Safest Place to Hide
Alex sighed as she took at seat at her desk, her shoulder stinging. She hated being shot. As well as she knew it came with the territory it didn't make it any less painful. More than that, she hated Patrick Sparks. He'd had no motive for killing except revenge, revenge for something he had no control over, a belief that the system had screwed up and cost him his father. She berated herself for not seeing it a long time before hand. The clues had been scattered throughout the case, though it had looked like they were something completely different. It made her feel like a bad cop.
From the beginning, the break in at her apartment just over a month ago and meeting his eyes from across the road, clues popped up leading to the reason for the shooting of Horace Mitchell and her nightmares. Even now, she shivered, remembering the nightmares she'd been battling since she realized someone had been through her most personal belongings.
It had been weeks now, since she'd felt truly productive, even if Deakins had managed to find someone to hook her home computer up to the network so she could work from home. She'd never been so happy for light duty in her life, though she'd followed her captain's orders and stayed home four weeks. Though, light duty meant paperwork, something that still had to be done. Once she settled her arm relatively comfortably, she found she could do most of the work rather efficiently, cutting her pile down to nothing and feeling generous enough to start in on Bobby's, which was backlogged something like a month and a half.
It wasn't until Deakins walked out to refill his coffee that she was noticed. He stood with his hands in his pockets until she looked up.
"I thought you were supposed to be resting at home," he said gently. Alex smiled slightly.
"I was going stir-crazy. I promise I won't do anything other than paperwork," she answered. Deakins nodded slowly with a look that screamed he was going to keep a very close eye on her.
"Goren's out with a rookie chasing down leads on one case or another." Alex smiled, remembering her moments of maternity leave and Bobby's stint with a temporary partner.
"Let's hope this rookie gets out alive," she suggested. Deakins laughed and left her alone.
It wasn't an hour and a half later when Bobby and a young man came through the door to the bullpen. Alex almost laughed at the picture they made. Bobby was muttering something under his breath – a technique he'd picked up to straighten around his thoughts when she wasn't around – not even paying attention to his surroundings. The kid, for that's how young the poor man looked, was staring with a mixture of awe, confusion and fear. He spotted Alex and a look of relief washed over his face.
Better you than me, his eyes said. She smiled and nodded politely, vaguely sorry for the young man before she turned back to the larger man in front of her, still oblivious to her presence.
"Already riding a rookie?" she asked nonchalantly, setting down her pen. Bobby looked up startled. He hadn't seen her since the first day in the hospital. It had hurt Alex but it gave her a much better understanding of the inner workings of Bobby Goren. He had many fears that he tried to keep well hidden and 95 of the time, it was a walk in the park. However, Alex, in her years of working with him, had learned to read his postures and movements, since he rarely gave anything away in his face. As hurt as she'd been, she realized it had nothing on how injured Bobby was. Her injury showed that she was not immortal, that she could leave him, and it blew away beliefs he needed to cement his sanity to reality. It had shaken him to the core to see her helpless, weak and vulnerable in that hospital bed.
"Alex?" He blinked once to make sure she was really there. Alex gave him a reassuring smile.
"I've been cleared for light duty so don't get all protective. Not to mention I've made a good dent in your paperwork as well as mine. I deserve a thank you," she told him folding her good arm across her desk. He was still dumbfounded and silent. She noticed his eyes had a slightly glazed look and felt panic start to rise in her throat.
"Bobby?" She allowed herself a sigh of relief when his eyes focused on hers. However, his lost and panicked look had her restraining herself from getting up and plunking herself on his lap like he had done when she was scared, her on his lap, his arms around her, grounding her.
"Hey," she said softly, stretching her hand across their desks for the physical connection she understood he needed. She knew they had another, invisible connection and knew he had the utmost faith in that bond. He would have known if she had died, just as she felt his heart-wrenching pain and fear. That connection had not been broken but she'd been out for four weeks. It had shaken his routine and way of thinking.
As his hand grasped hers they submerged themselves in a world all their own. Her unconditional caring and his child-like fears settled them in safety. This was a place where nothing could harm them and punt them just under the line that defined reality. His thumb stroked the back of her hand, much like it had that day in the hospital when she drifted between sleep and awareness. It was a grounding post for him, just like it had been for her.
"You're back," he said finally, the reality of it sinking in with his softly spoken words.
"Its just light duty," she repeated. "I won't be chasing leads for at least another two weeks. Think you can stay out of trouble for that long?" The smile that blossomed over his face told her things words never could. Her restored humour was his comfort.
"How are you?" he asked her quietly, She considered lying, telling him she was great but the idea quickly fled her mind. He wanted the honest truth and she owed him that much.
"Not so good. It's healing but it still hurts," she told him, avoiding half of his question. He allowed her that victory, still basking in the knowledge that she was going to be just fine.
It was slightly difficult for Bobby to process everything that was flashing through his mind. A million different emotions flitted through his consciousness: relief, joy, excitement, contentment and another emotion he was slightly reluctant to outright name. Bobby had just as much time to ponder his relationship with Alex as she had. Where she had long ago realized she couldn't imagine her life without him and easily labelled the emotion as love, Bobby had not, for the fear of the things he was opening himself up to. Now, he had no choice. To mask his epiphany – a useless move since Alex had watched him go through the same thoughts she had – he cracked a smile.
