A/N: I have had an epiphany. This may not prove to be such a good thing for our Bobby, but it looks like this story will avoid being consigned to the scrap heap after all. And believe me, it was very, very close to that happening.
Consequently, having had a brainstorm on what I can do with this (yes, more torment and misery is on the way), I've gone through it and made a few minor changes here and there. In particular, I've changed the name of Bobby's brother from Richard to Frank, in order to fall in line with the show's canon. As for whether big brother Frank is good or bad for Bobby... Well, even I haven't fully decided that yet. We'll see.
Here's hoping, though, that I can get that long, looooooooooooong awaited next chapter posted very soon...
Detective Alexandra Eames stood back silently, her hand resting lightly on her gun as Goren spoke to their suspect. They had come to the warehouse to talk to Dylan Black again after Carver had denied them a warrant. They hoped to see something, or learn something, that would give them the leverage to get that elusive piece of paper that would allow them the freedom to openly search for the evidence that they sincerely believed was hidden there.
As always, Goren was in full flight, doing everything in his power to put Black on the back-foot. He seemed to be succeeding, too.
Eames allowed herself the tiniest of smirks. This was one of the great things about working with a partner like Goren. There was plenty to challenge her, but at the same time she enjoyed having the opportunity to just stand back and watch her partner go hell for leather against a suspect, especially one as sick as Black. And, he was so good at it, too.
Black had tried to back away from Goren, stuttering feeble protests about police harassment. Goren wouldn't let up, though, pushing himself right into the guy's face at every opportunity. Eames started forward, deciding that perhaps it was time to intervene before Goren tipped the guy over the edge of whatever thin line of sanity he was walking.
It happened in the blink of an eye. Later on, Eames would testify that Black moved so quickly, neither she nor Goren had a chance to react and defend themselves.
Goren caught the warning look that Eames threw at him, and complied by backing off. In that instant, Black's entire demeanour shifted from blubbering mess to pure rage. He grabbed Goren by the wrist in a vice-like grip, wrenching his arm around hard and fast, and Eames could hear the snap of her partner's wrist breaking even from where she stood. Goren cried out in pain as his wrist broke under the violent pressure, and his shoulder was brutally dislocated. Black snatched the detective's gun from his holster before Goren had a chance to try and stop him, and then he fired once, twice, three and four times into Goren's chest and stomach.
Eames ripped her gun from its holster, milliseconds too late. Even as Goren was still collapsing to the floor, blood rapidly blossoming out across his white shirt, Black swung the weapon around and opened fire on her as well.
Long before she felt any pain, she felt the pressure of bullets striking her, in the shoulder and the stomach, and one shattering her knee. She fired her own gun even as she fell, and was gratified to see at least one hit Black in his forearm, causing Goren's gun to be jolted out of his hand and skitter away across the floor. Black howled in pain and rage, and stumbled over to her, kicking her gun out of her hands and out of reach while he clutched his bloodied arm to his chest.
"You fucking bitch," he spat. "I'm gonna fucking kill you for that."
Eames could only look up at Black helplessly, her own gun now out of reach. Black was just drawing back his foot to deliver a vicious kick that was most certainly aimed at her head when he jerked involuntarily, and crashed to the ground next to her. Blood flowed freely from new bullet wound in his shoulder. The fight taken out of him, Black got to his feet and staggered clumsily away, disappearing from sight. A moment later, Eames heard the sound of a door slamming shut, followed by the distinct roar of an engine.
Confused and dazed, Eames looked across the floor to her wounded partner. To her amazement, and her admiration, Goren had somehow managed to drag himself far enough across the floor to recover his gun from where it had fallen. He had then fired once, with extraordinary accuracy given his injuries and the fact that he was slumped in a bloodied heap on the concrete floor, stopping Black from assaulting her.
For a long moment, the two detectives stared across the floor at each other, their individual pain reflected in each other's eyes. But now, even as Eames watched, Goren's gun fell from his grip and his eyes closed.
Panic hit and, ignoring her own wounds, she dragged herself across the floor to him.
Her voice came out weak, barely audible. He didn't respond, and she realised dimly that he was in serious danger of bleeding out right then. She was on the verge of losing consciousness herself, and knew she had one chance to call for help. They both needed help, or they were both going to die.
