Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters in any way. Simply borrowing them for my own pleasure.

I did not use a beta reader, so all mistakes are my own.

This takes place after "Frame". Declan Gage has recanted his confession and would like to have another run at Bobby, but instead the FBI is called in. X-over with "Criminal Minds", but the story is really all about our Bobby and what Declan's motives really were.

Characters' thoughts are in italics

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive. - Sir Walter Scott

3:54 pm, Quantico Virginia. FBI Agent Jennifer Jareau, the Community Liaison Officer for the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) was sitting in her office intently studying a fax she had just received from the New York Police Department. J.J., as she was affectionately known, was the gatekeeper for the elite team of profilers. All potential cases for the unit came to her first. She would review the facts, consider the motivation for the request, weigh out if their involvement would be a help or a hindrance, and ultimately decide if the case should be presented to the rest of the team for consideration. Based only on the phone call she had just received, she had been prepared to take a pass on this case, but something she read in the file that accompanied it quickly changed her mind..

J.J. paused in the door way of her boss' office. Senior Special Agent Aaron Hotchner was talking on the phone. She waited patiently until he he hung up and then motioned her in. "Hotch, I got a very unusual request from the NYPD 20 minutes ago. I was going to turn them down, but the Police Commissioner was very persuasive and practically begged me to at least read the case file." She held out the small sheath of papers. "I think you need to see this."

Agent Hotchner accepted the file from his her and began flipping through the pages. J.J. watched the surprise slowly spread across his even features.

"You did the right thing," he said finally, dragging his eyes up from the report. " I'll take it from here. Thank you for bringing it to my attention."

"You're welcome sir." As the blond woman prepared to leave, Hotch made one last request.

"Could you ask Reid to step in here please, and J.J., this stays between us for now."

Hotch was already gathering his things for the trip to New York, when Spenser Reid entered his office.

"Spence we are leaving within the hour for New York City. Do you need to go home to get your ready bag?"

"Uh, no. I have it here." The young man shot his boss a quizzical look. "Is the whole team going?"

"No. We are handling it ourselves for now. I'll brief you on the way, but I do want to ask you one question. Does the name Declan Gage mean anything to you?"

LOCILOCILOCILOCILOCILOCILOCI

It was 6:15 pm and Danny Ross, Captain of the NYPD's Major Case Squad , was neatening up his desk before he called it a day. As he was walking toward the door, and freedom, his cell phone rang. He look at the screen and saw "Chief of D's" blinking on the caller ID.

Damn, he muttered under his breath, as he returned to his desk , sat back down in his chair and hit the answer key on the phone. "Hello Boss," he said, in the most enthusiastic voice he could muster.

"Ross," the Chief growled. "If I had only wondered in the past if Detective Goren was a royal pain in my ass, now I've had it confirmed."

"What's up?" Ross queried, refraining from adding "now".

"The squirrel that had his brother killed, Gage, has recanted his confession. He claims that he was unfairly manipulated by Goren, was denied his right to counsel AND he's hinting at more bodies. "

"Chief. You know none of that can be true. If anybody was being manipulated during that confession, it was Detective Goren. We took every precaution, including having an ADA in the observation area and videotaping the whole interview. We have him on record refusing counsel and denying any more victims."

"I read the report Ross. Everything seems in order, but when it comes to the Whac...

"Chief," Ross broke in, before the man could finish his pet name for the beleaguered Detective. He couldn't stop the Chief from slandering Goren, but he wasn't prepared to listen to it either. "What does this mean to the case?"

"It means a jury trial, with full media hoopla , if a confession can't be obtained. The department does not need another black eye."

"Are you proposing that Goren take another shot at Gage?"

"NO!" the Chief spat out, accompanied by a mirthless chuckle. "The Commissioner has called in the FBI."

"What can the FBI do that we can't."

"This case is now being classified as a serial killing and the FBI is sending up two agents from their Behavioral Analysis Unit."

"Boss, Goren is every bit the profiler that..."

"I would be careful who I attach my loyalties to Danny. No, this is a done deal. Make sure Eames and her partner are available to the FBI upon their arrival tomorrow."

"Has Detective Goren been informed that the confession has been recanted?"

"Not to my knowledge."

Ross took a deep breath. "Chief, as the brother of the victim, surely he has the right to..."

