10:18 AM

"Niiiiiiice." Beth drawled with a grin, admiring the ring Alex hadn't been able to take her eyes off for days. "Did he pick it out himself? I'm impressed."

Alex laughed, "Well, according to him, he had help from a very sweet salesperson named Ana, and me, apparently, but he knew it was right when he saw it, so you can still be impressed."

"Help from you? Didn't you say the ring was a surprise?"

"That's the funny part. According to Bobby, he heard my voice telling him what to do, like an internal ass-whooper."

Beth laughed, "Well, that's different. Not that you'd expect anything else from Bobby – he is definitely unique."

"That he is," Alex smiled, "but it gets better. We were interrogating a suspect the other day, and without consciously thinking about it, I walked over to the guy, and leaned over sideways," she hopped up and demonstrated, "to look into his eyes. That is a classic Goren maneuver. Scared the shit out of myself."

Beth asked, "What did Goren himself do?"

"After putting his eyes back in his head? He got all macho proud, like, see, I've made her into a mini-me."

"Oh, boy. You must have loved that."

Alex snorted. "Yeah, I was thrilled, but about 10 minutes later, he apologized, so I suspect his inner me must have given him a talking-to. It's very convenient, actually. All the results without having to do any of the bitching."

"Did your Goren maneuver work on the suspect?"

Alex answered with a laugh, "Not really, no. I think it's less effective when you only have to bend over, like, six inches, plus Bobby and I laughing didn't help matters any. We got the guy," she said with pride, "but we had to work harder to do it, so I'm not planning any repeat performances."

Smiling, Beth asked, "And how are things otherwise? Is the tension better since you spoke to Captain Ross?"

"Much better. We're actually communicating without speaking again; I really think getting over that hurdle deepened our connection at work. And as long as our work doesn't suffer, Ross says our partnership is in no danger."

"That's good news; I assume Bobby is relieved?"

"Immensely. He also feels my little outburst in Ross' office put any crush situation out to pasture, so he's feeling very secure right now. And a secure Bobby is…"

"What?" Beth prodded.

"I don't know how to explain it. He's still him, but more so, almost. Like he trusts that he'll be understood. It makes me very happy to see him like this."

Gently, Beth said, "You realize there will be days when you don't understand him and he doesn't feel secure, don't you?"

A bit deflated, Alex nodded.

Correctly interpreting Alex' silence as inner defiance, Beth continued, "Alex, I'm not trying to minimize how happy you make Bobby; I've seen it for myself. But you need to know that you can't always rescue him, just like you can't go back in time to prevent that other Alex from picking on him. You can't make yourself responsible if he has a bad day. You're his partner, and you're going to be his wife, but don't appoint yourself his savior."

Alex nodded, taking this all in. "I don't think I'm his savior any more than he's mine. We-we hold each other up; our strengths and weaknesses work well together. We save each other; does that make sense?"

"It does," Beth smiled, "and it sounds like an excellent foundation for a long and happy marriage."

"I think so, too," Alex agreed with a grin.

"So how are your nightmares?"

"The nightmares are…better. I still wake up sometimes, and I still get the adrenaline rush, but I calm down a lot faster now. It may have something to do with the giant teddy bear I sleep with; I'm just guessing though."

Grinning, Beth said. "That's great news, Alex, and if it's big teddy bear-related, more power to him. Have you decided yet about what to do with your house?"

Absently brushing a stray hair behind her ear, Alex said, "Yeah, I'm going to sell it to my brother DJ. He wants to buy a place, and I don't really want to move back there, and Bobby doesn't want to live there either, so it worked out. DJ will take good care of the place, and he can afford my family discount, so…"

"So where are you going to live?" Beth asked.

"We're going to live at Bobby's while we look for a bigger place. He claims my futon has broken his back, but he's really quite fond of it; I may have to bring it over to his place, if only for sentimental value."

Beth laughed, "I'm imposing a don't ask, don't tell policy on that, my friend. And I really hate to say it, but we're almost out of time. I know this is your last required session, Alex, but I want you to call me if you have any setbacks, or if you just need to talk, okay?"

Alex smiled. "Thank you. I may take you up on that." Shyly she said, "And thank you for everything; I know I haven't been the most cooperative patient, but you've really helped me, and I do appreciate it." She stepped forward and hugged Beth warmly.

Returning the embrace, Beth said, "Well, I hope to be invited to the wedding!"

Stepping back, Alex smirked, "Nope, sorry. We've decided it will just be the two of us for that, but my family's going to throw us a monster party afterward, and you'd better be there."

Curious, Beth asked, "Why just the two of you?"

Alex smiled softly. "That's the way it started – just the two of us. We kind of want to make the actual ceremony about that, you know?"

Beth nodded. "I get it. Good luck to you, Alex, and I'll look forward to that party." Walking out, Alex blew her a kiss and winked. Beth grinned, then walked over to the window. Bobby was outside, but not pacing this time, just leaning up against their car, waiting patiently. Beth watched as his eyes lit up and he smiled broadly when Alex appeared, walking up to him and leaning up for a kiss. He put his arms around her and looked up, noticing Beth in the window. He held up a hand in a wave, and he, too, winked.

Beth smiled at him, then headed over to her desk. Picking up the file that said Eames, Detective Alexandra, she wrote under her notes, "Case Closed."

A funny thought occurred to her. I wonder what the hell he's going to call her if she changes her name. She chuckled to herself, then settled back to await the arrival of her next patient.


2:34 AM

Two pairs of eyes flew open; one set brown, the other hazel. For a moment, they just stared at each other, but then a smile came over both their faces.

"C'mon, honey, let's go back to sleep. We've got a long day at work tomorrow."

And holding each other close, they went back to a peaceful sleep together.

A/N – Well, that's all she wrote, literally. Get it? I crack myself up. Merry and Happy whatever you celebrate, and my endless thanks to those of you who've stuck this story out with me, praised me most undeservedly, and helped me find my errors and correct them. You guys are the bomb. Now go be all holiday-spirity!