A Change in Opinion - An 'In the Wee Small Hours' post-ep
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately. Lyrics from Sparta.
Summary: Alex stepped off the stand, unable to look at Bobby in the back row, her heart and soul twisted in a million terrible knots...
Timeline: post-The Courtroom Scene, of course.
Rating: K+ for angst.

Reviews are always encouraged and deeply appreciated.

Sometimes a struggle builds you somehow
Tears you down, leaves you dead
Time will pass, back to life
Hands on shoulders, bigger, better
Sunday night, tempers flare
Fights erupt and trickle down
Apologies, threats and lies
Backing down, compromise

She couldn't stand the feeling of his eyes, those dark depthless eyes she'd come to know so well, tracking her as she stepped shakily down from the witness stand. Couldn't stand to see the betrayal and hurt she knew was written in them. She could hardly keep her eyes open, they were stinging so badly with the tears that made her plane of vision nothing more than a murky, painful mess. The better, she thought. Her own words in her own voice echoed sharply in her ears, drowning out everything else. /Unstable...request a transfer...erratic../ She swallowed hard, trying to smash those words down with the strength of her conviction, but couldn't. Couldn't face him and those eyes...

While this city burns
These wounds will heal
You'll find your way
Through lines in sand
Become a proving ground
You'll find in time, who can top who is their life

He found her wandering with the others, seemingly in tune but not. It was in the subtle way she listed to the side, the heaviness in her shoulders that reflected her heart. She thought he hated her...

She sat in her apartment, nursing an untouched mug of tea. All he'd said earlier was that he was glad she'd changed her mind. Lucky, he'd said. She shuddered and gripped the mug tightly, spilling a drop on her hand. She hardly noticed; she certainly didn't care. She almost didn't hear the knock on the door, she was so enthralled by her misery. The tears fell hot and fast, but she couldn't bring herself to wipe them away.

He sighed, kneeling and beginning to slowly pick her lock. He'd done it before, though never on an occasion like this. This time he didn't believe her intention was to keep him out. Working slowly, he was gratified by the clear click of the pin sliding back. Standing up, he gently pushed the door open and, out of mere habit, took in the immediate surroundings. It was dark, the only light coming from the moon outside. She sat with her back to him, whispering under her breath. Sighing audibly, he removed his shoes before padding over to where she sat, her hands tightly gripping a precariously balanced cup of tea. Her eyes were closed, he saw, and tea was in danger of falling out all over her lap. With a pang, he realized she was crying, whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Bobby...I'm sorry…"

His brow furrowing, he stepped closer, reaching downward and gently taking the mug from her trembling hands.

Her head snapped up, her eyes flying open in fear as she watched him set the mug down on her end table. Biting her lip, she sniffled as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief, handing it to her in silence. Wiping her eyes once, she attempted to give it back to him, but he didn't reach down to take it. He knelt, frowning slightly, and watched sadly as more tears wended their way down her face.

"I'm so so-sorry," she whispered, her voice breaking in the middle like a twig. "They all left you and I was going to run out on you, too--"

"But," he said quietly, reaching up to touch one of the thin streams and coming away to stare at the resulting drop momentarily. "You didn't. Y-you wanted to and you never did. You changed your mind, you said."

And he looked at her, in the eyes. The same shade as his own, he noted. He'd realized that once before, he remembered, but it got relegated somehow to the same unconscious part of his brain that also said there was a thirteen inch height difference between the two of them and that her was a dark blonde and straight, whereas his was dark, thick, and curly. She sniffled slightly, biting her bottom lip.

"You don't have to be sorry," he whispered. "Remember, I used to apologize for the things I did be-because I didn't want to scare you away and one day you--you just said, 'Don't be sorry. Don't try to please me.' You said you couldn't stand to see me suffer, trying to hide just so you'd stay. You said you weren't afraid, so I shouldn't be either. Y-you…"

He smiled and she felt her heart clench slightly. How could he smile?

"You said you wouldn't bite."

And then he showed her his hands, splaying his palms out in the semi-darkness so she could see. And she saw the ink stains on the side of his left from the smeared wetness of his notes. The fingernails in need of a clipping. He had the fingers of a pianist, she noted, not for the first time. The little imperfections that made real this seemingly intangible force before her. The tiny details that no one else got to see in the mayor and Chief of Detectives' fair-haired boy. The proof that he was human and fallible, just like everyone else. She looked in his eyes, sighing inwardly, remembering his panic from two days previous. When he'd walked out of the bullpen, frantic with worry over the one person in his life he was truly certain loved him. He didn't usually show his emotions on that scale. He didn't usually drop his almost-constant mask like that. But why, she wondered, wasn't he angry at her?

"You're not going to hurt me," he whispered, answering her unspoken question. "You wouldn't."

Sometimes a struggle leaves you fragile
Shaken up, shotgun shy
With heartache passed, and open eyes
You'll come back stronger, bigger, better
Maybe this time, things will change
Brand new day, forgive, forget
Time has passed, back to life
Hand on shoulders, bigger, better

And suddenly he was holding her and she was clinging to him, desperate to prove she wouldn't let go. He was stroking her back and she was crying harder than ever.

"Don't be sorry," he whispered, letting her fingernails leave marks in his sleeves. Letting her soul leave marks in his. He kissed the top of her head before moving to her face and kissing those eyes he loved so much.

"Just let me…" he trailed off, smoothing the hair back from her face. "It doesn't matter. It doesn't…"

And then he was kissing her and she kissed him back, tasting the salt of her tears and cloves, her nose full of the scent of his soap and, oddly, aftershave. Her fingers trailing over his nearly ever-present stubble and coming up to slide through his hair. He broke away, staring at her and seeing his life and soul. She shuddered again, making no effort to protest as his arms went around her. Making her whole again. He seemed to be so good at that. He was smiling again and she chuckled weakly.

"I guess you're not gonna put in your own request, huh?"

He smiled with those glowing eyes and stroked the back of her hand.

"You're stuck with me, I'm afraid."

She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "There's no place I'd rather be."

Only you with time can define your life
It's yours


A/N: I got really wrapped up in this one. Hope it shows. I also hope it's decent.