When Mike awoke next, he had well and truly lost all track of time. He could honestly say that he didn’t even know whether it was day or night.

A brief glance across the floor told him that Bobby was sleeping soundly, which was a relief. Sighing inwardly, Mike slumped back down on the bed. The worst part of this whole lousy situation was not being able to do a damned thing to change it. All they could do was lie around and wait. It wasn’t how either of them operated, and they hated it.

Mike stared into the darkness, feeling well and truly sick to his stomach. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been this helpless. A small grimace found its way onto his face. Oh yeah, he could. Fifteen years old, and getting the crap beaten out of him by his drunk mother.

He groaned softly, cursing himself for allowing that image back into his head. It sucked as a comparison for this, but one established there in his mind, the memories would not so easily be banished again.

He remembered his teen years with a bitterness that defied belief. The uncertainty of day to day life in those formative years had turned him into a hard-fisted, short-tempered guy who hated being in any situation where he was left feeling out of control. It was also partly the reason why he’d punched out the City Councilman. That, and the bastard had deserved it.

He thought back with curiosity to his first encounter with Bobby and Alex, nearly six months before Captain Deakins expedited his move off Staten Island and into Major Case. An amused smile flickered across his lips as he recalled the moment that the two had walked into Deakins’ office.

He remembered being taken aback, even though he’d made a concerted effort not to let his surprise show. An odder pair you couldn’t have found for looking, and yet they seemed to fit so well together. They reminded him in some ways of his partnership with the late, great Lennie Briscoe. Connected on every level, in sync, attuned to each other’s needs.

Later on, Mike had spent some hours mulling firstly over how a solid, traditional cop like Alex Eames had found herself partnered with a head-case like Bobby Goren and secondly, how she’d found it in herself to stick it out with him for the better part of five years. After all, there were few traditional cops, even in the upper echelons of the NYPD, who could tolerate Bobby’s brand of psychobabble. He himself had found it almost impossible to cope with at first.

But then, Bobby had saved them both from being beaten to death within the cold, unfriendly walls of a Staten Island prison, and Mike had been forced to completely re-evaluate his position. That stylised brand of psychobabble that was so uniquely Goren had saved their lives. Mike knew beyond any doubt that the only reason he was still around was because of Bobby.

And yet, despite Bobby’s apparent fearlessness in the face of death, Mike had seen something in him that went against everything he’d heard, everything he thought he knew. When the second pair of prison guards had turned up, Mike had seen fear in Bobby’s eyes. Stark, stomach-turning fear.

Not a fear of death, he mused. All cops had to face death every day on the job. There was an unspoken acceptance that you could be killed at any given time.

No, this had been different. Bobby had been terrified, not of being killed, but of being beaten. And it was that realisation that had Mike thoroughly intrigued. What, he wondered, had happened in Bobby’s life to leave him with that sort of fear?

He’d never dared to ask, of course. It wasn’t that he was afraid so much of how Bobby might react to that line of questioning. It was more an ingrained sense of propriety. You just didn’t ask stuff like that, not unless you were willing to air your own emotional baggage. End of story.

But still, he wondered.

A strange sound, like a whimper, reached Mike’s ears, and he looked curiously over at Bobby. His colleague seemed to be suffering from nightmares. No big surprise there, Mike thought sympathetically. He himself had not exactly had a dream-free slumber, either.

He wondered just what Bobby’s nightmare was about, and was contemplating a safe method of waking up him – preferably one that wouldn’t get him punched in the face – when Bobby awoke with a start. Easing himself up, Mike crossed the floor to where Bobby half sat up, trembling violently and lathered in sweat.

“Easy, pal,” Mike murmured. “Take it easy. It was just a nightmare.”

He reached out to Bobby, but stopped short of actually touching him. Until he was certain that Bobby was fully awake, there was just no telling what sort of physical reaction he might have, particularly in light of all that had happened to them.

Slowly, Bobby’s eyes lost that glazed look and focused once more, first on Mike and then on their surroundings. He shuddered, and slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position.

“No… It wasn’t.”

“Here,” Mike told him, at the same time pushing one of the water bottles into Bobby’s hand. “Have a few sips.”

Bobby, however, pushed it away.

“I’m okay.”

“I know that,” Mike assured him. “Just humour me, okay? Have a drink.”

“We only have two bottles of water, Mike.”

“I know that, too. Why do you have to be such a pain in the ass, and argue with me? Just drink! You’re dehydrated.”

“And you’re not?”

Mike focused his best intimidating look at Bobby, and pushed the bottle back into Bobby’s hand.

“Drink, Goren. Or I’ll pour it down your damn throat.”

Shaking his head in annoyance, Bobby nevertheless took the bottle and swallowed a few conservative mouthfuls. Then, sighing quietly with a relief that he simply couldn’t hide, he pushed the bottle back towards Mike.

