A/N: Thanks for the reviews.
Bobby & Alex's Apartment
He was in the middle of reading an article in the newspaper when he heard Alex walk into the kitchen. Not taking his eyes off what he was reading, he asked, "Did you enjoy your evening?"
"Are you kidding? Nine hours of uninterrupted sleep was better than sex."
Bobby chuckled as he felt her hands on his shoulders, giving them a soft rub. "I think for once I can agree with that." He felt a kiss placed on his head and he felt her hand run along his neck and then his jaw, making him tilt his head back.
Alex captured his lips in an upside down kiss that had him wanting more the moment she broke it. "I take it you actually got some sleep yourself."
"Not nine hours, but a decent five. And," he said as he closed the paper and got up from the table. Bobby opened the bottom cabinet next to the stove and brought out a box. Setting it on the counter, he said, "Another gift."
Alex smiled and shook her head at him as she moved beside him and poured a cup of coffee. "You really did get me a waffle maker."
"Logan teased me about it, called me an idiot, but what he doesn't know is your secret love affair with strawberry waffles…along with cappuccinos and expressos, and basically anything with coffee in it." Bobby grabbed a knife and started to slice through the tape on the box. "Since you cooked for me yesterday, why don't you go shower while I get breakfast started. How many of these things do you want?"
"I'll take two. Did you buy strawberries?"
"And whipped cream," he told her as he pulled out the machine and looked at it in contemplation as he figured that all he had to do was plug it in to work it.
"Even better," Alex told him as she took her cup of coffee with her out of the kitchen.
Bobby got busy making them breakfast, her waffles, pancakes for him since he didn't really care for waffles, and also some bacon and toast. By the time Alex returned, the food was done and he was once again seated at the table reading over the paper.
"How was it at SVU yesterday?"
Bobby gave a nod as he took a sip of the coffee. "Uh, good. I didn't get much done, sat at a desk all day and talked to the principal of Caleb Cunningham's high school in Alabama, also some of his teachers. I found out the reason why this kid would've been so upset with the thought of getting kicked off the basketball team because of his poor grades."
"And what's that?" Alex asked as she dished out spoonful of strawberries onto her waffles from the bowl on the table.
"At his old high school, the teachers seemed to let the athletes slide by with mediocre grades; if they maintained a C average, they were fine. Some of his teachers even admitted to me, in, uh, not so many words, that they would give the poor students a C just so they could continue playing for the team."
"It wouldn't be the first time that's happened; I thought schools did that everywhere."
"Some do…" Bobby said as he folded up the paper and tossed it down next to his plate. Looking up at her, he explained, "St. Luke's doesn't. They don't reward athletes with grades, or let them slide by. It's motive for what he did to the coach, to get back at him, for threatening to take his dream away."
"So, if Caleb was going to have his dream of playing college basketball taken away by the coach kicking him off the team, then he took the coach's life away by accusing him of sexual misconduct."
Bobby shrugged as he said, "Wouldn't be the first time. It's typical vengeance, but…" he shook his head as he rubbed at it. Getting some sleep had helped; however, it wasn't a cure. His head was still hurting, so was his gut, and his hands were less shaky but he felt the restlessness coming on. "There's something else going on with this kid. There's more to all of this. His whole…attitude, his personality, it's telling me that something else is at the source of his vengeance."
Alex shook her head at him as she said, "Maybe you're thinking too much about it. This could be a straight-forward 'he threatened me so I attacked him first' act of vengeance. It's clean, simple, and to the point."
Staring down at the table, Bobby sighed as he worked the tension out of his neck. "I'm not over thinking it. I know there's more…He's, there's something about this kid that…it's striking chords, you know. My instinct is telling me that there is something very wrong with this kid, and this case."
"Okay, what chord is he striking?" Alex asked.
Bobby had to smile as he realized what was happening. Despite the fact that they were no longer partners, over breakfast she was still able to be his most reliable sounding board. "Honestly, he's reminding me of, of a predator on the verge of becoming something more."
