Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Just an idea I had during an hour of having electrical current running through my wrist and needles stuck in me (testing nerve conductivity). Hope you enjoy it more than I did the tests! Not the most in character, maybe, but I tried. Review, please.

Gambling With Sanity

"What the hell did you think you were doing?" Deakins winced at the fury in Alex's voice. He turned around to face her and found himself being flayed alive by the glare the slightly diminutive woman was giving him.

"I asked if he was ok to do it." It sounded lame, even to him.

"And what made you think he'd tell you the truth? Has he EVER not done something like this? Work is what defines him! Do you think he's going to say anything that would imply he can't do his job?" Her voice was getting louder and louder, until she winced and grabbed her side. She'd been home on medical leave for the last few days after being pushed down some stairs by a suspect and badly breaking several ribs.

"Eames, I couldn't have stopped this."

"YES, YOU COULD HAVE!" Alex was furious with Deakins. While she'd been gone, he'd managed to allow Bobby to do an interrogation (without a partner) because the suspect was none other than Nicole Wallace. The cops who'd brought her in had understood she was wanted for murder and had handed her off to Bobby without thinking about it, glad to have her off their hands.

"WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO, SIT ON HIM?" His voice was raised too, now.

"NO, YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL ME, LET ME HELP HIM! INSTEAD YOU LET HIM GAMBLE WITH HIS SANITY AGAINST SOMEONE WHO'S BEATEN HIM BEFORE!"

The crowd that had been gathered around the door to the interrogation room was slowly shifting over to the shouting match between the hardened, imposing Captain and his tiny, take-no-shit, hurt-my-partner-and-die detective.

"I'm sorry. Can you help him now?" There was resignation in Deakins' voice.

"I hope so, for all our sakes." Alex turned on her heel and found herself staring at a large group of people who were blocking her way to her partner. Calmly, she unholstered her gun pointed it at them. "Anyone who doesn't want to spend the next month in physical therapy had better move NOW." It was like the parting of the Red Sea, people moving out of her way as fast as they could. Unperturbed, she put her gun away and walked briskly through them to the door to the room where her partner was.

As she put her hand on the doorknob, someone braver than most spoke up. "Detective, he threw a chair at the last person who tried to go in there. Once they took Ms. Wallace out, he hasn't let anyone else in."

She turned, an eyebrow raised. "He'll let me in." And she turned the knob and entered. There was a collective rush to the observation room.

"Bobby?" She shut the door behind her, eyes fixed on his broad back, his hands fisted on the wall. "Bobby? Come on, talk to me, Bobby."

"Go away, Eames." His voice was lower than usual, rough and heartbreakingly vulnerable.

"No." She leaned against the wall. "I'm not going to leave you alone, not this time, and not ever."

"I'm going to be like her, you know."

"Like Nicole? I highly doubt it. You have a heart."

He turned to her, eyes flat and glassy. "No, not like her. Like my mother."

"You know what? You are stronger than your mother. And Nicole. And me, for that matter. You won't become anyone else as long as you don't want to." It hurt her heart to see how little faith he had in himself. She crossed the room and stood in front of him, hands on hips. "Do you want me to leave?"

"NO!" The shout was torn from him, involuntary and pained. "No..."

She reached up her hands to cradle his face. "Then I won't. Ever. Even if you could look me in the eye and tell me you never wanted to see me again, I'd stay right here."

His eyes slid shut and he leaned his head back to the wall. "Why?"

"Because you need me, and I need you. It's as simple as that."

He laughed painfully. "You don't need me. You could have a normal life, with a normal partner, a normal boyfriend... I can't turn off my mind, Alex." It was a plea for help that tugged at her. "I can't ever stop thinking, I can't be normal."

"After working with you, Bobby, normal would be boring. I need you, because you need me. Don't you know that everyone wants to be depended on? Aside from the fact that you're the smartest, kindest man I know, working with you gives me a purpose. I'm not going anywhere." It was frustrating, because none of what she said seemed to be sinking in.

"Promise?" It was a whisper, hopeful in a way that could be easily crushed by a cruel heart.

"Promise." And then Alex found herself practically lifted off the floor by her partner as he clung, child-like, to her. "Bobby?"

"Yes?"

She winced. "My ribs."

He let go of her quickly, as though she'd burned him. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... are you alright?"

"I'm fine." She bent her torso from side to side a bit, testing the damage. "No worse that I was."

"I'm sorry."

"It's alright." She smiled up at him. "Do you want me to take you home?"

"Yes."

"Ok." She led him out of the observation room, her glare sending curious onlookers scurrying back to their desks like she was still holding a gun on them. Her partner followed meekly behind her, head down. As she grabbed both their coats and herded him into the elevator, Deakins came out of his office. He watched the doors slide shut and his star team, both broken, both healing, disappear.