The Lucky One - an 'In the Wee Small Hours' post-ep
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Not mine; a common lament, I'm told. However, I do a little tweaking of Bobby's childhood, like with Ominous. Also, there's quotes from America by E.R. Frank. Lyrics from Sparta.
Summary: Set directly after 'A Change of Opinion'; These halls seemed to get longer every time; for Bobby, it was an eternity captured in seven and a half minutes...
Rating: K+ for swearing and angst.

Grew up on a man made line
That's left me warm
Count your blessings, you're the lucky one
The view from this window
Is frail and brittle
And I've done nothing to change anything
These hills in our hometown
Disguise the beaten down
Can't turn a blind eye anymore
He walked down the sterile halls for what seemed the millionth time, each surreal in their own right, but this one doubly so. He'd gone down them three days prior, his shredded, ripped open heart bleeding through his shirt though it seemed he'd been the only one to notice. The doctors and orderlies had gone on about their business as though nothing was amiss and, in their eyes, it had probably been nothing more than a routine occurrence. For him, it had been the end of the world yet again. He shuddered compulsively and beside him, he felt her hand tighten its around his. She'd never been here before, never been in this situation, yet she was stronger than he was. His breath hitched in this throat, catching on his trachea and setting up shop for the time being. He wondered was he turning blue.

He walked up to the reception desk, a path he'd taken so many times before, it was mildly surprising on his part that he did not see his footprints worn into the floor. He didn't look at Alex. He couldn't seem to get his eyes to meet hers.

"Are you alright, Detective Goren?" the reception nurse asks and he's tempted to scream. Three days ago, he came up here to see his mother because someone here--something tells him her--let some fuckbag stranger near his mother to do whatever he wanted. Hell fucking no, he's not alright. He breathes deeply, trying to get his burgeoning anger back under control before he starts yelling again.

Taking a deep breath, he figures he doesn't care enough to lie. "No, I'm not. I'm here to visit my mother--"

"I'm sorry, Detective, but her doctor doesn't recommend she see anyone for the time being--"

He grips the countertop and hears the formica creak satisfactorily. "I'm sorry, but I don't really give a damn. Three days ago, someone let a complete stranger in here to see my mother without my knowledge, without my verification, against my wishes, and most importantly, against the wishes of said doctor. The result was that she suffered a psychotic break. And now you figure you'll all make up for it by not letting anyone see her, least of all me. Is that it? You couldn't protect her from someone who actually would hurt her, so you shield her from me--"

"Detective, that's not what happened." The young nurse is flustered now and I can feel Alex's eyes on me.

"Well, then, please, tell me what the hell happened because I got a call yesterday from here telling me some bastard--some stranger had been agitating her. I sure as hell didn't say anyone could see her. You people told me that he said he knew me and that's the only thing he said--"

"He showed a badge, Detective--"

"Really? He flashed a badge? Did you ask him any personal questions about me, like what department I work in? What's my birth date? Or did you just take his word on good faith?"

The nurse didn't answer, now visibly struggling to swallow.

"Bobby." He hears the voice of his partner, his lifeline next to him, and is slowly but surely pulled back to Earth.

He sighs, dragging a hand through his hair before taking another deep breath. "I-I'm sorry," he says, and he truly is. It wasn't really her fault, what happened. His misplaced anger isn't going to fix things. "I...I just want to see her. Make sure she's okay. I need to know--"

The nurse nods shakily, blinking back tears, and goes off to get the doctor. He stands still, then, waiting for it.

Wait for it...

"I don't think giving the nurse a panic attack would have helped things," she says quietly. Her voice isn't accusatory; it isn't even angered. Understanding, he thinks, it might be.

"My mom…I just..." Want her safe. He doesn't say. She couldn't do that for me, but maybe I can do it for her.

She doesn't say anything either. She simply nods. He breathes again, feels his face receding from that probably imaginary shade of blue.All of a sudden his muscles feel a bit torpid, his usually racing mind goes slack. He's so tired, he can barely register Alex's hand back slipping into his.