"And you're afraid of what this kid is going to turn into? He's displaying signs of what?"
Bobby shifted his eyes back to the table as he took a deep breath, saying, "A sociopath."
Alex swallowed down her food with a sip of coffee and then asked, "Are you sure?"
This had been what he was struggling to reason out yesterday while he spent most of his day mapping out his profile. Giving a nod, he said, "I'm sure. There's really only one way for me to figure this out, and that's to get in as close as I can to Caleb…I've got a hunch, a theory that would explain a lot of things that are currently unexplainable with the Patterson case."
Alex took a moment to think about that as he watched her finished eating. She downed the rest of her coffee and then said, "You're putting yourself undercover for this?"
"I want to, but not completely. I want to track him, conduct surveillance, and get in contact with him without disclosing that I'm a cop."
"And Deakins is agreeing to this?"
Bobby worked his jaw as he looked up at her; he hesitated before telling her, "Well, no…I, uh…I volunteered my services to SVU."
Alex stared over at him, a little wide-eyed, before saying, "You transferred without telling me."
"It's not permanent. A temporary relocation until I'm done with the case. It'll be easier this way, and it is SVU's case. I'll be working it with Stabler and Fin. Uh, Benson…"
"Liv is out with the flu. What about Munch?"
"He's on vacation and they just lost a couple of detectives to other departments so they're short on people." Bobby felt his leg start to bounce under the table as he waited for her response. He knew she would be upset that he didn't tell her about it first, but then he was afraid that he would have to tell her about his uncertainty with staying with Major Case.
Alex didn't look too happy, but she resigned herself as she nodded a little. "Great, now I'm stuck with Logan for a while longer."
Bobby smiled a little as he thought that maybe it wouldn't just be for a little while, but permanently. If he chose not to return, he could imagine that Deakins would keep them together. Then again if he did go back to Major Case, he could request to remain partner-less, letting Logan and Alex remain partners, until they got a new detective in the squad to partner him up with. He didn't think that Deakins would have any problems with that, nor would the brass.
"These cases are going to continue overlapping, are you okay with giving up on the ADA's investigation?"
Bobby smiled over at her as he said, "I trust in your abilities, and Logan's, to solve it without me. And if anything develops on my end that's important to your case, I'll let you know."
"Ditto. So, does Logan know about this?" Alex asked as she got up, taking along both of their empty plate to clean off. When he didn't answer, she rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. "Are you trying to push him away?"
"That would imply that he was close to me to begin with," he said as he finished off his coffee and got up. Setting the cup in the sink, he told her, "We're not friends, Alex. Logan was my partner, nothing more. Partners come and go, he'll get over it."
"What'd you mean he was? He still is."
"No, now he's your partner; when I get back to Major Case, and back on fully duty, then maybe he might be paired up with me again. I don't know."
Alex glanced over at him as she cleaned off the plate; handing it to him to rinse, she said, "You seem so certain of that. I know you, what aren't you telling me?"
He rinsed the plate and sat it in the strainer while he thought how to answer that. Finally, he told her as he took the other plate, "Let's just say I'm not giving my hopes up. If Deakins likes the way you and Logan are working together…and I'm over at SVU, what's going to stop him from keeping you two partnered up? Partners get changed around all the time, people transfer or retire…or quit. I'm preparing myself for anything. It'll be a good idea for you to do the same."
"Believe me, I think I'm well prepared. I went from you to Stone, back to you, and then Copeland, and now Logan. I feel like the revolving door for Major Case detectives."
Bobby chuckled as he took the soapy cup from her as he felt his hand start to shake. He took a firmer grip on the cup and got it rinsed and in the strainer without breaking it. A couple more glasses and one last coffee cup and they were done with the dishes. He had cleaned off the waffle maker and skillet after he'd used them.
As he grabbed all his things for work, he told her, "I saw the printouts for the apartments in Rockaway. Any in particular you like?"