Fumbling with her radio, she managed somehow to detach it from her belt and activate it.
"This is Detective Eames… Need assistance… Warehouse at 1867, Wilshire Drive… Man… Manhattan… Officers down… Repeat… Officers down…"
For a long moment there was only static to be heard in answer, and for a terrifying moment she thought her voice had been too weak to be heard. Then, the static cleared and a voice resonated out of the speaker.
"This is Central. We receive your message, Detective Eames. Dispatching an ambulance and reinforcements immediately. Can you tell me what your status is?"
Somehow, she managed to gather the strength to speak again.
"Two officers down… myself and Detective Goren… Suspect is gone… We've both been shot… Need an ambulance…"
"An ambulance is on its way, Detective. Just hang on. Try to stay awake. Tell me, how badly are you both injured?"
Eames shuddered. She knew the dispatcher was trying to help her to stay awake, and she appreciated it, but she simply didn't have the strength to get another word out. The radio slipped from her hand, and the last thing she saw before losing consciousness was the ever-growing pool of blood beneath her partner's body.
Captain James Deakins was in the middle of arguing with Ron Carver over the legalities of getting a warrant to search Black's warehouse when the door of his office almost exploded open, and one of the other Major Case detectives, David Ashley, stumbled in. Deakins was on his feet straight away, any irritation at being interrupted gone at the sight of Ashley's shell-shocked expression.
"Ashley? What's wrong?"
"Dispatch just took a radio call from Eames, Captain. She and Goren have both been shot. An ambulance has just been sent out to Dylan Black's warehouse, on Wilshire."
"Christ," Deakins whispered, horrified. "Ashley, grab your coat. I want you to get me out there as fast as you can."
They arrived not long after the ambulance, and had to fight their way through the multitude of police that had descended on the scene in response to Eames' desperate call.
"Oh, god," Deakins moaned as he finally got a good look at his two best detectives. Ashley, and his partner Mick Johnson, reacted instantly and hurried over to their fellow officers. Deakins followed suit, trying to get as close as he could without getting in the way of the paramedics.
Both detectives were laying side by side, blood from their wounds mingling to create one large pool of blood. From the blood trail across the floor, though, Deakins guessed that Eames had been standing over by the wall when Black had opened fire on them. She had then dragged herself over to Goren's side before making the radio call for help.
He moved back as Eames was lifted onto a gurney and rushed out to one of two waiting ambulances. He watched them go, and then looked back to where two paramedics from the second ambulance were still working frantically on Goren. The detective was still alive, though only barely.
"Son of a bitch shot him four times," Johnson said angrily.
Deakins looked around, and for the first time realised that, aside from a separate stain of blood nearby that clearly did not belong to either Goren or Eames, there was no sign of their suspected perp.
"Ashley," he said quietly, tensely. "Get on your radio, and put out an alert. Get a description of Black circulating as quickly as possible. And put out the word that no one is to try taking this scumbag down on their own. He's already shot two cops."
Ashley hurried away to do as he'd been ordered.
Deakins looked around to find Johnson standing there, trying to get his attention.
"What is it, Johnson?"
"Sir, the paramedics want to know if you're going to go with either of the ambulances."
Deakins nodded, trying to shake the cobwebs form his mind.
"Yes, I will. Stay here, and see what CSU come up with. I'll call you from the hospital, and give you an update."
"What do you want me to tell everyone back at MCS?" Johnson asked softly. "They'll all be waiting to hear, Sir."
Deakins watched as Goren was taken past them to the waiting ambulance. He'd seen wounds before like those which Goren had sustained, and he knew the chances were slim that Goren would survive the journey to hospital, let alone the next twenty-four hours. But he also knew better than to count the detective out before time.
"Tell everyone that they're hanging in there," he told him quietly before hurrying after the paramedics.
Deakins looked around as Ron Carver joined him in the small, private waiting room in St Clare's Hospital. He didn't even attempt a smile.
"How are they? Have you heard anything?"
"They both went straight into surgery," Deakins answered softly. "I haven't heard anything yet. It looks like Goren took four bullets at point blank range in the chest and gut. Eames took one in the chest… In her left shoulder, and her right knee was pretty much shattered. That son of a bitch Black did a hell of a lot of damage."