The Chief of Detectives cut him off. "In my book, he is a cop first and needs to do the job handed to him. So do you. I will be escorting the Agents to 1PP personally. Do us all a favor and keep Goren on a short leash," and with that the line went dead.

LOCILOCILOCILOCILOCILOCILOCI

The next morning Detectives Alex Eames and Bobby Goren were sitting at their respective desks, open files and coffee cups littering the surfaces. Alex was finalizing a statement on the murder case they just closed and Bobby was pecking away at his laptop's keyboard, researching, well...something. With him you never knew. He could be Goggling a suspect's name or looking up the exact kind of fly that rode on the back of a Tanzanian Zebra. Alex had stopped wondering long ago why he needed to know those kinds of things. Earlier in their partnership she might have found it endearing, may even have walked over to him and leaned over his shoulder to read what he was looking up. Those days were gone. She stayed in her seat and kept writing, though she couldn't completely tamp down the quiet sadness that seeped into her heart.

It had been about 6 weeks since Declan Gage had effectively wiped out what little of Bobby's family had remained. Bobby had returned to work after only one week of personal leave and the strain of the tragedy still showed on his face, if not in his ability to do good police work. The two Detectives were managing to function as efficient partners again, but the easy camaraderie they had once effortlessly shared was gone. The personal trust they had spent years building between them was withered and brittle. Bobby had his walls of protection built up around himself about 3 feet thick, had added a moat and posted a guard and Alex just felt too tired to try to breach his barriers in more than a halfhearted way. They both spent every day ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room that was their lost friendship.

Bobby looked up as two men walked by his desk, chaperoned by the Chief of Detectives. The three men paused for a moment at the threshold to Captain Ross' office, then entered the room, closing the door behind them.

Alex glanced over at Bobby and noted he was suddenly tense, his fingers frozen on the keysboard. She returned her gaze to the notes in front of her before speaking. "What do you think that's about Bobby?"

"My guess is FBI."

She looked up at him. "You suddenly on the Most Wanted List and forgot to mention it over coffee this morning," she quipped hoping she was keeping her tone light.

"Not the last time I checked," he answered in a flat voice, shutting her down, again.

Alex mentally kicked herself for not keeping a better reign on her tongue. Damn, she thought to herself, the eggshells sure are fragile today. Then suddenly she put it together – FBI, their squad room, Chief of D's. Oh Crap. "Gage?" "

"Seems likely," he answered in a tight voice. He started typing again, but not before Alex saw the pain flicker across his face.

"Dear God," Alex thought. "Not again. How much more can he take?" Not for the first time, she wished that Declan had made himself the third victim that day. She wished that she had something to say to her partner that would make it all better, but could find no words.

They continued to work in silence.

Fifteen long minutes later, the Chief of D's was history and Ross poked his head out and summoned them both to his office. Alex waited until he stood, gathered his notebook and began to walk before she followed Bobby into the room. He gave no outward appearance of distress, but Alex, who once thought she knew her big partner better than she knew herself, could almost feel the waves of panic emanating from his body.

"Close the door Eames," Ross ordered as soon as she passed the threshold. She did, then turned and looked from Ross to the two men and then at Bobby.

"Detectives Alex Eames and Robert Goren" Ross began. "This is Senior Special Agent Aaron Hotchner and Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid of the FBI's Behavorial Analysis Unit."

Handshakes were exchanged and Ross asked everyone to have a seat.

Alex settled back in her chair, crossed her arms and took the opportunity to get a quick look at the two profilers.

Spencer Reid was amazingly young looking. He had dirty blond hair which he wore long and was rapier thin, almost delicate looking. He was dressed very casually, in a pair of brown cords, long sleeved red checked shirt, blue striped tie and ten dollar canvas tennis shoes. He was clutching at a leather shoulder bag for dear life. She also noted that he was carrying an impossibly large gun in an obvious holster. It looked so out of place that she was just certain there had to be a story to it, some reason why he needed the reassurance of obvious firepower. He was fidgety and she noted his eyes fairly crackled with intelligence, even as he did his best to look non-threatening and unobtrusive. A Doctor and an FBI agent, she thought to herself. What is he 23, 24? Wow. Must be nearly as smart as my partner.

Aaron Hotchner seemed to be Dr. Reid's exact opposite. Regal bearing, impeccable dresser and sober as a judge, yet his eyes were kind, just sort of sad. They reminded her of Bobby's eyes, full of natural curiosity and acquired horror, in equal measures. No obvious gun, but she was certain he was carrying too, probably small caliber, maybe in an ankle holster. This was a man who didn't need to assert his power by display, he exuded it from every pore.

