked to tell former colleagues.

He walked into the vestibule, and was just removing his coat when his younger daughter appeared.

“Hey, sweetheart,” Jimmy greeted her. Chloe regarded him with a worried gaze, immediately setting his nerves on edge. “Something the matter?”

“Sort of. Mom told me to come and get you as soon as you came home. She’s in the family room.”

Jimmy’s smile faded altogether.

“Chloe, what’s wrong?”

“Bobby’s here, Dad.”

It took only a second for Jimmy’s stomach to drop. Yes, he’d seen or spoken to Bobby Goren more than a few times since his retirement from the NYPD, but never had Bobby shown up at his home before. Jimmy knew full well that Bobby respected those boundaries, so something serious must have happened for him to break them.

“Did he say why?” he asked, at the same time not really expecting his daughter to know. He was surprised when she answered.

“I kind of overheard him talking to Mom. His mom died today. He’s really torn up, Dad.”

“All right,” Jimmy murmured, urging her towards the stairs. “Go on, now.”

She went, and then Jimmy made his way through into the family room.

The sight that met him when he walked in was heartbreaking. Bobby sat on the sofa with Angie beside him. She had an arm around his shoulders and was talking to him softly.

Bobby, Jimmy thought sadly, had never looked so utterly broken.

He walked over and sat down in his chair immediately opposite Bobby. For his part, Bobby was clearly aware enough of his surroundings to register a new presence, and he looked up slowly.

“Hi,” Jimmy said gently. Bobby shuddered violently, and fresh tears stung his eyes.

“She... She’s gone...”

“I know,” Jimmy murmured. “I’m sorry.”

He offered no superficial words of comfort, something that Bobby was quietly grateful for the detective hesitated, and then spoke in a stammering voice.

“I... I need to... to talk to you. I... need advice.”

Angie needed no further prompting. She hugged Bobby once, and then stood up.

“I’ll go and make some fresh coffee. Excuse me.”

Bobby watched her go with an expression that Jimmy wholly recognised as gratitude.

“She… She’s a good person.”

Jimmy nodded his agreement.

“You’ll get no argument from me over that. Now, Bobby, why don’t you tell me why you’re really here?”

For a split second, Jimmy genuinely thought Bobby was going to get up and walk out, and he felt an intense wave of guilt that a tiny part of him actually hoped that he would do just that.

After all, that tiny voice whispered inside his mind, you’re retired! What right has he got to turn up here and dump all of his issues in your lap?

Jimmy shoved the thought away brutally. Bobby had every right, since the night that he’d invited both Bobby and Mike Logan to come and talk to him whenever they felt they needed to. God knew that neither man had ever abused that offer and so to turn Bobby away now, when he so obviously needed a willing ear and a friendly face, would have been unforgivable.

“Do… you remember Wally Stevens?”

Jimmy’s eyebrows went up.

“The actuary who killed the homeless people for the insurance money? I remember him. Now there was a smart killer. We only caught him because of someone else’s mistakes. What about him?”

“You know I kept in touch with him?”

Jimmy nodded wordlessly. The truth was that he had suspected as much, even though he’d never know for absolute certain. Nor did he want to know, either.

“Well, it… It started with him. I got a message from him asking to see me urgently…”

Jimmy listened in silence as Bobby told the grim story over the next hour or so, detailing his encounters with Brady, and the revelations that Brady had made.

“He never actually came out and said he was your father?” Jimmy wondered.

“No, but he didn’t need to, either,” Bobby admitted in a subdued tone. “He made it pretty clear that he believed it. When… When I had him pinned to the wall, he said to me to do it… That… That I had it in me to do it.”

“He wanted to ensure his legacy lived on,” Jimmy muttered.

“Something like that.”

“What about your mother, Bobby? Did you ask her about it before she died?”

Bobby kept his eyes fixed on the floor, suddenly unable to look back up at his former captain.

“She said she never really knew for sure.”

Jimmy sighed softly, feeling an intense wave of sympathy for the man who sat across from him. He could see now why Bobby was so devastated. To not only be confronted with the truth that his mother had been unfaithful, but that her unfaithfulness had cast doubts over his parentage; that was a blow that could bring many a person to their knees. Add to that the possibility of having been fathered by a serial killer...

