It was a blow to lose Captain Ross.
True, the man had been an adversary to some extent. But he had his moments.
We were both devoted employees of the NYPD, and I'd respected him as my boss.
And just because I'd never wanted to ask him out for a beer didn't mean that I wasn't upset about his death.
It brought a sense of mortality to the department.
It reminded us all that on any given day…
But if I kept thinking like that, I'd make myself crazy, so instead I went about searching for Ross' killer.
The FBI had been using him as an undercover agent in hopes of stopping a terrorist organization.
So how had he been made?
Was it because I'd gone to the hangar?
Or was it something else?
I didn't like the agents with whom he'd been working.
And apparently, our new pro-temp captain didn't like them either.
"Goren, a word," Maas said to me as he strode past my desk.
It was the day after Ross' funeral.
It was also the day that Eames and I were going to take custody of Van Dekker.
We'd gotten our warrant, and so in a few minutes, we were heading over to the courthouse to intercept the agents.
"I only have a minute," I told him as got up from my chair.
Eames was on the phone with the DA confirming our position with Van Dekker, making sure that he knew we'd be pulling the suspect out of federal custody.
At Maas' request, she looked at me curiously and I just shrugged before following him into his office.
Maas shut the door behind me, and then he made a proposition.
"I want to fire you," he said boldly.
"Well, get in line," I joked uneasily.
"Can you deal with it? If that happens?"
He wasn't smiling, but he also didn't look angry or upset.
What the hell was going on?
"Can I handle being fired? What are my options? I mean, yeah, I guess I'd have to."
"What I want to know is, what would you do? Where would you go for work?"
"I don't know. I wasn't planning on getting fired any time soon."
"Goren," he said in frustration. "I'm being serious."
"Help me out here, Lieutenant. Where's this conversation going? Are you just looking out for my well-being?"
"No. And no, I'm not firing you. Not right now anyway. You haven't done anything. Yet. Besides, I'm thinking that maybe a suspension would be the way to start."
"The way to start what?"
"I think that someone inside the FBI is responsible for your captain's death," he said. "I don't think they pulled the trigger, but I think they tipped off the man who did."
"And what does that have to do with me getting fired? Or suspended?"
"The Chief tells me that you've gotten offers before from the Bureau. He thinks that if you weren't working for us, you'd be working for them."
"It's a possibility. Although now I'm not so sure."
"Be sure," he said cryptically. "And give me a reason."
And the point to this whole conversation finally hit me like a ton of bricks.
"You're asking me to go undercover to sniff out the leak in the FBI."
"You'd have to do it on your own," he said with a nod. "It's a distinct possibility that there are moles in the department as well, so we can't risk anyone here finding out about it."
"And Moran is on board with it?"
"It was his idea."
I was quiet for a minute while I absorbed the proposition.
I was definitely interested. If someone inside the Bureau was responsible, then I wanted him caught.
And Maas thought that there were moles in the department, too? And people called me paranoid.
"I think that we start with a suspension," Maas continued. "And then we can step it up if we need to."
"What about Eames?" I asked him.
Because really, who knew how long something like this would take? I wasn't about to commit to a long-term assignment without her.
"What about her?"
"If I do this, I want to bring her in on it, too."
"That would be a tough sell."
"For the FBI? Or for the NYPD?"
"I would think, for Eames," he replied, tipping his head and looking at me curiously. "It would be off the books. And very unorthodox. Maybe you should start it and see what happens."
It was a serious consideration. And I'd have to think about it.
I wasn't just going to jump in head first.
"Can I let you know?"
"It needs to happen soon."
"I understand," I said. I reached for the door, and then turned back to Maas. "If I do this, Eames is, at the very least, in the loop. I'll get my foot in the door with the FBI and if I think I'm on the right track, then we'll figure out a way to bring her in. But she knows about it from the beginning. I'm not going behind her back."
There was a loud knock on the door that startled me, since I was standing with my hand on the knob.
It was Eames, and she tapped on her watch as she looked at me through the glass.
I gave her a nod and then waited for Maas' agreement.
"Okay. Go get Van Dekker and then you two meet me back here. We'll work out details."
"What was that about?" Eames asked me as we headed for the car.
"He had an…interesting proposition," I replied. My mind was still trying to wrap itself around the enormity of the undertaking.
I'd have to get myself suspended.
That would be simple enough.
And then I'd have to ingratiate myself to the FBI.
Not quite so easy, but still doable.