"I'm told that Mr Black is still at large. Is that true?"
"Yes, but if he's got any brains at all, he'll turn himself in. By nightfall every cop in the Five Boroughs is going to be after his blood. From what we've been able to work out, Black managed to get Goren's gun off him…"
"Detective Goren must have been caught by surprise," Carver mused. "I can't envisage him letting anyone divest him of his gun without one hell of a struggle."
"We won't know for sure until one or both of them recovers enough to tell us. Anyway, it looks like both Goren and Eames were shot with Goren's gun… Eames managed to shoot back… Her gun had been fired as well, and there was evidence that Black had actually been shot."
"So Black is missing, and he has Detective Goren's gun…"
"No. Goren's gun was by his hand, and there was one more shot that had been fired from it, than is accounted for by the number of times Goren and Eames were both shot. I think Goren somehow got his gun back, and managed to shoot Black before losing consciousness. Maybe Black had left him to deal with Eames… I don't know."
"If that's what happened," Carver mused, "that must have taken incredible strength of will on Detective Goren's part… to recover his weapon and accurately return fire after being shot four times."
Deakins stared at the floor.
"He wouldn't have been trying to protect himself by then. He would have been trying to protect Eames. Hell, what a mess…"
"I'm sorry, Jim," Carver apologised quietly. "I could probably have gotten that warrant if I'd tried hard enough. Then they wouldn't have gone back there without support."
"This isn't your fault," Deakins told him. "I don't blame you, and I know that Goren and Eames won't blame you. The only person to blame for my two detectives being in surgery right now is Black, and he won't be a free man for long. Once word gets out about this, the entire NYPD will be looking for him."
"He would be wise to turn himself in," Carver agreed quietly. "Jim, have you contacted their family yet?"
"I called Eames' father not long ago. He'll be here soon."
"And Detective Goren…? Does he not have any family?"
Deakins was silent for a long moment, considering his answer.
"He has an older brother, but I don't know where he is. I don't even know his name."
"But he has a mother, right? I've seen him call her on the phone."
A faint sigh escaped Deakins.
"Goren's mother is a permanent resident at Carmel Ridge. She's schizophrenic."
Carver stared at Deakins, stunned.
"Well… All of a sudden certain… aspects of Detective Goren's character make sense."
"He's not schizophrenic, Ron. Trust me, when I was looking at his application for Major Case that was the first thing I checked. A lot of his idiosyncrasies come from living with someone with the disorder."
"It would also explain his intense interest in psychology," Carver murmured. "I hate to play the pessimist, Jim, but how are you going to handle it if Detective Goren doesn't survive?"
Deakins shook his head.
"I don't know, Ron. I really don't know."
The door opened, and a doctor looked in.
Deakins stood up, his heart starting to pound.
"Detective Eames has come through surgery. She's going to be okay."
The relief on Deakins' face was palpable.
"Thank God for that."
"We'll need to keep her in ICU for a few days before moving her into a regular ward," the doctor went on, "but she should make a full recovery."
"And Detective Goren?" Carver asked. The doctor hesitated, his smile fading.
"I'm sorry. I just came straight from the OR. I can't tell you anything about Detective Goren yet. Excuse me…"
Then he was gone. Deakins drew in a steadying breath, sitting back down heavily.
"He isn't dead. If he was dead, they would have told us by now."
"He's strong, Jim," Carver said quietly. "He'll pull through. I'm sure of it."
There was a light knock on the door, and it opened again this time to reveal a new face. Deakins got up again quickly to greet the newcomer.
"John, it's good to see you again."
John Eames nodded and smiled, though his face was the colour of ash.
"What happened, Jim? What happened to them?"
Deakins explained what had happened as best as he was able. John listened intently, speaking only when Deakins had finished.
"So Alex will be okay? She's going to pull through?"
"The doctor came and spoke to us just a few minutes ago," Deakins reassured him. "He told us she should make a full recovery."
John sank down into one of the soft leather seats, weak-kneed with relief.
"Thank God… My little girl's okay…" Abruptly he looked back at Deakins. "What about Bobby? Is he going to be all right?"
"We don't know yet," Deakins admitted in a subdued voice. "He's still in surgery. He took four bullets in the chest and stomach at point blank range, John. In all honesty, it's not looking good for him."
