Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Criminal Intent, LO:SVU, Without a trace, or any other show mentioned here, but owe so many thanks to the people who created them. I'm making no money out of this whatsoever. Don't sue me, I have no money.
A/N: Thanks for your reviews! Special thanks to Comix28 whose comment after catching up blew me away. You said you felt like watching an episode… wow, and I'm just glad that I could make it work. Thanks again.
Very special thanks to Bammi1 who supported me so much with beta-reading, sharing ideas, and discussing plot and characters. Special thanks to JO who also contributed a lot to the story.
St. Vincents Hospital
For a moment he stood by the window to Goren's room, watching Eames and the big immobile detective. He knew that it was a small miracle that Goren was here. By a hair's breadth they would have lost him.
He had wanted to give his blood. Like every cop who came to visit Goren he wanted to go to the nurses first and make a sacrifice before he went to sit vigil with his colleagues, but he had been attacked and as long as he did not know more about his own state he could not give blood. Now Stabler leaned in a hardly comfortable chair, waiting for news about the Major Case detective.
Stabler could not pay attention to the conversations for long. The chatter around him faded away to background sounds. It changed to a constant drone that bore into his mind like a drill. Soon his temples began to throb and his throat corded up. He felt trapped as well as the urge to leave the increasingly suffocating room, unable to stand the presence of so many people.
So he stood up and went out to the hall. There he found a chair where he sat down and watched the busy nurses and other personnel passing by. The noise out here was different. It rose and fell like waves washing up on the shore. It was easier to blank that out.
While he kept on waiting his mind took him back on a trip down memory lane. Suddenly he found himself in the vacated warehouse, following the shadow into the darkness… and felt the bump in his back. He was thrown down, his weapon smacked out of his hands. Prone on the concrete there was nothing he could do to defend himself. Then he was pulled up and shoved around until they ended up in the cellar. Cardboard boxes. A muzzle against his head. His smell. Wetness.
He thought he would go mad.
The sound startled Stabler.
"Detective Stabler! Are you all right?"
When the detective raised his gaze he looked right into a pair of dark brown eyes
"Oh, hello, Agent Malone," he said.
"Are you all right?" Malone repeated his question and when Stabler frowned he added, "You're white as a sheet."
"It's nothing," the detective lied. "I've been working too many hours and waited for too long on this uncomfortable chair."
Malone eyed him sceptically. He would not have become leader of one of the best units of the New York FBI field office if he was stupid. Jack Malone knew how to read people and he knew that Stabler was anything but okay.
"C'mon, I'll buy you a coffee," Malone suggested.
"Already had too much. Thank you," Stabler declined the offer.
"We could go for a short walk," Malone tried again. "Get some fresh air."
"Sounds good, but I don't want to leave."
"So that you won't miss any news?" Malone guessed.
The FBI agent nodded. "How's Goren doing?"
"He's out of emergency surgery," Stabler told him. "Everyone's waiting for him to wake up."
"So I take it he's stable?"
"Yes. As much as I heard he'll need surgery again, but we'll have to see."
Once more agent Malone nodded.
"What about you?" the special agent wanted to know.
"What about me?" Stabler asked back irritably.
"I know that you usually work with SVU, but still… it's a difficult case."
"I manage," Stabler grumbled. No way in hell would he mention his own involvement in the case to the FBI agent. Though I guess that he knows about it. I bet they have our files. He suppressed a bitter chuckle. Something John could go on about for hours. "I assume that you don't have to deal with cases like that regularly either."
"No, we don't."
Before Malone had any chance to say more Stabler excused himself and pushed past him, approaching a woman coming down the hall.
"Elliot," Carolyn Barek greeted him. "How's Bobby? Did you hear anything?"
"He came through surgery all right," Stabler told her. "The next forty-eight hours, though, will be touch and go."
She nodded. "I guessed that much," Barek sighed. "Where's Alex? How's she doing?"
"She's all right. She's sitting with Goren." After a moment's thought he asked, "How's Logan doing?"
