Title: Hope, Rewarded

Author : Lule-bell

Rating : T

Pairing : Goren / Eames

Spoilers : Set after "Purgatory"

Summary : Hope, in hot water.

When it happened, everyone was surprised, sympathetic and couldn't help but laugh. She wasn't taken down by some perp, as everyone assumed would have happened but that didn't make the matter any less embarrassing. The one day in her illustrious 13 year career that she decided to wear running shoes to work, it was a broken shoe lace that took her down. She had tripped. Alex Eames. Had tripped. On her own feet. And she now had a broken arm to show for it.

Resisting any and all offers for help, including those from Bobby, but especially those from Bobby, Alex managed. She managed to dress herself in the morning. She managed to do all the things that she normally did through out a day. And what she couldn't manage to do, she went without, hoping that no one would notice what she couldn't manage . Hoping that Bobby, especially, wouldn't notice and would just assume that she was managing just fine. Hope. That, unfortunately, had abandoned ship long ago.

"Eames?" Alex glanced up from her paperwork, held steadily to her desk via her encased right arm as she attempted to type with her left hand. She said nothing, hoping that her silence would invite no further conversation. Why bother? "You...uh...how are you?"

"I'm fine Bobby. Why?" She narrowed her eyes. "Just uh... you know." She squinted at him. "If you...uh...need anything...uh..." he cleared his throat and waited for a reply. Alex sighed, relenting. Five days without washing her hair and it was already driving her nuts. Her head was starting to itch and the overhead lights were making the shine so very obvious. She had hoped to make it the full 6 weeks.

Hope. "Bobby... "

"Eames...I just..."

They both looked at each other. Finally, she nodded. "Ok," she said slowly. He tried not to smile.

--

Taking a deep breath, Alex stepped into her bath tub. It was full of very hot water; the windows were fogged and sweat drops dripped off the wall. She sat facing the wall, her back facing the door. She waited, refusing to say a word. Carefully, she rested her right arm on a towel on the edge of the tub. She swallowed, hoping that she wouldn't wait that long. A knock at the door and Bobby popped his head in.

"You, uh... you ready?"

"Uh. Yeah... " She hoped that the crack in her voice wasn't as noticeable as she thought. He stepped closer to the tub. The back of her neck prickled; his steps made ripples in the water. "Not that... not that I, uh, mind... But, uh, your family... "

"My sister's out of town"

"Oh. Uh, your... mom...?" He knelt down behind her.

"Went with her"

He picked up the bottle of shampoo. "Oh. That's lucky."

"What's lucky?"

The lights went out. Alex shifted in the tub. "Wha--?"

Bobby touched her shoulder gently, attempting to settle her. "Hold on." He left the bathroom and Alex alone, holding her breath.

"The power's out," he reported when he came back. "Whole block...by the looks... of..."

A pause.

Then: "Uh, there's candles on the table..." He must not have heard her correctly because he didn't say a word. He left, suddenly, and returned after a few moments later, candle and lighter in hand. He set the candle on the counter and the soft light was making shadows dance across the walls. "That's better..." he muttered and knelt down behind her again.

Alex sighed at the irony.

--

The glow from the candle calmed her significantly. Bobby could feel her relax as he worked the lather into her hair, the tension dissipated as he massaged her scalp, careful to not get any soap in her eyes. He paused, momentarily, to wipe drops of soapy water from her brow, her temple. She was quiet. She focused on breathing. Slowly, in and out. Calmly. In and out.

"That good?" he asked suddenly.

Oh. Oh. "Uh... could you do the back of my hair a bit more?"

"Oh... sure." Bobby let his thumbs brush the back of her neck, his fingers trailing down, over her collar bone. Alex sighed, slightly, quietly. Bobby felt the air escape from her body. He shivered.

"You cold?"

"Oh, uh... no. It's uh... it's warm in ... here... "

"Yeah... warm... the water, you know."

She hoped that's all it was. "Yes, the water..." he agreed.

He wasn't so sure.

--

She was waiting for him to return again. Waiting. That's all that she seemed to be doing lately. Waiting. Waiting for something, anything to happen. Waiting for him to talk to her. Hoping he would speak to her.

Hoping.

Hope.

Bobby...

"Did you rinse ok?" he asked when he came back into the bathroom.

"Yeah."

"Ok. Conditioner?"

"Yeah."

He picked up the bottle, poured some into his hands and slowly worked it into her hair. She sighed slightly. He wanted to ask. Instead, he squeezed the excess conditioner from her hair, twirling it around with his fingers, and lay the ponytail down on her left shoulder.

"I...uh..." she started, trying to make herself somewhat coherent. He waited, keeping his hand on her shoulder and trailed his fingers down the shadows of her right arm, to the cast. He hoped she would speak. Speak to him. Eames, speak to me. Please.

"Joe," she said finally. He held his breath, hoping there was more. "Not since Joe... this, I mean..." she trailed off, slightly embarrassed.

He nodded. "Yeah," he said quietly. He squeezed both her shoulders gently. She turned her head towards him slightly.

"Yeah..." Like she had hoped, he understood.

--

He helped her step out of the tub backwards and she felt a soft towel wrap around her shoulders. He turned her to face him, drying off her cast with another towel and dabbed the wet off the side of her face. Her face was pink from the hot water, he eyes glistened in the candle's glow. She hoped that her voice had enough strength and that her knees would just please, please just stop shaking.

"Why are you here?" she asked looking up at him. Shadows flickered across Bobby's face.

"Because I, you know, I was hoping you..." he took a deep breath. Alex took a step closer to him. "I was hoping that you would trust me again." She nodded, dropping her gaze. He tilted his head slightly, catching her eye.

"Why.. uh... Why did you let me?"

She swallowed, unable to speak. She opened and closed her mouth several times.

"Because..." She took a deep breath, looking up at him. "Because I do. I do trust you."

It was everything he had hoped to hear. Bobby swallowed, placed both hands on either side of her face, tilted her head and kissed her gently on the forehead. Alex cried out softly and when Bobby looked back at her, she was smiling. Wide. Happy.

He smiled back at her.

It was what she had hoped to see.