Any Other Way

Disclaimer: Not mine, sorry.

He'd never, ever, felt so lonely in his entire life. Alex would have understood him, would have filled in all the blanks and would have slowly walked him through his fears. But she wasn't there and it made his fears so much more real. He was dependent on Alexandra Eames to ground him completely. Lynn Bishop couldn't keep up with the legacy that was his Alex and it was more than apparent now. Eames grounded him, cared for him, watched to make sure he didn't get over the line and to play his games with him. Bishop didn't do that, didn't walk through the scenes with him, outline what had happened.

He wandered up to her apartment, aware that she'd been released form the hospital. She'd called him to let him know, letting him know she was safe. When he'd asked if she was okay, she'd avoided the question and for the moment, he'd let it drop. Birth would take a lot of out anyone, and no matter how strong his Alex was, she was still a human. Even though her voice he could tell she was exhausted and ready for a nap. This, however, couldn't wait.

He'd refrained from coming to her before this, visiting her during her maternity leave, for the sole reason that that wasn't part of their partnership. Or, at least, not until now. Now, he was more than willing to make a sacrifice and change in their relationship to soothe his mind. He knocked on the door, half hoping she was asleep and didn't hear it. He realized too late that he hadn't given himself enough time to puzzle through the plethora of emotions racing through his mind. Luck was not on his side tonight. Alex opened the door and smiled wide.

"Bobby! Come on in!" What she didn't expect was him sweeping her into his embrace. He held her against him, one arm secured to the small of her back, the other running through her hair.

"Croyden, it was just like Croyden and she didn't understand. Bishop didn't understand… what I was talking about, couldn't – couldn't understand where I was coming from, what I was thinking. I found myself looking at your empty desk wishing you were there, wishing you could fill in the missing blanks…" Alex pulled back so she could look him in the eye.

"Slow down, Bobby. Slow down." He wouldn't let her go as she started walking away, and so she was forced to walk backwards to her couch, turning and pushing him down, settling close to his thigh, her hands carefully clasped in his. He took a deep breath.

"All he'd wanted was his partner back, nothing more. He'd killed to keep his partner with him. It was just like Croyden, but she didn't understand." Alex settled a hand on top of his, settled in his lap. She knew his underlying fear. She'd known for a while that she was his rock, as long as she'd been completely aware that she was in love with him. She knew she had to go slow because he hadn't given himself a chance to organize his thoughts.

"Who didn't understand?" He looked up at her, eyes a storm.

"Bishop. She didn't know what I was talking about, didn't understand what was happening and I couldn't work in that, couldn't go through the motions anymore, couldn't use her as a sounding board." Alex knew exactly what was speeding through his mind. He'd called her after she'd notified him of the baby's birth and she'd known from that the case, from the tone of his voice on the phone that something had shaken him. To keep her occupied in her absence he'd called to tell her about his cases, still used her as a sounding board from time to time. In turn, without consciously realizing it, she'd organized his scattered thoughts about the case.

"Bobby, what do you want me to do?" Even as she said the words, she was wrapping her arms around him, letting him know without words that she was going to be there for him. He held her just as tight, pulling her across him into his lap, her smaller size making it easy.

"Promise you won't leave." She'd never heard him sound so small and childish. She would never have guessed when she transferred to Major Case and assigned the infamous Robert Goren as her partner that she would be sitting here now, patching invisible wounds. She didn't know what else she could do. He was sitting on her couch, shoes and jacket still on with no regard to propriety or the fraternization policies in the NYPD. To her surprise, neither did she.

They had a unique partnership, one that baffled many, especially since she worked so well with him. It was a perfect balance: her sarcastic wit against his debatable genius, her small stature to his much larger one, her street smart strength against his insecurities. She finished his sentences, finished his thoughts, knew before he said something exactly what is was, trusted him implicitly with each case. She would go along with what he said with his thoughts, so long as he understood that she had her opinions too. As many times as he didn't show it, he valued these opinions. The one thing that she had above him too, was her uncanny ability to keep his genius in check.

