By the Book Chapter 28

Bobby was back in therapy. As he had told Deakins, it wasn't the first time he'd been in therapy. The last time had been after he'd been shot and nearly killed (See "The Informant") and fallen into a major depression. His doctor back then had been the psychiatrist Dr. Roberts, and though Deakins had recommended someone he personally knew, Bobby elected to go back with Dr. Roberts. Bobby felt secure with Dr. Roberts, and had confidence in him. It had been Dr. Roberts who had saved Bobby's life. Dr. Roberts had been pleased to see Bobby, but not under these conditions. He and Bobby had a lot of work to do. Particularly since Bobby's circumstances left him still in jeopardy. But even without that, he was very much in trauma over what had already happened. The nightmares continued, if anything, they were getting worse.

The week the trial was in recess proved to be very long, frustrating and emotionally draining. Tensions were running high. Bobby wasn't sleeping, but that was par for the course with him. He wasn't sure he wanted to sleep anyway, that only led to the night terrors and nightmares.

Being awake wasn't much better. That just gave him more time to think and worry about his trial. He tried to imagine what it would be like to be a free man—so much had happened to him in the last half year—he forgot what it was like to be free.

But mostly he dwelled on the negative. Again, with so much happening all he could think about was that it would always be this way. That the judge, for some unknown god-forsaken reason would throw out all the new evidence, he'd get convicted and spend the rest of his life in prison in protective custody. Protective Custody—ha! That was a joke! He'd barely survived it the first time, and still had the injuries to prove it. He'd never survive another attack.

Alex came into the room, back from 1PP, where she was on desk duty for a while. She brought him a beer.

"Bobby," she interrupted his thoughts, "you're pacing again."

"Really? And I thought I was supposed to be the observant one." Bobby was extremely moody and uncharacteristically sarcastic, not just with Eames but with everyone.

"Does it bother you?" Bobby asked.

"What?"

"My pacing. Does it bother you?"

"Of course not. It's just that…you need to relax a little. This has been hard on you—"

"You do have a knack for stating the obvious."

Alex just looked at him for a minute. "Here," she said, thrusting the beer at him, spilling most of it on his shirt. "Do all the pacing you want. I'll be in the kitchen with Angie." She was pissed.

Why do I do that? What the hell is wrong with me? Bobby wondered, watching her disappear. He was unbelievably stressed. God, he needed another session with Dr. Roberts! And if Joe didn't call soon…

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After going upstairs and changing his shirt, Bobby came back down and stood in the doorway to the kitchen, watching as Alex and Angie prepared the evening meal.

"Uh, Eames?"

"What, Bobby?" Alex asked, not looking up, clearly still upset with him. Angie looked on, questioningly.

When Bobby didn't say anything, Alex finally looked up. He looked like a chastised little boy standing there. Her heart softened, and she went to him.

"We need to talk," he told her, and Alex gave him a "duh!" look, and they went off by themselves to the back porch of the Deakins' home.

"So?" she asked, still not happy with him.

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah?"

"Alex, I mean it—I've been a total jerk."

"Well, maybe not a total jerk." Alex tried to inject a little humor into the situation.

Bobby smiled that little smile she loved so much. "Thank you. But I've been pretty bad."

"Well it's not like you don't have a million things on your mind."

"That's true. But it's still no excuse to take it out on the people who mean the most to me, and have done nothing but help me, including you. Especially you."

"Apology accepted, Bobby." She got up on her tippy-toes and kissed Bobby softly on his cheek. "I know things will be better soon, Bobby. Just wait, you'll see."

Bobby nodded, but inside he wished he was just half as confident as Alex seemed. And Alex wished she felt half as confident as she sounded. They were both just going to have to wait, and see how it all turned out, making for a pretty stressful time for Bobby.

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That evening, just before dinner, Bobby received a phone call.

"It's for you," Deakins said, holding out the phone. "You want to take it here, or in—"

"Here's fine," Bobby said, taking the phone. "Goren," he said into the phone.

"Bobby, it's Joe." Bobby's stomach lurched. "Get out your best suit, Man. We're due in court at 9:00 a.m. sharp."

Bobby's stomach hurt, like it was cramping. He didn't say anything for a moment.

"Bobby? You still there?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm—what did he say? Did he give you any indication?"

"No. Nothing. He just said he'd gone over all the evidence and that you were to show up in court tomorrow."

"What? He said it like that? 'Show up for court tomorrow.' Just like that?"

"Yeah, kinda like that. But don't worry, you know the judge's flair for the dramatic. It could mean anything, it could mean—"

"It could mean I'm fucked!"

"Yeah, it could. But it could also mean you're free."

Again Bobby was silent. Finally he said, "Okay, Joe, I'll meet you there at 9:oo."

"Okay. And Bobby? Try to get a good night's sleep tonight, okay?"

It took everything Bobby had not to laugh out loud. A good night's sleep? What the hell was that?