"Oh no," John whispered.
"You know Detective Goren?" Carver asked, trying to keep the surprise out of his voice. John smiled faintly.
"Yes, Mr Carver, I know Bobby Goren. After Alex found out that he doesn't have any family of his own, aside from a sick mother that can't support him and a brother who isn't on the scene, she made a point of making him as much a part of our family as he'd allow her to. As clichéd as this may sound, Bobby is as much a part of my family now as my own children. My family will be here for Alex, but we'll also be here for Bobby."
"Thankyou, John," Deakins murmured. "You have no idea how glad I am to hear that."
"I think I might have some idea. And there's nothing worse than being alone in the hospital."
The door opened again, and another doctor looked in.
"Excuse me… Captain Deakins?"
The doctor stepped all the way into the room, closing the door behind him.
"Captain Deakins, I'm Dr Fielding. I'm Detective Goren's surgeon and doctor."
Deakins felt his stomach roll unpleasantly.
"Is he dead?"
Fielding smiled faintly.
"No, Captain Deakins, he most certainly is not dead. I came down to tell you that he's still in a very serious condition, and the next forty-eight hours are going to be critical, but he came through surgery. It's only the first of a lot of hurdles he has to get over, but it's a significant one."
"Thank God," Deakins whispered, sinking weakly into one of the sofas. Fielding hesitated, and then went on quietly.
"Now I'm afraid I need to give you the bad news."
All three men stared at him intently. Fielding spoke grimly.
"We are doing everything we can to keep Detective Goren alive, but there are two factors working against him at the moment. The first is that one of the bullets literally shredded his spleen. In the end, we had no choice but to remove it. Unfortunately, that means he is more vulnerable to infections, and if he were to contract an infection at this stage, it would probably prove fatal. So I'm afraid that at the moment, it isn't possible for him to have any visitors. We've had to set up an oxygen tent around him in order to try and keep the environment completely clean. We're going to need to keep these measures in place for the next forty-eight hours at least."
"What is the other factor?" Carver asked, not entirely sure that he really wanted to know.
"We couldn't remove all of the bullets," Fielding explained. "One of them is resting against his spine, and at the moment there is no surgeon here with the skill to safely remove it. If I'd tried to do it, it probably would have resulted in permanent paralysis. More to the point, I probably would have finished what the person who shot him was trying to do in the first place."
"So you're just going to leave the bullet there?" Deakins asked, horrified.
"Right at the moment, there's nothing else we can do," Fielding answered. "I've contacted a friend of mine in Washington D.C., who is an expert with this particular kind of situation, and he's agreed to come and perform the operation to remove the bullet, but he can't get here until tomorrow night. Until then, we're going to keep Detective Goren in an induced coma to try and prevent any worse damage being done."
"And you're saying we can't see him at all?" John asked.
"You can see him through the observation window, but that's all. It's vital that we keep his environment as clean and sterile as possible."
John sighed faintly.
"Well, I suppose that when Alex wakes up we can at least tell her that he's still alive."
"Dr Fielding, I'd like to see Goren now, if I can," Deakins said quietly. Fielding stared at him for a long moment, and then nodded.
Minutes later, not only Deakins but John Eames and Ron Carver as well stood looking through the observation window into the specially contained room in which Goren lay. The number of machines to which he seemed to be hooked up was intimidating, to say the least.
"One thing that is in his favour is his strength of will," Fielding explained. "Your detective is a fighter, Captain Deakins. He's not quitting, that's for sure."
Deakins nodded, not trusting himself to speak. It had been almost impossible for him to equate the detective he knew with the man who was now fighting for his life in the next room, but the doctor's words had just put it into complete perspective for him. Goren was a fighter, and now he was in for the biggest fight of his life. Whatever happened from this point on, win or lose, Bobby Goren had already proven himself a true hero.
"I have to call my office. They'll be waiting for news."
He spared his wounded detective a last look, and then headed silently out of Critical Care.
Detective Eric Janssen hung the phone up after speaking to Johnson, and had to take a moment to try and calm himself. Finally, when he'd gathered his wits, he turned around and was not entirely surprised to find all the officers currently on deck standing there watching him.
"Well?" Detective Tony Belmont asked tensely. "What's happening, Eric? Are they going to be okay?"
