A/N: Ending it on lucky 13, huh? No, there will be no sequel - I just don't do those, so don't ask, lol. They always turn out badly, so really I'm protecting you all. I will be working on an AU B/A fic though - mostly romance and drama , not a casefile. Which isn't to say I'll never do casefile again - just not the next one. I want to thank everyone who reviewed, especially those who corrected some of my errors. I appreciate every single review - more than you know.
Disclaimer: They still aren't mine, even though I've spent every day with them for the last few weeks. Lucy Dick Wolf and NBC.
"Bobby- I-" His face was pale, and he looked stricken for a moment before he seemed to jerk into motion quickly. His hands were held out in front of him and he stepped forward, cutting her off.
"Alex- I- your shirt. You need to change- otherwise the stain will never come out and-" His hands were tugging at the hem of her shirt now, lifting up and out, and the sticky fabric peeled away from her skin as he did so. She felt a sense of frustration- she hadn't screwed up the courage to come here only to be pushed aside by him. She slapped at his hands, which dropped immediately and once again the fabric fell with a sigh and leeched onto her skin.
"Dammit Bobby, I don't give a shit about the shirt. It's just a shirt." He stepped back as though stung, but she followed his movement and stepped forward, keeping the distance between them at a minimal amount. "I didn't come here to fix the shirt Bobby- I came her to fix us. Can you just- just let me, please?" He nodded silently, taking her hand and pulling her down the hall behind him. She sighed, trying to pull back, but his grip was stronger than hers, and he pulled her into his bedroom. Opening a drawer he pulled out a plain white undershirt- holding it out to her.
"Yes- I'm not avoiding talking- I just- I don't- Alex your shirt is wet. And that can't be comfortable- for you." She listened to his hesitant speech and rolled her eyes, finally snatching the shirt from him. Dropping it on the bed, she pulled her now ruined shirt over her head, and then pulled his on. It was huge- and almost comical, but when she looked at him, she saw that he was determinedly looking at the wall opposite her.
"Alright- can I talk now? Shirt crisis has been averted." He turned to her, his eyes traveling over her as if to make sure she really had changed. Suddenly a wave of absolute exhaustion came over her, and she sank down, sitting on the edge of his king sized bed that took up most of the room. "Bobby-" She forced herself to meet his eyes, to face him both literally and figuratively. He stood still- unnaturally still, waiting for her to finish. "I'm- God this is going to sound so stupid- and not nearly enough- but I am so so sorry. I wasn't- it wasn't you I was angry with- but I let myself just.. just take it out on you. And that was wrong, and hurtful and stupid. And I regret every second of it." She spoke in a soft voice, but quickly- so she could get it all out in one breath, before she lost what little will she had started with. She looked down at her hands, afraid to see his face, choosing instead to watch her fingers twist and weave around each other in agitation. She felt the bed sink next to her, and she knew he had sat down with her.
"I know." His voice was so soft she almost didn't hear him, and she tilted her head towards him to hear better. They both stared at the wall ahead of them though, and she didn't turn to watch him. "I – it hurt Alex- I'd never.. never heard you yell at me like that. But I think- even then when it killed so much- part of me knew it wasn't me you were mad at- I was just.. there."
"That doesn't make it better." She made a sound that started as a laugh, but seemed to strangle itself in her throat and ended up more of a groan. "It doesn't make it okay, or right Bobby. I hurt you- and that-" She paused a moment, her voice growing thick. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths to calm herself. She didn't cry. She couldn't cry- especially not now. "Bobby I have seen you- I've seen you angry and out of control. I've watched you spin out- and never once- never once when these things happen to you- did you ever lash out at me. Why would it be the first thing I do? It's- it's awful and-"
"It's different Alex. You can't compare me to you." She could hear the smile in his voice as he spoke, and she felt more miserable for it. She didn't want to be coddled or understood. She wanted to be punished, she wanted him to yell at her- so she could at least be absolved somewhat. "I- Alex- it happens to me so much. I get to release everything on the job. I get to be the crazy one, the understanding one, the angry one, the emotional one. And you- you just get to be the person who stands there on the ledge and gets to pull me through it." She bowed her head, her guilt like a lead weight in her chest, sinking further down with each word. She felt a slight shift on the bed, as he turned towards her, and she could feel his eyes running over her face and frame, as if it was a physical touch of his skin on hers. "Every time, Alex." His voice was whisper now, and she shivered as he leaned in to let her hear him, causing his breath to tickle across her skin, a teasing touch. "If you needed me to stand there and be your punching bag- I would have done it. Gladly."