“Do you want to know for sure?” Jimmy asked, and Bobby wrung his hands in anxiety.

“I... I’d have to run my DNA against Brady’s. There’s nothing left of my father’s things... and Frank’s already taken off again.”

“Then you’ll need to act quickly. The body will be disposed of within forty-eight hours of his execution. You’ll need an injunction to stop the burial... or the cremation, whichever they’re doing, and a warrant for a sample of his DNA.”

Bobby looked up at him, stark worry in his eyes.

“If I ask for a warrant, I’ll have to give the reason.”

Jimmy nodded in wordless understanding. He knew what would happen as well as Bobby. It would be all around the NYPD within twenty-four hours that crazy Bobby Goren was the son of serial killer Mark Ford Brady... even if that turned to not be the case. It would happen regardless, and that was a stigma that Jimmy did not want Bobby to suffer. He was still trying to work out a way around publicly advertising the fact that Bobby was going to have a paternity test done on a serial killer’s DNA, when Bobby suddenly spoke up.

“I... I need to tell Eames... and Ross.”

Jimmy was surprised, and made no effort to conceal that surprise. All he’d heard suggested that Danny Ross was the last person Bobby would have trusted, and yet he was saying that he needed to talk to the captain.

“First thing tomorrow morning,” Jimmy told him quietly. “I’ll take you in to One Police Plaza myself. Tonight, you’re staying here.”

Bobby opened his mouth to protest, but Jimmy silenced him before the words made it past his lips.

“I know you’re not drunk, Bobby. I can see that. You are grieving, though, and I don’t want you driving anywhere else tonight. If you insist on going elsewhere, though, I’ll call Alex to come and get you, and take you wherever you want to be. It’s your choice.”

Bobby regarded him with a mildly sullen look, annoyed at how neatly he’d been cornered.

“Do you... I mean...”

“Have room?” Jimmy suggested, and Bobby nodded, embarrassed. Jimmy smiled wryly. “Yes, we do have a bed for you. Angie’s rule. Always have the guest room ready, just in case. Now, come with me. We’ll get that coffee, and then I’ll take you upstairs.”

It quickly became obvious that Bobby was in no fit state to argue. Getting awkwardly to his feet, he followed Jimmy from the room in heavy silence.

The next morning, Bobby had just finished dressing in the guest bathroom when there was a light rap on the door.

“Come in,” he called out, feeling slightly uncomfortable. The door swung open, and Jimmy looked in.

“How are you feeling this morning?”

“Um... Okay... I... I’m okay.”

“Did you get any sleep?”

“I did,” Bobby confirmed, and Jimmy could see he was being honest about it.

“Good. When you’re finished, come downstairs. Alex is here.”

Bobby felt his stomach drop into his feet, but Jimmy laid a hand on his shoulder in reassurance.

“It’ll be fine, Bobby. She’s just concerned for you. And look at it this way. You’ll be able to talk to her before taking it to Ross.”

Bobby nodded in wordless concession. He knew Jimmy was right, regardless of how difficult he felt it was going to be to face her.

“Sir...” he said as Jimmy started to retreat from the bathroom. Jimmy looked back at him, and spoke in a gently chiding tone.

“Bobby, stop calling me ‘sir’. I’m not your captain anymore. I’m your friend.”

Bobby nodded in response.

“Th... Thankyou.”

Jimmy only smiled in answer to that, and left him alone to finish getting dressed.

When Bobby emerged into the family room, Alex was waiting there alone. She stood up as he came in, but made no attempt to close the distance between them.

“Hey,” she greeted him softly, and was quietly relieved when he made a genuine effort to meet her gaze for more than just a couple of seconds.

“I... I’m sorry,” he murmured, suddenly feeling embarrassed over his self-perceived neglect of her. Abruptly, a whole new wave of misery came crashing down on him, and he sank into the nearest chair as the tears came in an uncontrollable flood.

Alex finally broke her paralysis, and hurried over to him.

“It’s okay,” she murmured softly, crouching down in front of him, and taking his hands gently in her own. They were so cold, she noted distantly, and tried rubbing them in an effort to restore some warmth. “I’m not angry at you, Bobby. Neither is Ross. We just want to know that you’re okay. Ross told me to tell you, take as much time as you need.”

