This will be a dark and long ride. "M" for later chapters.

Chapter One

He carefully examined the files and photos on his desk, and a satisfied smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. He'd checked the evidence several times, and each time his suspicions about the head of the Mitesky family were confirmed. He knew he had to be careful with cases involving bad, manipulative fathers, but he felt he was right about this man. He'd confirm his findings, as he had since he'd returned from his suspension, with Eames, and then he would know he was right.

The rich smell of coffee tinged with chocolate reached him, and a large cup appeared on his desk. He looked up at a wind blown but smiling Alex Eames.

"Thank you," he said softly. "Do I owe you…"

She shook her head. "Not unless you've been here all night," she said as she shed her coat. "You'll have to pay then as part of your punishment."

"I've been good," Bobby said as Alex sat across from him. "I went home about an hour after you did. And I had a real dinner at the diner close to my place. Vegetables and everything." He didn't tell her that he pushed the food around his plate and that very little of it made its way into his stomach. He suspected that Alex knew that.

If she did, she didn't press the issue. "Did you get some sleep?"

"A lot for me," Bobby said. "I woke up early…And it really didn't make sense to go back to sleep."

Alex nodded. She'd heard this story before.

"But I used the time to figure out how George Mitesky did it," Bobby continued. He handed one of the photos to Alex.

Alex studied the photo and Bobby's notes for several moments while her partner sipped his coffee. "Yea," she said. "He did it. Now we get to tell his wife and kids that he's a fraud and a murderer." She sighed. "At least Ross will be happy that we cleared this so quickly."

"He likes you best," Bobby said. "You tell him. It seems like even when I being him good news, it goes badly."

"That's because you never take him the good news." Alex smiled, took the photo and notes, and stood.

"Thanks, Eames…For the coffee…And dealing with Ross…"

"Anytime, partner."

Bobby watched her walk away. It felt almost like before…before everything. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

"No," he thought. "Don't think about it….The work…Concentrate on the work…Do the work…It'll make her happy…And Eames and the work are all you've got…"


Bobby looked up at a worried Alex, and hated that he was, as he was so often, the source of that worry.

"Ross said to move ahead on Mr. Mitesky. He's letting the Brass know what's going on, and want us to know we'll have his full support," Alex said.

Bobby twirled his pen. "He…He's been going out of his way to support us since…since…everything…"

"Yea…He has…And he should…He owes you," Alex declared. She grabbed Bobby's coat and her own from the rack. "C'mon…Let's get a bad guy."

By ten in the morning, they had George Mitesky and his lawyer in the interrogation room By eleven, an enraged George Mitesky had leaped across the table to punch Bobby. By eleven fifteen, the cut caused by Mr. Mitesky's large diamond ring had finally stopped bleeding just below Bobby's right eye, although a bruise was rising around it. By noon, Mr. Mitesky was in the not so gentle care of the guards at Riker's, and his lawyer was desperately pleading with the DA's office.

Ross appeared at Alex and Bobby's desks. "You all right, Detective?"

"Yes, Sir…Just a scratch…I'm afraid I underestimated his capacity for physical violence…Fortunately, he underestimated Eames." Bobby smiled at Alex.

"A mistake a person makes only once," Ross said. "Good job…both of you…" The Captain returned to his office.

Bobby reached for his mail. "Ok," he thought. "It's been a good morning…We've worked together well…We can do this…" He jerked as he saw the return address on an envelope.

"Bobby…What's wrong?" Alex saw the envelope and recognized the scrawl on it. "He's still writing you…"

Bobby looked at Alex and quietly and deliberately tore the envelope in half, then in quarters, and again and again until it and its contents were in shreds. He tossed them in his trash basket.

"I haven't answered any of his letter…I haven't called him and he can't call me. Haven't gone to see him…And that…" Bobby pointed at the basket. "Is what I've done to all of his recent letters…Haven't read them."

"C'mon," Alex said after a moment. "I'll buy you lunch…"

"You don't…"

"C'mon," she said gently but firmly.

"You know," Bobby said as they road the elevator. "I appreciate all these meals and coffee you've buying for me…But my financial state isn't quite that dire…"

Alex looked at him skeptically. "You know I can check on that."

"Yea…But you won't unless I get in trouble again…And I intend to try to avoid that."

It was a pleasant day for late winter, and they enjoyed the walk to their favorite diner. The owner greeted them as long lost friends.

"How," he asked. "Are my two favorite policemen? What'll you have?"

"Uh…I think just soup for me today, Gus," Bobby said.

