My contribution to what will undoubtedly be a flood. Hopelessly romantic.

Spoilers for LOYALTY, Part II

In the end, there was surprisingly little for her to put in a box and take away. Bobby's desk was empty. He'd already cleared away all of his books and pens and magnifying glasses and surgical gloves and whatever else floated over and around and in his desk.

"He knew," she thought. "He knew it was over. I think it's been over for him for some time. Why did he stay for so long…"

She gathered the few items she wanted to take with her—the photo of her late husband's dog who'd helped her survive those terrible days after Joe's murder; the pictures of her father and her nephew (she wondered how she'd explain to her father that she was not only leaving the NYPD but turning down a captain's post, and how she'd explain to Nate that she was leaving a job she'd always told him she loved); and the Santa mug Bobby gave her to replace the one he'd broken in an overly enthusiastic description of a robbery suspect's methods. It was the sight of the mug that propelled her out of Major Case. She'd planned to speak with Nichols and to say goodbye to several other cops; to call Rodgers and tell her what was going on. She was supposed to meet with some representative from the Brass, who undoubtedly was going to try to get her to see reason and recognize she was throwing her career and her life away. But she realized that a great deal of her life had just walked out of Major Case and One Police Plaza, and that part of her life mattered much more than her career. She seized the mug and rushed out of Major Case. She'd pick up her other things later, or have Nichols or someone bring or send them to her. She thought she heard someone call her name as she moved through the bullpen, but she ignored it. There were, fortunately, no members of the Brass in the elevator. As she hurried to her car, she again thought she heard her name called, and she again ignored it. As she drove away from the building, she wondered if this would be the last time.

As she drove, the memory of Bobby's kiss and hug threatened to overwhelm her. The move had stunned her, but ultimately comforted her, and she'd responded with a long hug of her own. "Keep in touch," she thought. "Bobby said he'd keep in touch. I…I need more than that…I want more than that…"

When she arrived at Bobby's house, she realized she had no idea if she would find him there. As she parked her car, she saw that his beloved Mustang was outside the garage. Its hood was up, and she saw Bobby leaning over the engine. She remembered that he frequently worked on a car when he needed to think; they'd even solved a few cases over a tune up or oil change. She grabbed the mug and left her car. Alerted either by the sound of her car door or their shared ESP, Bobby looked up from the engine. He rubbed his hands with a rag as he walked toward her.

"Uh…Eames…What are you?"

She didn't know what to say to him. "You…You forgot this…" She thrust the mug at him.

Bobby stared at the mug and then at Alex. "Uh…That's yours, Eames…What…You left Major Case to bring me…"

"It…It's yours," Alex insisted. "The last time…You won it…"

Bobby placed the rag on the car. "Eames…For heaven's sake…It's yours…Keep it…Considering everything I've done…It's a pretty small thing…"

"No…It's yours…" Alex stepped closer to the car. "Anything wrong?"

"Uh…No…Just checking it out…Lewis…Lewis may have a buyer for it…"

"Oh…Bobby…You love this car…Heck…I love this car…"

"I don't think you can afford it any more than I can," Bobby said wryly. "With what I can get for it, I can buy another car and have some left over. And it's silly for a middle aged guy to have a sports car anyway…Even an antique one…Or maybe especially an antique one…" He stepped closer to her. "But shouldn't you be back at Major Case and not talking about cars?"

Alex intently studied the car's engine. "I…I'm not taking the captain's exam…And I'm not the head…Even temporarily…of Major Case…I'm not part of the department any more…"

"Eames…"

"Don't, Bobby…Don't tell me you're not worth it. Don't tell me to think of myself." Alex raised her head to look at him. She shook and clenched her fists, but her voice was steady. "I know what I want. I know what I don't want. I know that the job means we have to compromise and sacrifice. I just don't know if I want to stay part of a system that sacrifices people like Ross…And you…And when you left Major Case today…I knew…I didn't want it…Want us…To end…I…I don't want to just see you around…I…I want more than that…I…I want more of…That hug…"

Her head dropped. She couldn't look Bobby in the eyes.

He stepped closer to her. He tenderly touched her chin and raised her face, and Alex drowned in his deep chocolate eyes. "I love you," he whispered. "God forgive me, but I love you. I think I've loved you since I first met you in Deakins' office. One reason…I kept trying to stay away and push you away was because I love you and I didn't want to hurt you and…Oh…Alex…I couldn't stay away…I came back because of you…"

Alex was aware of everything. The sounds of traffic and birds and Bobby's voice; the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze and the touch of Bobby's fingers on her chin—it all flooded over and around and through her. She collapsed in Bobby's arms.

"Alex…Alex…Are you all right?" Bobby's voice softly rumbled in her ears.

"Yes…It's just…No one has ever told me that they loved me first…"

Bobby's hug grew tighter.

"Not…Not that that happens every day…" She looked up at Bobby and saw tears running down his cheeks.

"I…I'm glad," Bobby said in a choked voice. "To be the first…"

Alex's hug grew tighter. "I…I love you…"

Bobby rested his chin on Alex's head. "Do you think we should be doing this in public?"

"Oh…Who cares?" Alex laughed.

"C'mon," Bobby said. "I can offer you an iced tea…"

"So," Alex said as she sat across from Bobby at his kitchen table. "I suppose we need to talk about what we're going to do…How we're going to live…"

"I…I might have a consulting position with the FBI." Bobby gripped his glass. "But that would involve travel…And I don't want to do that right now…And I'm not sure I'd fit with the bureau…I could teach. There's a guy at Hudson who's been trying to get me in the criminal justice program. I've got a standing offer from Deakins…He'd probably hire you too…We could get PI licenses and open our own agency…I could write my memoirs…That'd make some people nervous…I can always help Lewis…He'd hire you in a minute…Probably before me…"

Alex laughed; Bobby smiled.

"Well, I have some money socked away…Should tide us over for a while…If…If you don't mind thinking of us as us and me taking care of us…

Bobby's hands closed over her. "You've always taken care of us…Of course I don't mind…"

END