She half expected a sarcastic remark from him, but it didn’t happen. Instead, he whispered a shaky but sincere ‘thankyou’. She was about to speak again, when Bobby got in first.

“But... I’m not okay.”

“I know,” she murmured. “I know you’re not okay right now, but it will eventually get better.”

He looked up at her, then, and she was gutted by the raw pain and grief on his face, and in his eyes.

“He... He might have been my father.”

Alex went cold all over as Bobby’s heartbroken whisper registered in her mind, and she had to make a conscious effort not to pull away from him.

“Your father? You mean Brady? Bobby...”

“One of the last things Mom told me,” Bobby said in between ill-suppressed sobs, “was... she never knew for sure... It could have been Dad... or it could have been Brady. And they... they both admitted to being together when Kennedy was elected. The... the timeframe... It would have been right for Brady to be my... my...”

He couldn’t bring himself to say it again and instead shut his eyes in misery and shame. Alex watched him in silent, growing dismay as the pieces all finally began to fall into place, and make sense. Brady had not contacted them through Wally Stevens out of some warped desire to confess. The entire thing had been a carefully executed plan, designed with one purpose: to make contact with the man whom he’d clearly believed was his son.

And suddenly, the bizarre reference to Bobby’s birthday also made sense.

She heard the faintest of sobs, and looked up to see he’d buried his face in his hands.

“The last gift I got from my mom... was a big fucking question mark over my parentage. Thanks, Ma. Thanks a fucking million.”

She finally gave in, and leaned in close to hug him. He resisted at first, but eventually gave in and slumped against her as he cried out his grief. As she held him, Alex was taken back to another moment, months ago, when she had been the one crying in his arms. What a reversal of roles they’d experienced...

When he finally drew back from her, she braced herself for a trite apology or, worse, a brush-off.


Alex blinked, unsure that she’d heard right. Bobby offered her a tentative smile – faint, but genuine.

“Thankyou... for everything you’ve done for me. Even when I was a total bastard to you... at Thanksgiving...”


“Please, Alex, let me say this. I need to get it out.”

She fell silent, chewing lightly on her lower lip and waiting for him to say the words that he needed to say.

“Even when I was a complete jerk, you were still there for me. You still supported me... and I wanted to thank you for that.”

It was not an apology that she might have found reasons to doubt; just a sincere expression of gratitude. She suddenly wanted to cry, and had to struggle against the desire.

“You’re my partner, Bobby. Who else is going to make you toe the line?”

He managed a soft chuckle at that, and she silently cheered at the small victory in getting a laugh and a smile from him.

“That’s true. Alex, this thing about Brady...”

For a split second there, she was too elated that he had called her by her first name to comprehend anything else. But then, as it became obvious that he was awaiting some sort of response from her, she forced herself to focus.

“What about him, Bobby?”

“I... I need to know.”

She stared at him intently.

“Do you?” she asked finally. “Do you really need to know?

“I have to know the truth,” he told her. “I can’t tell myself that it doesn’t matter, when it really does. I’d only be lying to myself, and I can’t do that.”

Those words won her support more than anything else he could have said. There was no petulance to his tone, and no demanding comment that he had a right to know. She knew his desire for truth, and this was simply another truth that he needed to uncover. The only difference between this situation and any other crime they investigated was that this was as personal for Bobby as it could get.

“Okay,” she conceded. “So, what do you think you need to do?”

His next words left her feeling genuinely stunned.

“I need to talk to Ross... I have to tell him everything that happened the last time I met with Brady.”

It was the last thing she’d expected from him, but she certainly wasn’t going to argue with him.

“Okay. This afternoon...”

“No,” he interrupted. “No... It has to be this morning. I... I need his help, to get a warrant for Brady’s DNA before they dispose of his body... and to get a... a paternity test done. I need his help, so it doesn’t end up getting around the whole of the NYPD.”

She could understand that only too well. Even now, years after the fact, rumours aplenty still circulated about her father, and whether it was really just double-dipping after retirement that had gotten him into trouble. She hated to think what would happen if it got around that Bobby’s father may have been a serial killer.

“Okay, Bobby,” she agreed quietly. “Let’s go and see Ross.”