Since she understood him so well, it was simple for her to do. When she didn't agree with him, she let him know. When she was right, she didn't let him forget it. He solved cases, she played politics. All in all, he couldn't function in the precinct without her.

It was an easy promise for Alex to make.

"I promise," she whispered, allowing herself to get comfortable in his lap. It was an unusual partnership between them. It was an underlying tension between them, no questions asked, but they'd never acted on it. At the same time, Alex had never seen Bobby this broken up. He held on to her like a lifeline, like he was never, ever going to let her go. Since Alex was still tender and emotionally sore from giving up a child she'd carried for nine months, she was more than willing to allow them to stay in their embrace. The sigh that she hadn't realized she'd released notified him of her own emotional state.

"Are you okay?" He'd asked her that on the phone and with half of her family in the room she hadn't answered him.

"This isn't about me," she answered, again evading his question in a few quick steps. Bobby chased her.

"Please, Alex?" He needed to get his mind off of the case and at the moment it was the only thing he could think of that would succeed. His chin rested comfortably on her head, which was pillowed in the crook of his neck. Her arms wrapped around her chest, her body comfortable across his. The comfort was what was her downfall.

"Sore." He understood all she didn't say. She wasn't only sore physically – a well known side effect of pregnancy – but also emotionally and mentally. She was more than exhausted, she was worn.

"We're going to be okay, right?" There was Bobby the child again, coming back to get her to make another promise.

"I'm sure we will," she answered easily. They sat in silence, the soft drone of the TV she was watching the only sound in the room. Alex felt warmth on her head and closed her eyes against the affectionate kiss. Her arms squeezed him tightly in response. He stayed awake long after she'd fallen asleep in his arms, more than willing to stay there for the rest of his life. This need was new and scary to him. Never had he needed a partner as much as he needed Alexandra Eames, and that thought, the thought that he could lose her at the drop of a hat, could face not seeing her every day. He kissed her hair again, pulling her tighter against him. Alex stirred.

"Love you, Bobby. Never leave," she mumbled out. Bobby resisted the urge to tense at her words. Her eyelids fluttered against her cheeks as Bobby pulled her close again. It was beautiful for him to be this close to his partner, a woman who he'd found himself loving only a week and a half into her maternity leave. Bishop slowly began to grate on his nerves.

"Love you too, Alex," he found himself murmuring. Alex's eyes fluttered open, hearing the words. She pulled back slightly, a large grin on her face.

"Good. Now let's get some bed rest. I have to go back to work soon and I want to take as much advantage of my bed and a good night's sleep as I can." She unfolded herself from his lap and stood while he sat, still in shock. She made it to the bedroom door before turning around and noticing he wasn't following. She walked back to stand in front of him. He looked up at her carefully, still not completely sure of what was going on.

"What's wrong?"

"You were awake." Alex almost rolled her eyes.

"The number of times I've played sleep when I was hiding a guy under my bed are numerous." Suddenly, it all clicked.

"You knew." She smiled softly.

"I had a good idea. It does seem I was right." He stood then, his 6'4" towering over her 5'3". When he folded her into his embrace, however, she felt protected instead of squashed. All of a sudden, his fears disappeared in the arms of Alex Eames. He watched them go with a fond farewell, more than excited to place his trust in this woman. After a few moments, she pulled away, though not totally. He looked at her and bent down, sealing his lips on hers. She fell into the kiss willingly, enjoying the feeling of being loved for her and her alone. She broke away with a content smile.

"Bedtime," she whispered, divesting him of his coat and laying it over the arm of her couch. She left him to follow, her comfortable in satin pyjamas. He stripped down to his undershirt and boxers and followed her in, admiring her form in bed before taking a place beside her. Immediately, she curled into him.

"'Night, Bobby," she whispered as she curled against him, her hand over his heart, head on his chest. His arm wrapped around her, hand palming her hip as his other curved over her waist.

"Love you," he said, more to make sure she was telling the truth, even though his admission was true.

"Love you too, Bobby," she answered easily with a yawn.

They fell asleep that night content in their trust and partnership. Whatever they had to face in the future, neither really cared. They had each other to go to, now. It worked out best for her and him.

And they wouldn't want it any other way.