Janssen hesitated just a moment before answering.
"That was Johnson. He just had a call from Deakins, who went to the hospital with the ambulances. Eames is going to be okay. She's got a fair bit of rehab ahead of her, though. That son of a bitch Black shot out one of her knees, as well as her shoulder. But she's going to be okay."
There was a collective sigh of relief at the news.
"What about Goren?" someone else asked a moment later. Janssen drew in a calming breath.
"Not so good. He came through surgery, but the Captain said they've got him in an induced coma. One of the bullets is pressing against his spine, and they can't get it out until a specialist arrives tomorrow."
"Shit," someone muttered. Janssen hesitated, and then went on quietly.
"They had to remove his spleen."
Stunned silence met his words. Most of them understood the implications of that.
"For God's sake, why?" Jeremy Wolf asked in horror.
"Deakins said one of the bullets practically tore it to shreds. He's in a critical condition… I don't think they're expecting him to survive."
Heavy silence met the grim statement. Then, finally, someone spoke in a harsh, bitter voice.
"Damn Carver. If he'd gotten the warrant for them like they asked, they would have had back-up. This wouldn't have happened."
An angry murmur of agreement swept through the group. Janssen glanced at his partner, Belmont, silently begging him to do or say something before there was a riot.
"Okay," Belmont said firmly, drawing the attention of the officers. "Eames is going to be okay, but Goren is still critical. Get on your phones, all of you, and start calling around. Let's get a vigil organised."
With new purpose, the detectives and officers hurried back to their desks to do just that."
Special Victims Unit,
a few hours later
Elliot Stabler had been focused on paperwork from his last case, more or less oblivious to the world around him, when the sound of his partner swearing loudly drew him back to reality with a jolt. He looked up, and felt his stomach roll unpleasantly at the look on her face. Something had happened, something bad. The question was what?
"Yes, I'll pass it on," she said hoarsely. "Thanks, Danny. I appreciate the call."
She hung up, and looked across the desk at Elliot.
"What's happened?" he asked, his voice tense with anticipation.
"You remember my friend, Alex Eames?"
"The one you when through the Academy with?"
"That's her. She and her partner were both shot earlier today by a suspect."
"Christ… What happened?"
"Apparently they wanted a warrant to search a warehouse, and the ADA wouldn't come through, so they went back there to try and find something that would get them a warrant. No one knows exactly what happened yet, only that the suspect shot Robert Goren four times at point blank range in the chest and stomach. Then he shot Alex in the chest, shoulder and knee."
Elliot drew in a long breath. He'd heard plenty about Goren and, in all honesty, he didn't think too highly of the unorthodox detective. Alex Eames was a good friend of Olivia's, though. Plus, they were both cops, and when someone messed with one cop, they messed with all cops.
"Are they going to be okay?" he asked.
"Apparently Alex is out of danger," Olivia said quietly. "But Goren isn't. He's in critical condition. The detectives at Major Case want to organise a vigil for him."
Fin, who had been going past at that moment, halted when he heard the word vigil mentioned.
"Did you say vigil? What's happened? Did a cop get shot?"
"Two, actually," Olivia said, standing up. "Hang on, Fin. I'll go and speak to Cragen, and then I'll tell everyone."
Captain Donald Cragen looked up at Olivia, stunned by what she was telling him.
"Goren and Eames? I know those two. How the hell did they manage to get themselves into a situation like that?"
"Apparently the ADA wouldn't give them a warrant, so they went back to their suspect. He pulled a gun and shot them both. I was told that Eames is going to be okay, but Goren's in a pretty bad way."
"How bad are we talking about here?"
"Sir, apparently he took four in the chest and gut, at point blank range."
"The doctors could only get three of the bullets out. One of them is pushing against his spine. They have to wait for a specialist to arrive from DC before they can even try to get it out. They've put him into an induced coma to try and keep him as stable as possible. He's in a critical condition, Captain. It wasn't said, but I got the impression that no one's really expecting him to survive."
"Shit," Cragen muttered. "That's bad. Has anything been said about setting up a vigil?"
"The Major Case detectives have started organising it. Is it okay with you if I let everyone know?"
"Sure, Olivia. Go ahead and tell them. I'll call Jim Deakins, and see if there's anything we can do."
