A/N: My apologies for the delay in posting this chapter, but I had to really think this one through, and I had one hell of a fight with my muse over it. You see, she wanted to kill Bobby off, and I didn't. But, you're going to have to read to find out who won. And, keep in mind, this was going to be two chapters, not one, until I realised I'd possibly be setting myself up for a cyber-lynching. Anyway, enjoy...

Carolyn left Mike’s room to find Deakins standing in the corridor just outside Bobby’s room. His face was white from shock, and she was sure he was trembling. She approached him slowly, bracing herself for what she thought was an inevitable explosion. He looked around as she approached, and she was shaken by the devastation that she read on his face, and in his eyes.

“He’s dying,” Deakins said hoarsely. “Bobby is dying… We’re going to lose him.”

“Alex told you,” Carolyn said softly.

Deakins rubbed a hand tiredly over his face.

“Yes. She told me that Dr Mackey said that Bobby is deteriorating, that he isn’t going to last out the week. She said he wants to turn off the life support.”

“Alex hit the roof,” Carolyn said softly. “And then, the callous son of a bitch said they needed the bed for other, non-terminal cases. I really thought Alex was going to just pull her gun out and shoot him then and there. Captain, can’t we get Bobby transferred to Mt Sinai? That idiot doctor can’t wait to pull the plug on him.”

Deakins nodded his agreement.

“I’ll speak to the Chief of Surgeons here, but I can’t promise anything. Chances are he’d never survive the transfer between hospitals.” He paused, looking past her to Mike’s room. “Why aren’t you…?”

“With Mike?” Carolyn asked. She looked down at the floor miserably. “I had to tell him about Bobby. He asked if Bobby was going to die, and I couldn’t lie to him. I told him what Dr Mackey had told us, that Bobby was getting worse… That he probably wouldn’t survive to the end of the week. It triggered another panic attack, and he had to be sedated again.”

Deakins reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He was developing a seriously bad migraine.

“It’s the proverbial out of the frying pan, but into the fire’. I told myself when they were rescued that they’d both be okay. But now… I just don’t know.”

“Dr Mackey said he was willing to give Bobby three days to show some sign of improvement. He said if he hadn’t improved at all by then, or if he continues to deteriorate, then he’ll press for the decision to be made in favour of turning off the life support.” Carolyn looked up at Deakins, pale and tearful. “You’re his medical proxy, aren’t you?”

Deakins nodded, feeling sick to his stomach.

“Medical proxy, and power of attorney. It will be my decision, if it comes to that, and believe me when I say I wish to God it was someone else’s responsibility.”

“You could refuse,” Carolyn said hopefully, but Deakins shook his head.

“It isn’t that simple, Carolyn. If Dr Mackey is right… if there’s no chance of recovery for Bobby, then it won’t do him or us any good to keep him alive artificially. Not if his mind is gone. He wouldn’t want that.”

“But how you do know?” Carolyn choked out. “How could you know?”

Deakins looked at her directly, pain and resignation in his eyes.

“I know, because it’s what Bobby stipulated when I went with him two years ago to update his will. He specified when he signed power of attorney to me, and named me as his medical proxy, that if anything were to happen to him and he was left incapacitated with no chance of recovery, then he was not to be kept alive by artificial means.”

“No…” Carolyn whispered in dismay as she realised what Deakins was saying. He went on grimly.

“He wanted to be allowed to die on his own terms, Carolyn. He didn’t want to be kept here… as nothing more than a vegetable. If that really is the case now, then I can’t just disregard his wishes. I’ll be obliged to go ahead, and authorise his doctor to turn off the life support.”


Deakins and Carolyn both looked around to see Alex standing there in the doorway of Bobby’s room, with her father right behind her. Neither looked happy, but the expression on Alex’s face was one of pure, unadulterated fury.

“Alex…” Deakins started to say, but she cut him off sharply.

“No. You aren’t going to do it. You aren’t going to kill him.”

“Alex, be reasonable…”

“I said no! If you let them turn off his life support, then you’re no better than the bastards who left Bobby and Mike locked up in that cage in the first place.”

As she spoke, she walked towards him, until they were barely inches apart. Deakins instinctively tried to retreat from her, but he already had his back to the wall, and there was nowhere for him to retreat to. Drawing in an unsteady breath, he spoke with forced calm.

“Alex, if he’s brain dead, then there’s no alternative. We can’t just leave him in that state. He wouldn’t want it, and you know it!”

“I know he wouldn’t want us to quit on him,” she snapped. “Not while there’s still a chance.”

“We have to trust that his doctor knows what he’s talking about, Alex. I’m sure he wouldn’t allow Bobby to die if there was even a slim chance of him recovering.”