Major Case Squad,
One Police Plaza

When Ross happened to look up and spotted Bobby Goren coming towards his office, he had to admit that he didn’t know whether to feel nervous or relieved. It was only the sight of Alex Eames at Bobby’s side that settled his nerves.

Standing up, he walked to the door to greet them.

“Detectives. Goren, did you get my message?”

Bobby answered with a nod.

“Yes, sir. Thankyou. I appreciate it... and I will take some time, but there’s something I need to talk to you about first. There’s something I need to ask you.”

Ross ushered them both in, intrigued.

“All right, Detective. What’s this about?” he asked once they were all seated.

“It... It’s to do with Brady,” Bobby ventured. “The last time I met with him... I went alone.”

For a split second, Ross saw red, and he threw a dark look at Alex. This was something he hadn’t been aware of, and he was not happy to learn it now. Alex, however, didn’t flinch under his harsh stare.

“I trusted him,” she said simply, firmly. Ross drew in a long, calming breath, and a small voice whispered inside his mind.

He came to you, that voice whispered. Don’t push him away now by losing your cool!

“Mark Brady is dead, Detective,” Ross told him quietly. “He can’t hold sway over you anymore.”

Bobby looked thoroughly sick as he forced himself to say the words that he still wanted so desperately to deny.

“He... He can if he was my father.”

Ross froze, staring at Bobby in shock.

“Did you just say... your father?”

“It’s the reason why Brady contacted us through Wally Stevens, sir,” Alex said quietly. “He wanted to make contact with Bobby...”

“Because he believed you’re his son,” Ross concluded. “Did you have the opportunity to ask your mother about it?”

“Yes. She... She said she never knew for sure who my... my father was. But... they both remembered being together when Kennedy was elected. That was in November of 1960. I was born August of ’61. It... It’s a little too coincidental.”

Ross had to agree with him over that. In his experience, there were few true coincidences, and this was definitely not one of them.

“All right, Detective. The question now is what do you want to do about it? Would you be content to let sleeping dogs lie, or are we going to wake them up?”

“I need to know the truth,” Bobby admitted. “Whichever way it goes.”

“Are you sure about that, Detective? Because once you have a definitive answer, there’ll be no going back. Whatever the answer, you’ll have to live with it. Can you do that?”

Bobby nodded slowly, looking up to meet Ross’s gaze.

“I know that. The truth is, given a choice, I’d rather not take either one, but that’s all there is. I just need to know I can get past this once and for all.”

Ross could easily understand that, and he knew was Bobby was asking of him without needing it to be verbalised. A part of him was warning him not to agree, but that was overruled by that small, whispering voice that reminded him that Bobby had come to him voluntarily. Bobby had willingly told him something that had the potential to have a devastating effect on his life.

It was the beginning of trust, Ross realised. Bobby Goren was finally starting to trust him. In the end, that was what made his decision for him.

“Go and get yourselves some coffee,” he told them quietly. “Give me an hour. “I’ll have a warrant for Brady’s DNA and a court order for an anonymous DNA test when you come back.”

The relief and gratitude on Bobby’s face at Ross’s understand were all the reward the captain needed.

An hour later, Ross had the warrants for them as promised. A few hours beyond that, they had the sample that they needed of Brady’s DNA, along with a sample of Bobby’s DNA, sealed in a container and identified only as ‘sample B’. Another hour after that, and they were in Mack Taylor’s office, with both warrants and the samples.

“Let me get this straight,” Mack said slowly, bemusedly. “You want me to run the DNA of Mark Brady, the serial killer, against an anonymous sample? To test what?”

“Paternity,” Alex said flatly, keeping her eyes fixed on Mack’s face, and hoping Bobby would also keep a poker face.

“Okay,” Mack conceded. “So you think Brady might have fathered a child. And the anonymity clause?”

“Would you want it to be public knowledge?” Alex asked, hoping again that Bobby would not react outwardly. “It’s to protect the person who might be Brady’s child.”

Mack nodded in understanding.

“Point made. I’ll run this through myself, and let you know personally when the results are in.”

Alex nodded, speaking for them both.


Mack was so focused on the test results in front of him that he didn’t notice Stella Bonasera approaching until she slipped an arm around his shoulders.

“Paternity test?” she queried with a smile. “Is there something you’re not telling me, Mack?”

He offered her a wry smile.