She headed out of Cragen's office even as he picked up his phone to make the call.
As it turned out, she didn't need to make any effort to call everyone in. In the few minutes she had been in with Cragen, word had spread like wildfire that two cops had been shot on duty. When she emerged, she found they were all waiting for her, waiting to find out the facts.
"Olivia?" John Munch asked, his voice reflecting the tension that was building in the room. "What's happened?"
She explained once more, silently marvelling that her voice didn't waver. The other officers in the room listened intently as she told them the grim news.
"Earlier this morning, Alex Eames and Bobby Goren from Major Case went to a warehouse in Manhattan to talk to a suspect. The guy pulled a gun on them… He shot Goren four times, and then he shot Eames three times. Eames will be okay eventually, but she's going to need a complete knee reconstruction. One of the bullets shattered her knee."
"What about Goren?"
"He was in a pretty bad way," Benson answered. "I don't know all the details, except that one of the bullets is pressing against his spine, and they're not going to even try to take it out until a specialist arrives from DC some time tomorrow. They've put him into an induced coma to keep him stable."
"They don't think he's gonna make it, do they?" Fin asked tensely. Benson shook her head. She could see no point in trying to delude either herself or them.
"No. They don't."
"What about the son of a bitch that shot them?" someone asked angrily. "Where's he?"
At that, Olivia hesitated. If she didn't get this out in the right way, there could easily be several of their own officers – Elliot included – who were likely to lose it and go vigilante.
"The suspect got away," she said, and went on quickly even as the angry murmuring began. "But they know for certain that he's wounded. CSU have found evidence suggesting that both Goren and Eames each managed to shoot him at least once. They're pretty sure that Goren hit Black from behind…"
"In other words," Munch said, "the son of a bitch was going after Eames, and Goren tried to take him out, even though he'd already taken four bullets himself."
"That's what CSU think happened. They found a bullet from Goren's gun in the wall. It apparently has blood and tissue on it that doesn't belong to either Goren or Eames. CSU are apparently pretty confident that when they do a scene reconstruction, it'll prove that Goren fired his gun from where he was lying on the floor."
A murmur swept through the room. To have picked up his gun and shot the suspect in what appeared to be defence of his partner had to have taken phenomenal courage, and strength of will, after suffering potentially fatal wounds such as those Benson had just described.
"The asshole that did this is not going to get far," said Cragen, who had emerged from his office behind Olivia. "His description's being distributed to every department, and every black and white in the five boroughs. So no one's to get any ideas about going vigilante here. Olivia, you want to tell them about the vigil?"
"Major Case are organising a vigil for Bobby Goren," she told them. "Anyone who wants to be involved is welcome. Just contact Eric Janssen at MCS."
"I'll take names, and let him know," Munch volunteered, and was promptly overwhelmed by the small crowd of officers. Benson took her chance, and slipped away from the group. She was met near her desk by her partner.
"C'mon," Stabler said, ushering her towards the door.
"Where are we going?"
"To the hospital. I don't know if you'll be able to see your friend yet, but we can at least be there."
"I spoke to Cragen while you were telling everyone what happened. He gave us the okay to go straight to St Clare's. Now, c'mon…"
She allowed herself to be led out without further protest.
Early the following morning
Alex Eames awoke to darkness, and pain. Her entire body seemed to hurt, but the pain was worst in her left arm, and her right leg. She moaned aloud, trying to shift positions only to suffer even worse pain than before. A choked sob escaped her throat as she waited for the pain to fade.
Gradually, it did, and as it faded she became aware of a rough, warm hand gently holding hers. It was a familiar touch, and she opened her eyes slowly to discover her father sitting there watching her through red-rimmed eyes.
"Dad…" she whispered, her voice muffled by the oxygen mask. He smiled tearfully at her.
"Welcome back, sweetheart. How are you feeling?"
"Hurts…" she mumbled.
"I know it does, honey, but that won't last. You're going to be okay. Do you understand me, Alex? You're going to be all right."
She didn't answer, instead staring up at the ceiling in silent confusion. What had happened to her…?
