Don't own them, never did, never will.

This has the potential to be a little disturbing. So…

Another Time, Another Place

Bobby Goren walked into the bullpen at One Police Plaza, in time to see his partner, Alex Eames, and his captain, Danny Ross, engaged in an animated conversation. Both were in unusually early, and so involved in their conversation that neither saw or heard Bobby enter. It was kind of a joke around the squad room, how Bobby could walk in a room and no one would hear him. He was kind of cat-like in that way, unusual for such a big guy.

What he heard distressed him, the very thing he had always dreaded, yet knew was bound to happen someday: Alex was wanting a new partner.

"Whenever you're ready for a new partner, Alex. I've got a good person, someone you'll be very compatible with," Ross told her.

"I had the perfect partner!" Alex said angrily. "We were compatible! Until he… he…"

Until he… I… what? Bobby wondered.

"I know, Alex, I know." Ross patted her arm. "Like I said, whenever you're ready."

That condescending bastard! Bobby thought. It was no secret that Ross had preconceived ideas about Bobby long before he had ever arrived at Major Case, and would no doubt love to have Bobby taken off of his hands. They'd never really gotten along well, not that Ross had been here all that long. But to just get rid of him like that? Not if I have any say in the matter, Bobby decided.

He turned and left the squad room, entirely left One Police Plaza. What'd I do this time? he wondered. Whatever it was, it must've been bad, for her to demand a new partner. He went down the block to the local coffee shop, where he ordered a regular black coffee for himself and a large Caramel-Mocha Latte for Alex. The coffee shop was unusually busy, but luckily had a self-serve option. In the essence of time, Bobby gladly took advantage of it. He wasn't fooling himself one bit however; he knew it would take a lot more than coffee to get off her shit list. But this might help ease the way.

When he made it back to the bullpen, Alex was at her desk, her back to him. He came up and placed the coffee in front of her. "Your favorite," he announced, an engaging smile on his face. Alex didn't even bother to look up at him.

The beautiful smile faded. "Come on, Eames—Alex, at least tell me what I did." A scowl appeared on her face, so Bobby brought out the big gun, a huge raspberry-cheese Danish.

In response, Alex got up and went to the coffee machine, where she poured herself another cup of Police Station Coffee.

Bobby watched in amazement. Jesus, she'd rather drink that… sludge, before accepting anything from me! Un-be-liev-able! Talk about the silent treatment, the cold shoulder, he was getting it in spades. He sighed and sat at his desk, where he proceeded to do paperwork.

This day could not possibly have been any longer, it really dragged, no new case, just paperwork. Bobby would have much rather had a case than sit around here in dead silence. At least then they'd have to talk a little, if only about the case.

At last, Alex looked up, and suddenly asked, "Why, Bobby, why? Why didn't you let me…?" her voice trailed off. And even then, it wasn't like she was actually even talking to him; she seemed to be looking through him rather than at him. It made him feel almost naked and more than a little uncomfortable.

But at least she said something, finally! "What Alex? What did I do? I didn't let you… in. Is that it?" Bobby recalled a few days ago when he'd finally mentioned his mother's cancer to Ray Wiznesky. She was a little pissed that he hadn't told her. That had to be it.

But that was all he was getting from her. She put her head in her hand and clammed up again.

As the day wore on, he tried to engage her in conversation, asking for her comments or opinions on past cases, or on anything at all. She steadfastly refused to answer, or even glance up from her paperwork, which she didn't seem to be making much headway on at all. Maybe this was the opening he needed.

"Here, Bobby said, "I'm finished, let me give you a hand—" He reached for her paperwork, but before Bobby could even touch it, Alex angrily grabbed it, and stormed off to Ross' office. He thought he caught a glimpse of a tear in her eye.

"Alex! C'mon! What did I do?!" Aw, fuck! I actually made her cry! I must really be a total ass! He decided to just go home; he obviously wasn't doing any good here. Bobby looked down where the raspberry-cheese Danish still sat, along with the untouched latte. He furiously picked it all up and threw it in the trash.

Now he was mad, mad at Alex, mad at Ross, and mostly mad at himself. "I'm taking a few personal days!" he told her retreating back. "And if you have a new partner by then, well, you're gonna do what you're gonna do!" As if she cared.

[][][]

Bobby took the subway home that night. At the next stop, a large group of people got on, including a very pregnant lady. He indicated to her that she could have his seat, and she damn near sat in his lap before he could even get up. Bobby shook his head. Well at least she's not giving me the cold shoulder, he thought. In fact, any closer and they'd have been dating. The thought made him genuinely smile.

