The sun was barely up when she kissed him, dressed and left him sleeping deeply. She locked the door behind her, went to her car and drove to her dad's house. She had been right. A great lover when he was drunk, sober he was nothing short of amazing. She still trembled at the memory of what he had done to her body, and she wanted more. Knowing she couldn't have it sent a wave of regret through her stronger than any she had ever known. Now she knew beyond any shadow of doubt, that she wanted Bobby in her life and Maggie's, as close as he would let them get, and she never wanted to let him go.

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He rolled over and stretched. He felt better rested than he had in a very long time. He let his mind wander back to the night before, still not opening himself to the raw wounds his conscience was going to rub salt in. He wanted to enjoy what had happened for just a little while longer. He knew instinctively that she was gone, but he understood. She was afraid to let him see what else he was missing, waking with her in his arms, which would only compound his sense of loss and deep regret. Last night should never have happened, and the guilt and regret for that were beginning to form in his mind. He knew he would not be able to keep them at bay much longer.

He leaned over when the phone rang and grabbed it from its cradle. "Goren."

"Hey, man," Logan's voice came over the line. "Whatcha doin'?"

"Not much."

"Eames there?"

"No, she left this morning."

"Everything okay?"

"Why wouldn't it be?" Don't ask me that question in a few hours, he thought almost bitterly.

"You wanna go shoot some hoops?"

Get out and keep busy, delay the inevitable... He looked at the time: 11:36. "Yeah, sure. Gimme an hour to shower and get something to eat."

"How 'bout I show up around two?"

"Sounds good."

"See ya then."

He hung up the phone and stayed where he was for a few more minutes. He wondered if it could possibly help him in any way to confide in Logan. Would he understand? He'd never talked about this with anyone before, at least not that he remembered. Hell, he could have told Mike anything when he was drunk, and Mike would never have said a word about it. And he had no idea what he'd said the night she got married. Sigh. Mike was a damn good friend. Maybe it really would help, talking about it sober and fully aware of what he was saying and what he was feeling. It sure couldn't hurt...and anything that helped with this anguish he knew was coming...well...With a heavy sigh, he got up and went into the bathroom.

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He'd just finished eating when someone knocked at the door. Glancing at the clock, which said 12:47, he mused that Logan was early. That was odd. Mike was never early. He went to the door and opened it.

There were four men in the hallway. One of them was Ricky Waters. His sixth sense began screaming at him, but he was so surprised to see Ricky, he didn't respond to it. Waters shoved him backwards into the apartment, following after him with his friends behind him. "You son of a bitch, where is she?"

"What?" Goren replied, confused. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't act stupid. Where's my wife?"

"I have no idea."

"I had you two followed last night, Goren. I know you came back here when you were done at the sporting complex. I also know that your two pals left and my wife didn't."

Shit. Eames was going to flip out over that. "That doesn't mean anything."

"The hell it doesn't."

"Look, Eames has stayed here plenty of times. It doesn't mean anything happened." That was the truth. What had happened the night before was the one and only time...and it wouldn't happen again. He couldn't let it, as difficult as that was going to be, knowing now what he was missing. "I've told you before, Waters, I am not sleeping with your wife." Also the truth...he let things get the better of him once. That did not amount to an affair.

"Tell me you don't love her."

He couldn't do that. He couldn't lie like that, to himself or anyone else. Besides, Waters knew that he loved Eames. "That has nothing to do with anything. As long as she's married, she's off limits to me. And she's my partner. I'm not about to risk screwing that up."

"You're full of shit, Goren."

Goren wasn't sure what he expected, but the solid right to his jaw was not it. He missed the coffee table, hit the arm of the couch and spun as he hit the floor, but he came right back up and did not hesitate to connect his fist to Waters' face. He got in more than a few powerful blows before Waters' friends jumped him. He fought them off several times before they finally managed to overpower him and held him fast.

Waters drove his fist into Goren's gut. "You just can't leave well enough alone."

Another blow to his upper abdomen. "You gotta play with fire."

A right hook opened a laceration under his left eye. "She's not yours, you bastard, and she never will be."

Another punch to the face. "She married me."

Goren continued to struggle against the men who held him but he wasn't able to break free. Waters did not ease up and his buddies did not loosen their hold on the big cop. With each hit, Waters felt his fury build, and he continued, even after Goren stopped struggling, supported almost entirely by the three men who held him. Barely in control of himself, Waters pulled his gun from its holster and rested the muzzle against Goren's head. His friends were visibly shaken. The one who held Goren's left arm said, "You don't want to do that, Rick."