She blinked slowly, licking dry lips as she processed what he had said. She felt the energy almost drain out of her, and she fell backwards, staring at the ceiling and resting her hands over her stomach. "You shouldn't have to do it Bobby- if I was honest- if I had just told you-"
He laid back with her and stared at her for a moment, his head turned towards her. She felt irritation as he watched her, like she was something broken that he felt a need to fix and reassure. "Tell me now." She bit her lip, still staring at the ceiling above her, smooth and plain white- a vast expanse of blandness. Her breathing became shallow as she observed it. This was what she had come for. To explain- and this was the time. But now that she had arrived here, she felt herself hesitate at the the edge of the proverbial cliff. She swayed forward and back, fighting for equilibrium, fighting herself. She closed her eyes, fighting for a sense of balance, and digging deeply for the courage she had held in her hands not two short hours ago.
"I should have told you that I was scared. To be alone – after. I should have asked you to stay with me, and screw the case. I should have said I wasn't ready to be back at work- but I just missed you so damn much Bobby." She felt a sick feeling in her stomach as she spoke. One of those 'this will either be really really bad or really really great' feelings that she couldn't quite swallow down.
"I saw you everyday-" She could hear the frown in his voice, and almost picture the look on his face. She didn't need to see him to know what it was.
"It wasn't- it wasn't really the same Bobby. You drove me to therapy, asked how I was. If I needed anything. And I told you I was fine, and no I didn't- and I-" She paused for a moment, pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes, and she struggled to find the perfect way to explain. "The connection was gone. Everyday Bobby- I've had that connection. Those looks that said you understood, that simple dance that we did so well. And I'm not blaming you- I'm not. I put a certain amount of distance between us when we were off the job- I needed it. It was a wall I built- not you. But when this all happened- I guess I wanted you to break it down. It was too much to expect."
"Alex, look at me please." His voice was strangely strong and she felt herself turning towards him despite her irrational fear screaming at her not to. When she rolled on her side, he raised a hand and it hovered in the air between them, before he dropped it as suddenly as it had risen. "You didn't build that wall alone. I helped. Hell, I could never call you by your name- a fact that I knew irritated you- but I did it because if I allowed myself for even a moment to think of you as Alex and not Eames.." His voice trailed off and his eyes locked with hers for a moment. Once again, half of their conversation was occurring in her head, but she didn't want that. Not this time.
"No more things unsaid Bobby. I need to hear everything, do you understand. But you need to hear everything first- so let me finish." She paused for a moment, looking for his acceptance, and when she saw it in his face she continued on. "I lied to you. I'm not fine- I still can't sleep at night, and I can't stand the dark anymore Bobby. I keep hearing that girl's screams.. I shouldn't have come back for the Wiznewsky case. I mean I know you noticed- you saw how I was at the scene, I could barely look at her. I wasn't ready- but I kept on anyway. And maybe – I don't know Bobby – maybe it was because of that I was just so damn hurt hearing about your Mom in a suspect interview of all things." She blinked for a moment, once again fighting the urge to just give up. Biting her lip, she looked at him once more, reading the contrition clearly in his eyes- but to his credit he kept his unspoken agreement, and didn't interrupt.
"It felt like I was just drifting and I was losing you too- I was barely speaking to my family – much to my mother's annoyance, I'm sure. I don't know how to do this Bobby- how to not be the strong one. And then this case-" She paused for a moment, rubbing a hand over her face, knowing that soon enough her attempts to conquer her wayward emotions would fail. She took several deep breaths, trying to calm herself. She felt him shift and then felt his hand slide into hers, grasping it warmly. It was his wordless support and she clung to it, grateful for it's presence.
"This case has been awful. I've been all over the map- and not just emotionally. I knew, I knew as soon as we interviewed MJ that this was going to be the case. The one that could break me – and maybe us. I couldn't seem to get distance from it- from my feelings for the victims, for you. I blamed you, and I'm sorry for that. I just- I didn't want to face what was really going on with me Bobby. I can't do that anymore though." She felt the tears, hot and wet on her face, and she hated them. Hated herself for doing this when she promised herself she wouldn't.
