None of the Law and Order C. I. Characters belong to me

By the Book

Nicole Wallace was dead, and Detective Robert Goren would be the first to admit the world was a much better place without her. Yet for some reason, well, for a couple of reasons, he felt depressed. One was because he'd never really given up on her; he'd always felt there had to be some part of that sparkling little girl that was still good, and he'd hoped she'd find it before it was too late. But now she was dead. He'd never wanted her dead. Locked away for a million years, yes. But dead? No. And now it was too late. For both of them. Because he, Bobby Goren, was accused of her murder.

Still awaiting trial, Bobby lay on the cot in his cell, in protective custody, staring at the ceiling and reflecting on his relationship with Nicole, and how his life became so incredibly screwed up. It had gone steadily downhill since the first day she'd entered it, with all their little altercations, traumas and Nicole's little games. But in her own way, she'd won. She might be dead, but she was out of her misery now, probably laughing her ass off at him, all the way from hell. Unfortunately, Bobby did not have the luxury of being dead.

"Goren," a guard was speaking to him, but he barely heard. "Goren! You've got a visitor."

"Tell her to go home," he said dully. That was all he said.

Once again, he'd been told he had a visitor, a female visitor. And once again he'd refused to see her. He had hit rock bottom. He had been publicly humiliated; they'd stripped him of everything, and put him on suicide watch. He wasn't about to let Alex, the only person he'd ever really cared about, see him like this. But now even that resolve was beginning to wane. He just didn't care anymore.

He wanted so badly just to end it all, and go to his own private spot in hell. His entire life had been one hellish nightmare, and he was tired, very tired, of fighting. Ending it would be a welcome relief. Of course they wouldn't let him. But Bobby was smart. He just had to bide his time. They'd slip up, forget about him for just a second. And then it would all be over.

A few weeks earlier

One Police Plaza

"C'mon, Bobby, I'm hungry!" Alex was getting impatient. It was quitting time, and she was more than ready to go. This case, and Bobby, were both driving her crazy. She truly regretted showing Bobby a few little tricks on the computer. Bobby did alright on the computer, but it was not his area of expertise, unlike just about everything else in his world. And of course he was soaking it up like a sponge. One thing about Bobby, you only had to tell him something once; he had his own built in computer, and his memory retained everything.

"Just a minute, Eames. I wanna check my mail."

Alex sighed. She couldn't remember the last time he checked his e-mail, and he decides to do it now.

A second later, a frown appeared on his face.

"Bobby? Is everything okay?"

Bobby looked up at her, still frowning. "It's Nicole. She's back…again." He turned off his computer. "Alright, let's go."

"Wait a minute! All of a sudden you're anxious to go? I want to see what she wrote!" Alex said playfully.

And despite Bobby's protests, she turned the computer back on. Getting into his mail, she read the one from Nicole, which read:

My darling Bobby, I have missed you so. I couldn't wait to get back to the city and feel your arms around me once again, your lips on mine, you, inside me. No one's ever made me feel the way you do. Let me know when you'll be by. I'll be waiting. Nicole.

Alex stared for a second. "What the hell is that?"

"I…I don't know," Bobby stammered. "I don't even know how she got my e-mail address."

"Well, there's plenty of ways of doing that. She's pretty resourceful," she reminded him needlessly. Then, not taking it seriously, she teased him. "You dog."

But Bobby took everything concerning Nicole seriously. He immediately clicked on "delete."

"It can be recovered, you know," she continued.

"Yeah, I know. But at least I don't have to look at it."

She could tell he was upset. "Bobby, you know that just because she sent you an e-mail doesn't mean she's in town."

Bobby just looked at her. "She's back, Eames." There was no question at all in his voice. " She's back. Son of a bitch!" He punched the computer off angrily. "Are we going to dinner or not?" he said, really pissed.

"Sure, Romeo. You're the one who had to check your e-mail."

"It's the last time I do that when you're around."

Sensing Bobby's good mood going quickly down the tube, Alex decided to drop the subject. "Sorry. Okay, what's it gonna be, Chinese, Italian, pizza? Bear in mind, you're paying."

"Italian. Sal's."

On any given night, this would be the perfect setting; his favorite restaurant, eating his favorite food, drinking a nice wine, and enjoying the company of his best friend, Alex. But Bobby could not keep his mind on any of it. All he could think of was that damn e-mail. And he had a very bad feeling about it.


A/N Any suggestions for this story would be welcome!