Disclaimer: I do not own 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.
A/N: I was watching older episodes (Season 6 and 7) and started noticing how both Goren and Eames had sleeves hanging down past their wrists and poof - a story. Set just after "Frame" (imagine that!).
In hindsight, I suppose I had been waiting on a sign from god or the universe or something to let me know it was time. My feelings for Bobby Goren, my police partner of 7 years, had been growing stronger the weaker he seemed to get. After every tragedy he was assaulted with, the tiny seed of love I had buried long ago in my heart sprouted a bit more until the vines were tangled so thickly that sometimes I could hardly breathe. I hid my very unpartner-like feelings for him well, having learned long ago to bury my true feelings under a thick layer of bravado and snark. I hid them so well in fact, that sometimes I was sure Bobby didn't think I even liked him, let alone was capable of the intense emotions I really felt.
I was sitting on my knees in front of Bobby as he shattered from the inside out the first time I saw it. Frank had been found dead in the courtyard of his building just that morning, an apparent suicide, though both of us seemed sure there was something more sinister at play. I had insisted on riding him home after work finally ended. He had been leaning forward on his couch, head in his hands, trying desperately not to cry, but failing at yet another thing that day. As he reached up to scrub his left hand across his swollen eyes, his sleeve fell back and there it was; puckered and angry, red and mottled white, a thick scar - encircling his wrist like a macabre bracelet.
The sight of his branded flesh made the bile rise high in my throat as memories of hanging from a meat hook flashed through my mind. My thumb found its way to the scar around my own right wrist, a permanent reminder of my own brush with torture and death, courtesy of Jo Gage.
I had seen his bandaged wrists in the hospital after he had been whisked away from Tates Correctional in the last possible second. I just had assumed there had been no permanent damage from the fight he had put up against the leather restraints, but I had apparently assumed wrong.
I was powerless to resist the urge to touch him and it. As my fingertips lightly traced the scar I felt Bobby go perfectly rigid in front of me. I didn't stop, just kept lightly caressing his wrist. After a few moments I replaced my fingertips with my lips, dropping feather light kisses along the raised area, maybe trying to kiss it and make it all better, though I knew nothing could really do that. Something broke loose inside my frozen heart as I continued to gently minister to his battered flesh, and a love for this man flooded through me with such force I was surprised it didn't pour out out my ears.
"I love you Bobby," I blurted out, frankly startled by the sound of my own voice, but not really by the actual words. I meant them. I loved him and had for a long time. Saying them out loud just felt right, so
I looked into his eyes and said them again, this time slowly and carefully.
His face was a study in light and dark, in shock and amazement. "I'm damaged goods Alex," he choked out, a fresh batch of tear drops spouting from his long, dark lashes.
"So am I Bobby," I said in a near whisper, as my arm seemed to move of its own volition. Before I knew what was happening, I had placed my own scarred wrist against his and said, "Look, a matched set."
As soon as I saw the startled look in his eyes I pulled my arm away and began tugging the sleeve back into place. I had carefully guarded my scar from everyone, even giving up wearing the tank tops I had so favored for long sleeve shirts and sweaters, letting the cuffs hang down to the middle of my hands, never pushing back my sleeves no matter how warm it got. It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't the only one who had undergone a complete wardrobe change in the past year or so. Bobby too had given up wearing his elegant suits and jewel toned shirts that had cuffs that were never quite long enough to cover his long arms completely. Now he layered – long sleeved shirt, long sleeved sweater, jacket - never stripping down to just his dress shirt, never unbuttoning the cuffs and rolling up his sleeves a little. I had attributed it to his weight gain and change of circumstance and gave it no more thought, but should have seen it, especially since I was actively engaged in the same subterfuge. It had simply never occurred to me that he could be sporting a permanent mark from his own ordeal.
The fact that both had a scar around the wrist of our dominant hands couldn't be just a simple coincidence. We had both been through experiences that marked us for life. Maybe our circumstances had began differently, his voluntarily, mine involuntarily; but both instances had ended the same, with our freedom gone, our bodies tortured, our spirits nearly broken, the taste of impending death bitter on our tongues. We had both survived with help from the other. I know Bobby would never see it that way. I'm sure that in his eyes his only sees that he failed me. He blames himself for Jo and the havoc she reeked. He blames himself more for not being able to rescue me. I don't see it that way at all. All I know is that the first face I saw when I woke up in the hospital was his. I have never been able to tell him in words what his presence and quiet strength had meant to me, but it had meant everything.
He was the emotional one, even if lately those feelings were rarely revealed. I knew inside he still was as kind and compassionate and loving as ever, he just had just been battered so by life that his feelings they had be more carefully kept if they hoped you survive.
I was the strong, stoic one who kept my emotions carefully in check, the one who use a smart mouth to diffuse tense or sticky situations.
I suddenly felt him take my right hand in his and begin to push back the dangling sleeve. I looked up to see him staring at me and felt his finger tips begin to brush my wrist, trace my scar, soothe my flesh they way I had his. Tears began to slowly trace wet trails down my face. I wanted to pull away, maybe even run away, but his brown eyes kept me riveted to my spot at his feet. My fear at having someone touch that scar began to slowly recede. In his eyes was such love and tenderness that I found myself crying harder, my repressed emotions flowing freely for once. Without warning he pulled me up on his lap and wrapped his long arms around me cradling me to his chest. To my utter surprise I didn't want to punch him, which would have been my normal reaction to being manhandled in this way. Instead, I never wanted him to let go. I nestled into his arms and found I fit perfectly, my head resting in the hollow of his throat, like that space was created just for me. For the first time in a very long time I wasn't afraid and I felt utterly safe. Bobby began to tremble and sob again, but this time they were tears of relief interspersed with tenderly mumbled words of joy and hope and promise and security, things we both longed for and but never seemed quite able to find on our own.
I had gotten my sign and in that realization it occurred to me that maybe it was more than just the scars that made a matched set.