By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Whedon and Wolf own all. Bayside. "They're Not Horses, They're Unicorns.". Victory, 2007.

Summary: Eames. She was his reason for refusing the ICW's offer -- whatever it was, whatever it would have gotten him. He was staying for her just as he knew she would for him.

Timeline: L&O:CI, during Bobby's suspension, then fast forwarding to the hell on Earth that will be the season premiere. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, post-season seven, but none of the season eight comics have happened.

...How all the choices you've made drive you insane. I wish we'd never met.

Bobby ran a hand over his face, giving the bespectacled man before him another once over. The man had come all the way to his apartment, was seemingly irreverent to Bobby's haggard appearance, and was offering him a job.

"I understand that you may not wish to leave your current tenure with the New York City Police Department, but -- "

Goren gave a dry, humorless laugh and Giles found himself rather confused. Goren seemed to notice this -- in fact, he appeared to be an extremely perceptive man, by all rights -- and let his arm drop down to the table before he elaborated for Giles' benefit.

"I'm on suspension. I -- " Bobby clamped his mouth shut, running his hand over it again. He wasn't willing to discuss it any further than that with a complete stranger. Not when he couldn't even discuss it with Eames.

Contrary to his expectations, Mr. Giles actually smiled. "Ah, er, yes. Your suspension. We are quite aware of that, Detective, as well as your very successful partnership with Detective Eames. As it would stand, she's currently working with a replacement, am I correct?"

Bobby's face darkened. He didn't bother to tell this man, Giles, that he didn't think anything about the situation was worth smiling about.

Mr. Giles continued as though he weren't practically being glared at and shuffled his papers into a more neat stack than they already were.

"Yes, well -- as I stated earlier, Detective, we at the International Council of Watchers are extremely interested in your services, suspension or no."

Goren fought the urge to scowl, "Which is interesting considering that during the last half-hour or so, you still haven't told me a thing about what the International Council of Watchers does, much less why you'd require me."

This time, Mr. Giles' smile was more restrained. "You attended Oxford and Yale, yes? Obtained degrees in Psychology, Criminology, and the Criminal Sciences, in general?"

At Goren's terse nod, Giles continued, "What we are offering, Detective, is a chance for you to do far more than dangle yourself on the line again and again for a department that doesn't seem all that happy to have you there. From our background check -- if you'll forgive this, particularly since I'm sure you'll try to find us as soon as I leave -- this isn't your first suspension, though it is the most serious, and when you are on your best behavior, they still treat you as though you've contracted some dreadful disease they're terrified of catching -- unless what you've caught is the perpetrator of some heinous crime."

Giles smirked, then, "Then they're all for you."

Goren sighed heavily, irritated now at being reminded of his tightrope walk with the brass and his colleagues on a daily basis.

Then he cut to the point, "I'm not leaving Eames. She -- I'm not leaving Eames."

His own expression was closed, he knew, and he complemented it with folding his arms.

Giles could see this situation wasn't going to turn in his and the Council's favor, so he simply sighed and stood, making sure to leave his card.

"Please feel free to contact us if you ever have need." With that, Rupert Giles let himself out.

Bobby had listened when the man told him he wouldn't find anything, he was guessing, on a computer about the International Council of Watchers, but all the same he took a walk over to the library and spent hours looking through the stacks, trying to find at least something that would point him in the right direction.

He got a lot of faint hints, but nothing that would form a cohesive picture. Frustrated, he slammed a book harder than he'd intended, earning a sharp glare from the last librarian on call at the moment (the others had all long gone and Bobby was only allowed to stay as a courtesy from being an extremely frequent face), who rightly complained, "Detective, you of all people know better than that! That's a very, very old book you're abusing in such a way!"

Bobby winced, immediately contrite. This particular librarian always reminded him of his mother before she was ill, which always gave him a horrible twinge in his chest.

"I'm sorry, I'm just...I'm frustrated. I mean, I knew -- they told me I wouldn't find anything about it, but...do you have any idea what the International Watcher's Council is, by any chance?"

Bobby tried not to clench his fist as the irritation of not being able to find anything rode over him.

Sure enough, the librarian shook her head, sighing, "I'm sorry, Detective Goren, I haven't the slightest idea what that is. You're welcome to come back tomorrow to continue looking, though, so long as you remember to treat the books kindly."

Bobby nodded, again contrite as he gathered his things and finally left after waiting for her to do the same. "I - yeah, I'll - I'll be back tomorrow. I just haven't slightest idea where to look."

"Well, you know what they say -- it's always the last place. Good evening, Detective," she said as she got in her car and drove off.

Bobby walked home, kneading his forehead and thinking hard, almost oblivious of the rain that began to fall.