As Bobby rejoined the family at the dinner table, they all looked at him expectantly.

"Um…that was Joe…"

"And?" Alex asked impatiently.

"I don't know." Bobby's voice was very soft. "But I have to be in court tomorrow."

Deakins sighed. "That's means he's decided." Then to Bobby, "Why don't you sit down and eat, Bobby? I know you're going to worry all night, but right now you need a little something to keep you going. C'mon, Angie's prepared a great meal."

Bobby looked at Angie, specifically, but said to them all. "Uh, with all due respect, I think I'll just sit this one out. There's no way I could eat anything. I'm sorry, Angie."

"It's okay, Bobby," she told him. But she was very worried about him; she thought of him as a son. "Honey, you really do need to eat."

"Maybe I'll get something later," he said to appease her.

He then went out and sat on the Deakins' back porch. He'd kind of taken a liking to that porch, it was quiet and peaceful, just right for sitting in solitude and thinking long into the night. Sometime later, one after another, each of them came out and joined him, until they were all out there, talking quietly, drinking coffee, and offering Bobby their support in any way he needed it.

Finally, in the early morning, the Deakins went off to bed, and Alex fell asleep next to Bobby.

Bobby thought about the others, all sleeping, and tried to remember the last good night's sleep he'd had. Tomorrow was it. If the evidence wasn't good enough, he'd be done for. If he got convicted, they just might as well shoot him in the head right there in court, because that's about as long as he'd last in prison.

Bobby watched as the sun came up, his arm protectively around Alex as she shivered in her sleep in the early morning frost. The sunrise was beautiful. He appreciated it even more, wondering just how many more sunrises there were in his future.

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Morning at the Deakins' house was hectic. Bobby had taken Alex in, and then went to take a shower and get dressed before everyone else was up. As Joe had suggested, Bobby put on his best suit, and made quite a dashing figure.

It was a big day in court. Everyone was there, Bobby, Alex and Joe, who, naturally had all arrived early, Jimmy and Angie Deakins, Lewis, a few of Bobby's other friends, and a few supporters from the Major Case Squad who managed to have the day off. All were pulling for Bobby.

On the opposite side of the court was the sullen and scowling ADA.

Finally, the Judge arrived and the bailiff announced, "All rise!" After the judge was seated the rest of the courtroom followed suit.

Judge O'Toole shifted through some papers on his bench, seemingly taking his time, glancing occasionally at Bobby with an unreadable expression.

Finally, "Will the defendant please stand?" Both Bobby and Joe stood.

"Detective Goren, based on a review of the evidence pertaining to your case, and a statement given by Mark Connelly, it has become obvious that you had no part in the killing of Ms. Nicole Wallace. You are hereby cleared of all charges, and all records relative to any information that include your alleged part in this crime shall be destroyed. You are free to go, with the apologies of the court and the people of New York."

Bobby staggered slightly, as a wave of emotion overcame him. A loud buzz went through the courtroom which was alive with excitement.

"Order!" Judge O'Toole intoned loudly, banging his gavel. "Order in this court!"

When things settled down, Judge O'Toole had one more thing to say. "Detective Goren, I have one more piece of advice for you. The next time you appear in my courtroom, in any capacity, and you disrupt my courtroom again, I promise I will throw the book at you so hard you will never see outside a jail again. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Your Honor."

The judge almost smiled, and Bobby may not have disrupted the courtroom, but his friends did, letting out a loud "whoop!" And causing the judge to bang his gavel to no avail.

Bobby pumped Joe's hand vigorously, Alex and Bobby hugged, and his friends surrounded him, thumping him on his back. Bobby was completely overwhelmed.

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Late that night, after the hoopla had all died down, Bobby went outside to the porch again. It was finally starting to sink in—he was a free man. Never again would he be charged with anything to do with this crime, it was finally over. He'd be starting back to work in his job as a detective first grade with the Major Case Squad in a week, with the stipulation that he continue his counseling with Dr. Roberts. Not a problem, he planned on doing that anyway.

He also had regular checkups for his cheekbone, to insure there were no infections. The rest of his injuries continued to heal on their own, and were coming along nicely.

After a while Alex, who'd stayed the night again, joined him.

"Thought you might want some company."

"Always," Bobby smiled at her.

"So, how do you feel?"

"Relieved," Bobby said, "like the world's been lifted from my shoulders."

"I bet. So have you decided what you're going to do about your apartment?"

"I've been thinking about it, and I think I'll probably go back. It's been professionally cleaned, and my elderly neighbors, Clara and Carla, are ready to start fussing over me again."

Bobby looked thoughtful. "You know, it's kind of nice to have someone watch over you, really care…" He looked pointedly at Alex, and both thought about their conversation a few weeks ago.

Alex looked up at him. "You mean like a partner again, to watch your back?"

"Sweetest words I've ever heard," he murmured.

End.

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