"The one on Beach Crest. I took a virtual tour of it on the computer, and the price is decent. I was planning on checking it out as soon as I find the time."
"I liked that one too. How about tomorrow after my appointment we go check it out?"
Alex smiled over at him as she picked up her car keys. "Depending on the status of our cases, we'll see."
Bobby leaned down and gave her a quick kiss before leading her to the door.
"Sleep does you well," she said as he held the door open for her.
"I feel better, not a hundred percent, but better." Bobby made sure the door locked behind him then followed her out to their cars. The unseasonably warm weather was turning cold, making him dig into his overcoat for a pair of gloves. "Hey, Alex," he called out as he pulled out his keys and unlocked the doors.
Alex stopped at her car and looked over her shoulder at him.
"No matter what happens with our cases today, I've got plans for us tonight."
Smiling, she opened her door and got into her car as she said, "I can't wait," before shutting the door.
He watched as she left first before getting into his own car and starting the engine. As he sat in the car waiting for it to heat up, he thought about what he'd been struggling with for days now.
There were, and had been things, that he's run away from; to say he wasn't a quitter would've been a lie. He'd quit many things, gave up on a lot when it came to his personal life. However, there were also a lot that he fought for. He just knew when to choose his battles. When to fight and when to walk away.
He had walked away from so much when it came to his own happiness. He'd given up on past relationships, he'd given up on other people to be there for him. He walked away from so many people in his life without really caring too much about what it did to either of them.
What he had said to Alex about partnerships was also true to friendships, at least for him. People never stayed, and for the most part he would let them leave. He never put up a fight to keep a friendship from sinking, from fading into nothingness. With the way he got used to living alone, he was lucky to say that he had at least two, maybe three, good friendships with didn't include his relationship with Alex.
However, despite all that he has hardly fought for, he had always fought for not taking the easy way out. Call it a character flaw or a quirk or a defense mechanism, whatever it was, he had always rebelled against what was easy. If it was simple, he didn't care for it. Simple and easy and to the point never taught him anything.
Everyone he knew said that he was attracted, and addicted, to trouble. He was the first one to also agree. It explained why he would always empathize with not only the victims, but the suspects. Why he would always be pen-pals with Wally Stevens, why he would again defend a man like John Tagman. And why he would always go toe-to-toe with Nicole Wallace.
If it was hard, difficult, and maybe even completely dangerous, then he went for it and he fought through it; coming out the other side with some kind of lesson learned. Sometimes a little more wiser, other times a little more alone, but he always managed to survive.
That morning when he had woken up after only five hours of sleep, it had all seemed so clear. Clearer than anything had ever been before in his life.
He couldn't give up. He still had a lot more to fight for. And if anything comes from this experience, it would be that he learned something from it and would try very hard to never repeat it.
Despite what he had told himself yesterday, he was mentally strong enough to conquer this battle. He'd been trained and conditioned to withstand a lot of stress and damage done to not only his body but to his mind in part thanks to the military. All the other parts had come from his family, from all the factors that went into being a cop, and from his own stubborn will to never back down even when he should.
It wasn't in his nature to give into the misery and wallow. Yes, he brooded, but he had always been able to brood and do his job all at the same time. That was why yesterday, even after a rough start, he had gotten dressed and gone to work.
Working, that was his nature. He was made to work, to keep fighting no matter how hard it got, and to keep moving. To stay alive. He was a cop for a reason, and he loved being a cop. It was who he was.
Everything wasn't completely a hundred percent better. He still hurt, the pain was still there, and he was still depressed but he was also determined to not let it destroy everything he had. He could take the stress, he could take the weight, and he could still continue on. Where he continued on to, he wasn't certain; however, he knew who would be there for him along the way. He just hoped that once this was all over, that Alex would still love him, or if not, that she would still be there as a friend.