“You can trust him. I don’t. I don’t believe there’s no chance. I do believe that as long as he’s still breathing, there is a chance, and I won’t let anyone take that away from him. Not his doctor, not you… not anybody.”

Deakins looked past Alex to John for some support, but there was none forthcoming.

“I’m sorry, Jim,” he said quietly. “I have to side with Alex on this one. I’m no doctor, but I’ve spent enough times in plenty of ICUs to have a basic understanding of the machines. And unless I’m way off-course in my assessment, the machine in there that monitors brain activity is still humming. Whatever that doctor thinks, Bobby is not brain dead. He’s still fighting, and I think it’d be criminal to take that away from him now.”

Deakins groaned aloud.

“Do you think I want him to die? I don’t! Damn it… I made a promise to Bobby, and I can’t break that promise. I won’t betray the trust that he put in me.”

“By killing him?” Alex choked out. “You can’t be serious…”

“Hang on!” Carolyn burst out, fed up with the anger, and the mounting tension. “Just wait a moment! He’s not at that point yet! Didn’t Dr Mackey say he had three days to improve?”

“That’s right,” John confirmed. Carolyn nodded.

“All right, then. They say coma patients can hear what’s going on around them, and that sometimes it even helps them to wake up. I say we spend the next three days doing everything we can to make him hear us, and to get him to fight his way back. “

Deakins nodded in agreement.

“All right.” He looked uneasily from John to Alex. “Don’t get me wrong. I hope to God he does show some sign of improvement. I really do. But if it comes to the crunch, I can’t go against Bobby’s wishes, no matter how much it hurts us all.” He locked stares with Alex. “And yes, Alex. It will hurt me as much as it hurts you.”

She stared at him with bitter anger.

“Somehow I doubt that.”

Wheeling around, she stalked back into Bobby’s room, leaving the rest of them standing in uncomfortable silence in the hallway.

“You would seriously agree to them switching off that boy’s life support?” John asked, staring at Deakins incredulously.

“Yes,” Deakins confirmed. “If they can prove he really is brain dead, that there’s no chance of him coming back, then yes. I would. It’s what he wanted. I don’t like it, but it’s what I agreed to with him when I accepted responsibility of being medical proxy, and taking on power of attorney for him.”

John sighed softly.

“I understand you’re in a difficult position, Jim, but if you agree to that doctor’s demands, and authorise him to turn off Bobby’s life support… Well, I’m warning you now, Alex may just never forgive you.”

Tears stung Deakins’ eyes, but he managed to hold John’s gaze.

“Do you think I want to do that? I don’t, John! I want Bobby alive, and I want him back with us! But Bobby trusted me, and I can’t betray that trust. The doctor said he doesn’t expect Bobby to live until the end of the week, and he’s given Bobby three days to make some improvement. That’s a deadline of Friday night. Now, if it gets to Friday night, and Bobby has improved, or if he’s even just stayed the same as he is right now, then I’ll refuse to allow the life support to be turned off. But if he continues to deteriorate, and if he really is brain dead by that time, then I will not allow him to be kept alive when it won’t do anything to help him. I won’t stand by and watch one of my best detectives be turned into a vegetable.”

John looked over at Carolyn, who nodded in wordless agreement. Little though they liked it, Deakins’ words made sense, and he was putting forward a reasonable ultimatum, given the grim circumstances.

“Okay,” John said softly. “We wait until Friday night, then.”

Friday night

Mike drew in a steady, albeit shallow breath as he was wheeled slowly out of his room and down the hallway towards Bobby’s room. He had finally regained sufficient strength to come off the ventilator, and be extubated, but he’d quickly found he still had to be careful to keep his breathing slow and even. His body was weak, horribly weak, and any sort of stress could potentially cause his lungs to pack it in altogether.

Carolyn had told him about the three day deadline for Bobby some ten or twelve hours later, when he’d woken up once more from the most recent lot of sedatives. Mike had spent the following hours, and subsequent days, on tenterhooks, waiting for word one way or the other.

When the tube had finally been removed from his throat that morning, his first perceptible words had been to ask how Bobby was. To his dismay, the news had not been good. Far from improving, Bobby had ended up slipping further away from them. According to what Carolyn had been able to relay to him, the machine that monitored brain activity was just one short step away from being the heart monitor’s equivalent of flatline. There was brain activity, but it was so miniscule that it could hardly be considered to be anything more than an insignificant flicker.

