Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All)
Disclaimer: Law & Order: Criminal Intent and all of its characters do not belong to me. However, Det. Val Johnson's mine.
Goren laid down beside his wife as she read up on the latest cases for her precinct. A smile formed on his chiseled face as he placed his hand on their last chance for a child; his wife's four-month baby bump.
"Bobby, I can't concentrate with you there..."
Goren grinned, "Valerie, you had your eyes glazed over; you weren't reading..."
She snapped the file shut as a smile began forming on her red lips, "Shut-up. How was your case?"
"Perp fled to Canada... The boys have a warrant to get him."
"That's good. How's Gage treating it?"
Goren smiled, "He's treating him like butterfly wings found buried in volcanic rock."
"Go figure... He was always the eccentric one..."
Goren chuckled, "So, how did the doctor's visit go?"
The green eyes of his wife shone, "The doctor said that this one might last!"
His heart started to soar, but he quickly snuffed it, "Val, don't jinx it!"
"Jinx what? I thought you didn't believe in jinxes..." she leaned over and kissed his cheek.
He shook his head sadly, "I don't want to lose this one like we've lost the others."
Valerie sighed and sank back into the bed, "We won't lose this one, I promise."
He let his back relax, "Are you going to go undercover tomorrow?"
"Nope; Gavin won't let me do anything but desk work and Grey doesn't know yet. He just thinks I'm sick of busting those druggies."
"You haven't told your partner yet?"
Valerie tried to smother her yawn, "He's like a father to me... He's going to become very over protective and I'd like to be free from that for as long as I can."
"You worry too much." Goren laughed, "Tell him soon. I want someone on your tail, protecting you from what I can't."
"Ooh, the scary copy machine? I'll be sure to tell him as soon as I walk into work..."
A week later, Goren awoke to Valerie's screams. He flipped the lights on, finding the sheets covered in blood. He began looking for another possible cause, praying silently that there was. He couldn't find one, "Oh God... No, not again..."
"Bobby, it..." her voice broke, tears forming in her eyes, "It's happening again..."
He ran to the bathroom and grabbed an old blanket. Wrapping her in it, he picked her up and carried her out to the car, "We're going to the hospital..."
He held her hand through the entire procedure. She cried softly as her doctor came in to see them, "I'm so sorry... We thought for sure that this one would happen for you."
Goren stared at the wilting figure of his wife, "We did too..."
"It's recommended that you don't try to have a child for a while... There's always invetro, but I have to recommend surrogacy. Your sister is a prime candidate..." the doctor was fishing, trying to help the broken hearts.
Valerie's head hurt from crying, but she couldn't find an end. Goren squeezed her hand, letting her know they would figure something out, "She just got married. We can't ask her to do that for us."
Valerie finally found her voice, "She'd never do that anyway! She hates that I married you! She's never approved that I married a fellow detective!"
Goren's voice wavered as he spoke, "Baby, she'd do anything to help you, whether she likes me or not..."
Valerie opened her mouth to argue, but a nurse entered to replace her IV bag. She rolled over, letting go of her husband's hand to attempt to sleep through the hell.
Their two year anniversary was their last week of absolute bliss. Valerie still felt the sting of the last miscarriage, but she allowed herself the much needed feel of love between them. Goren had taken the week off so they could drive down to the beach where they had gotten married. The condo they had rented then still stood as it had two years before.
"Baby, I love you." Goren said, watching his wife sitting on the couch, reading.
"And I love you." Valerie closed her book and stood, wrapping her arms around his neck, "You're too good to me. I wish my family could see that..."
Goren led her back to the bedroom and closed the door, "Sweetie, I don't care what they think. They aren't the ones that I want to love me. You are the only one that matters to me."
She hugged him tighter, "Then promise me that you'll never leave me."
It was the one thing she had coveted the most; her marriage. People had looked at him with uncertainty, but she had been blinded by his harmless, yet curious, behavior as soon as they met. They had eight years of dating, dinners, and working on cases together, and two of marriage. To her, they were ten full years of bliss. Yet here she was, wearing her infirmities on her sleeve, and waiting on another.
Valerie had never been bothered by Goren's late nights on the job. She knew what three cases at the same time could do to a detective. She trusted him to stay true, until he came home a month after their anniversary, a poignant smell of woman's perfume on his clothes. She started questioning him tentatively, as not to start a fight. Despite her firm attempt not to, within five minutes, she snapped; he slept on the couch for the rest of that night.