The trick with them would be to make them think that I could be useful. And since they were still trying to get a handle on this weapons deal, then all I had to do was follow the evidence and subtly get in the way.
I had no doubt that they'd reel me in at that point.
And from there, I'd have to convince them to bring in Eames.
Because sniffing out a mole was like doing undercover work from the inside. And I'd done plenty of undercover work in Narcotics.
It took time.
Trust had to be earned and positions established.
It didn't happen overnight. It didn't even happen in a week or a month.
And there was no way in the world that I was going to delve into that life without Eames.
And I can kid myself all I want to by saying it's because I need her as a partner, but that was a load of crap.
"Yeah, um…sorry," I mumbled when I realized that we were almost to the courthouse and I hadn't said a word.
"You're not going to tell me about Maas' proposition?"
"I am," I said quickly. "It's…"
"Look, they're going in," she interrupted, pointing at the group of federal agents escorting Van Dekker into the building.
"Well, let's go get him."
And somewhere between the car and the interior of the building where we caught up to the suspect, I made up my mind.
Because I realized that attempting to procure evidence the old-fashioned way just wasn't going to cut it this time.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and these were most definitely desperate times. Ross was dead. Law enforcement agencies were leaking like sieves and something had to be done about it.
And this would be the perfect opportunity for me to work on getting that suspension because I had no doubt that the feds weren't going to honor our warrant.
I only wished that I'd taken the time to tell Eames about this before hand, but I would tell her when we got back to the car. And hopefully she'd understand.
"We have a DA's warrant for the arrest of Van Dekker," I announced challengingly.
"You've got no jurisdiction on this," an agent spoke up.
This was going to be even easier than I thought. I watched the indignation on their faces as Eames backed up our assertion with the facts.
And then I had to taunt Van Dekker a little bit.
"So, you're mine," I told him.
At which point, he resisted, I grabbed onto him, the feds tried to hold him back, but instead I tossed him into the wall.
It was therapeutic for me and exactly the grounds that Maas would be looking for.
Not only that, but the agents were all witness to my temper tantrum. My suspension would come as no surprise to them.
"This is bad, Bobby," Eames said to me once the others walked away, with Van Dekker still in tow.
"No. This is good. It's good," I told her.
"How is this good? You just unloaded on a suspect in front of a dozen witnesses. The Chief isn't going to like that kind of publicity."
"Let's go back to the car. I'll explain everything."
And then she gave me that look.
It was similar to the one she'd given me that day outside of the holding cell. When she'd learned that I'd been undercover and hadn't told her.
My heart plunged at the prospect that she was upset with me already, but she held my gaze and then gave me a nod.
"How much everything is there to tell?" she questioned evenly. And that was code for how long have you been keeping me in the dark?
Fortunately for me, it wasn't long at all.
We got in the car and I told her about what had happened with Maas.
"So I guess you decided to do it," she stated.
"I think that I have to. But if it works…if they bite and want to bring me in…"
I left that thought hanging because I couldn't ask her to do it with me. It had to be her idea.
"Then you could be out for a long time," she finished. We were still sitting in the parked car and she hadn't started the engine, so she turned in her seat to look at me. Her eyes were filled with concern.
"This could be really dangerous," she continued. "If there is a mole…someone who leaked information on Ross…we know to what lengths he's willing to go. He'll attempt to hide his identity by any means necessary."
"Bobby," she said on a sigh, leaning her head against the back of the seat.
Despite the gravity of our conversation, the intimacy of the moment was not lost on me. I wanted to reach over and pull her into my arms, to reassure her that everything would be okay.
But I didn't.
She'd allowed me to comfort her briefly when we'd first learned of Ross' death, but other than that, we still adhered to our steadfast yet unspoken rule of no touching.
And there was a good reason for that rule.
Because I knew that if I ever started touching her, I'd never want to stop.
But still…here we sat, alone in the car, making potentially life-changing decisions.
"I don't think that you should do it alone," she said quietly after a long moment of consideration.
I was instantly flooded with a blend of emotions.
Elation that she wanted to do this with me and yet concern for her well-being.
Because she was right.
It was going to be dangerous.
But at least if we did it together, then I could have her back and she'd have mine.
"You need to be sure," I said, fighting back the nearly overpowering urge to reach out and touch her.
"I'm sure. I want to find this guy, just like you."
"And?" I asked when she didn't continue because even though she hadn't spoken the conjunction, it was there just the same.
"And someone has to keep you out of trouble," she added with a small smile.