Abruptly, she remembered. She remembered Black, going to his warehouse with Bobby… She remembered Black shooting Bobby, and then her…
"Bobby," she whispered suddenly, panic causing her chest to tighten painfully, and send her heart rate through the roof. John Eames glanced worriedly at the heart monitor, which had suddenly spiked wildly, then back at his daughter.
"He's still alive, Alex. He's hanging in there. Calm down, sweetheart. You have to calm down, now."
Slowly, Alex relaxed in the bed. She knew his injuries had been potentially fatal, so to be told that he was still alive… still fighting… was a comfort to her.
She felt her father's hand on her forehead, his calloused fingers stroking her temples soothingly. Grateful for his protective presence, she finally relaxed fully and slipped back into the relief of black nothingness.
John sighed with relief as his daughter lost consciousness again. He was thankful that she had woken up, but was equally thankful that it hadn't been for very long. She was going to be in a lot of pain for a while, so any time spent asleep was going to be a blessing.
He watched her for a long while, continuing to gently stroke her forehead and temple in a tender gesture of fatherly love. It had been a long time since he'd been able to show affection for any of his children in this way, and while the situation itself was god-awful, he was glad for the chance to be there for one of his children in a way that he'd not been able to for many years.
Slowly, his thoughts turned to Alex's partner. He felt deeply for Bobby Goren, having no family to be there for him. In his opinion, there were few things worse than being critically ill in hospital, and having no family to provide support.
He remembered when Alex had first introduced Bobby to him, just a few short weeks after they'd started working together in Major Case. After a particularly bad experience with a violent partner in Vice, Alex had been full of praise for her new partner, a man who preferred to use brains over brawn.
Upon meeting him, John had thought Bobby Goren to be a very reserved, almost shy person, a trait that he found odd in someone who had First Grade status as a detective in something as elite as the Major Case Squad. He had gone away from that first meeting unsure of whether he liked Goren or not, despite his daughter's growing respect and liking for her partner.
It was almost six months later that Alex had come over one evening, deeply troubled. She'd been reluctant about talking to him, but had given in eventually. She had learned just that day that her partner's mother was a permanent resident at Carmel Ridge, a diagnosed schizophrenic, and all Alex had known about the illness was that it was hereditary.
John had immediately understood her fears. She was genuinely afraid that Bobby Goren suffered from the illness as well, even if on a mild, functioning level. If that was the case, then she was in a very bad situation, with a partner who could potentially go off the rails at any time.
His first instinct had been to tell her to go straight to her commanding officer. But something had stopped him. Instead, he had convinced her to go to her partner, and ask him honestly about it. If she was still worried after that, then it would be time to go to her captain.
She'd followed his advice, and had come back a week later noticeably happier. She'd had a long talk with her partner, and he had taken her to meet with a specialist doctor, who had given her all the information she could want on schizophrenia. He had also relieved her fears that her partner was also afflicted. He might have had some odd qualities and eccentricities, but that was something that came from living with someone with schizophrenia, rather than having the illness himself.
Her fears allayed, Alex had said no more about it, and John had sat back and watched his daughter's friendship with Bobby Goren grow and deepen. And gradually, over time, Alex had succeeded in drawing Bobby ever closer into their family circle.
Though John had known nothing more than what Alex had originally confided to him, he suspected that Bobby had not had a father to look up to and rely on during his childhood, something that had to have been hard on him, with his mother's condition being what it was. He could tell in the way that Bobby would defer to him, as a son would to the father that he both loved and respected. Whether or not Goren Senior was still around, it was blatantly obvious to John that Bobby had no respect whatsoever for his own father.
Somehow, somewhere along the line, Bobby had come to identify with John as a father-figure. At first, John had been uncomfortable with that, until it finally came out just what a horrendous childhood he had really had. John had been horrified to learn that Bobby's father had openly turned to other women from the time that his wife had her major breakdown, and finally walked out on her, and his two sons, when Bobby was just eleven years old.
From what he had been able to glean, John guessed that Bobby Goren had spent most of his teen years both learning to cope with his mother's illness, and competing with his brother for what scant attention their father afforded them, whenever he happened to be around. He suspected that more often than not, Bobby had come off second-best, unable to gain any of that much-needed, much-desired attention.
At that point, John had begun throwing subtle suggestions to his daughter to invite her partner over for the occasional meal, and then for celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Goren had been visibly reluctant at first, but it hadn't taken long for him to fit in with the family.