He had tried to not let this reach out and hurt her, but that was entirely beyond his control. He wasn't that guy; he wasn't the kind of man who could bow his head, and hold in his anger and thoughts, and concede to conflict or to defeat. It didn't matter how much he loved someone, if he felt he was right, he fought for it even when he was dead wrong. He fought against his mother, his father, his brother, God, everyone, including Alex.
There were some things he just could not do. He wasn't entirely descent, he wasn't entirely a gentleman, he wasn't entirely the most agreeable or understanding man in the world, or the most respectful. He had limits, he had flaws and faults, he had a mind and a will of his own, and he had a lot of damage done, and he had done a lot of damage.
He has lied, cheated, and killed. He has thought the most disturbing thoughts known to man. He has been tempted and he has lusted…He has cursed himself and God and he has hated as well as loved. He has been the most self-centered person in the world at times.
He remembered telling a woman suspect once, during his first year as Alex's partner, that she was HIV positive. It was a lie, and he had let a woman believe for over two days that she was going to die. He didn't care what kind of misery he put that woman through. She could've turned suicidal for all he knew and killed her boyfriend, like that woman did who killed her father after he told her that her father was having an affair with a man, her boyfriend.
He had done a lot of wrong, lied to a lot of people, ruined lives because all he cared about was getting to the truth, of catching the bad guy. He had to lie to get to the truth. That was his reasoning behind so many things he'd done in his life, both on and off the job.
And was he sorry for any of it? Nope, because he would do it all over again today, and tomorrow, and the next day.
He wasn't a saint. He wasn't God's gift to women. He was just a man. And there were times when he looked at himself in the mirror and saw a man he didn't recognize. There were times he saw a man he respected, and then there were times when he saw a man he hated more than anything.
He finally reached out and shifted the car into gear as he thought that as long as Alex kept seeing a man that she loved, that was worth her time and effort, then maybe in time he could look in the mirror and finally see a man that he could also love…
Or at least be content with.
Major Case Squad
As she walked into the squad room, she immediately noticed a change. For one, Logan was nowhere in sight, and two, someone had taken up residence at the desk across from hers. Alex looked around and saw no one she didn't recognize, no one was in the Captain's office, and upon further inspection the desk that Logan had been using was cleared off.
"Don't worry, it's just me," Logan said as he walked in from the hallway. In his hands were a few printouts and a CD case. "Deakins changed my seating arrangement this morning." He sat the printouts on the desk across from her and held up the disk. "They were able to get some stuff off of Gardner's laptop, they're still working on the phone."
"And the case files are a wash?"
"Unfortunately salt water tends to destroy paper. The only thing that saved the laptop was the plastic case it was in, along with the extra concealment from the briefcase," Logan said as he handed her the CD. "Have at it, partner."
Alex took the CD from him as she gave him a look.
"Another change made this morning. As of now, we're official." Logan gave her a look and then said, "Deakins told me about Goren's temp transfer to SVU this morning. The next time I see your boyfriend, I'm kicking his ass."
Looking to Deakins office, she saw him on the phone with the door closed. She didn't know how to feel about this change. They were working good together, and Bobby was now over at SVU…Taking a breath, she sat down at her desk and got to work as she told Logan, "Just don't kick it too hard, he's in enough pain already."
"I also brought up Miss Peltier's laptop," Logan said as he picked it up out of one of the evidence boxes from the ADA's office. He placed it between their desks before taking out a handful of files. "I'll start on all this."
Alex booted up her laptop as her desk phone shrilled. Picking it up, she answered, "Eames."
"Yes, Detective Eames, this is Jeff Foster, Bobby's friend."
"Oh, yes, Jeff, are you trying to reach Bobby?"
"Actually he told me to call you about it since it's your case. I found the information he wanted about any property recently bought by ADA Alec Gardner. I found two recent purchases and one rental. One purchase was a house in Maryland, the D.C. area, the other two are in Manhattan. He bought a four story brownstone and rented out storage space."