“Bobby Goren and Alex Eames from Major Case brought down an order, with a couple of DNA samples. One’s anonymous, and the other sample belongs to the serial killer, Mark Ford Brady.”

Stella shuddered.

“That monster might have had a kid? God, what a horrible thought that is.”

Mack frowned, unimpressed.

“That’s an unfair comment, Stella. Genetics only play a tiny role in who we are. You can’t blame someone for who their parents are.”

“I know,” she murmured. “I didn’t mean it like that. You close to getting a result?”

“Any moment...”

As he spoke, the printer suddenly came to life and spat out a couple of sheets of paper. Pulling them out, Mack flipped to the second page, and scanned the results. Behind him, Stella whistled softly.

“Well, that’s about as definitive as you can get.”

Mack nodded, as he enveloped the results.

“Do me a favour, Stella? Don’t tell anyone about this. You know how the rumour mill spreads.”

“I won’t say a word,” she promised. “Are you taking that upstairs now?”

Mack hesitated on his way out the door.

“Yes,” he said quietly. “I promised that I would.”

“Thankyou for putting a rush on this, Detective Taylor,” Ross said sincerely. “I appreciate it.”

Mack nodded, handing the envelope over to Ross.

“If you don’t mind me asking, Captain Ross...”

“If you’re wondering about the identity of the anonymous sample,” Ross interrupted him, “then yes. I do mind. It’s anonymous for a reason, Detective.”

“I understand,” Mack conceded, looking suitably chastened. “If that was all, sir?”

Ross nodded in response.

“Yes, that’s all. Thankyou, Detective.”

Mack retreated from the office, and was gone from the squad room a minute later. Ross had no need to call Bobby and Alex over. They reappeared at his office door within a minute of Mack leaving. He waved them in, not objecting when Alex pulled the door closed after them. He held out the envelope to Bobby, who took it with visible trepidation.

“I don’t expect you to open it here and now,” Ross told him with a kindness in his voice that Bobby honestly hadn’t expected. “All I ask is that you be absolutely certain that you really want to know what’s in that envelope.”

Bobby stared at it, looking more than a little grey in the face.

“I don’t really want to know at all... But, I need to know. I may not like the answer, but I can’t go the rest of my life wondering. I... I just can’t.”

“I understand, Detective,” Ross assured him. “The decision is yours.”

Bobby stared down at the envelope in his hands for what seemed like an age. Then, just as Ross and Alex were thinking that he wasn’t going to open it, he did.

Both captain and partner watched in silence as Bobby ripped open the envelope and withdrew the results sheets. He scanned them quickly, glossing over the details for once in favour of the bigger picture.

Alex watched in strained silence as Bobby read the results of the test. She continued to watch as he let the papers drop into his lap, his expression impossible to read.

“Do you need a few minutes alone, Detective?” Ross asked quietly. The question seemed to snap Bobby out of his reverie, and he looked up at the captain with ashen features.

“No,” he murmured. “No... It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“Forgive me for saying so,” Ross said, “but you don’t look it.”

Neither he nor Alex were asking what the result was, and he wasn’t so sure he felt like telling them, as much as he knew they deserved to hear after the support they’d both given him. Steeling himself, he handed the page across to Ross and, without a word, stood up and left the office.

Ross watched him go, and then looked down at the papers that Bobby had given him. A moment later, he sighed softly.

“Brady was his father. The DNA test proved it beyond a doubt.”

Alex groaned softly.

“I was hoping...”

“You and me both, Eames. Go after him, and make sure he’s okay?”

Alex nodded, but hesitated in leaving the office. Ross regarded her seriously.

“This is between us. It’s no one else’s business, and it won’t go beyond that door.”

She nodded again, grateful for his discretion, and then hurried after her partner.

She found him waiting for an elevator, visibly struggling to control his emotions. She came to stand beside him, not speaking and not touching him at all. They both stared straight ahead, neither one acknowledging the other, until they were safely inside the lift. Only when the elevator doors had closed did Bobby finally react. A great shudder passed through him and he almost doubled over as the shock and horror hit.

“Hang in there,” Alex murmured, slipping an arm around his shoulders.

“Alex...” Bobby choked out, and she hugged him reassuringly.

“Let’s just focus on getting to the SUV. Just a couple more minutes...”