It had been like that ever since. Now, when Goren needed family support more than ever, John was determined not to let him down. He had already called his other two children – Alex's younger brother Philip, and her older sister Alison. Both of them would be there within the next hour or two, as would his two brothers, Frank and Marty. They, too, were cops, and had promised to come straight away.
After a moment's consideration, John got to his feet and headed silently out of the room, and down the corridor.
He got into the observation room adjoining Goren's room without any hassle. The staff had been instructed to let him in without question. Acknowledging the two officers who kept vigil outside the room with a nod and a tired smile, John went in and over to the observation window.
There was no visible change in Goren's condition, nor would there be until that evening, when the specialist arrived from DC. Right now, Bobby Goren existed in an induced state of unawareness, his condition kept stable by the myriad of machines to which he was hooked up. Right now, to turn off even one of those machines would result in his death.
The doctors and nurses of St Clare's were fighting damned hard to keep that from happening.
Movement caught his attention, and he looked around to see Jim Deakins had appeared next to him.
"I thought you'd gone," John said quietly. Deakins looked past John, into the room where Goren lay.
"I went back to the office for a while… Then I went home. I couldn't sleep, so I came back here. How is Alex?"
"She woke up for a few minutes. She's going to be okay, like her doctor said."
"Thank God. Now, if He'll just see fit to bring Bobby through as well…"
"Bobby's strong, Jim. He's a fighter. I think he'll pull through."
Deakins didn't answer, but instead continued to stare through the window into the room.
Goren was not clearly visible through the plastic of the oxygen tent, and the many leads and tubes that were attached or inserted into his upper body. The clearest indication they had that he was even still alive was the heart monitor that beeped steadily, and the machine measuring brain activity. The doctor had been most encouraged by the output from that machine. It showed good, strong activity, he'd told them, and was the best indication that Goren was still fighting.
The doctor's evaluation meant little to Deakins and John, except that the stronger the output, the better his chances were.
"It's hard to imagine," John said softly. "Bobby always seemed to have a sixth sense for avoiding trouble. I mean, I know there's plenty of danger in their work, but I remember Alex saying once that while she was around Bobby, she never really felt in danger."
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, he has everything under control. I've never known a detective to be able to manipulate suspects the way he does. It's incredible to watch him work, John."
"I can imagine. Well, actually, I can't. But Alex can't praise him enough."
"They have a good partnership," Deakins said softly. "And Bobby is still thanking his lucky stars for the day that Alex agreed to take him on as her partner."
John looked sideways at Deakins questioningly.
"How do you mean?"
A tired smile flickered across Deakins' face.
"Bobby was on his last chance when Alex came to me and told me she was willing to work with him on a trial basis. He'd gone through eleven partners in eighteen months before Alex stepped up to the plate. They either couldn't keep up with him, or couldn't stand to work with him."
John stared at Deakins incredulously.
"I'm not. Bobby had himself a real reputation. The day that she made her offer, I hauled him into my office, and told him he had one last chance. I told him that I wouldn't tolerate him driving Alex away as well, and that if he couldn't keep her as a partner and I had to choose between them, then I'd choose Alex in a heartbeat. I didn't want it to come to that, believe me. But I couldn't have a detective in my squad who couldn't work together with a partner, and I wasn't going to lose Alex from my squad… no matter how brilliant Bobby was at the job."
"How'd he react to that?"
"It was almost funny," Deakins said wryly. "He kept himself under control for nearly a week before he went into full flight in the interview room against a suspect. I remember watching Alex and thinking, that's that. We've lost another one. But she surprised me. I could see she was thrown by his performance, but she never came to me about it. She went to Bobby instead, and talked to him directly. I don't know even now what was said between them, but after that day, they've just gone from strength to strength. They're my best detectives, and I don't want to lose either one of them."
John looked back into the room where Goren lay in his induced coma. He wondered quietly whether the captain was aware that he'd ceased calling his detective 'Goren', and was now referring to him solely as 'Bobby'. He wondered, but refrained from commenting on it.
"He'll live, Jim. I honestly believe that."
Deakins didn't trust himself to answer. He wanted to believe that, but standing there, watching Goren struggling to survive, he couldn't help but doubt.