I was raised a certain way
And I think I've let you down
So I change my ways and I'll find a brand new path

The doctor agrees, reluctantly, to let him see her. Even more unwillingly to let her meet his mother for the first time. Before they go in, however, the doctor tells him what he was too distressed to listen to the day before yesterday.

"She still may not recognize you, Robert, you know that."

He nods.

"And the presence of your partner may only serve to further her agitation--"

"I know," he nods, thinking bitterly of the last time he was here and she was strapped to that gurney, medicated into submission. He remembers what that feels like, even though it was many, many years ago for him. He'd been five, his brother was ten. He'd gotten angry at his brother for something. Rather than hitting Nicholas, though, he'd opted to break a window to pieces with his bare fist instead. His father and brother had been so shocked at his uncharacteristic display of anger that they'd stood there, staring at his broken, bleeding hand for a good minute before coming to their senses and whisking him off to the hospital. But he'd had been so angry, he forgot to look at the blood. That changed once they'd gotten to the Emergency Room, however, and it had taken sedatives to get the little boy calm enough so that the doctors could set his bones, stitch up his arm, and put it in a cast. He remembered trying to think and not being able to. He remembered how much it scared him.

He hated hospitals. He hated blood being spilled. He hated the drugs they pumped his mother with, all the while saying how much it would help her. Green pills, he remembered. Wheatgrass, actually, his mother would have said, like they were talking about paint colors. Bright yellow ones, later. Canary. Others, chalk white. Stretched out ovals. Little ones like Tylenols, only not nearly so benign. Small and circular, with little grooves for precise cutting.

He had a good memory, he was told. Sometimes he hated it.

Let's crash these gates and join this party
I want to be welcomed, not just tolerated
I'm watching my own eyes
Looking for truth
I started doubting but fell into the pool
This resolution's firm and panic sets in
In order to grow you must be open to learn
The doctor is leading them to his mother's temporary room. The one with the restraints that doesn't look anything like a home. He sighed inwardly, pausing slightly. She gives his hand one last squeeze before letting go.

She doesn't look up at him, his mother, when he enters. Her eyes are only just open, her grey eyes seeming colorless in the falling darkness of the sky outside. Her hair, a rich dark brown when he was a child, has now become wispy and lank. Her mouth, bared with clenched teeth, is unmoving. They haven't been able to feed her so they'd hooked her up to an IV. Her bandaged and restrained arms bear the marks of her own fingernails, just as her son's do under his sleeves.

Agitation, the doctor had told him. He should have said catatonic state. He hears a faint whimper and wonders who it is before realizing it had been him. His fingernails are cutting into the palms of his tightly clenched fists. He keeps forgetting to cut them.

"Mom," he says quietly, letting go of the hand he'd been clinging to for hours now. His palms up and in plain view, he inches toward the bed, slowly, ducking slightly and looking around for the chair that was there yesterday. It has been removed. Standing up straight, he lets his hands drop. "Mom, hi. I came back, see? Just like I promised. I-I missed you."

He glances back to see her still in the same place she was. Some part of him--the one accustomed to abandonment--had expected her to be halfway to the door by now. But she is right there. She comes slowly forward, and he doesn't miss the way she swallows with apprehension, but doesn't begrudge her because he felt the same way meeting her parents. He ignores the fact that her parents don't think she's trying to kill them.

His mother never says a word and that's alright. It's what he expected. He talks to her anyway and all along, she simply watches, marveling at the love he obvious has for this woman. When he introduces her, his mother blinks slowly, a faint sigh escaping her lips. And he looks at her, a million and one questions in his eyes. The first and foremost being has she changed her mind. She's still too choked up from being flayed on the witness stand to hold it against him. He has a right to know. He has a right to know that she still wouldn't leave.

To answer them all, she simply shakes her head, going back to watch his mother. She wonders what sort of things this woman would tell her son if she were able. She already knows what she would tell him.

Grew up on a man made line
That's left me empty

A/N: I don't know why, but this one was harder to write than the first one. shrugs Should I write a third installment? Possibly with an M rating?