Summary: She always leaves him with something to think about. And then it's his turn. – Filler scenes (and Spoilers) for Want. Chapter 1 of 2.
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A/N – WARNING: Major Spoilers for Want. And if you haven't seen that particular show, this story may not make much sense. Been done before, but here's my version.
Indefensible – Chapter 1
"Of all the people to go to bat for."
"I know, I know. I-It's not the popular choice."
It was a good five minutes before Bobby Goren could bring himself to get up from the table. He sat there absently running his fingers over the stitching on the fine but worn leather of his notebook as he mulled over what just happened.
His partner didn't see his side of it – he could accept that. It wasn't as though Alex Eames always agreed with him, but she always presented a united front to others. This time had been no different. She'd kept her silence as long as Carver and Deakins were in the conference room. But once they were gone, she'd made it perfectly clear just how much she disagreed with him and his lonely defense of John Tagman.
Then she'd walked out on him.
Granted, it was only as far as her desk in the squad room, but her intent and the impact it had were far more meaningful than the distance. Eames had felt the need to physically separate herself from him – deserting him rather than debating him. Bobby wasn't sure what to make of it. All he knew was he felt a tight twist somewhere in his chest at the thought of her leaving him.
When he did finally approach their desks, Eames kept her head bowed over her paperwork, refusing to even look at him. Goren put his notebook on his desk, walked to the squad's coffee room, and returned with two cups in hand – black for him, cream and a disgusting amount of sugar for her. He placed the small peace offering on her desk, sat in his chair across from her and waited for the soft smile of thanks she usually gave him.
This time it never came. When she finally raised her eyes he saw that she wasn't pleased, as he'd hoped. Nor was she reproachful, as he might have expected. She looked bewildered … betrayed. Oh, this was so much worse.
"I don't know how you can defend him," Eames' voice was low, aware that they were not alone in the squad room.
"Eames," Goren kept his voice equally low, "murder in the first degree involves a deliberate, premeditated design to cause the death of a person." This was the same argument he'd offered Carver while they were all in the conference room. She'd looked mutinous then, and it didn't appear anything had changed.
Then maybe because he was still stinging from her desertion, or maybe to erase her look of betrayal, Goren took it one step further. "You shouldn't have to look it up." Okay, Bobby. Maybe that went too far.
Her eyes narrowed as she took in his sharp rebuke. "And what about what these girls went through?" Eames wasn't shouting, but apparently she no longer cared who heard them. "What about their families? You saw Amanda's mother. It's bad enough her daughter was killed, but then to find out how … and why. Now she'll learn that he …" she paused. He could see the muscles of her throat working as she tried to suppress the urge to gag. "What he did with her calf muscle …" her voice was tight. "You can't justify that to me, Bobby."
Goren knew that part had been hard for her to hear, and for Carver and Deakins. Any understanding they may have tried to afford Tagman went out the door with that final, grisly revelation.
"I'm not justifying it … I'm qualifying it. He didn't intend to kill anyone," Goren gestured with his left hand to emphasize that last point. "It's not. Murder. One." The words were punctuated by jabbing his index finger against his desk.
A flush bloomed across her cheeks, and she blew out a breath before continuing. "What if it had been someone you know?" her voice rose – Eames closed her eyes and sighed deeply in an effort to control her temper. When her golden brown eyes again met his, she was calm but no less resolved. "What if it was me lying in that hospital bed … not knowing my own name? What if I stopped knowing who you are? What if there was no hope of me ever recovering from that?"
Bobby blinked in surprise at the unexpected direction her argument had taken. Not fair, Eames. You know better than to personalize these things. He frowned at the image her words painted for him.
Seeing his reaction, Eames' expression softened and when she continued, her voice was gentle. "Where would your sympathies be then, Bobby?" She sat there studying him, evaluating the impact of her words. "Would you still want the death penalty off the table?"
His partner. Based on appearance, anyone would describe her as petite, almost to the point of delicate. Physically, he definitely had the advantage. But Alex had more strength than what was apparent at first glance. One of those strengths was her gift of words – be they witty, sarcastic comments, or thought-provoking observations. If he'd forgotten how well Alex could use words to bring him down, she'd just reminded him.
He didn't really think she was waiting for an answer. Good thing, too, because he didn't know what to say.
"Think about it." With that, she got up from her desk and walked out on him, again. This time she took her purse and coat, and headed toward the elevators.
Goren quickly turned to glance around the squad room, self-conscious about who might have overheard the unusual conflict between him and Eames. All the other detectives had their heads down, intently studying whatever was on their desk tops. Every last one of them. Which told Bobby that every last one of them had heard.
He sighed and ran his hand through the graying curls of his hair before rubbing at the back of his neck. 'Think about it,' he heard her voice in his head.
Alex. Lying in a hospital bed. Hole drilled in her skull. Scalding water poured on her brain. Vegetative. No more witty remarks. No more soft smiles. Never again recognizing him. He didn't want to think about it.