In the aftermath, he was strangely distant. It seemed odd because she had always pegged him for a cuddler. She wasn't quite sure when she made that assessment, because she sure as hell didn't remember doing so consciously, but she obviously had at some point because she was surprised when he didn't wrap himself around her. In fact, he did quite the opposite: he disengaged from her. But he did it gradually, as if she wouldn't notice that he was withdrawing from her if he did so slowly. After he rolled off of her he lay on his back for a while and before she knew it he had completely turned away, his back to her.
At first she thought he had fallen asleep – it had been a hell of a day and, after all, they weren't as young as they used to be – but after a few moments of watching his breathing she concluded that he was definitely awake, and something was wrong. Which wasn't surprising – it seemed like everything under the sun had gone wrong that day.
"Bobby," she said softly, resting a hand lightly on his back.
At her touch he shifted and turned back to her, his distant eyes refocusing as though he was coming out of a trance and seeing her for the first time.
"Sorry, I was just, ah… thinking."
"What else is new?" She remarked with a smirk. When he didn't return her smile she asked, "What about?"
"I just – I can't help thinking that it was a mistake."
"Oh," Alex said, stiffening as his meaning sunk in. The words stung and the fact that they were completely unexpected didn't exactly help. The torch he had been carrying for her for years was a poorly kept secret and for him to finally confess and show his feelings, have them reciprocated and then promptly regret it didn't make any sense to her. But, then again, that was Goren: half of the time it seemed as thought he did things solely for the sake of defying expectations.
"I guess I should go, then." She sat up, pulling the sheet over herself – though it was a little late for that – and glanced around for her clothes. Her blouse was crumpled in the doorway, her bra a few feet into the room, and everything else – shoes, slacks, panties – was in a pile at the end of the bed. Silently, blinking at the stinging behind her eyes, she moved to slip out of bed and gather them, but Bobby grabbed her by the wrist before she could even swing her feet over the edge of the bed.
"Eames, th-that's not what I meant!" the words sounded harsher than he intended them to in his rush to say them. Then, quieter, gentler, he added, "Don't go. Please. I – I wasn't – I was talking about your resignation."
"Bobby," she sighed, and sank back into the mattress. She encouraged him to do the same but he remained upright, still loosely grasping her wrist, feeling the light pulse there. He was gazing down at her expectantly, waiting for a response, and she shook her head, "We've discussed this."
Of course, said discussion occurred just moments before he kissed her for the second time that day – this time on the mouth – an action which no doubt took a lot of courage on his part, so she wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't really been paying attention to what she had been saying.
"I know, but you deserved that promotion; you've been with the department for years and you would have been a great captain. And I just can't help feeling like some day you might come to regret your decision or... or come to resent me because I'm more or less the reason you resigned." He explained. At this point he seemed to suddenly realize that he was still holding her wrist. He released it quickly and rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed, though why he felt that way given the intimacy they had shared barely half an hour before was beyond her.
Alex pinched the bridge of her nose, suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that she was going to have to explain this to him several times before he finally got it through his brilliant but stubborn head that she wasn't going to blame him.
"Bobby, if I were angry or resentful of you at all, I wouldn't be here right now."
"You aren't now, but what I'm saying is that maybe, in the future, you might –"
"Bobby… I – look; one of the first and most important things you learn on the job is to have your partner's back and trust them to have yours. What the brass asked me to do – firing you in return for a promotion – was asking me to stab you – my partner – in the back. And that's just –" she paused and shook her head, taking a tremulous breath as she blinked back the unwelcome tears welling in her eyes, "I don't want anything to do with a department that asks that of someone."
He was quiet then, studying her expression with that contemplative gaze of his. After a few moments of penetrating her with his gaze he nodded and settled back down next to her, seemingly satisfied with the answer. He lay flat on his back with his hands folded across his chest and, not knowing how he slept, she assumed that was the end of it. Watching him end their conversation and just go to sleep like that, she was tempted to scoff at his simplicity. He got what he wanted to she just went to sleep without bothering to acknowledge or appreciate what she had done for him or even the fact that she was there. Naked. In his bed. Not that she was looking for appreciation, of course. She didn't take her job at Major Case to get noticed and she certainly didn't quit it to get appreciation. But… still. She was sorely tempted to scoff at his indifference or just get up and leave, but then she really saw, took in his profile in the fast fading light of from the window and saw how exhausted he looked. His face was drawn and haggard, heavy bags under his eyes that made the skin there sallow and dark, as though it held permanent shadows from being so tired for so long. He looked weary of the world and she knew it wasn't just an effect of the dim lighting. Her regard softened and, suddenly, she didn't feel like scoffing anymore.
Instead she lifted a hand and ran her fingertips lightly over the soft, grayed hair at his temples.
"Oh, Bobby," she murmured. She was startled when he leaned into her touch and turned to look at her, blinking and meeting her gaze. It was then that she noticed an unfamiliar shine in his eyes and realized with a start that he hadn't been sleeping, he had been crying. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing is wrong. It's just... you're incredible, you know that? I don't think I've told you... shown you that enough. Having you as my partner for all of these years has been... I was lucky. So very lucky. I haven't shown you how much I appreciate... everything, everything you do. And I'm so sorry about that, Ea- Alex." He reached out and touched her cheek so tenderly that her eyes started to well up again. Inwardly, she cursed; she hated crying there she was, tearing up for what was easily the fourth time that day. "You would have been the best captain Major Case - no, the entire NYPD has ever seen. I'm sure of it."
"Thank you," she said softly, whispering for fear her voice would break if she spoke any louder. "It means a lot to me that you think that."
They lay in silence for a moment then, both wiping at damp eyes and tear-stained cheeks. Then quietly;
"What do we do now, Eames?"
"Well, first of all, you need to start calling me Alex. We're – we're not partners anymore," she nearly winced at that, finding that the words hurt to say aloud, but pressed on, "but, believe it or not, there is a life after the job. We just have to find it."
"But how? Where? Financially, I can't afford to retire right now and this…being a cop is all I've ever done, Eames. I can't…"
"I don't know, Bobby, but we'll find something," She reassured him, though she wasn't really certain whom she was trying to convince. Tentatively she reached out and placed a hand on his chest, just over his heart, "But tomorrow. Now… we sleep."
He nodded once and gifted her with a small smile. Then finally, finally, he shifted to her side, pulling her closer to his chest. He buried his nose in her hair, inhaling her familiar, calming scent and pressing a kiss to the crown of her head.
"I love you, Alex," He breathed.
And this time when she told him everything would work out, she believed it.
And sure enough, eleven months later, the phone rang...