Disclaimer: I do not own these characters in any way. Simply borrowing them for my own pleasure.
A big "thank you" to InfinityStar, who was kind enough to beta this story for me – your help was absolutely invaluable.
This is my attempt at Alex's POV of the events of "Frame", particularly the interrogation of Declan Gage and its aftermath on poor Bobby.
Behind the glass
I toss a final cryptic remark at Declan Gage and flash a glance at Bobby before walking out of the room to take my place just behind the two- way mirror. My part of the scenario is finished, for now.
I have stood here, behind this two- way glass in the back of the interrogation room of Major Case, more times than I care to remember over the years we have been partnered, watching Bobby's solo portion of an interrogation, watching him get into the suspect's head and play a mental game of chicken.
I took me a long time to get used to how he could change right in front of my eyes, reconcile how he could side with pure evil or complete madness, then walk out of the room and turn back into the gentle and kind man I knew so well. It used to seem like magic. The process looked seamless, if you didn't look too close. The problem is, I have looked too close.
I know he goes too far sometimes. I have seen the subtle, cumulative damage his psyche has incurred by sidling up to psychopaths, serial killers, child murders and terrorists. I have watched him sober and bend under all the mental stress. He is a different man these days. The happy-go-lucky attitude is long gone. His eyes seldom sparkle, even on the rare occasions he does smile. Dead bodies don't even light his fire any more. He still sniffs and prods them, but the wonderment is gone. He reports what he finds in a weary, detached way.
I worry about him, but I am angry at him too. He takes unnecessary risks with his own safety. He has been walking the wrong side of the fine line between impertinence and insubordination with Capt. Ross, and he knows it. He puts too much of himself out there, even when he doesn't need to.
What did he tell me once was the first rule of good profiling? Don't lose your objectivity. This isn't personal. But what happens when it is personal.
Like today, the day that his mentor is confessing to his part in the murder of Bobby's only sibling, Frank.
Sometimes I am the one on the other side of this glass and it's Bobby standing in this quiet room watching the interrogation. I would give anything if our roles were reversed today and I could spare him this torment.
I was vehemently opposed to Bobby being within 100 feet of Gage, let alone having him be the one to get the gory details, but Bobby convinced Captain Ross it had to be this way. He believed that Gage needed to tell him what he did. He also was sure Declan would be unwilling to be honest with anyone but him.
Right or not, I still feel it is the wrong call. Bobby has been hurt enough. No one person should have to be submitted to so much pain. Nonetheless, here I stand, doing my job, hating my job more today than I think I ever have.
The dance begins.
I watch him focus himself and push his own pain away so he can slip silently into Dec's "world".
I swear that just for an instant I can see the child he was, scarred by years of emotional and physical abuse, when he answers Declan's question and admits in a near whisper that he has blamed himself when the people in his life have let him down.
I watch him sob ever so briefly when Gage gleefully admits he found Nicole just so she would kill Frank, so he could give "the son he never had" a puzzle to play with. Then Bobby pulls it back and demand to know if there were others, like Donny.
I know some of this is part of the con, the psychological trap he is so skilled at setting. But what if this is the one? The last dip into another's subconscious mind that finally demands too much of him, that tears such a big piece of his soul out of his body that when he tries to disengage he can never truly let go?
I feel dirty and sick to my stomach.
I have unknowingly inched closer and closer to the glass, transfixed by the horror unfolding in front of me, until I am nearly pressed against it, as though Bobby would somehow feel my warmth and be comforted by knowing that the whole world hasn't gone nuts and turned on him.
"There's nothing you can do Eames," Ross says quietly from the far corner of the room. "Neither one of us would have ever gotten a straight word from Gage's mouth. It had to be Goren."
"I know," I say, keeping my voice even, careful not to turn around. The tears in my eyes belong to me and I don't feel like sharing.
I have to just stand here behind this glass and watch my partner implode.
Hours later, when it's finally over, Gage is in a holding cell and what was left of Bobby's personal life lies in tatters at his feet. I don't believe I will ever forget the look of utter desolation on his face when he is finally alone in that room.
He's "free", my ass.
He didn't want me to drive him home or walk him into his apartment or spend the night on his couch, but I wouldn't take no for an answer. I have used his protestations as an out for too long; I won't let him push me away tonight.
He practically staggers with exhaustion as I guide him to his bedroom and lead him toward his bed. He sits down on the edge and just...stares. Doesn't move, doesn't speak. He won't look me in the eyes. And I don't ask him to.
I ease off his jacket and tie, remove his belt and shoes and unbutton the top three buttons of his shirt. I can't bring myself to strip him of any more of his dignity today, so I leave the rest of his clothes on. I gently push on his shoulders until he lays back on the pillow. He closes his eyes and turns on his side as I cover him with a blanket. I want to stroke his hair or drop a light kiss on his cheek, but something I can't identify holds me back. I whisper goodnight to him and head for his living room to make what I am sure will be a fruitless attempt at sleep. As my hand closes around the knob of the door I hear him speak the only word he has uttered since he left the interrogation room.
I turn around and walk back over to his side of the bed and crouch down in front of him, looking intently into his face. His eyes are open now, blood shot and puffy. "Do you need something Bobby," I ask, trying to keep my voice steady, and failing miserably.
"You," his said, his voice quavering with pent up emotion. "I need you, Alex."
I know instinctively, in my gut, what those words have cost him, what a leap of trust he just made. I feel the anger I have been carrying on my back for months begin to dissolve and melt away.
I crawl into Bobby's bed, and hold him to me as tightly as I dare. I feel him begin to shake as sobs rack his body. I feel his tears mingle with my own as his pain and grief flow out of him and into me. I whisper soothing words quietly into his ear and stoke his hair and softly rub his back, patting him like I would my nephew after a bad dream.
After what seems like years, he finally calms and becomes still.
I relax against him, waiting until I feel his breathing soften and become regular, before I allow myself to drop off to sleep in the arms of my partner.
Nothing has really changed. The horror of the days events will still be there in the morning, but at least we can face it together. He doesn't have to go it alone anymore.
I like this side of the glass so much better.