Somehow, he managed to regain his composure long enough to reach their SUV, and exit the garage. Once she’d gotten the SUV out of the garage and onto the city streets, though, his composure crumpled, and he gave a tremendous sob as he broke down. Alex watched him in anxious concern out of the corner of her eye and, after a moment's consideration, made a snap decision.

“I'm taking you home, Bobby.”

It was a testament to how distraught he really was that he never objected, she thought sadly. The rest of the short trip to his Manhattan apartment was spent in silence, and it wasn't until they'd reached his building, and she had seen him safely into his apartment and sat him down on the sofa, that it was broken again.

“You weren't really ready for that, were you?” she asked softly as she sat opposite him, on the edge of his wooden coffee table. He raised his eyes to hers, and it was all she could do not to cringe in the face of his grief and misery.

“I thought I was,” he told her shakily. “I... I thought I was prepared for whatever the result was.”

“But you were hoping it would prove Brady wrong,” Alex murmured. Bobby rubbed a hand over his eyes.

“I was counting on it proving him wrong,” he admitted. “D... Dad was a womaniser... a gambling addict... and he was a mean drunk. He... He hurt us badly... but we survived that. I survived that. But Brady... He was just evil. There was nothing redeeming about him. I didn't want to have to accept that I came from... from that.”

“Bobby, how many times have you told me that genetics don't make us who we are?” Alex pressed. “Okay, so Brady was your biological father. So fucking what? You're not him. You will never be him, anymore than you'll ever be that mean, womanising, drunken gambling addict who walked out when his family needed him the most.”

“It hurts, Alex,” Bobby whispered. “I didn't think it would hurt this much.”

She shifted from the coffee table to sit beside him, knowing that he was no longer just talking about Brady, but also about the loss of his mother.

“I know. I know it hurts, but it will get better. You have to believe me, Bobby. It will get better.”

She slipped her arms around him and drew his head to her shoulder, encouraging him to cry freely. He resisted for only a moment before giving in and sobbing out his pain and grief.

Alex stood silently in the doorway of Bobby's bedroom, watching as he slept restlessly. After nearly half an hour, he had eventually cried himself into a minor state of exhaustion, and she had finally been able to coax him into his bedroom, and onto his bed, where he'd slipped into an uneasy sleep.

She'd called Ross, let him know that she would not be back at work that day, and he had given the okay to that, along with a sincere wish for her to look after her partner. Alex was mildly bemused that, despite all the conflicts between Bobby and Ross over the past months, Ross was so willing to treat Bobby with such compassion and consideration. She was grateful, of course, but bemused all the same.

Now, with the rest of the day ahead of her, she found herself wondering just what she could do to bring Bobby through this new trial. The truth, she reflected unhappily, was that there was nothing she could do. She couldn't truly sympathise with him, and simply telling him to suck it up and get on with things was not an option. This was not something that neither she, nor anyone else, had the right to expect him to just get over.

She chewed her lip lightly. What he really needed was to be able to talk to someone who really understood; someone who had the same, or similar, issues. An idea struck her and, with a last glance in at her sleeping partner, Alex hurried away to make a phone call.

When Bobby awoke next, he felt no better. His sleep had been uneasy at best, plagued as he was by nightmares that revolved around Brady and his mother. He groaned softly and made his way into the ensuite to splash some cold water on his face before venturing out to face his partner.

It was as he came back into his bedroom that he heard it; the low murmur of voices from the other room. He stood at the door for a couple of minutes, straining his ears and trying to hear what was being said, but he could make out neither words nor voices. Curiosity finally overcame trepidation, and Bobby ventured out of his bedroom to see who was there.

Bobby didn’t quite know whether to be surprised or dismayed to venture out of his bedroom and find Olivia Benson sitting on the sofa, talking quietly with Alex. He stood there, and for a fleeting moment, considered diving back into the sanctuary of his bedroom. That idea was scuttled, though, when Alex looked up and spotted him.

“Hey, Bobby. I hope you don’t mind. I invited Liv to come around. I thought it might do you some good to talk to her.”

Confusion filled Bobby’s face as Alex rose up and started towards the door.

“Alex…” he started to protest, but she silenced him with a look.