"Right now he's stable," she said. "At first it looked good, but then, being Mike Logan, he had to make trouble again. He's giving the staff a hard time… and he's not even conscious."
Despite the gravity of the situation Stabler had to chuckle.
"Yeah, that sounds like the Logan I know," he said.
That elicited a smile from Barek that grew when her gaze went past Stabler. "Alex!"
"Hello, Carolyn," Eames replied, sinking into her colleague's embrace. "I need a coffee," she groaned and stretched. "I'm already sore."
"No change yet. Darcy is with him now."
"That's good. We could go to the cafeteria for a coffee," Barek suggested. "Do you want to come, too, Elliot?"
Seeing no point in sitting alone in the hall when he could also go with the female detectives Stabler nodded. Together they went down the hall and to the elevator that would take them downstairs to the cafeteria.
The mushrooms with the long heads had dissolved to a white drizzle of spores and rained down on everything, covering his body with a sticky film. He tried to get up but it was difficult so he sank back down. When he raised an arm it drew threads like those of chewing gum up from the ground. The sticky stuff glued everything together, keeping him down.
Desperately he attempted to roll aside, but the substance toughened, making it more and more difficult to move at all. He felt it tear on his skin as it hardened, immobilizing him completely.
All he could do now was stare at the darkness around him that only slowly subsided. There was a red light to his left and he focused on it entirely. It grew. Then he realized that it did not grow but that it came closer. Close enough for him to notice that it was no light at all but the red pupil of an eye. The iris was of a deeper red, crossed by fine dark lines. It hovered over him. A tear formed in its corner and a giant drop of blood splashed down on him. It cried harder, completely dissolving in blood, raining down on him.
He screamed but no sound could be heard.
The tension of his body, though, broke the hardened substance, its pieces shooting in all directions like shrapnel. The darkness shattered. Walls closed in on him, red eyes staring down at him from under the ceiling. Blood trickled down the bricks everywhere, pooling on the ground. More and more blood ran down the walls. The level rose and he sat up, panicked. Blood splashed up when his hand broke the surface.
It did not matter how loud he screamed. Nothing could be heard.
Higher and higher rose the red tide, washing against his hips now.
The blood bubbled.
The eyes stared.
A voice called out for him that he did not recognize.
Now he had to tread blood.
The red liquid did not boil. There was something moving in it.
Suddenly they shot toward him.
He screamed, feeling the snakes bore into him. One dove into his mouth. He choked. It suffocated him.
St. Vincents Hospital
"Oh, my God! What's wrong? What's happening to him? Bobby!"
Stabler wrapped his arms around Eames' slender form. They just came back from the cafeteria when they met an excited Darcy in the hall. Nurses and doctors rushed past them, vanishing into Goren's room.
"Easy, Alex," Stabler whispered in her ear. "C'mon, let's sit down."
"But Bobby… "
"He's taken good care of, Alex," he reassured her. "C'mon."
He guided her over to a seat and shoved her down. Reluctantly she let go of his arm. Kneading her hands she sat stiffly on the chair and waited. Fortunately she did not have to wait for long until the staff members left Goren's room.
Jumping up she stormed toward the first doctor she spotted, "What happened? How is he? Is he okay?"
"Mr. Goren went into respiratory arrest," the doctor told her. "We had to put him on a ventilator."
"Oh, my God!" Tears threatened in her eyes, burning. "What does that mean for his recovery?"
"Well, it's a setback, but we don't expect lasting damage by it."
"He's still unconscious, right?" Eames wanted to know.
"And his chances of regaining consciousness changed for the worse, I assume." She had to fight to keep her voice from shaking.
"Not necessarily," the doctor said. "It's possible that he could wake up in the next minutes or in a few days. There's no way to tell."
Or not at all, Eames thought. Inwardly she shuddered. She had been relieved to see him alive when Kirkpatrick had abducted her. Goren was not in a good state, but he was alive. Then they were found and flown to the hospital. He came through surgery and the prognosis was not that bad. And now he'll probably die. He made it through all of that only to die in a hospital bed?
