Disclaimer: I do not own these characters in any way. Simply borrowing them for my own enjoyment.
This is set after "Frame" (which will not get out of my head). I hope the Pong analogy is not too over the top.
"I'm curious now. Who are you going to miss more..."
My foggy brain heard him say those words.
"Who are you going to miss more? Nicole or Frank?"
I had to fight to stay in my seat and remain calm enough to get the rest of the story out of him. This was Declan Gage, after all. The master profiler, my mentor. The person who perhaps knew me best and could read my body language at a hundred paces. I had to do my job and find out if there were any more victims. I had to get the confession.
I stayed on autopilot and managed to not vomit when he placed his dirty, sickly sweet smelling hands on my face and told me he had orchestrated and then played out this monstrous scenario for me. To benefit me.
When Capt. Ross finally intervened and Gage was moved to a holding cell, I bolted from the room as soon as I was sure my legs would hold me. I didn't care who saw me. The whole of the NYPD would soon know all the intimate details of my rapidly dissolving private life anyway.
I made it into the men's room just in time to discharge the contents of my stomach. Afterwards, I stood sweating, panting, too exhausted to do anything but lean against the cool, metal walls of the stall.
"Who are you going to miss more? Nicole or Frank?"
The question keep pinging off the walls of my skull. Over and over, like a mad game of Pong.
"Who are you going to miss more? Nicole?" BLEEP, bank to the right.
"Who are you going to miss more? Frank?" BLOOP, bank to the left.
I heard the outside door open. I knew who it was before she said my name.
"Bobby. Are you all right?" my partner said.
God, I was glad the stall door was closed. I am not sure I could look in her face and not lose it all over again. Was I all right? No, but I didn't have the energy for a conversation at the moment about how not right I was.
"Yeah," I finally said, and then added, "You're in the men's room Eames."
"Who are you going to miss more? Nicole?" BLEEP, to the right.
"Who are you going to miss more? Frank?" BLOOP, to the left.
"So what? Are you coming out or do I have to crawl under the stall to come get you."
"Please. Alex, I just need..." I wasn't sure how to end that sentence. What didn't I need at that moment. A life? Sanity? Simple normalcy?
"Who are you going to miss more? Nicole?" BLEEP.
"Who are you going to miss more? Frank?" BLOOP.
"Bobby!" she growled. She was using that tone again. The one that had become all too familiar to me lately. It reminded me of the growl a leopard makes right before it turns a small prey animal into supper.
I couldn't answer her. The noises in my head were getting so loud I could barely hear her.
In a few seconds I faintly heard the stall door lock rattle and what sounded like Alex's voice, but I couldn't quite make out what she trying to say.
Suddenly my knees buckled and my body tumbled forward. I felt my face smack against something hard and cold. Mercifully, for the first time in that whole miserable day, there was no pain as the world around me faded to black.
I watched him bolt for the men's room. I even followed him there, but couldn't say a word. I watched him go in and I settled for leaning against the outside wall by the door. What do you say to someone when their surrogate Dad figure murders their brother and their, well, whatever Nicole Wallace was to Bobby?
I shuddered at the memory of the words Gage had said to him just minutes before. "I'm curious now Bobby. Who are you going to miss more, Nicole or Frank?"
If I had ever felt like killing someone with my bare hands, that had been the moment.It had taken every bit of self-control and training that I could muster to keep me out of that interrogation room and away from Declan Gage. For the first time I honestly understood why we sometimes had to pull suspects off of one another around that very table.
I waited outside the men's room for about 2 minutes, then pushed open the door. I saw the heels of Bobby's shoes when I peeked under the stall and guessed what he had been doing. To be honest I felt like throwing up myself.
I tried to get him to talk or to come out, but instead the big lummox passes out on me. I hear the sickening thud that I assume is his head striking porcelain.
I dart out in the hall and yell for someone to call a bus. I rush back in the bathroom and slide under the door. It's a tight fit, but I get the door unlocked and pull him out by his legs onto the cold tiled floor.
He is unconscious, but breathing. His cheekbone is bleeding and his face is deathly pale. I am sure he is going into shock. I wait for what seems like hours for the paramedics to arrive. Cops stream in and out of the men's room while I kneel on the floor behind him and stabilize his neck the way I had been taught in First Aid classes all these years, just in case he has an injury I can't see. I feel as self-conscious doing it for real as I had always felt in practice. But mostly, I just feel scared.
Finally, help arrives. They take his vitals and strap him to a gurney for transport. I don't want to leave him. I have left him alone with his problems enough lately. Sometimes I didn't have a choice in that, but sometimes I did. I won't make the wrong choice today.
I am looking down at him from my position beside his inert form, scrutinizing his face, when I see his eyes flutter open.
Who are you going to miss more?
Nicole...In Declan's twisted view of things it would be you. After all, he's thrown away most of his adult life and his credibility as a profiler to chase after his own "white whale". Nobody has ever understood what I felt for you. It certainly wasn't love. You touched a place in me that is so hidden even I was unsure it existed. I had a gut reaction to your abuse as a young girl. The women, no-the cold blooded murderer you became, held no appeal for me other than for stopping you once and for all. There is nothing about you that I could ever miss.
Frank... I let you, and Mom, down. I will never be sorry enough that my job, the way I chose to live my life, in any way led to your death. But even now, I can't deny the sad truth that I have been grieving the loss of you from my life for years. My sweet big brother died years ago, replaced by a gambling, narcissistic junkie that I didn't recognize and couldn't understand.
The Pong game stops. The noise clears from my head.
Alex. That is who I will always miss the most.
Even when she growls at me, even when we stand toe to toe in a heated disagreement, even in the face of our current inability to communicate like the good partners we used to be. No one has meant more to me than she has. As a partner, as a friend and as the women who had my heart from the first shy smile she gave me on the day we met 8 years ago.
I never shared my true feelings for her with Declan or anyone else, for that matter. I was even more guarded after Jo happened. I knew it was not safe. I always knew, deep down, hiding my love for her would protect her from me and the craziness that has always surrounded me.
It's been difficult sometimes. The worse my family circumstances got, the more tempted I was to seek solace in her. Tates, my suspension, my Mom's death, they all pushed me towards her but I fought it with every shred of resolve I could muster. Maybe even to the point that Alex can't look me in the face anymore without her anger seeping out with every word she is forced to say to me.
Nonetheless, I had to do it. I had to push her away. I had to speak harshly to her kind words of comfort. I had tell her to back off when I all I really wanted was to pull her close. If I hadn't, would it be Alex in the morgue? Would it be her Father deciding what to do with her remains instead of me making arrangements for Frank's?
I will miss what I can never allow to be. A future together, with love and children and mutual understanding. I love her too much to risk her safety any more than I already have.
I slowly open my eyes and see Alex looking at me anxiously.
"I told you to open the damn door," she says in a half gruff, half gentle voice. Not like the leopard this time, sort of like the voice she used to use when she wasn't so angry with me all the time.
She lays her hand gently on my shoulder and gives me a weary smile.
"Sorry Eames," I say, returning her smile briefly before my eyes drop back closed.
Yep, she's the one I am always going to miss the most.