Dr Mackey had apparently told a distraught Alex Eames, her parents, Deakins and Carolyn just before noon that day that it was not enough to allow Bobby even a slim chance of waking up. Indeed, the doctor had stated in no uncertain terms that he fully expected that even that small amount of brain activity would cease within a matter of hours. Then, Bobby would truly be brain dead, his body nothing more than an empty shell.

In effect, a deadline had been set. Barring a miracle, the life support was to be switched off at 5.30pm that evening. They all had until then to say their final goodbyes.

According to Dr Mackey, once the life support was switched off, Bobby might continue live for anything up to an hour or more, though that was, in reality, an unpredictable thing. The only guarantee was that come Saturday morning, Bobby Goren would be dead.

It was a very bitter pill for all of them to swallow, but even moreso for Mike, who felt more responsible than ever for his friend’s imminent death.

Mike’s breath caught in his throat as he was pushed into Bobby’s room. His gaze flickered around briefly, taking in the small group that was gathered there.

Alex, of course… Deakins, Carolyn, John and Helen Eames… It was heart-breaking, the small number that had gathered to say goodbye to Bobby.

Unwittingly, Mike glanced up at the clock on the wall above Bobby’s bed. It read 5.16pm. He had a little over ten minutes to find the right words to farewell his friend.

A hand came down on his shoulder, and he glanced up to see Deakins standing there. The captain looked devastated, Mike reflected numbly. They all did.

“Say whatever you feel you need to, Mike. We already have.”

Yes, Mike thought as he took in the mixture of rage and grief on Alex’s face, and not all of it to Bobby, I’ll wager.

He hesitated, and then spoke tentatively.

“Uh… Could I… be alone with him? Would anyone mind?”

His request was met with silence. Then, without uttering a word, they filed slowly out of the room.

Alex was the last to go, and she paused on her way out to crouch down beside him. Mike looked at her warily, expecting some sort of verbal recrimination, but there was none. Instead, to his astonishment, she leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek. When she drew back to find him looking at her in confusion, she offered him a small, sad smile.

“This isn’t your fault, Mike. I know you’re still blaming yourself, and I want you to stop.”

“He’s going to die, Alex. How can you not blame me?”

She reached up to cup his cheek briefly, then smooth back a wayward lock of hair.

“Because you’re not the one who locked him in that cage. And because you aren’t the one who gave the go-ahead to his doctor to turn off the life support.”

“Don’t blame Deakins,” Mike pleaded with her. “He… He’s just doing what he thinks is the right thing. It’s what he says Bobby wanted.”

Tears spilled down Alex’s cheeks.

“It’s too late to debate that now.” She straightened up, and as she did so she kissed him once more, this time on the forehead. “You might have made a dumb choice that night, Mike, but Bobby made that choice right along with you. And I know you did all you could to help him while you were trapped in that building. I’ll always be grateful to you for that.”

Without giving him a chance to reply, Alex slipped quietly out of the room and closed the door behind her, leaving him alone with his dying friend.

“Well,” Mike muttered, already feeling the words catch in his throat. “This sucks.” He sighed softly. “I… I don’t have a whole lot of experience doing this, Bobby. Saying goodbye to someone, I mean. Hell, I couldn’t even bring myself to go to Lennie Briscoe’s funeral, I was such a fucking coward. And now I’ve got ten lousy minutes to find a way to say goodbye to you.”

Mike paused, looking up at Bobby’s deathly pale features. It wasn’t all that different to how he’d looked during those last few hours imprisoned in the basement of the condemned building. Except, now Mike knew for a fact that Bobby was dying, and this time there really was no hope of rescue.

And suddenly, Mike was angry. Very, very angry.

“You know what, Goren?” he said abruptly. “I’m not doing it. I’m not saying goodbye to you, because you’re not going to die. Yeah, that’s right, pal. You heard me right. I don’t give you permission to die.”

As he spoke, the anger flared up inside him, white-hot and powerful. He went on in a whisper that has as much impact as an enraged shout, barely aware of the tears that were nearly blinding him.

“You bastard, Goren. You fucking bastard! How could you do this? After everything that happened, and everything we said to each other… How the fuck could you just quit like this? Goddamn you, Bobby! You selfish son of a bitch! We said we’d fight. We both made that promise. Don’t you dare give up on me now! Do you hear me, Bobby? Don’t you fucking dare!”

Mike drew in a slow, rasping breath that did nothing to quell the anger he felt.

“I know you can hear me, you jackass. I know damn well that you can hear every goddamn word I’m saying. You told me not to martyr myself, but then you try to do the same? Well, fuck that, Goren, and fuck you! You made me believe we still had a prayer while we were in that cage.” Reaching up, Mike closed his good hand tightly over Bobby’s. “Can you feel that, pal? That’s me, not letting you go. Now fight, goddamn you! Show a little bit of that stubbornness that you’re so famous for, and fight!”