"I want to see him," she declared.
Lying on the bottom of a deep brick well shaft he stared up at the blinding light shining down on him. He was well and truly petrified, his body rigid like a rock. The ground beneath him was soft and his body surrounded by squirming snakes. His mouth was opened to a soundless scream, snakes continuously slithering into his oral cavity and down his throat. How they could enter endlessly he did not know, though. It was a miracle in itself and he refused to think too much about it. Eyes were mounted on the bricks, staring down at him with cruel red coldness. Out of the grooves between the stones ran blood down the wall. It certainly pooled under the snakes, but he could not feel it.
With his mouth filled he could not speak. He was either blinded by white light or enveloped by darkness when he closed his eyes. All he could feel were the snakes winding around him.
He could hear.
There was a heavenly melody that he could not really place. Where it came from he could not tell. And yet it was painfully familiar.
It soothed his impending panic that threatened to overwhelm him. The weight of the snakes around and inside his body might have suffocated him if it was not for that sound. He clung to it like a drowning man to a straw.
What made him most curious was that certain tones were repeated every now and then. Whatever the source of the sounds was, it became a reliable presence in this horrible place. Over time it became clearer and sometimes he even thought he could identify words. Still he could not be sure.
Suddenly the melody was gone.
Why would it leave him? He did not understand it. Just when he thought that he found some kind of a guiding star it was gone.
He closed his eyes and the darkness coming over him soon spread through his whole being. Fear enveloped him. Never before had he felt so desperately alone.
Lost so completely in the dark he almost missed the return of the melody. It was slightly louder this time. Its intensity increased and it became more and more urgent.
What was that? Did he hear right? A word woven into the sweet melody?
No, he was not mistaken. The music called out for him.
It drew him forwards, upwards, out of the snake pit. Still he felt suffocated. The walls, though, did not feel so oppressive anymore. At some point he was above the staring eyes and he could barely see the rim of the shaft. The light grew so intense that he could not stand it anymore and closed his eyes again.
It was so clear that he thought it would ring inside his head, but that could not be. Could it?
There was more of it, but he could not understand it. His body did not feel weightless anymore. He did not drift any longer. Instead he was drawn to that white light and then suddenly smells assaulted his nose. With the scents came more sounds. They hurt his mind. He wanted to escape but could not move. He still found himself immobilized, not by the bodies of the snakes but by his own weight. His limbs did not feel as if they belonged to him, his muscles not obeying his wishes.
Blinking he tried to see through the blinding light above him. Once more the melody was gone, but in its stead he heard a female voice call a name. His name, he realized.
"Bobby! You're awake!"
Who was this?
"Oh, my God. Bobby."
And suddenly it hit him.
"Alex!" he called out for Eames. Or at least he thought he did, but no sound left his mouth. Something was stuck in it, was forced down his throat. Air being pressed into his lungs made him panic and his muscles contracted.
"Easy, Bobby," Eames said. "Don't fight it. You're on a ventilator."
She let out a relieved laugh and it filled him with delight to hear her voice. He wanted to respond to her, but it was impossible.
"Shhh, Bobby. I'm here. Now everything's going to be all right."
Now he could see her face hovering over him. He felt her hand take his own. It was the only thing he could do.
He squeezed her hand in an effort to reassure her.
St. Vincents Hospital
After he first woke up Goren more or less drifted through the next days in a drug induced haze, finding Eames by his side whenever he woke from his haunted sleep. The ventilator had been removed on his second day awake but he still could not talk because his throat was so sore. His voice just would not form.
He could hardly stand the silence. Surprisingly enough Eames did the talking. Goren did not think that he had ever heard her talk that much. When he scowled at her she would ask him if she should stop and he would blink once to confirm it.