She caught Agent Hotchner watching her looking at him and Reid. She held his look and smiled demurely, playing the I'm just the air headed female sidekick card she sometimes played when the mood suited her. The older agent gave her just a ghost of a smile and she knew in a flash he didn't buy her act for a second.

"Look," Ross began, addressing his detectives. "There is no easy way to say this. Declan Gage has recanted and the Commissioner called in the FBI to try to get another confession and avoid a very public trial." He held up his hand when Alex exclaimed in surprise, effectively shutting her down down before he added, "I know that neither one of you are happy about this, any of it. However, I expect you to work with Agent Hotchner and Dr. Reid and give them what they need to put this to rest once and for all. That's an order." He paused a moment and looked into Bobby's somewhat emotionless face before he added, in a gentler voice, "No one wants to see him get away with what he did to your brother, Detective."

Bobby's only answer was to nod once, but Ross understood. Goren would probably never be one of his personal favorites, but it was impossible to not have empathy for the situation the man currently found himself in.

Alex had glanced at Bobby as soon as Ross said the word 'recanted' and was a little shocked at his lack of reaction. This is not good, she thought to herself. He had been right about the FBI agents, probably even guessed what was coming as soon as he laid eyes on the two men, and this is his reaction. After his mom passed, his grief had been vented outward through reckless behavior, uncharacteristically childish outbursts and blinding flashes of anger. Frank's death however, had made Bobby turn everything inward. Sometimes he was so self-contained she found herself wondering if she needed to stick a mirror under his nose to see if he was still breathing. Like now.

Bobby felt like he had been plunged into an icy lake. Panic was spreading through his whole body. If he wasn't really careful he felt like he might suddenly start hyperventilating, but he would be dammed if he became the squad's personal spectacle, again. He forced him self to stay still and silent.

Dr. Reid had been scanning the faces of both detectives as their superior officer spoke. Detective Eames looked angry and somewhat defiant, but he also noticed her glancing repeatedly at her partner, taking his emotional temperature, as it were. She is protective of him, he thought. Detective Goren looked tense, but ultra composed. The big man had shown little outward reaction to the news, but Spenser noted the muscles pulsing along his jaw line - a sure sign of concealed emotion. He seems to be doing his best to not let us see what he is thinking. The profiler is being profiled and he knows it.

Agent Hotchner rose from his seat and addressed Captain Ross. "Sir, is there an empty room Reid and I could use?"

"Of course Agent," Ross responded. "Follow Eames and Goren. They will show you to Interrogation Room 2 and turn over all of their notes to you."

Hotch addressed the two detectives for the first time. "We are going to need to speak with you both as well as look over your notes. It may be a lengthy interview. Is that going to be a problem?"

"No," spoke up Ross. "Turn your open case notes over to Jeffreys and hit the paperwork until you are needed. I am pulling you both off the active roster until this is settled."

Hotch noted that Goren was still very inward, almost emotionally folded into himself, like a piece of origami paper. Eames had physically turned her body toward her partner when the announcement was made about their "talk" and had not taken her eyes off him since.

After Bobby finally met her gaze, she spoke up and answered for the both of them.."We are apparently at your disposal. Ready whenever you are."

Bobby was seated closest to the door so he stood, opened it and then waited politely for the two agents and Alex to pass through before following them out of the office.

"I'll show them to the room Bobby, if you want to gather up the reports" Alex said as she began leading the way through the squad room.

"Right," he replied and stopped at their desk. He sat in his chair and began looking for the folder he needed. When he located the notes, he looked down at his hands and saw they were shaking. His throat felt tight and his heart was pounding in his chest. He took a deep breath and willed himself to calm down. You have to be calm. You will get through this. He repeated those words over and over in his mind, like a mantra. He was so inwardly focused he didn't even notice Alex was back until she gently pulled the folder from his clenched fingers.

"I'll take this to them and then meet you in the records room. OK?" she asked.

"What do we need in the records room?"

"I need you to help me find something." She began to walk away and then she shot him that look over her shoulder, the one that said don't argue, just do.

"Yeah, fine." He got up and dutifully walked to the records room, though he couldn't imagine what they needed to find there. He was leaning one hip against the table when she walked in and closed the door. She paused a second and studied his face before walking up to him.