His voice cracked as he pleaded with Bobby, and tears rolled unchecked down his cheeks.

“I can’t say that I won’t forgive you if you quit on us now, Bobby, but I guarantee that I’ll never be able to forgive myself. Just… fucking wake up, will you?”

The door opened behind him, and Dr Mackey stepped back into the room, the others close behind.

“It’s time,” Mackey said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

Mike ignored him, staring desperately as his comatose friend.

“C’mon, Bobby,” he pleaded desperately. “Don’t do this to us. Don’t let those bastards win, not now.”

Even as he made his last plea, though, someone took hold of the wheelchair and pulled him back, out of reach of his friend.

“No…” he whispered, but his protest went unheard as Mackey walked around and, as they all watched, disconnected the life support that was helping to keep Bobby alive.

“How long?” John asked in a strained voice. Mackey shook his head.

“There’s no way of knowing. He could go any minute… or he may last for a few more hours yet. I don’t think it will be long, though. Again… I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Mike whispered hoarsely as Mackey left the room. “I’ll bet you are.”


He looked up through a veil of tears to find Carolyn looking at him in concern.

“What do you want to do, Mike?” she asked softly. “Did you want to stay here?”

He shook his head, distraught.

“I can’t do this… I can’t watch him die. Get me outta here.”

Carolyn looked over at Alex.

“I’ll be back shortly.”

Alex didn’t respond. She had taken up a final vigil at her partner’s side, holding his hand tightly in her own and speaking to him in a low murmur. John nodded at Carolyn, to acknowledge her words, but said nothing. Sparing Deakins a miserable look, Carolyn guided Mike’s wheelchair out through the door, and back down the hallway to his room.

Three hours later

Carolyn returned to sit with Alex after returning Mike to his own bed but was back with him a little over half an hour later, unable to stomach the mounting tension in the other room. Deakins had stayed despite the palpable anger directed towards him from Alex, promising Carolyn that he would come and let her and Mike know when it was finally over.

“I really thought he’d pull through,” Mike said softly, shakily, as Carolyn sat beside him on the bed, hugging him gently. “After all the crap we went through… I couldn’t imagine him not being okay. I… I never thought it’d get to this point. God, I feel so sick.”

She brushed her fingers lightly over his cheeks, wiping away excess tears.

“I talked to your doctor earlier, Mike. She said that you should be able to be transferred to Mt Sinai as early as Sunday. We can finally get you out of the Bronx.”

He didn’t respond to her weak attempt at a joke.

“I’m not going,” he said hoarsely, and she raised an eyebrow in surprise.

“You like it here that much?”

He looked up at her finally, realising they’d managed to cross their wires.

“No. I mean, I’m not going to the funeral. I can’t do that. It’s hard enough, knowing he’s dying right now, right in the next room. I can’t go to his funeral. I… just can’t.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Carolyn murmured, fighting back a fresh flood of tears.

“There won’t be anything to discuss,” Mike snapped. “I won’t go.”


“I said no! I can’t say goodbye to another friend. I’m not going to his goddamn funeral!”

Carolyn started to speak again, but any further protests were cut off abruptly when a voice spoke from the doorway.

“It’s all right, Carolyn. Don’t argue with him.”

Carolyn looked around at Deakins in distress.

“But Captain, if anyone needs to be there, it should be Mike.”

“Why?” Mike asked bitterly. “So they can all have someone to lay the blame on? Because that’s the only reason I can think of.”

“Mike,” Deakins said tiredly, “the only person who seems determined to blame you, is you.”

Mike looked away, but not quickly enough to hide the new tears that filled his eyes. Carolyn watched him sadly for a long moment before looking back to Deakins.

“Is it over? Is he… gone?”

Deakins stepped fully into the room, wandered over and sat down in one of the visitor’s chairs.

“I don’t think we really expected him to last much more than half an hour without the life support, so I guess you could say we were kind of surprised that Bobby was still hanging in there after an hour. Mike… what exactly did you say to him when we left you alone with him?”

Mike looked around at Deakins slowly.

“I told him quit being such a bastard, and wake the fuck up. Why?”

A ghost of a smile appeared on Deakins’ face.

“After an hour and a half, his heart rate started to improve.”

Carolyn sat up with a start.


“You heard me, Barek. Then, after two hours, his brain activity began to increase, and his vitals all started to get better.”

“Captain, what are you saying?” Mike asked softly, hardly daring to hope. Deakins looked from Carolyn back to Mike, looking both bewildered and relieved at the same time.

“Bobby Goren just woke up.”

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