Her sister was the first person she fell on when she realized almost at once why her entire family had worried when they met him. Not wanting to see her sibling's marriage destroyed, Julia gave Valerie a small hope; Goren was just working case with this other woman. The couple attempted to patch things up at Christmas, but that only made things worse. Valerie had just given her younger cousin, Ricky, a hug when Goren came out of nowhere and slugged him. That was the end of everything. Once the divorce papers arrived a week later, all hopes quickly became ephemeral sensations. Believing that this other woman had become her precursor, and knowing there would be no trust left between them, she signed them with haste. She was not going to be the one to instigate again.
When the court had begun over custody, his over powering ways became vividly apparent. He had gotten his precinct's lawyer to help him, leaving her to fend for herself. She and her lawyer didn't stand a chance against them. He'd gotten the house, he'd gotten the car, and all she had to show for the divorce were the deep emotional scars left on her heart.
After thirty-five minuets of waiting, the waitress came by and she ordered her fourth cup of coffee. She began imagining the idyllic future that she and Goren would have had. They were planning to move into the country and finally have the child they had attempted and failed to have so many times. They wanted to grow old together and watch their baby grow up, get married, and have children of his or her own.
She bit back the bitter, furious tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. She was not going to be the one that cried again. She was done running from these taunting memories.
She forced herself to continue ominously imagining the future that should have been. It was like ripping off a bandage; painful, but it has to be done some time. The coffee came, and she poured the burning liquid down her throat. The sting of the small blisters on her tongue helped her overcome the pain still dwelling in her heart.
Valerie's mind wandered to the interlude between the divorce and where she was now, sitting by herself. Julia and her husband had allowed her to stay at their home, for free, and helped her find her feet once again. They had given her the courage and strength that she needed to get through the tough times and had stood by her at every divorce hearing. They were her solid rock.
Her life seemed to be turning around now that she had been on her own for almost two months; she had been promoted to senior detective, finally cracked two of the cold cases lying on her desk, and had even found an apartment for herself. She felt one hundred percent when it came to everything but her heart.
The animated clock on the diner's wall chimed in an elated manner, he was now an hour late. Her sister, her twin, was the reason she was here now, waiting on this phantom man. She was told he was a great guy, one that respects women. He was known to be the understanding type, not like the man Goren had stopped being in their last few months together. She had never personally met this man before, or even talked to him, but everything she heard from her sister pointed toward her type of Mr. Right. He was a real knight in shining armor. So where was he?
Valerie knew when she was being stood up and decided to go home. She didn't need this from another man, she had work in the morning. Heaving a sigh, she stood, and tossed money for her purchases on the table with a small tip. Her green eyes once again, quickly scanned the many faces around her before stepping into the bright, warm, afternoon sun. With every step she took toward her place she built a complex labyrinth around her broken heart. For now she, Detective Valerie Johnson, was done with this game called love, but she knew that, in time, she would be alright.
She'd been chasing this suspect for some time now, and he wasn't giving up anytime soon. She rounded the corner, screaming the directions to her new partner who followed her in the car, "Left on Pike, heading east!"
Her radio fizzed for a moment and her new partner's voice crackled through when he spoke, "Got ya! How are you holding up?"
"I'm fine!" she yelled, "Taking another left!" She leaped over the trash can the perp knocked over in her way.
"Johnson, you don't look alright, you're limping!"
She watched her rise and fall in the windows, "I must've twisted it... Right on Main!"
"I see you; you don't need to yell directions!"
Rounding another corner, she began to feel dizzy, "Stop! You are under direct order of an NYPD officer! Stop now!"
Breathless, she got around the next block and started toward the alley that he had run down. She took the turn too sharp, and the last thing she remembered was hitting the ground.
An hour later she awoke in the hospital, her old partner standing over to her, "Oh thank God!"
"Wha-What happened Grey?" she asked, feeling groggy. She moved her hand up to her face and felt the deep gash in her left cheek.
Grey sighed, "Mitch said you passed out. The doctor has run some tests and he wants to speak to you..."
Johnson sat up, "Where is he?"
"Your doctor is a she... I'm supposed to page her when you come to..." Grey answered, hitting the call button.