"So what are we trying to find Eames?"

"We need to find Bobby and Alex. The two people who trusted one another and were damn fine friends, once."

He cocked an eyebrow at her and began to stand up. "I don't have time for this."

"Yes, you do," she shot back firmly.

"No." He put both hands in front of himself like a shield. "Eames, look I know you mean well, but those agents..."

"Exactly," she said interrupting him. "In a few minutes those agents are going to pick you clean like last Thanksgiving's turkey and we both know it. Bobby, I may not be a brilliant judge of the human psyche like you, but I am a Detective. I know why they're here. I also know the devastation they will leave in their wake.

"I can take care of myself." His words were brave, almost defiant.

"No, that's the thing. You can't right now. You have been giving it everything you've got. Your tank is clearly running on fumes." She paused, trying to find the best way to go on. He still had his defenses firmly in place. His face inscrutable. "And, I, I have made it as difficult on you as I could. I have been angry, sarcastic, unyielding. She ticked off each word on her fingers and stood in front of him with her eyes bright with unshed tears.

Bobby started fidgeting, pulling his fingers, shuffling from foot to foot, obviously very uncomfortable with where the conversation was headed. "Eames, why say this now?"

She bowed her head for a moment willing her self to get her emotions back under control before looking back up and meeting his troubled brown eyes with her own. "I didn't see my own behavior clearly until I watched the agents observing you. I'm sure you realize why they brought in Dr. Reid- they are hoping Gage will get a sense of you and open up to them. They are going to do their job and try to get the confession and if that means using you up in the process, so be it. To hell with you as a flesh and blood person."Her voice dropped in volume and became husky with emotion. "Exactly the way I have been treating you. I realized in that moment that I somehow forgot to remember to see you as a person in this whole mess. Not the cop, not the case, but you- my friend, who has suffered enormous personal losses."

"You weren't wrong when you said that most of my problems are self-imposed." He had dropped his head and closed his eyes, remembering the words she had said to him that horrible day.

"Yes I was. I was angry and as usual I let my tongue work independently of my brain. You can be your own worst enemy Bobby, but sometimes we all can. I have no right to judge you." She tentatively touched a hand lightly to the top of one of his. "I've been a lousy friend and I have no excuse."

He jerked his head up and gave her a startled look. She was the best friend he had, how could she not know that.

"Bobby, if it had been my Mother or my brother, would you have been there for me, in whatever way I wanted or needed? Or would you have acted like I did, like nothing was happening?"

He pushed away from the table and started pacing back in forth in the small room. He drew a ragged breath before saying, "Eames, you tried to talk to me about my mom and, and F-Frank," his voice breaking on his brother's name. " I wouldn't let you. I pushed you away."

"Yeah, you did, but I was more than happy to be pushed. I can't let you take all the blame this time."

"I don't know what you want me to say Alex."

"Just say you will let me support you now, just a little. Please don't go through this alone. You don't have to. I'm right here."

"I...I know you mean well, but, I just, ..."

"Bobby," she began with a slight edge to her voice. "If you don't agree soon I'll have to break into a chorus of Lean on Me and then I will be forced to grab the gun off my hip and shoot us both to put us out of our misery. You do NOT want me to sing."

Her remark caught him off guard and before he could stop it a small chuckle slipped out. He stopped pacing and crossed his arms in that I-don't-know-what-to-do-now pose she was so familiar with. It meant he was softening.

She lightly poked his chest with one finger and said, "I'm not asking you to tear down the whole wall Detective Goren, just take out a brick or two." Her grin faded. "Its probably more consideration than I deserve, Bobby."

"No. It's not." You deserve everything he thought. He looked her in the eyes and for the first time in a long time she saw just a hint of the old familiar playfulness on his face. "One brick Eames."

"That's all I need." She patted his arm and gave him a smile.

He wanted to tell her how much he had missed her, how heartbroken he had been, how much he needed her in his life, but he found himself able to only choke out two words, "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Now c'mon partner. Let's go throw ourselves to the wolves."

A/N: Spenser Reid of "Criminal Minds" had to be based on Bobby Goren. The parallels are too great – Brilliant, troubled, absent dad, schizophrenic mom, loner, sensitive to a fault. Every time I see those two characters on their separate shows I wish I could see them together, and as that will never happen, I decided to put them in a story together. They will have more interaction in later chapters.