"I feel- I feel like I can't do this anymore. Like I'm some small frail thing that's just waiting to be broken. Work makes me feel that way." She sniffled slightly looking up at him with contrite eyes. " Work used to be the one thing that made me feel strong, and for some reason I can't even get that feeling anymore. In that room yesterday- I let him get to me, and it was so simple Bobby. It was so easy for him to get me right where he wanted me, and it was like being in a river. Like I was trying to swim against the current but I only fought for a second. Then I just let the tide take me. And the things I said- Ross will have my ass for I'm sure. But I-" She paused, taking a deep breath and meeting his eyes straight on. "I meant them. I didn't lie to get closer to him Bobby- I meant what I said. About me and you- and I'm so sorry it happened that way. I should have told you- I should have-" Her words were harder to understand through the tears and the thickness of her voice, but she knew he heard her. She knew because he pulled her closer, wrapping long arms around her and stroking her hair, muttering things that made no sense, but the rumble of that deep voice calmed her anyway.
She cried. She allowed him to hold her, and she clung to him like a lifeline as she cried. She didn't know how long she did it, or what he thought- she just drew comfort from him and let go. She let him hold her there, anchoring her with his arms as she set herself adrift. When she finally stopped, she felt a sense of tired so deep in her bones, she just wanted to pass out then. But she knew she couldn't, she needed to know what he thought. How he felt. So she breathed in and out, smelling him all around her, and she opened her eyes, studying the buttons on his shirt, focusing on them as she forced herself to calm down. He pulled back slightly, looking down at her. "I'm sorry." She whispered in the still room, and she felt his arms tighten for a brief second.
"Don't." His voice was low and rough in her ear and she shivered involuntarily. "Don't apologize Alex- I feel like I should be the one apologizing. All those times in that interrogation room that you backed me up, kept me anchored to you- and I couldn't do the same. My only excuse is I couldn't seem to wrap my mind around it-"
She laughed, a slightly watery sound. "Something you couldn't wrap your mind around? Should I be proud?"
He pulled back, creating space between them and she felt the cold air rush around her. He looked down at her, his hand once again reaching up, but this time it didn't falter, and it brushed her hair back, his expression almost reverent. He touched her face, his fingers trailing along her jaw, back until they skimmed the delicate skin behind her ear. "Yes. You had the courage to come here- I never would have. We've both been- been disjointed lately. I felt like I needed to give you space after you were found. I know now it was wrong – but at the time..." He paused as if searching for the right words, and she held her breath waiting. " When I got that message Alex- I felt like I couldn't breathe. I ran, and it felt like someone had physically hurt me. Everyone- everyone kept telling me- she's dead. Accept it and catch the guy. I – I couldn't. When we found that second body- all I felt was relief that it wasn't you. I was- out of control to put it mildly. It was like half of me wanted to kill Declan- and the other half was scrambling, trying to think. Where you were, what would be the next step. It was like I couldn't decide and for the first time my mind failed me. I was getting nowhere without you. And all – all it took was sitting by your bed, seeing you there, and I knew. All of a sudden everything crystallized and I knew it was never him. It was her." He stopped, looking at her with serious eyes, and a guilty expression. "It was you- I realized that I'm no good on my own anymore. I- I need you there to help me make sense of my thoughts. And it terrified me. I found myself thinking, what if one day you're not there? I was confused, and I pulled back a bit. I thought maybe I was too close to you- and that was the problem." His hands hadn't left her face as he spoke, his fingers absently running circles along her skin, and she closed her eyes , fighting to listen to his words.
"Did it work?" Her voice was a whisper, and his hands stopped moving and she opened her eyes to see him watching her. His eyes seemed to leave a trail of heat wherever they moved and she felt her breath catch in her throat.
"No." He whispered back, and she ran a tongue along her too dry lips. His eyes followed the movement, darkening slightly and she forgot how to breath for a moment, her heart pounding in her chest. His hand moved down along the column of her throat, tracing a path down to her pulse point, where it rested, a warm pressure over her wildly fluttering pulse. "It didn't work. It just made everything feel wrong. I missed you, even though you were right there. I couldn't talk to you when you asked me to."
"Seems to me, that for two people so great at 'unspoken communication' we kind of suck at the spoken kind." She spoke wryly and the corner of his mouth twitched into a half smile, his eyes lightening for a moment. His hand rested flat against her chest, just above her heart, and she lay there, enjoying the moment. The silence seemed to wrap around them, but it wasn't uncomfortable this time, it was comforting. It was a moment that seemed to stretch, and she felt regret at the need to break it. "So- what happens now?" Her whisper slithered across the silence, wrapping itself around them, demanding that a choice be made.
"We need to decide what to do. Nothing has been done that can't be undone Alex. Not yet." His last words were heavy with promise and she felt a heat uncurl in her stomach, and settle lower. "We could- we could go back. To the way it was." His voice made it sound like he was suggesting torture, and silently she agreed. She sighed audibly, and looked up at him.