Within a minute, the doctor was in the room, "Valerie, I've got some good news and some bad news..."
Grey's smile faded, "What's going on? Bad news?"
"Given her history, we're commanding bed rest and a halt on all cases."
Johnson's face fell, "For what?"
"Valerie, you're five months pregnant..."
She sucked in a breath, "No... I-I can't be..."
"I've done some history checking with your doctor, and you were the smaller twin, am I right?" The doctor sounded caring as she spoke. Johnson nodded and the doctor continued, "You're uterus didn't fully develop, that's why you have had so many miscarriages."
A giant lump formed in her throat, she had never told Grey she wanted children. He was like the father she never had and he knew it, but that was just something that she had trouble telling him. He stared at her with his chocolate brown eyes, "You never told me..."
"Because I've had four miscarriages in the last two years!"
Grey picked up her hand and kissed it, reminding her of how she had taken the place of the children that he had never had, "My little girl... Having a baby of her very own?"
Her mind went back to Goren, her ex-husband, the man she was both loved and hated. She felt stupid for blaming him of infidelity, her sister had been right. She couldn't forgive him, though, for turning right around and blaming her for cheating. Johnson sighed, wondering if this would finally be the pregnancy to actually provide her with a child.
The doctor interrupted her train of thoughts, "Is there a number that I can contact the father at, or do you want to do that?"
"He's going to treat it as my last four pregnancies, I'm going to miscarry."
The doctor laid her hand on Johnson's shoulder, "Not if we can help it."
Dating did nothing for Goren anymore. He couldn't get that break up out of his mind. He'd gone into a slight depression when he found the papers had been signed the day Johnson had received them. He lit another cigarette after smothering the small stub of the last one underneath his size thirteen shoe. 'Where does she get off thinking I was cheating? She has had to kiss at least more than three men on the job and I didn't mind, she loved me. I kiss a woman, my partner, once because I have to act the part I was given, and I'm on the couch...?'
These thoughts circulated through his mind as the waiter came over, "Sir, can I take your order?"
"Give me a few more minutes..."
The waiter nodded and walked away. Goren's anger turned into fear, he was becoming like his father. Abandoning the woman who loved him, who only wanted to please him, who wanted to give him the child she couldn't have. 'What am I doing? I vowed never to do this...'
A blonde woman walked up, "Hi... Are you Bobby Goren?"
Goren looked up from the concrete beneath his feet, "Yeah, that's me..."
"Frank called me and told me about you. I'm Rebecca Walker..." she sat in the weather proof chair beside him, the giant umbrella at the table shading her face.
Goren rolled his eyes, 'Of course he did...', "I thought I told him I wasn't open to blind dates..."
She smiled brightly, "It doesn't have to be a date if you don't want it to be..."
"No, it's alright, but you'll have to forgive me if I don't kiss you good night."
Johnson entered her ninth month of pregnancy still thinking that she would miscarry at any given time. The doctors had tried to ease her worry, but only seemed to make it worse. She had tried to get one of them to let her go home and take a nurse with her for the needed medical supervision, but was turned down. Grey came to visit her as often as he could, bringing a little of this and a little of that for her. She began looking forward to them as much as she looked forward to her sister's.
During his last one, she had just had an examination by her ob-gyn, Dr. Maria Jones. He hoped that she finally decided to get the sex of the child, but knew that hoping was just a wasted emotion when it came to that topic. She smiled when she saw him, "Hey Richard... How's the job?"
He'd been promoted to captain since she was forced to go on leave, "Pretty good. I could use a detective like you. We've got a drug ring with their hands in the pockets of every major investor in the city..."
She smiled, "So the usual?"
"Yep. Have you called Goren yet? He's got the right to know..."
"I don't want him to think that he has to come back to me because of this child. He'll find a way of twisting everything around..." Johnson sighed, pulling her hair back.
Grey handed her a hair tie and sat beside her, "Honey, you have to tell him eventually..."
He reached over and took her hand, "Remember what I told you when we first became partners?"
"Face your fears before they consume you..."
"Right, now I want you to call him before you have this child and tell him to come down here."
Waking up beside another woman felt wrong. Goren's head swarmed every time he went on a date, hoping that none of them wanted to sleep with him. He sighed, tucking the new pack of cigarettes into his shirt pocket and exited the store. Instead of heading toward home, he walked toward the precinct to finish his paperwork.