"Tell me about both here in Manhattan," Alex said as she popped the disk into the department issue laptop and waited for it to scan and open.
"No real surprise with either. The brownstone, it's one of those historical buildings in Hamilton Heights that's undergoing renovations. And then you have the storage space."
"Addresses?" After Alex wrote down both of the addresses, realizing that they were both located in Hamilton Heights, she thanked him.
Once she hung up, Alex smiled over at Logan. "Three purchases; one in Maryland, but two here. A brownstone and space at a storage facility, both in Hamilton Heights. The brownstone is off 138th street, and the storage facility is off 136th."
Logan got up as he said, "That's only blocks from the dump site."
Alex was up as she closed the top screen to the laptop and handed it off to Logan. "While I drive, you can see what's on that disk," she told him as she grabbed her coat and pulled out her cell phone. "I'll also give Carver a call and get a warrant en-route."
Special Victim's Unit
When he had been at SVU yesterday, Elliot and Fin had both been in court all day so he never had the chance to talk to them about anything. Captain Cragen had basically given him a desk to use and told him to stay at it until it was time to leave. He hadn't said that in so many words, but Cragen didn't have to say anything for him to understand what he wanted done. That man had looks that spoke volumes.
As he rounded the corner and entered the room full of detectives, he heard Cragen call out for him. Bobby sat his cup of coffee down on the desk that was to be his as he headed to the Captain's office. Looking inside as he approached, he saw both Elliot and Fin waiting. Walking in the office, he closed the door and greeted the men with a left-handed hand shake, and a pat on the shoulder to Fin.
Cragen sat behind his desk while he did the same in an empty chair by the door while Fin stood. Elliot sat in a chair in front of the desk. "I called you all in here to explain what's going on, and then Detective Goren can fill us in with what he's working on," he said as he gave him a look.
Yesterday, Bobby had mentioned to Cragen about wanting to go undercover, and to work surveillance on Caleb Cunningham. All Cragen told him was that he would think about it, and then for him to go home. Now, he wondered if he had come to a decision.
"As of yesterday," Cragen was saying, "Detective Goren has been temporary reassigned to Special Victims."
Elliot glanced over at him, giving him a weird look, before saying, "Why?"
Bobby smirked at that as he twisted his hands together when he felt them start to shake.
Cragen continued, and in doing so, answered Elliot's question, "Goren has uncovered some additional evidence while he was working on the disappearance, and now murder, of ADA Alec Gardner. He has requested to take over the Guy Patterson case, and instead of letting Major Case handle the investigation which would have taken it away from SVU, he decided to volunteer to work with us. Thus, joining our team."
Elliot glared over at him as he asked, "You think Patterson's innocent?"
Bobby took a glance over at his friend as he gave a nod, saying, "Yeah, I do. I, uh…" he looked to Cragen who leaned on his desk, giving him a chance to explain himself. "During the course of my investigation, I looked at the evidence that you and Benson obtained, I went to Patterson's house and spoke to him, met his family, and then I went and talked to Caleb Cunningham. Then yesterday, I interviewed Patterson's son, Zach, and then spoke to teachers, the principle at Caleb's high school in Alabama….Through all my interviews, and what I could gain from the evidence, I believe that Coach Patterson is innocent. I think that Caleb Cunningham set him up, accused him of this crime-"
"There were four other boys who came forward."
"With no proof," Bobby countered him. "All ADA Gardner had to go on was their word. It was a he said/he said case from the very beginning. The one piece of actual evidence is circumstantial at best."
Elliot looked pissed a hell but instead of trying to defend his own investigative work, he seemed to slump in the chair. Then, he admitted, "That's what I told Gardner."
Bobby looked over at him as he asked, "But he went ahead to indict anyway?"
Elliot nodded, saying, "I admit that maybe my own emotions lead me to be biased, but Gardner seemed to have a vendetta against Patterson from the beginning. I knew that the evidence was slim, that it was circumstantial with no weight. The media was all over it and it spun out of control and before we knew it, it was going to the Grand Jury."