By now he found his voice again, but he would not use it much because he still was sore. He was content listening to Eames, or Darcy for that matter. The two women switched places. Whenever Eames could not be there for him Darcy would stay and the other way round.
Sometimes Deakins stopped by. Stabler and Benson had been visiting as well as a few other colleagues. But besides Eames and Darcy, Lewis had been the first who came to see him. His childhood friend had not been able to attend the vigil neither regularly nor long, but as soon as he got word that Goren was awake he had been at his bedside.
On the weekend Lewis would stay longer and he also tried to come during the week. It was a big comfort for Goren to have him by his side. Eames also was a great help, together with Darcy. Eames' parents also belonged to the people who came regularly.
Goren found himself surrounded by a growing support group. He did not know how he earned himself so much compassion and love and he doubted that he deserved it. At times he appreciated the help. At other times he loathed the condition he was in and any contact at all.
The days in hospital all melted together, interrupted only by two more surgeries, but otherwise being constantly painful and boring. Time healed his wounds and he grew stronger with every day.
At least physically.
The more he recovered the more apparent his mental instability became. He was haunted by nightmares. Flashbacks disturbed his days. The memories just would not leave him alone. He had always been a good actor, though, and so no one noticed that he hid his despair and depression.
Physiotherapy started and he began to see a psychiatrist. His recovery went on well.
Of course he learned that his abductor had survived the stab wound and even the crash with his car. He knew that Cockrill was in a coma. He knew that there would be no trial as long as he was in that condition.
Soon the day would come when Goren would be able to leave the hospital and he just knew that that would be when Eames had to start to work again. She had always been there for him. The one constant he always could rely on.
The one who loved him.
Goren loved her.
The day when he was released from hospital she was there to bring him home.
Major Case Squad
One Police Plaza
Something like routine settled back over the squad. Eames and Barek were back at work, each with a temporary partner, and everything went back to business as usual.
No one could really get used to Goren not being in the office. Even though his antics often amused and irritated the other detectives, they missed his efficiency and brilliance.
And Eames missed him entirely. Her temporary partner was great, too, but he was not Goren and sometimes it was hard to put up with him.
Deakins, who got used to Goren over the years, found it hard occasionally to handle his replacement. Sometimes he wondered how Donald Cragen could keep Stabler in line. Detective Buckwalter was doing well with Barek, though.
"So what have you got, Mac?" Deakins asked Detective Taylor who came to him with a report.
"Our suspicion was confirmed. Mr. Cockrill was poisoned. Even though Dr. Rodgers could not determine it as the cause of death we found succhinylcholine in the tube of Cockrill's IV."
"So he was murdered," Deakins mused.
"And I think I know who killed him." Deakins eyed Taylor intently. The detective held the file and a tape in his hands. "What else did you find?"
"Security footage. There is no proof of Miss Wallace's presence at the hospital. If she was there she got to Cockrill unnoticed."
"Anything else linking her with the murder?"
"Sorry, but so far we couldn't find anything else proving that she is responsible for Cockrill's death."
"I see." Deakins nodded thoughtfully. "Thank you, Detective Taylor."
"I'll send you the report for the Tanner case this afternoon."
Taylor nodded a goodbye and left Deakins's office, leaving the captain brooding.
Of course Deakins hated the thought of Nicole Wallace getting off a murder charge again, but he found that he did not feel anything for Cockrill. The man had killed many people and was responsible for putting one of New York's best detectives through hell and into hospital. Goren had a long road of recovery ahead and was likely to go through hell again.
And for once Deakins did not mind that Nicole got away after taking revenge for Bobby Goren.
A/N: Okay, folks, that's it. I'm done for now. I know you probably want more. I'm thinking about a sequel, but it probably won't be what you expect. If you want a story about Bobby recovering I can recommend blucougar57's Blind Trust. For Elliot-recovery read Future Mrs Stabler's Trip Wire.
Thanks to all of you for reading and reviewing. You were a lot of fun, your comments enlightening sometimes. Thanks a lot. RoadrunnerGER