“Your turn. Drink.”

Mike shook his head.

“No. I don’t need it.”

Genuine anger flashed across Bobby’s face, then.

“Bullshit. Damn you, Logan, don’t you dare martyr yourself. Not here, not now. You insisted that I drink. Now you do the same. You are not going to let yourself go thirsty because you’ve got a guilt complex.”

Grimacing, and embarrassed by the truth in Bobby’s words, Mike accepted the water and took a couple of mouthfuls.

“Never thought water could ever taste so good,” he remarked as he reluctantly screwed the lid back on. Bobby smiled humourlessly.

“Give it another twenty-four hours, and it’ll seem like the elixir of life.”

Mike paused, taking the liberty of checking Bobby’s leg wound before retreating back to the other bed.

“So, do you remember what you were dreaming about?” Mike asked. Immediately, Bobby’s expression clouded over.

“I don’t remember.”

Mike raised an eyebrow sceptically.


“Yes,” Bobby snapped. “Really.”

“Okay. So… I’d guess it was probably to do with your mom, then? Or, maybe your dad?”

“Leave it alone, Mike.”

Frustration bubbled over in Mike, finally, and he snapped back angrily.

“Hey, in case it escaped your attention, genius, we’re probably going to die in here! So how about cutting out the bullshit, and ditching the strong silent type routine? Damn, Bobby…”

Bobby watched Mike with more than a hint of bitterness.

“So, because we might be facing our deaths, we should both go into the caring, sharing mode?”

Mike lay back down with a heavy thud, and rolled awkwardly onto his side, facing away from Bobby.

“Fuck you. I was just trying make things a little more bearable.”

Bobby silently on the bed for a good couple of minutes, staring at Mike’s back, before speaking in a heavily subdued voice.

“It was about my mother.”

For a long moment, Mike didn’t respond. Then, finally, he shifted and rolled back over, watching Bobby with a piercing stare. Bobby went on, forcing himself to hold Mike’s gaze as he spoke.

“You… You know she’s schizophrenic… that she’s at Carmel Ridge.”

Mike nodded wordlessly. That was information that had pretty much become public knowledge, thanks to Judge Harold Garrett. Bobby continued to speak softly.

When I was a kid… I think I was eight or nine… She started having delusions that centred around me. She’d see me as being possessed by… by demons. She’d beat me, and then lock me in the basement. It was always pitch dark down there. Sometimes she’d leave me there all night.”

“What about your old man?” Mike asked, frowning. “He didn’t bail until you were a bit older. And what your brother?”

“Dad started coming home drunk on a regular basis,” Bobby admitted. “Most times he forgot I even existed. The few times he did think to let me out, he usually ended up belting me around as well. As for Richie, he spent a lot of time at friends’ houses, just to get away from it. So it was pretty much just my mom and me.”

“And I thought I had it bad with my mom,” Mike muttered. He glanced around. “No wonder this has you freaked out. Did she… beat you bad?”

“Most times no,” Bobby murmured. “It was frightening more than anything. But every so often, she’d really lose it, and then she would hurt me. The… the worst was when she split my head open, and broke my arm.”

“Ouch. How’d she manage that?”

“It was when I was twelve. I came home from school, and found she’d smashed every mirror in the house. She said they were portals, and the demons were trying to get through. I was trying to calm her down when she found a hand-held mirror that her grandmother had given her. She smashed it over my head, and then threw me into the basement. I landed on my arm, and broke it.”

“My sympathies,” Mike said ruefully. “My mom beat the shit out of me all the time, but she was just a drunk, plain and simple.”

Bobby raised his eyes finally to meet Mike’s.

“Your mom used to beat you?”

“Yeah. She’d send me to the liquor store for her daily supplies, get drunk, and then beat the hell out of me. It was pretty much a daily cycle. I know it sounds wrong, but I have to tell you, Bobby, I never shed a tear the day she died.”

“Same for my dad,” Bobby admitted quietly. “When he died, I was relieved.”

“Did he ever try get back in contact with you?”

“Once. It was just after I started at Major Case. I don’t know how he found me, and I don’t want to know. I’m assuming someone tipped him off. Anyway, he showed up there one day, wanting to talk to me. I did… for all of fifteen minutes. He hadn’t changed. Everything was still about him, and about how his life had been so hard. He didn’t even have the balls to say sorry for what he did to us. I cut it off when he asked for money to cover his latest gambling debt.”

“Lousy piece of shit.”

“Yeah,” Bobby agreed softly. “He was.”

“Well,” Mike said finally, “I say that when we get out of this dump, we go have a commiserating drink together. I know this great little bar over in the Bronx…”

Mike had no time to duck as a thin pillow went flying across the floor and smacked him square in the face.

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