"So does this mean you're going to finish my paperwork?" He couldn't stop the playful grin that crept across his face at her angry look. He'd never felt so happy and so glad he had a grip on the only hand she could use as a weapon. She looked murderous.
"Not even a thank you for doing some of it?" she shot back, knowing words were her only weapon. He had her good hand clasped in his – she was reluctant to move it anyway – and her other was in a sling, lying useless against her body. For a few minutes while he turned back to his work, she thought he was okay. Then she constantly caught his gaze as he looked up to reassure himself she was really sitting across from him and realized he was shaken much deeper than she'd originally imagined.
"What?" he asked after a while. She made a decision. He needed to talk about his fears and she needed to reassure him she wasn't leaving.
"Let's take a break. I've been sitting all morning while you've been out and about with New York's finest." She stood, moving to the door and picking up her coat. It was too much of a struggle to put it on and she opted to carry it instead. Bobby caught up to her in the lobby, coat on and delicate mask in place. He looked her up and down taking her coat and holding it out for her to slip into. She slipped her arm in then paused well aware of the stinging pain any pull on her shoulder still caused. He didn't force her to put it in, just settled the other side over her injured shoulder. Alex smiled her thanks as she cocked her head to the doors.
They wandered down the New York streets. Nothing was said for a while, their month of domesticity bestowing them with a comfort level that allowed them to carry on silent conversations. Finally, they found a bench in a small park and Alex took a seat. Bobby continued to stand, gazing down at his delicate partner. Alex could tell no matter what she had figured out on her own, there was still much he held back.
While she allowed him time to ponder his starting point, she reflected on their moments of past sharing. He'd slowly opened up about his family, just as she had and they gained a deep-rooted trust. It was what happened when you shared your deepest darkest secrets and insecurities with another person. Alex's confidence in this carefully woven and secured trust that made her encourage him to let go.
"Talk to me Bobby." Her request was spoken softly, firmly. His gaze focused on her and she could tell he'd been playing a moment like this through his head for a while.
"You could have died." This thought had already occurred to Alex and so it didn't affect her to think about it. Instead, she nodded, understanding that she had gotten out lucky. Though she understood Bobby's fear – a fear of being left alone, a fear of life without someone to organize his scattered thoughts – Alex needed to hear it from him to assure her he understood them.
"I almost lost my partner, my best friend…" the woman I love. The last was kept to himself. "I don't think… I couldn't handle it. I can't imagine walking into that bullpen and seeing someone else where you should be and suddenly it was all I could see, all I could picture." She allowed him the ensuing silence, well aware he wasn't finished. She was also aware of how much this was costing her partner. He didn't admit things easily, the sparse things she knew beforehand a testament to his coveted privacy though a trait she'd tried to break him of over the say in his apartment. These were moments where she could see the personal Bobby, not just the professional genius. He stopped abruptly and dropped to his knee to be at her eye-level.
"It scared me," he admitted, a revelation that sent Alex reeling. Despite their long talks in the darkness of his apartment, she was not prepared for this unconditional display of trust. She was awed, honoured and humbled by it.
"I'm still here," she assured him, pulling him to sit on the bench with her and resting her head on the familiar groove of his shoulder. His arm snaked around her waist and she smiled as his head rested on hers. After a few moments, she felt him take a deep breath and mentally braced herself.
"I love you, Alex." The smiled that spread over her face lit up the darkest corners of Bobby Goren's world. She'd lifted her head to face him and settled her good hand on his cheek.
"I've been waiting for you to say that," she whispered. He looked shocked and she continued, telling him how she felt after being shot.
"It hurt when you never came by again. We'd made some awesome progress in our personal relationship while I was at your place and then… it started to feel like you were abandoning me." She held up her hand as he opened his mouth to speak and settled it on his lips when they closed. She smiled softly.
"You didn't mean to, I know that, but it didn't stop the feelings. I love you too, Bobby, very, very much." It was his turn to grin widely as he leaned his forehead to hers.
"I love you," he said again, kissing her softly. Alex hummed in happiness as his lips continuously met hers. Finally, his lips crashed down hard on hers. She opened her mouth under his and he took the invitation, plunging his tongue into her mouth. She couldn't help the moan that escaped her throat. His hands began to wander lightly as hers tangled in the hair at his neck. Their passion was cut short when his hand accidentally pulled her too tight, pushing on her injured shoulder. She gasped and pulled away, closing her eyes against the sudden onslaught of pain. When she opened them again, he was looking down at her, concern shining in every muscle. She gave him a reassuring smile and kissed him again briefly.
"I'm fine, Bobby."
"I'm sorry," he whispered. Alex rolled her eyes with a smile.
"I'm injured Bobby, but I'm not made of glass. The pain will go away." He smiled and stood, helping Alex to stand and keeping a hold on her hand. He stopped them two blocks away from One Police Plaza.
"Come home with me?" he asked, knowing he had to let go of her hand. Alex smiled brightly.
Thanks for staying with this one. I hope you enjoyed all of it!