Disclaimer: Of course, they belong to Dick Wolf, and always will...

Alex Eames leaned back in her bed and stretched, feeling only a twinge in her lower abdomen. She was almost feeling back to normal, physically. Emotionally, however, well, that was a different story. She was feeling…alone. Very alone. For the past nine months, she had never been alone, not for a moment. And now she felt empty.

She got out of bed and pulled on her robe, tightening the belt around her rapidly reducing waist. She wandered into the living room and sat on the couch, letting her mind reflect on how much she missed the baby her body had sheltered. She missed talking to him, feeling him move around inside her…she missed him being inside her. She did not regret what she'd done for her sister, not for one second. She never would. But the emptiness she felt had come as a huge surprise to her.

She shivered, uncertain if it was because she was cold or because her body was still recovering from the ordeal of giving birth. She got up and went down the hall to the linen closet, where she pulled out a blanket before returning to the couch. Leaning toward the coffee table, she picked up the remote and turned the TV on. Making a comfortable nest for herself in a corner of the couch, she pulled the blanket around her and began channel surfing. Ah, 'Terms of Endearment.' She'd seen it a hundred times, but she was in the mood for a tear-jerker. Hell, it seemed like she was on the verge of tears all day long anyway. Damn hormones.


There was a soft knock at the door. She frowned, not sure she'd heard it. She picked up the remote and hit 'mute.' Yep, there it was again. Sighing, she pulled herself from her spot and went to the door. Opening it, she stopped, surprised. "Bobby?"

Her partner studied her. "Uh, bad time?"

"What? Oh, not at all. Come in."

He glanced at the TV as she closed the door. "'Terms of Endearment' again?"

He'd watched it with her more than a few times, because that had been what she'd wanted to watch. "What brings you here?"

"I just…missed you."

She knew he did; she missed him, too. Funny how you never realized how important someone was to you until they weren't there every day, making you laugh, annoying the piss out of you or simply just…being there.

But why had he chosen this particular time to drop by, when she was feeling so…down. She knew her sister appreciated what she'd done, and she asked for nothing in return. Her family was busy with the new baby boy and she understood that. She tried not to feel resentful, but she did. She knew it was temporary—those damn hormones again—but that didn't make her resentment go away. She felt as though they had swooped in, taken the baby and left, leaving her to deal with the emptiness alone.

But…she wasn't alone. Once she had stopped going in to the squad, Bobby had taken to calling her every day before he left work, to see if she needed anything, and again when he got home, to chat and to let her know, simply, that he did miss her. She'd been annoyed with him before the baby was born, but since then, she found herself looking forward to his calls, to talking to him, hearing the smooth, gentle rumble of his voice. He was sweet and considerate, but she'd always known he was. She admitted, though only to herself, that what she really needed, he could not give her. Well, he could, technically, but she wouldn't let him, even if he did have a mind to do it, which she was certain he did not. That just wasn't part of their relationship; it never could be. What she truly appreciated was his attention. She needed his attention, more than she ever had before.

She sat back down on the couch, pulling the blanket around her and trembling. He watched her, concerned. Slowly, he walked over to her and eased himself onto the couch beside her. She struggled with herself to hold back the tears, but she'd already held them back too long. She looked down, trying to hide from him, knowing full well she could not. She never could. He moved closer and, hesitantly, put his arm around her. That was it. She collapsed in his arms and cried out her loneliness, her emptiness, everything she was feeling but couldn't express to anyone but him.

He was confused as he held her, wondering if it was something he had done, or not done, that had upset her. But he stayed quiet, just holding her, since that seemed to be what she wanted. Instinctively, as a measure of comfort, he kissed her head. He didn't know what else to do. She snuggled closer to him, and he gently kissed her temple. Then she turned her head further toward him and, without thinking, brushed her lips across his.

He was too surprised to move, so he didn't. She raised her hand to his cheek, gently sliding it along his face, caressing his ear, slipping her fingers into his hair as she pressed her lips against his again, more firmly this time. She teased his lips with her tongue and he let them part, allowing her to slide her tongue past them. He moaned deeply, fanning the fire that had sprung up inside her with unexpected suddenness and ferocity. She rolled closer, pressing him back into the couch…And the doorbell rang.

Alex jerked awake. What the hell! Shaking the sleep from her mind, she got up from the couch and went to the door. Opening it, she was surprised to see the focus of her dream standing in the hallway. He frowned. "I woke you. Alex, I am so sorry."

"No," she insisted. "Come on in."

She'd needed to be woken. He stepped into the apartment and held up a bag. "I brought dinner. In the mood for Chinese?"

"I'm in the mood for…" She stopped. What the hell was she going to tell him? That she was in the mood for…him? "…just about anything. I'm famished."

He smiled uncertainly. She was acting oddly. Maybe it was normal for a woman who had recently given birth, but he had no way to know, and he wasn't about to ask.

He headed into the kitchen to dish out the food, and she watched him, noting for the thousandth time how gracefully he moved when he wasn't playing the bumbling detective. She sighed. Get a grip on yourself, Eames. He's your damn partner. You should not be thinking about him this way.

But she had no control over what her subconscious did while she slept. She could swear at it all she wanted to, and it would change nothing. Damn! It had seemed so real…felt so damn real…


She just realized he'd been talking to her. "What?"

"Are you all right?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"You just seem…out of sorts? I mean, you just had a baby…"

"That's right, I did. And my hormones are all out of whack, and I'm sore and tired all the time, and I don't even have a baby…"

She stopped, horrified. She hadn't said that to anyone before. She placed a hand over her mouth and looked at him. He had no idea what to do, and she could see that on his face. She didn't know what to do either, so they just stood there and looked at each other.