The spell between us was broken by the ringing of my cell phone.
"It's Maas," I told her.
"Detective Goren," he said firmly when I answered the phone. "Where are you?"
"We're on our way back," I told him as Eames started the car.
"I need you in my office," he yelled. "And bring that partner of yours with you. Do you understand me?"
So he'd heard about the incident already.
Which meant that he knew my decision.
I had no doubt that he was making the call with his office door open, and I wondered how many detectives were in the squad room listening to him.
"Yes sir," I replied. "We'll be there in ten minutes."
It only took eight, and we walked through the squad room like condemned men to the gallows.
We got into his office and Eames closed the door behind us. Maas was behind his desk, and he stood up but made no move to come around it.
"So tell me he threatened you. Or you reacted to something," Maas said.
He was giving me one last out if I wanted it.
I caught Eames' eye and we stared at each other for a long minute.
She was with me. She was always with me.
"Goren, they've taken this to the commissioner. Do you know what that means?"
Yeah, I did.
That meant that maybe I didn't have an out after all.
That meant that the feds had gone over Moran's head, and the commissioner didn't know about this little stunt.
So it was a good thing that I was on board, because it was game-on.
Since the commissioner knew about what I'd done, the suspension was imminent. With the feds whining in his ear, he wouldn't have a choice.
The only difference was that if I was going forward with Moran and Maas' plan, then the suspension would be handled in front of everyone as opposed to behind closed doors.
"We're in," Eames said.
"Okay," Maas said with a nod. "We'll start with Goren and see how it plays out. Eames, we'll bring you in later if we can."
"We will," she insisted.
"We need them to bite on Goren first," he replied to her, and then he turned to me. "So you need to get into the middle of their investigation. Show them that you're committed to tracking down the truth."
"I am," I reminded him.
"Then it won't be too hard. They'll hear about your suspension. And when they see that you're not going to go away, they'll talk to you about helping them because they'd rather have you with them than against them."
"And once they commit to bringing me on board permanently, I'll get them to bring Eames along, too," I said.
"In the mean time, we'll work on a story for you," Maas said with a nod to Eames.
"Yeah, it won't be so believable if she gets fired, will it?" I said on a chuckle.
"We'll come up with something good," Maas promised. Then he glanced past me out into the squad room. "Okay, are you ready to sell this?"
"It won't be a stretch," I said.
"Yeah, he's been known to throw a tantrum or two," Eames said with a smirk.
I flashed back to the day when I'd wiped everything from my desk and stormed out of the office.
Not one of my finer moments, that was for sure. I liked to think that I'd progressed from that, but now was not the time for pride.
"Try not to break anything," Maas said. "Okay, let's do this."
I got up and gave him a nod and then whipped open the office door.
"We are not done here," Maas said forcefully as I continued to walk away from him. "Detective!"
I whirled around and stood toe to toe with him as the audience gathered in the background.
We stared hard at each other and then he said carefully, "You're suspended."
Even knowing that the words were coming, knowing that we'd planned it like this, it was still a blow.
Because this was it.
I was going undercover.
I reluctantly pulled out my gun and my badge and handed them over to Maas. It was almost like cutting off my lifeline.
But I still have Eames, I reminded myself.
Maas took my hardware and headed back to his office. I realized that everyone was staring at us.
Or rather, staring at Eames, waiting to see what she was going to say.
"Well, I talked him out of a psychological evaluation," she said harshly, as though she was truly pissed off at me. I had to remind myself that she wasn't. "And you can thank me later."
The crowd began to disperse, and I went to my desk to gather a few personal effects.
I needed to get out of there.
I needed to get Eames out of there where I could get on solid footing with her. I didn't like play-acting that she was angry with me. But that would have to wait.
And I'd come too far to blow the show.
I grabbed the folder from my desk, the one that contained the information we'd gathered so far on Ross' murder.
Nichols was standing beside my desk, in obvious shock at the scene he'd just witnessed.
"Uh…share this," I told him. "And I'll be in touch with you."
He took the folder from me, and I had no doubt that he'd continue the investigation. Which was good. I needed people to be going at this thing from all angles.
I couldn't resist looking at Eames one more time before I left.
I needed that connection.
"And with you," I said to her meaningfully. She held my gaze and gave me a nod, doing her best to still look angry.
But I read her better than anyone.
She wasn't mad.
She was worried.
Because now we'd set this whole thing in motion, and she knew as well as I did that there was no turning back.