"Why the hell not? He's been nothing but a thorn in my side since I started seeing Alex."

"Come on, man, he's one of us. Like him or not, the son of a bitch is a cop. Picking fights with him is one thing. Beating the shit out of him is approaching the line. But killing him, in cold blood...no way."

"Not good enough," he growled.

The man who held Goren's right side hid his panic and said, "Then think about Alex, Ricky."

Waters hesitated. He was right. She wasn't going to like that he had done this, but she would hate him forever if he killed the guy. After all, whether he liked it or not, his wife did love her partner. He pulled the gun away and thumbed the safety back on. Flipping it over in his hand, he brought the butt of the gun down on Goren's head, ignoring the fact that the man was already mostly unconscious. "Let's go, guys."

They let him drop onto the floor and left the apartment, pulling the door closed behind them.

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Logan knocked on the door for the second time, glancing at his watch. He was right on time for a change; it was a few minutes before two. Goren was probably in the shower now. Who could ever predict what would distract the guy...probably something on the History Channel or Discovery...wouldn't be the first time...

He turned the knob. Yep, he'd left the door open for him. Stepping into the apartment, he called out, "Hey, Bobby--I'm here."

Silence. Then he saw the unconscious form of his friend on the floor between the couch and the easy chair. "Oh, shit..."

He pulled out his phone and was done dialing as he dropped to his knees beside Goren, feeling for a pulse. When the 911 operator answered, he gave his name, badge number and the address of the apartment. "I've got an officer down. Send a bus immediately!"

He was relieved to find a strong pulse, but his breathing was a little ragged, and the pool of blood that had soaked into the carpet unsettled him. But it was the fact that he was totally unresponsive that troubled him most of all. He wasn't sure what he should do, but he got up and hurried to the bathroom, grabbing a facecloth and running it under warm water. Returning to the living room, he gently cleaned the blood from Goren's face, examining the lacerations and developing bruises. "You're gonna be pretty, pal. What the hell happened to you?"

Nothing seemed out of place...he wondered if it was a robbery gone bad..or something worse.

When the paramedics arrived, Logan looked up from where he was kneeling and motioned them in, moving to kneel by Goren's head. He remained there and watched as they worked on him, then he helped them get him onto the stretcher. "Where are you taking him?'

"St. Vincent's."

"I'll meet you there. I need to call his partner and our captain."

"Okay. We'll let the ER staff know you're on your way."

Alex was upset, as he knew she would be, and Deakins blew a gasket. Oh, this was so not good, he reflected as he negotiated the traffic on his way to the hospital. He would have to manage a worried Alex and an angry Deakins. Goren was going to owe him for this one.

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After showing his badge at the desk, a nurse came out and led him to the cubicle where they were working on Goren. One of the nurses came out to meet him and asked, "What happened?"

"I don't know. He was home alone. I got there at two because we had plans and I found him on the floor. I had talked to him around 11:30."

"Does he have any family?"

"His partner has power of attorney to make medical decisions for him, and she's on her way." Eames had been furious when Goren had suggested giving that power of attorney to him after she got married, and he had backed off right away and let her keep it. Neither of them saw it as a big deal, but apparently she did, so he let well enough alone. "How is he doing?"

"We'll know more after he wakes up. Right now we need to get some x-rays."

As the medical staff cleared from the cubicle to tend to other patients while they waited for the x-rays, Logan moved in to sit by his bed and wait. He felt a great deal of relief when he heard Goren groan softly. He started to move. Logan recognized the agitation that began building as he slowly returned to consciousness. When he rested his hand on Goren's arm, he was prepared and ducked the punch that was swung at his head. "Hey, man," he said quietly. "It's me. Calm down."

"Mike?"

"Yeah. Who did this to you, Bobby?"

"It was...Waters...and three of his...pals."

"You sure?"

He nodded, wincing at the pain that flared in response to the movement of his head. God, he felt sick. "They...were cops. I-I've seen them...with him..."

Logan hated seeing him in so much pain. Goren shifted on the bed, searching for a position that didn't hurt quite so much, but he couldn't find one. Logan lightly touched his shoulder. "Take it easy. I'll go get a doctor. Hang on."

One of the doctors came right away, relieved that he was awake. After carefully assessing his mental state and determining his head injury wasn't severe, he ordered medication for the pain and a nurse came to inject it into his IV. By the time the x-ray tech arrived twenty minutes later, Goren was drifting in and out under the effects of the painkiller. Logan hadn't gotten another coherent word out of him.


A/N: This scene continues in Chapter 15 of Choices...