By the time he got home, Rupert Giles' card was soaked through, the ink runny and illegible.

Goren gritted his teeth. "Great. Just -- " he pitched in into the trash can and resolved to try to forget about the whole thing. He had more important things to worry about.

Eames. She was his reason for refusing the ICW's offer -- whatever it was, whatever it would have gotten him. He was staying for her just as he knew she would for him.


St. Vincent's Hospital
Intensive Care Unit
11:54 pm

Bobby stared downward at Eames' comatose body, everything in him willing her to wake up. He was crying, he knew, but he didn't care. She'd lost a lot of blood and his Rhesus factor prevented him from giving her any. He stared unerringly at the bandage on her neck and wondered what the hell he was going to do if she left him.

4:12 am

In the end, they'd forced him to let go of her hand. Her body was taken to the morgue and he took it upon himself to call the Eames family and tell them that she'd never regained consciousness, that she hadn't hurt at all.

He wished to any and everything that he could think of in this world or any other that he could go with her.

Bobby's Apartment
8:23 pm

Barek, of all people, had been the first person on his doorstep. Logan had followed shortly thereafter with Deakins and Carver. They'd stayed the longest, Deakins and Carver needing to return to their families, but both Logan and Barek were either retired or had taken leave from the FBI field office she was now assigned to.

Barek had broken rank on impulse and given him a hug. It was then that he'd finally caved, crying as though his heart had been ripped out.

What he would say if he had been able would have been that it wasn't just his heart, but everything. He was hollow, gutted -- someone had taken Ea -- Alex from him and she was never coming back.

He cried and felt as if he were dying, too.

...I was just a lost soul who needed a home, I was filling a void with you...

The next time a representative from the Council showed up on his doorstep, it was a woman he felt was young enough to be his daughter. She was quite short, he noticed immediately, but didn't comment on it. He didn't care to do more than step back and let her cross the threshold, already knowing but not knowing why she was here.

Her first words were her name, Buffy Summers, and then condolences on the loss of...Alex -- he'd quickly corrected her and she'd surprised him by smiling sadly and nodding before repeating Alex's name.

"You won't forget her, I promise," Buffy Summers said with a certainty that told Bobby that she'd lived through what he had more times than she cared to remember and Bobby longed to ask her how on earth she was still here.

Buffy sat herself down at Bobby's kitchen table and Bobby would have kicked himself if he'd had the energy to care about being rude.

He slumped in the seat across from her and brought his hand to his mouth, pressing it against his teeth before bringing it back down and taking a wild shot in the dark.

"Let me guess -- International Watcher's Council."

Buffy frowned a smile and sighed, "Yep, that's us -- and you looked and you didn't find anything, but then your whole world was turned upside down so what the hell did you care?"

Bobby deflated further if that was possible and didn't even bother nodding.

Buffy sighed. "I'm not going to tell you it'll get better. That's a damned lie. It never gets better, Bobby. It just gets livable, so that's what you've got to do. If you loved her half as much as I think you do, then you owe it to her because even her family can't love her like you do."

Bobby breathed inward before it burst out and he tried to breathe again, tried to speak, failed and failed again.

He brought his hands up and ran them through his hair before bringing them down over his scratchy face. He'd shaved for her funeral, but that was -- he didn't know. He didn't know anything anymore.

"What do you want from me?" He asked again, dead inside.

Buffy frowned earnestly now but didn't raise either eyebrow as she asked Bobby, "Let me guess: Giles came, dropped tantalizing little hints, but wouldn't just say it's classified information, just that you wouldn't find anything and was generally a British pain in the butt?"

Bobby's scowl at the memory of -- was it last month? Last year? It was all so muddled in his head. God...

"And that answers my next two questions. Bobby, I'm not going to ask you to join us if you feel like staying with the NYPD. You've got a fantastic resume that anyone with a brain would jump at -- the NYPD got lucky, though. They don't know it, but at the same time, you just don't want to leave your memories of Alex behind."

Bobby blinked then and everything in the vicinity was blurry and Buffy breathed, herself, before reaching forward and giving his much larger hand a gentle squeeze.

"You really think she'd leave you that easily?"

Bobby's breath hitched, a sob almost escaping before he forcibly clamped his mouth shut, but the tears still came.

Buffy squeezed Bobby's hand just a little bit more. "Don't leave her behind. Take her with you. It's your choice. You and I both know you don't want anything to do with the NYPD anymore. They split the two of you up and they did it without giving even the slightest bit of a damn. You don't have to do that again. Or go through it again. Take her with you."

This time when the International Council of Watchers came calling, Bobby accepted. He still didn't know what they did, but it didn't matter as long as what Buffy told him remained true.

You're pulling out your teeth and I'm the Novocaine you pump in your cheek...