“You have to talk to someone about this, Bobby. I can’t help you, as much as I want to. I think Olivia can. Talk to her, Bobby. For your own sake, okay?”

And then she was gone, leaving the two of them alone.

Bobby stared at the door of his apartment, and the space where Alex had been only moments before. A part of him wanted to chase after her, and demand to know by what right she had brought in an outsider to help him with his issues… Except, he already knew. It was out of concern for him that she’d done it, although he didn’t understand what Olivia Benson could possibly have to say that would help him work through this latest trial.

He looked back over at the SVU detective with fresh trepidation and worry, and was soothed only a little by the warm, reassuring smile on her face.

“Why don’t you come and sit down?” she suggested. Deciding to at least give her the benefit of the doubt, Bobby conceded and sat down in his favourite chair.

“Did Alex tell you…?” he started to ask, but couldn’t bring himself to finish. Olivia watched him with bright, compassionate eyes.

“She said you had issues to deal with that she thought I could help you with. She didn’t say anything more than that.”

He didn’t know whether to be grateful or annoyed that she’d left it to him to tell her.

“Issues,” he mumbled scathingly. Olivia regarded him calmly.

“Why don’t you just tell me what you feel comfortable with?” she suggested lightly. Bobby glowered at her, getting the uncomfortable feeling that she was treating him like one of the victims she regularly dealt with.

“Is that how you approach all the victims you deal with?” he asked, with venom in his tone. “By trying to mother them?”

Olivia ignored the barb. Alex had warned her he was deeply upset and might lash out, and she had no intention of taking anything he threw at her to heart.

“It is when I can see they’re hurting,” she answered calmly. An instant later, Bobby’s face crumpled as he was overcome with a mixture of grief and guilt.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “That… That was uncalled for. I shouldn’t…”

“Don’t, Bobby,” Olivia told him gently. “Don’t let yourself be drowned by guilt when you probably don’t have anything to be guilty over. Talk to me. If I can help, I will, but you need to start by letting me in.”

She had no idea how much she was really asking of him, he mused darkly. All the same, she was right. He had to open the door, even if just a crack, and let her in if she was going to be able to help him. He still doubted she had anything to offer that would help, but some deeper instinct told him to trust her, if only because Alex trusted her.

“Mark Ford Brady,” he said hoarsely. Olivia continued to watch him thoughtfully.

“The serial killer that was executed? What about him?”

Bobby shut his eyes, and forced himself to blurt it out.

“I just found out, he was my real father.”

Olivia fell silent, and Bobby felt his stomach clench unpleasantly.

Here it comes, he thought dully. She’ll get a look of horror on her faceand then a look of disgustNext, she’ll make an excuse for why she has to be somewhere else all of a sudden, and the next thing I know it’ll be all around the NYPD. Maybe I’ll just take my gun and shoot myself right now

“Alex was right,” Olivia said finally, with the slightest hint of amusement in her tone. “We can sympathise with each other.”

Bobby looked up at her sharply.

“You’re saying that your father was a rapist and a serial killer?”

“No,” she corrected him gently. “He wasn’t a serial killer.”

He stared at her, not quite sure that he was understanding her right. Olivia tried again, holding his gaze as she spoke.

“My mother became pregnant with me when she was attacked and raped, Bobby. My biological father was a serial rapist. So yes, I really can understand what you’re feeling right now.”

Bobby buried his face in his hands.

“I spent so long trying to make myself believe I wasn’t anything like my father… Except, he was never my father at all… Now I have to convince myself that I’m nothing like Brady… Except, that’s going to be a lot harder to do, because, I think maybe I am like him…”

“Bobby, listen to me,” Olivia told him softly. “You know as well as I do that genetics don’t dictate who we are. That’s decided by our actions… by our choices. Maybe you’ve screwed up along the way, but you’ve made the right choices when it counted. So have I. Who our parents are has never been an acceptable excuse to either one of us for making the wrong choices, and that’s what keeps us apart from the Mark Bradys of the world.”

“I nearly strangled him,” Bobby whispered, stricken. “When I finally realised what he was telling me… What he’d been working up to tell me all along, I nearly strangled him. Just like he killed all those women.”

“But you didn’t,” Olivia pointed out. “And there’s the difference. You chose to regain control. You’ll never be like him, Bobby. You just have to keep reminding yourself of that, and eventually you’ll believe it.”