His phone buzzed; he had a voice mail. He dialed his box and listened to the hesitant voice, "Hi Robert; it's Valerie... I need you to..." he snapped the phone shut, he couldn't listen to it any more.
He walked into his building and headed toward his desk, 'What did she want?'
As he sat in his chair, he had more questions than answers running though his mind. He was tempted to listen to the rest of the message, but with his phone it was already gone; he'd forgotten to save it.
Johnson's sister Julia and her husband Stephen arrived at the hospital almost thirty minutes after Grey had forced her to call Goren. She smiled, 'It's good to feel this amount of love in a room again...'
Stephen opened the box of assorted chocolates that he and his wife had brought for everyone and passed it around, "So sis, when are you going to pop that kid out?"
Johnson sat up with some help from Grey, "When you grow up and get a job..."
"Damn, I think she's going to be hormonal for the rest of her life," he said, covering his heart with both hands, a fake shocked look on his face, "Because that hurt."
Johnson felt the child moving, reminding her of what she almost did to her ex, "The doctors seem to think it could be any day now..."
Julia sat down on the bed beside her sister, "Sweetie, you're going to have this child, and it's going to be healthy. I know that you think otherwise, call it a twin's intuition."
Johnson sighed, "I can't squelch this feeling. I'd like to, but I've never gotten this far before."
"But you have, and you've felt it moving, you know it's there."
Johnson smiled, knowing her sister was once again right. She stared Stephen down, "Hey pretty boy, hand over the chocolates and no one will get hurt."
Stephen laughed giddily, "Oh? And what will you do, spout more messed up hormonal remarks at me?"
"I'll have Grey shoot you." she laughed.
Grey flashed Stephen his un-loaded gun, trying to look serious, but ended up laughing alongside everyone else.
Goren opened his desk drawer and routed through it, looking for his favorite pen. It was the last thing he had gotten from his mother before her schizophrenia kicked in.
It was his sixth birthday and he and his brother Frank were running around, driving his mother crazy. Frank had written a 'Kick Me' sign and taped it to Goren's back. Goren was both chasing his older brother and looking for a pen to write one for Frank. He remembered asking his mother time and time again for the one she was using to write out his invitations, but was turned away with the threat of not having a party at all.
That night, he, his mother, his brother, his father, and family friend Mark Ford Brady got together to celebrate little Bobby's birthday. He went through his presents with great excitement, but the one that had excited him the most was the pen. He got up almost immediately and wrote a 'Kick Me' sign for his brother, who wore it for the rest of the night.
Goren smiled at this memory and retrieved the pen, knocking something else on the floor. He bent over to pick it up and stopped; it was his wedding picture.
He and Valerie had just exchanged vows and walked back down the aisle to the sand dune in front of the sunset. The photographer had them standing there for all of the shots. All of them were beautiful, but this was the best. The bright yellow/orange behind Valerie accented her red hair beautifully. After the pictures were taken, they had gone back to the reception hall for dinner. Her sister, and the rest of her family were there, along with her partner Richard Grey. Goren's friends had shown up to show their support. Neither of them had their parents there. His mother had gone through a relapse that weekend and couldn't leave the hospital, and his brother was nowhere to be found. Her mother died when she graduated from high school, and her father died when she was five. The rest of Valerie's family seemed to welcome him in reluctantly, but still did none the less. Despite the disappointments because of their family, it was the happiest day of their lives.
He stared at the happy faces in the picture for a few minutes, almost wishing that he could go back. He picked it up and stowed it back into his drawer, not wanting to fully open those wounds again.
Johnson and Julia were left alone for some 'girl talk' while the guys went to get food. Julia felt her sister's stomach while the baby began kicking, "How does it feel Val?"
"It feels strangely wonderful... I called Robert before you got here..."
Julia looked shocked, "Did he pick up?"
"No, but I left a message. I don't know if he's going to get it. Or even come..."
"Did you tell him what's going on?"
Johnson nodded, "I told him everything that I..." her eyes widened, "Oh God..."
"What?" Julia's face flooded with concern, "Are you alright?"
Johnson began to panic as she looked down at the dark stain on the sheets, "I think my water just broke..."
Julia smacked the call button and Johnson's ob-gyn ran into the room. Seeing Johnson's face she grabbed a few nurses, "Okay, let's get you to a delivery room..."