"No." She spoke softly but surely, shaking her head. "I can't. It almost killed me Bobby – to be just your partner for the last few years. I've spent a lot of time – and I mean a lot of time, thinking about this. I was worried about you. About how it would effect your career. I was trying to protect both of us- but-" She paused, blinking back tears angrily as she spoke. "I don't want to fight it anymore. I don't want to pretend, or be unhappy, or be alone anymore. I want you. I want us. And I don't care what it costs me- it's costing me more to not do it." She placed a hand over her chest, over his, her fingers intertwining with his as she looked in his eyes. She felt an immense sense of lightness, of release. Looking in his eyes, she spoke softly. "I love you. I always have, and I can't pretend not to anymore." She held her breath, waiting in trepidation as he blinked slowly. Time seemed to slow, and it felt like he took forever to respond, even though she knew it was barely a few seconds.
"Eames.." His voice made the word a caress, and she shivered at the sound of it rolling across his tongue – oddly pleased that he called her that- despite her wanting him to use her first name. "I don't want to hide anymore either. We can do this- together you know. No more lies, no more hiding – not from each other – not from anyone else. I've loved you too long to lose this now-" He was still talking, but her mind only seemed to register one thing. She had done it. She had finally let go, allowed herself to fall off that edge and he had caught her. Of course he had caught her – why had she ever thought anything else? She moved closer to him, letting go of his hand and wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling her body against his and effectively shutting him up. His hands settled on her hips automatically and she felt them span her waist and almost touch in the back. A shiver passed through her as she tilted her head up to his and pressed forward, Her mouth met his, and it was perfect. Hesitant and sweet- just like him, but once he responded, his hands pulling her closer and she opened her mouth under his, feeling heat ricochet through her like liquid fire as his breath mingled with hers. She felt like she was on fire and drowning all at once. When they pulled apart, she had to take a moment to remember how to breathe. His hands trembled as they came up to trace the line sof her face and she smiled at him, a brilliant grin that should have hurt it was so large, but it didn't.
"We'll tell Ross. We'll tell everyone, and rules be damned. And even if-" She paused, wondering if he had thought of that particular consequence, but he smiled in answer to her own and his eyes seemed to light up.
"If they split us up – which I doubt if we pitch a big enough fit – and I'm rather good at them – even if we do get separated job wise- would it matter? Really?" His hands were constantly moving as he spoke, and she discovered that his restless energy seemed to apply to more personal aspects of his personality as well. They roamed, across the small of her back, between her shoulder blades, over her should, along her collar bone. They skimmed down her ribs, and across her stomach and she almost gasped at the feeling of them. It felt as though they were everywhere at once, and she felt her body strain towards him involuntarily. Blinking she realized he was waiting for a response, and she shook her head silently.
"As long as we're together- work doesn't matter Bobby. It's just icing if we stay together there." She smiled as she spoke, and his hands, which had stilled along her ribs, began their wandering path again. It was like her was trying to memorize every bit of her, and she responded eagerly. "Are you afraid, Bobby?" Her voice was small as she buried her face by his neck, inhaling deeply and just absorbing the heat from his skin.
"No." His voice was steady and sure, strong in a way she had never heard before. "No – if you haven;t left yet- If you still love me after everything you know- no I'm not afraid Alex. I'm just- just grateful." He spoke simply and she felt the guilt that had been weighing her down finally let go, and she wrapped her arms around him tightly, hugging him for all she was worth. Part of her was still a little bit afraid – wondering if she could handle something this serious- because she and Bobby were never going to be any type of casual. But she also felt a sense of comfort and warmth from his faith in her. She knew that everything would be fine, because no matter what they had to face – the NYPD, family, joy or crisis – they would do it together. At this moment, with his arms around her and his breath by her ear, she knew she could face anything with this man. This time – everything would be different, because she wasn't facing it as Alex Eames, but rather it was BobbyandAlex. Two names that belonged together. Two names that were so much stronger now than they had been an hour ago. She knew they were ready- finally after such a long road, they were ready to take this on. Together.
hid the love within my heart,
And lit the laughter in my eyes,
That when we meet he may not know
My love that never dies.
But sometimes when he dreams at night
Of fragrant forests green and dim,
It may be that my love crept out
And brought the dream to him.
And sometimes when his heart is sick
And suddenly grows well again,
It may be that my love was there
To free his life of pain.
Hidden Love, Sara Teasdale