"Does he normally handle your cases?"
"No," Cragen said, then telling him, "You remember ADA Casey Novak. When this case hit, her caseload was maxed out, she was juggling three court cases, and so she couldn't handle anymore. Gardner stepped in."
Bobby rubbed at his head as he thought about that, saying, "You mean he offered himself up to take the case."
"The minute the scandal broke he was in here like an accident lawyer chasing an ambulance," Fin said, verifying his thought.
"Then it's safe to say that maybe the ADA did have a vendetta against the high school coach?" Bobby asked as he looked around the room.
"I can agree to that," Elliot said as he sighed heavily and looked to his Captain. "I'm assuming that me and Fin are working this with Goren since Liv and John are both out."
Cragen gave a curt nod then said, "You are, now get to work."
They all stood up to leave the office, Bobby turned and asked Cragen, "Have you thought about, uh, what I asked yesterday?"
"I'm still considering it. If you provide me with enough to validate your reasoning and so I can defend it when presenting it to the Chief for authorization…" Cragen left the rest for to figure out for himself.
Bobby sighed as he left the office. He knew that it was the best way to conduct this investigation, but of course it always came down to red tape and authorizations. Going over to his desk, he picked up his cup of coffee as he walked over to Elliot's desk and sat down in Benson's chair. "She won't mind, will she?"
"I don't think so. Just don't let her catch you sitting there when she returns. You really pissed her off the other day when you were here."
"She didn't tell you about it?"
Elliot shook his head as picked up his blue stress ball and started squeezing it. "I didn't ask and she was too pissed off to tell me. I think she called Alex and talked to her about it though."
Bobby flipped his binder open as he opened the laptop that was on the desk. He typed in his email address and password to access the NYPD database. Glancing over at Elliot, he told him, "You got Patterson's daughter's name wrong; it's Elise, not Chloe."
Elliot narrowed his eyes in thought as he said, "She told me her name was Chloe."
Bobby glanced over at him in confusion. "What's her full name?" Elliot gave him a shrug as he realized that neither one of them knew the answer to that. He turned to the computer as he picked up the phone.
"So what's my role in this investigation," Fin asked as he walked over to the desks.
Bobby pulled out two case files and handed one to each of them. "Right now, I guess to read up on what I've got. I'm pretty much stalled until I can convince your Captain to go to bat for me to conduct surveillance on this kid and go undercover."
"Undercover as what?" Fin asked as he flipped open the folder.
"Uh, as a friend?" Bobby said with a shrug. "To not have to disclose to Caleb that I'm a cop."
Fin gave him a smile as he shook his head, telling him, "I can't believe you volunteered to work here instead of Major Case. Whatever the reason, I'm glad you decided to not make this a turf war."
Bobby watched as Fin went back over to his desk as the phone stopped ringing and a woman answered. Five minutes later, he had the birth certificates of Guy and Audrey Patterson's children up on the computer. "Okay, her full name is Chloe Elise Patterson, date of birth March 4th, 1988. She was born here in the city. She'll be seventeen."
"She's autistic so maybe the reason she told me her name was Chloe was because it is her name," Elliot reasoned.
"Yeah, or because only her family calls her by her middle name…Implies intimacy. She could have been told by her parents to tell strangers her first name, or she herself could've associated her middle name with family only." Bobby wrote that down in the binder with no reason as to why, but it was something that interested him. Looking at the son's birth certificate, he said, "Zachary Isaac Patterson, born August 23rd, 1979...in Washington D.C…"
"Is that where the mother is from?" he asked as he tossed the blue stress ball up in the air.
"No, she's from here…Attended St. Luke's high school. She's Catholic, could've gone to Georgetown for college."
"Go Bulldogs," he said as he tossed the ball again and caught it. "Where did Guy go to college?"
"Did you do any research at all for this case?" Bobby asked as he typed Guy Patterson's information into the database then hit the search button.