But soon his thoughts returned to Alex, as they always did. He couldn't imagine what he had done to get Alex so ticked off. What was it this time? Ah, who the hell knew? It was always something with her anymore. A thought occurred to him—maybe it was her hormones or something. That was one subject Bobby, like many men, had no desire to get into. But she had been acting strange lately, crying every so often, being mad and ignoring him. Had she acted like this before, at any time in the past? He was ashamed to admit he had never really noticed. Maybe she was pregnant again and had failed to inform him, hoping to spare him the distress of that until she absolutely had to. Then he laughed. If he even mentioned hormones to her, well, it'd probably be the last thing he'd ever mention.

Getting serious again, he thought about what she'd said, and hadn't said. Why didn't he let her… in… it had to be that. Okay, he knew that. He was a very private person, always had been. That was him. Alex knew that too, why did it make her so angry? Why now? And most of all, why should it suddenly make her decide to dump him as her partner? Had she just decided she'd had all she could take of him?

There was just too much to think about. Bobby was glad he decided to take a few personal days, he suddenly realized just how god-awful tired he was. Maybe after a good night's sleep things would become a little clearer. That bed was starting to look better and better.

Walking up the two floors to his apartment, he fished in his left pocket for the keys. They weren't there. So he checked his right pocket, knowing already they wouldn't be there. As a lefty, he never put his keys in his right pocket, it was just too inconvenient for him. But the keys weren't there, either, though. SON OF A BITCH! What could he have done with them? Then he tried the door, hoping somehow it would be open. That, too, he knew was an impossibility; as a cop he had too many enemies to ever leave his door unlocked. So what now?

Well, he had two options… he could go down and bang on his landlady's door. Being hard of hearing, she'd never hear him. Or, he could call Eames. They had exchanged keys way back in the early days of their partnership in case of an emergency. But he doubted she'd consider this an emergency. He had to sleep somewhere tonight, so he called anyway. It went straight to her voicemail. If she wasn't talking to him, he realized, chances were once she realized it was him, she wouldn't answer her phone anyway. Well, he had to try.

So here he was, no key, no landlady, no apartment, and worst of all, no partner. He thought vaguely about calling Lewis, or even Mike Logan. But Lewis was too far out, and Logan, well, he'd been sympathizing with Eames the last couple of days, so he was probably pissed at him, too. All of a sudden the tiredness overcame him, and he sank down to the floor.

Too much stuff going on… and it had all taken a big toll on him. First there was Eames being kidnapped, his mother's cancer diagnosis, all this crap with Ross, and last, but not least, the hostage situation with Ray Wiznesky, the cop who had killed his stepdaughter.

Ray…

Bobby suddenly found himself back in that room with Alex and Ray. Ray held a gun on them; both detectives had their hands up in the air, letting Ray know that they were not going to try anything. And Ray told Bobby it was because of him that they took his gun away.

"Okay," Bobby said, as he and Alex took a step back, "it was on me, not her. You've got to let my partner go." Bobby repeated, "You've got to put the gun on me, and let my partner go and look after your daughter."

Finally Ray relented. He made Alex put both her and Bobby's guns on his desk, and he let Alex go. Bobby breathed a sigh of relief. Alex was safe! Then it was just Ray and the unarmed Bobby. Though Bobby didn't know it, all along Ray's plan was to kill him.

Bobby was usually excellent at talking himself out of any situation, but Ray was having none of it. At one point Ray said "You think I'm dumb? Some small town cop rolling over for the NYPD—"

"I never said that!" Bobby told him.

Ray mimicked Bobby. "We can work it out, Ray, let my partner go, Ray crap. And now, I'm going to kill you!"

All Bobby's talking was to no avail. At one time Ray threw him a cell phone and told him to call his mom and say good-bye. They even got into a little scuffle where Bobby got one of the guns away from him, but Ray still had the others. Then Ray held up Bobby's gun. "Killed by your own gun," he mocked him as he leveled the gun at him. "On your knees, NYPD."

Bobby refused. Ray grinned at him. "Have it your way."

Bobby licked his lips, realizing in that moment that nothing was going to save him now. As if in slow motion, Bobby watched as Ray squeezed the trigger. There was a huge boom, and Bobby could see the bullet coming straight at him. It hit him in the gut, slamming him against the wall. Then he slid down, and lying on his side, he instinctively grabbed for the wound, looking in surprise as his hands turned bright red with someone's blood. Then he groaned as he felt a terrible burning in his stomach. He'd never imagined anything could hurt so badly.

