It was a good day for closure. The sun shone brightly through the reds, golds and browns of autumn foliage. Goren shifted uncomfortably in the driver's seat, glancing at his partner from time to time. She hadn't said much since they'd gotten up that morning. He wondered what she was thinking. "Alex?"
She looked at him. "What is it?"
"Um, what's going on?"
"We're on our way to pay our last respects to the man who tried to kill you."
"That's not what I meant."
"I'm still very angry, Bobby. I'm not sure I'm ready."
"How much longer do you want to wait?"
"I'd rather never do this."
"That's not an option, and you know it."
"Has the headstone been set?"
"I think so."
She watched him as he shifted his position again. "Uncomfortable?"
"My back hurts."
"But you're okay?"
"Fine. It's not any worse than it has been."
"Maybe we should do this another day."
"No. We're doing it today. I told you, I need the closure, and so do you."
"I know. But you can't blame a girl for trying."
He smiled and held out a hand. She slipped hers into it without hesitation, and he squeezed. When he turned into the cemetery, her hand tightened on his. He glanced at her, disturbed by the absence of color in her face. "He's dead, Eames. He can't hurt me--he can't hurt us--any more."
"But he still exists in your nightmares, and mine."
He took a deep breath. That hurt to hear. "I...I'm sorry."
Her hand tightened more. "Don't you even go there, Goren. It's not your fault."
He wasn't going to argue. "I'll tell you what...whenever he visits your dreams, call me."
"I am not going to call you at three o'clock in the morning."
"That's insane, Bobby."
His thumb lightly caressed the back of her hand and she felt an involuntary tremor course through her. She hated it when he did that, and she loved it at the same time. He slowed the car. "It really is okay, Eames."
"I'll tell you what. I'll save up all my nightmares for when I spend the night with you. Then we can deal with them all at once."
He pulled the car to the side of the lane and parked it. "How about getting rid of them once and for all?"
She looked at him, reaching out to lightly stroke his cheek. "Let's give it a shot."
They got out of the car and he came around to the grass to join her, still limping with the use of a cane. Sliding her hand into his, she let him lead her through the headstones. There was no trace of his smile, just a furrowed brow. His mouth was firmly set and his eyes were dark. She felt...apprehensive. She had no idea what to expect and that always made her nervous, especially with him.
He stopped. She looked at the headstone of the grave he faced. William Goren, Sr. His father. For him, it all started with this man. He released her hand and stepped closer to the headstone. She came around to the other side of the grave, so she could see his face. Quietly, he said, "Part of the responsibility lies with him. He robbed my brother of his ability to love. Once he taught Bill that women were objects to be used and men were marks to be manipulated, what was left for Bill to believe in?"
Softly, she asked, "Do you have any good memories of him?"
"Some. He...knew how to charm, especially when he wanted something. His...hatred toward me began after Mom got sick, because he couldn't handle it. I was her favorite, so he knew he could strike at her through me. After that it just got easier for him, until he forgot not to hate." He sighed. "Even after that, though, there were times when he could be kind...but only when his friends were around and he wanted to show off what a good dad he could be. That didn't happen often because he wasn't around often. Well, you know how I feel about that."
"You...chose this headstone?"
"And the words?"
"Those are not the words I would have expected you to choose."
He sighed softly, finally turning his head to meet her eyes. She couldn't read his expression."It was my job, Alex, to play the part of a loving son. This rock is going to stand for a very long time. I will not have it be a monument to bitterness and hatred. I couldn't do that. It isn't a reflection of him, you know. It's a reflection of me. And I didn't lie. The words are true."
She read the marble one more time before he turned away from the grave and she followed. William Goren Sr, 27 January 1935-16 November 2000. Gone, but not forgotten.
The look on his face had not softened. He'd not had it in him to put beloved father on the marble. Maybe Bill would have, but he had no idea where Bill had been, so the task had fallen to him. It had all fallen to him. He had done the best he could.
He led her to a spot several rows away. Logan had been out here, and he'd told him where it was. It wasn't difficult to find. Her hand found his and she squeezed; her knuckles were white. He gently squeezed back. "It's okay," he whispered. "It's over."
New marble, freshly carved, sat at the head of the fairly new grave. William Goren, Jr. 15 February 1956-12 July 2005. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
Eames stared at the inscription. "Did you choose the inscription?"
"No. I was in the hospital. Mike chose it. He told me he chose a generic quote because everything that came to mind was... inappropriate. You know Mike."
"He should have used one of his ideas."
Goren sighed and released her hand, slipping an arm around her waist. He leaned his head against hers and whispered, "Please, don't. He can't do any more harm. Let it go. Let him go." He kissed her temple. "Because if you can't, neither can I...and I need to." His voice remained soft as his breath whispered past her ear. "If you can't do it for yourself, Alex, then do it for me."
She sighed heavily, squeezing his waist and resting her head against him. His hand rested on her side, just above her hip. She stared at the grave, then she looked up at the man beside her. "You're right."
"I should put my energy into loving you instead of hating him. He's gone and any emotion is wasted on him. But you...you're here, and you deserve to be loved. You did nothing to deserve what he did to you, and there's no way I can change that." She placed her hand over his. "But I can make it better for you."
"What can you make better?"
"You have always done that." He tipped his head down so he could see her face. Reaching toward her, he touched her chest, just to the left of her breastbone, over her heart. "He has to turn this loose," he whispered. "Or he wins."
"Never. He will never win." She drew his hand down, placing his palm over her heart. He closed his eyes. "It's about time you came out on top, Bobby."
He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Maybe you should rephrase that."
"Why?" she smiled.
"I...I, uh..." He sighed. "I-I'm done here. Are you?"
She nodded. "I am. From now on, it's just you. I can't say I'll never get angry for things that once happened, but, that's part of the price I am willing to pay for loving you." His face hovered just in front of hers, and she closed the distance to give him a deep kiss. He raised a hand, letting it hover near her face, but never actually touching her. He didn't need to. She was drawn further in by the heat of his passion. With great effort, he drew back, taking a deep breath and adjusting the cane to support him when he staggered slightly. How the hell did she do that?
"Nothing worthwhile is ever free. You know that. So I burn off some anger once in awhile. That could work to your advantage."
"But the hatred?"
She shook her head. "He is not worth it," she agreed with him. "I have much better things to do with my passion...things that will not lead to an ulcer."
"Like what?" he asked, eyes bright.
"Let's get out of here and we can experiment."
She started walking back toward the car. Experiment? If it meant what he thought it did, experiment was about to become his new favorite word. He limped off after her, not casting another thought, glance or emotion in the direction of the two graves he was leaving behind. Happy to leave them to the reward their lives had earned, he caught her before she got in the car, pulled her into his arms and kissed her again.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiates 3:1)