"I'll take the deluxe club," Alex declared. "One of us has to keep up their strength."

They talked about safe and easy subjects at first. Her mother's continued if not as dramatic recovery and her nephew diverted Alex's attention enough that for a few moments she didn't notice that Bobby ate very little of his soup.

"Hey," she said gently. "I know you want to lose weight, but you gotta eat something."

Bobby smiled wanly.

Alex leaned forward. "It's that letter…It's Gage…."

Bobby lifted his spoon in and out of his soup. "Yea…It…It kinda takes my appetite away."

"I can understand that," Alex said. "What does he want from you?"

Bobby shook his head. "I…I really don't know…His lawyer…Thinks he may want me to testify about Dec's sanity."

Alex snorted.

"Oh, he's insane," Bobby said wearily. "But he knows right from wrong. He just doesn't care. I've told his lawyer that my testimony won't help his case…Probably hurt…Dec himself…He wants to talk to me…To make sure that…That I'm "engaged"." Bobby smiled bitterly.

""Engaged" with him, you mean," Alex said.

"Yea," Bobby admitted after a beat. "What he wants me to do…Is to save his reputation…"

"I'm not looking forward to his trial," Alex said. She pushed her sandwich's remains across her plate.

"I doubt there'll be a trial," Bobby said. "Dec may not live long enough…Or became sane enough…"

"How do you know that? I thought you weren't having anything to do with him," Alex said.

Bobby stirred his soup. "I…I check up on how he is…His health…Make sure he's getting decent care…I know," he said in response to Alex's despairing look. "But…Eames…He was a good man…A brilliant man…And he helped me…He saw what I could do…He taught me…Made me feel special…I know he's done terrible, terrible things…To me…But…But he saved me…I can't just abandon him…"


"I know…I know…But I've drawn lines…I'm not going to see him…No matter how much he begs…Any communication with him isn't direct…He can't call me…He can't email me because even if he knew anything about computers, he wouldn't have access to one…And his letters have to go through the prison's security…I used to send them back without opening them, but now I just tear them up. Like I just did…I'm not going to cross the line. I'm not going to let him."

"You sound like you really mean this," Alex said.

"I do…I do…" Bobby nodded. "I…I have to…" He moved his spoon around his soup. "I can't afford the energy…I…I've been in a very dark place for a long time…I've got to work to get out of it…And that…that takes a lot of energy…I just can't give it up to Dec…And…And he may not have much time…" He dropped his spoon and rubbed the back of his neck. "God…That sounds so cold…"

"Or realistic," Alex said gently. "He's that sick?"

Bobby nodded. "He's got some horrible illness that destroys nerve cells. That brilliant mind is turning into cottage cheese. The food poisoning and the self poisoning really hurt him physically. There's a good chance he might not even know me if I visited him. His lawyer tells me that there are some days Dec can't remember if he has a daughter. And there are others when he's as sharp as he ever was. But there are more bad than good days now. It's the sort of illness you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and you'd never want your best friend to have. Since Dec has been both things to me…My feelings are mixed." Bobby tried to smile, but couldn't quite pull it off.

"God," Alex said. "I think I'm even beginning to feel sorry for him." She took a deep breath. "What about Jo?" As she asked the question, Alex wondered why she felt any sympathy for the woman who'd kidnapped her and left her hanging for hours.

Bobby sighed. "She could live for years. She could die tomorrow of an infection or blood clot. As far as her doctors can tell, she doesn't feel anything beyond the most basic responses. She doesn't need help breathing, but she has a feeding tube. She's comfortable, as far as they can tell. I'm fairly sure she wouldn't want to live like this, but she didn't have a Living Will or anything like that. Dec certainly is incapable of making any decision. There's no one else…"

"You visit her…"

Bobby shifted uncomfortably. "It…It gives me something to do on a Saturday morning," he said flatly. "And I get a lot of reading done."

"I wondered where you went now on the Saturdays we aren't working," Alex said gently.

"It's not like I really do anything," Bobby said. "I just sit there and read for a couple of hours…Make sure she's getting decent care…If I'd paid the same amount of attention to her before…."

"No…Don't do that," Alex said, more sharply than she intended. "Don't blame yourself for something that isn't your fault."

Bobby stared at his soup. "I…I'll try…" He looked up at Alex. "Does…Does it bother you…That…That I'm doing this?"

"You'd stop if I asked you…" Alex said after a moment.


She reached across the table and placed her small hand softly on top of his large one. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you for rating my opinion that high. You're doing a good and kind thing. I have no complaint about that. It's the sort of thing Bobby Goren does."