2:34 AM.

Alex's eyes flew open and immediately turned to the clock, for the third night in a row.

2:34 AM.

How does my body know? After going through every detail with Bobby, Ross, IAB, and seemingly half the NYPD, she knew that the time was significant, but still she wondered how her body knew every night to wake up in a panic at exactly that moment. Weird; she would ask Bobby about it, but only on a day when she was in the right mood for a lecture on Circadian rhythms, adrenaline, and self-preservation instincts. Taking deep breaths to calm her racing heart, she was about to roll over and make an effort at getting back to sleep when she realized she couldn't move. Something heavy and warm was on her abdomen, effectively holding her in place. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she realized the impediment wasn't so much a something as a someone. Bobby. The last thing she remembered was falling asleep while he read to her from the latest Smithsonian; good for a quick passout irregardless of sedatives, in her opinion. He must have fallen asleep after she did, poor thing. She suspected his usual insomnia had probably reached unprecedented heights in the wake of her kidnapping, and she sure wasn't going to disturb him now. But of course, being Bobby, he sensed somehow that she was awake, and began to awaken himself, brow furrowed in concern.

Without really thinking about it, she placed her hand on his head and began to stroke his hair and face, the way you would a cat. She watched with interest and not a small degree of amusement as his subconscious gave in to the comfort of her touch, even while his mind worked. She smirked to herself, knowing that a fully conscious Bobby would find some excuse for falling asleep across her body, not wanting to admit that protecting and being near her were the reasons he was able to sleep at all. But he was not the only cop in this partnership with an idea or two about human nature, and she instinctively wanted to make him feel better. She had never seen him quite so off kilter as when he met her in the hospital, and she knew he was feeling guilty and grateful and completely taken out of his comfort zone. At this moment, she wasn't sure that was entirely a bad thing. He looked completely relaxed under her touch, and she found herself relaxing as well, drifting off again as her mind allowed her body to rest. Just before falling asleep she took one of his hands in her free hand and held it near her heart, knowing, somehow, that he would feel her calm and be soothed by it.

It seemed like only a moment, but when she opened her eyes again, sunlight had begun to filter in through the blinds of her hospital room window. The heavy weight still rested on her stomach, large hand still wrapped around hers, and she felt both secure and relieved. As she looked down at Bobby, she realized with a start that he was not asleep; not at all. He was looking up at her with an expression she'd seen only a few times before, when she'd anticipated his thoughts or backed him up in some unpopular theory; part gratitude, part awe, a look of I don't really deserve this that made her want to travel back in time and kick his father's ass into kingdom come. And though it was only the briefest of moments, a teeny blip on the radar, she would swear she saw tears in his eyes when she whispered, softly, "Yes, you do."

They never really talked about it, that moment, though both of them would remember it with great clarity. Perhaps they never really had a chance; not long after, the nurse came in and began making noise about visiting hours and rules, though her lecture was halfhearted at best. Before she knew it Bobby was off to work, and she was involved in an incredibly exciting (hah!) day of tests, interviews, and well-meaning but ultimately annoying visits from her family. Everyone was so concerned, so behaved, it freaked her right the hell out. Bobby, who had assigned himself the graveyard shift, which she was sure was at least in part due to his delight in breaking the rules, found her assertion that a crowd of quiet and subdued Eames's was disturbing on a cellular level rather funny, though she noticed he didn't really disagree. His nearly 6 years as her partner had taught him well; a quiet Eames was generally plotting something unpleasant. But although she was currently quieter than usual, he seemed to accept that without question, and began to talk more than he normally would except on a case, telling her silly things about his childhood, the Army, his relationships with Lewis and other friends she had met. She found this amiable small talk comforting; it kept her from dwelling on her pain and worrying about his. But still, every night, 2:34 AM rolled around, and she unerringly found herself awake, short of breath, and heart pounding. Something had changed, though. While she was still afraid and a bit panicky, his constant presence and her ability, while he was sleeping, to freely express her affection and tenderness for him, helped her to overcome the panic and return to sleep. And each morning when they awakened to the sunrise, touching each other in some way, she felt just a little more hopeful than the day before.