Eventually, he thought numbly. Everything always came down to eventually.

“I just don’t know what to do,” he admitted in a broken voice. “I thought I could deal with it… but now, I’m not so sure.”

“You can’t deal with it,” Olivia said bluntly. “Not alone. But you aren’t alone, are you? You’ve got Alex… and I’m here, too.”

He looked up at her slowly, as though he didn’t quite believe what he was hearing. She favoured him with a warm smile.

“We stick together, and we’ll be okay, Bobby. I promise I’ll be here whenever you need to talk. And I promise that no one will find out about this from me. It’s between us, and that’s all.”

He looked away again, back to the carpet.

“I… I think Dad knew,” he mumbled. Olivia said nothing, but sat there quietly, watching and listening. Bobby went on in a trembling voice. “He… He never liked me. I hardly ever remembering hearing him call me by my name. It was always ‘runt’, or ‘reject’… or other things. I think maybe he knew I wasn’t his… and that was why he hated me so much.”

His shoulders shook as the sobs overcame him once more. A moment later, he felt a hand on his shoulder, and another gently brushing an errant curl back from his forehead. When he looked up again, Olivia was crouching there in front of him.

She didn’t say a word, but rather drew him into a hug that radiated compassion and understanding. He was in tears again before he realised it, sobbing softly into her shoulder as the heartache became too much to bear.

Olivia hugged him close, not even trying to fight off her own tears. When Alex had called her and asked her to come, she admitted that she’d had her doubts, especially when Alex refused to tell her exactly what it was about. Now, though, she was glad she had come; not only for Bobby’s sake, but for her own sake as well. As much as she believed she’d come to accept her own grim heritage, the thought that there was someone else who truly understood was a relief that she couldn’t begin to voice.

Maybe, just maybe, they would be able to help each other.

Alex returned an hour later, full of trepidation. She was fairly positive that she’d done the right thing in bringing Olivia into it. If anyone could understand what Bobby was experiencing, it was her. What Alex didn’t know, however, was just how Bobby might have reacted to Olivia, and whether he would have been willing to give her a chance. She hoped so, she really did. Because if he hadn’t, she was going to feel absolutely lousy.

She opened the door to his apartment with caution, pausing before venturing in. Her relief was palpable at seeing Bobby and Olivia sitting next to each other on the sofa, apparently talking reasonably. Olivia looked up as she approached, and smiled.

“It’s safe. You can come in, Alex.”

She walked around and sat down on the edge of one of the armchairs, looking over at Bobby.

“Not too mad at me, are you?”

A weary, but genuine smile touched his lips and his eyes, and Alex felt a huge wave of relief.

“No, I’m not mad. I’m… I’m grateful. I owe you, Alex.”

“No,” she told him gently. “You don’t owe me anything, except to take care of yourself. Do you think you’ll be okay?”

Bobby looked across at Olivia, and then back to Alex.

“I will be,” he answered softly, sincerely, and Alex smiled with relief.

“That’s what I wanted to hear.”

A week later

Bobby stood by the freshly filled grave, reading the engraving on the headstone with a sad, weary resignation.

Frances Goren,
beloved mother

The engravers had queried whether leaving ‘beloved wife’ off was an oversight on his part, but he insisted that it wasn’t. He did not want that on the stone, not when her husband had had so little regard for his wife. And so it had been engraved the way he wanted it. It gutted him to think that it was the first time that he’d gotten entirely his own way where his mother was concerned.

He sighed softly and turned away to look around the cemetery. It was small, quiet, and peaceful. Fitting, he thought, when peaceful was the one thing that he never remembered his mother being.

“I found out for sure, Mom,” he said softly. “I know you didn’t think I needed to know, but I did. It… It’s okay, Mom. I’m okay about it.” He paused, trying to gather his thoughts into some reasonable order before saying what he needed to say. “I don’t blame you. I… I forgive you, Mom.” Another sigh escaped him, and at the same time he felt a weight lift off his shoulders.

“I love you, Ma,” he whispered softly. There were no tears, though. Not anymore.

He sighed once more, and this time it was one of release. It was release, and relief. Then, with a last look at his mother’s final resting place, Bobby turned and walked away, back to where his partner and best friend was waiting for him.


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