In that split second, all hell broke loose. Ray was standing over Bobby, gun in hand, his boot on Bobby's shoulder. At the same moment the door burst open and Eames and other cops crowded into the room, followed by the EMTs who were on standby. One look told Alex all she needed to know, and she shot Ray Wiznesky, and was on Bobby in an instant. One more look told her he was in serious trouble.

"Where's those EMTS?" she screamed, and to Bobby, "You hold on, Bobby, you hear me?"

"It…kind of… hurts…" Bobby said weakly, trying to sound like he was okay, yet still very surprised that he had been shot.

"I know, honey, I know. You're gonna be okay, Bobby, I promise--" But she had never seen anything like the pain that was in those dark eyes. And the blood was everywhere. Seconds later she was shoved out of the way by the paramedics, who began working on Bobby feverishly.

The paramedics got him into an ambulance as quickly as they could; Bobby was losing blood quickly, the bullet had just shredded his insides and he was in incredible pain.

Eames was in the ambulance with Bobby. She kept telling him, over and over, "Hang in there, Bobby honey, you're going to be alright!"

Bobby was so tired; the tiredness went through every bone and muscle in his body. He had never felt like this… he couldn't keep his eyes open.

" Bobby! Stay with me… please!"

Bobby wanted to nod his head and tell her not to worry, but his head just felt too heavy. There was so much he wanted to say; how much he loved and cared for her, but he didn't have the strength. He opened his mouth slightly, but the words would not come out.

"It's okay, Bobby, don't try to speak… please Bobby, don't leave me… Don't you dare leave me!"

Leave her? Why would she think that? Doesn't she know he would never leave her… he loved her too much. A moment later his incredibly long eyelashes fluttered, and the light went out in those so intelligent, beautiful brown eyes.

"NO!! Bobby, NO!" Alex screamed, jerking on his arm. "Don't do this, Bobby… oh God… no… no…" Alex sobbed uncontrollably, holding his hand to her mouth, her tears spilling over onto Bobby's lifeless hand.

[][][]

Suddenly everything became terrifyingly clear to Bobby as he sat, so very tired, outside his apartment door. Only now he wasn't alone.

It was all over now, all his hopes, all his dreams, and he cried as his Grandma rocked him back and forth in her arms, while Grampa stroked his curly hair. "It's okay, Bobby, you're going to be okay," they soothed him.

And finally the tears stopped, and he was okay.

He could see everything now. He knew that Alex wasn't mad at him, nor was she ignoring him. She just couldn't see him or hear him. She wasn't asking for a new partner, she was putting off the inevitable new partner she would get since he was gone. And the pregnant lady wasn't really trying to sit on Bobby's lap; she was just sitting in the only open seat on the subway.

Bobby realized all this, and more. Ross wasn't pushing for Alex to get a new partner, he was telling her whenever she was ready, he would help her out all he could. He also knew Logan was comforting her, and why he couldn't get into his locked apartment. Lastly, he now knew the real reason for all of Alex's tears.

[][][]

The day of his funeral there was a large turnout, all the police and firemen in their dress uniforms. He saw many people he hadn't seen in years, with the exception of his mother and brother. Later, Alex sat with Danny Ross, Jimmy Deakins and Bobby's friend Lewis at the luncheon. She wasn't really hungry, but figured Bobby would want her to eat. So she managed a few bites. And Bobby found out one more thing.

"I wish you could have seen him at his best…" Deakins said to Ross, and Alex laughed and cried at the same time.

"I did know him at his best," Ross told them. "I'm…I'm new here, at Major Case. But I wasn't living in a vacuum. All I wanted was just a little control, to show the brass I deserved to be here. I know you thought I was being rather hard on him, and I imagine he thought I hated him-- that, I am truly sorry for. The fact of the matter is, along with his reputation as, uh, quirky, I also knew his amazing solve rate; Bobby was by far the best cop in the whole NYPD. I respected him and his abilities more than you'll ever know. And I knew it was going to take everything I had to be able to keep up with him." Ross smiled. "And I never did. Never even came close."

And Bobby laughed. He always knew he could run circles around Ross.

His only real regret now was Alex, and the partnership both he and Alex never wanted to end. She might have any number of partners in her lifetime, but when it was all over, in the end, it was Bobby she always considered her partner.

"Someday, Alex," he promised her, "someday. We'll be partners again. It will always be Goren and Eames."

The End.

A/N Sorry I could not give more warning on this, other than to say it could be a little disturbing. But anything more would have given it away. Hope it was okay.