Gage walked into the Bullpen where Goren was still working on paperwork, "How's the paper work going Bobby?"
"It's going well..."
Gage sat down on the desk, "What's going on? You're distracted."
Goren buried his face in his hands and let his breath out slowly, "Valerie called... She sounded worried..."
"Bobby, you actually talked to her?"
Goren moved so only his chin was in his palms, "No. She left me a message..."
"Did you listen to the whole thing to see what she wanted?" Gage was beginning to get angry and wasn't afraid to show it.
"No... I couldn't."
Gage stood, putting his hat on, "Forget her. She's just holding you back. You don't have to respond to her every call. You're a free man Bobby Goren."
Goren nodded silently, wondering if Gage was right. Was it just easier to forget her?
Almost an hour after Johnson was moved to deliver; a doctor took Julia back to an empty recovery room. Julia sat thinking her sister would come back in a while, but she never did. Instead, Jones walked in, a bundle of blankets in her arms, "Here he is..."
Julia gasped, "Where's Valerie?"
"She almost bled out. She has to have a complete hysterectomy... She'll be out in a few hours... I'm sorry." The doctor placed the small newborn in her arms and left the room.
Julia stared down at her nephew, her sister's only child, and the remainder of a shattered marriage, 'How can someone so small be so much to one person?'
Goren left the precinct around eleven, trying to take Gage's words to heart, 'Just forget her Bobby, it's all over now. There's nothing you can do about it... But what if I can?'
He flipped his phone open and dialed his voice, praying that there was at least the number left; it wasn't. He sighed and pulled out his cigarettes and lit one up, 'I hope we did the right thing...'
Johnson woke up a sharp pain in her abdomen, "Did I get shot? Where the hell is that bastard? I'll break his crooked neck..."
Julia put her hand on her sister's shoulder, "Sweetie, you just had your son... He's healthy, but they had to do a total hysterectomy. The pain killers are going to be screwing with your head for a while..."
Johnson forced her mind to concentrate, "Son? It was a boy! Oh, Bobby always wanted a boy!" she had the enthusiasm of a child sometimes, "Is he here yet?"
"No, I'm sorry. " Grey stepped forward, "Robert hasn't even called..."
Stephen passed his nephew to his sister-in-law, "He's got his father's eyes..."
"I miss those eyes. It'll be good to see them again..." She took her son and began to cry gently, "I can't believe I finally had him..."
"Congratulations." Grey said with a smile, "I'll step in whenever you need me too..."
Julia and Stephen agreed, "So will we... Robert doesn't know what he's missing..."
Goren stared at the calendar on the wall, had it really been eight years since he'd gotten custody of the house and car? He couldn't help but identify with the suspect in the case he and his new partner, Alexandra Eames, were working on. Both men had won the custody battles in their divorce cases and both marriages were effaced by accusation of infidelity.
Eames looked up from the documents on her desk, "Bobby, you alright? Maybe you should go home and rest a while... Carver doesn't need these papers until noon tomorrow..."
"No, I'm alright." he pushed the past out of his mind as he had eight years ago, "Hand me that file... I'll sort through the details."
It was Robert Goren Junior's eighth birthday and all of his friends were there to celebrate. Bobby ran up to his mother and tugged on her skirt, tears on his cheeks, "Mom... Why isn't dad here? I thought he was going to come..."
Johnson kneeled down and put her arms around him, "Baby, I don't know..."
Grey came over to the two and handed Bobby a big package, "Here kiddo... I got this for ya."
The boy cleared his cheeks of the tears and began ripping at the wrapping paper, "Oh WOW!!! A Spider Man set? That's SO COOL! Thanks Uncle Richard!" He hugged Grey and ran to show his friends.
Johnson hugged him as well, "Thank you. It's getting so hard having him thinking that his father will show up out of nowhere..."
Grey let her go after a few seconds, "It'll get better in time... Robert will meet his father sometime before he's twenty. I guarantee it."
A five-month-pregnant Julia walked over to the two adults with a birthday bag in her hands, "Jeez sis, how did you go through this?"
"I didn't know, remember?" Johnson laughed, taking the bag from her sister, "Where's Stephen?"
"At work... He'll be off at three. Till then, I can fill his empty space... So, when are we cutting the cake?"