Elliot glanced over at him as he said, "This was a child sex abuse case. Where the coach went to college wasn't exactly one of my main concerns."
Bobby closed his eyes as he thought back to Patterson's house. He remembered seeing family photos everywhere in the house, but there had been one on the mantle…It was of Guy and another man, and they were toasting their drinks. In the foreground of the picture was a banner…It was a class reunion and the name of the university… "There was a picture in his house. Patterson was in it with another guy, and in the background was a reunion banner …It's Colombia University's Teachers College. It was for the graduating class of 1984...Graduate school."
"Four years undergrad plus four years in graduate school, that sounds about right," Elliot said and then added, "Zach was born at the start of his senior year as an undergrad."
Bobby brought up the marriage certificate that was on file for Guy and Audrey. Checking the date, he wrote it down as he said, "They married in December of 1979."
"I'm surprised that they didn't want to be married before the kid was born. I did that when Kathy told me she was pregnant."
Bobby glanced over at him and smiled a little. "I thought devout Catholics waited until marriage."
Elliot started chuckling as he told him, "I'm not that devout."
Giving into curiosity, he flipped through the file he had on ADA Gardner and pulled out the list Alex had given him on his alumni associations and charity works. Scanning the sheet, Bobby nearly laughed as he said, "Guess who else went to Georgetown?"
Elliot caught the ball as he sat up in the chair. "Gardner?"
"And he also went to St. Luke's, graduated with both Guy and Audrey."
"So instead of following the future father of her child to Colombia, she goes to Georgetown?"
Bobby smiled as he said, "Maybe in 1976 Audrey had thought another man was going to be the future father to her child."
"If that's true, and she spent four years in D.C. with Alec Gardner before getting with Guy Patterson…"
"The question is, are we sure that Zach is actually Patterson's son?"
Elliot shook his head. "Even so, what does this have to do with our case?"
Bobby shrugged as he flipped open his cell phone. "I don't know, but it definitely means something to Gardner's." When he heard Alex answer her cell, he asked, "Care to have lunch with me and Stabler?"
"Love to; I'll bring Logan along so he doesn't feel left out. It'll have to be in a few hours, we're on our way to check out a couple of perspective crime scenes. Your friend Jeff, he found three recent purchases, two here in New York; a brownstone and a storage unit."
He printed all the pages he needed off the computer, saying, "Sounds good, uh…good luck with that. And I'll see you in a few hours." After hanging up, he gathered his files as Elliot got up to collect the papers from the printer. When he returned with the printouts, Bobby asked him, "What if I get Dr. Huang on my side?"
"I'm sure that if you can convince Huang that your profile is solid, and that this Cunningham kid is a threat…" Elliot shrug as he told him, "I don't see Cragen ignoring that."
"Uh, good, because I'm going to need you to get Huang here by this afternoon."
Elliot smirked as he reached over and picked up his desk phone. He dialed a number and then after a few short seconds, said into the phone, "Dr. Huang, this is Elliot Stabler…" He listened for a moment and then answered, "A case, but it's complicated. We need you to look over a profile. Yeah, it's being developed by Detective Robert Goren from-" He looked over at him and said, "The same guy…Okay, thanks." When he hung up the phone, he smiled over at him, saying, "Your reputation precedes you. The moment I mentioned your name he said he'd be right over."
Bobby smirked slightly as he remembered his last meeting with the FBI forensic psychiatrist. It had been the case that led to Alex's kidnapping. It had also been when him and Elliot, over the course of the joint investigation, became friends.
"Is there a Goren here?"
Bobby looked up at the use of his name and spotted a detective across the room at the fax machine. "Yeah, right here," he called out as he got up.
"Faxes here for you," the detective told him as he approached.
"Thanks," he said as he took the sheets, about eighty in all, and headed to his assigned desk instead of using Benson's again.
"What'd you got," Elliot called over to him as he leaned back in his chair so he could see him.
Bobby held up the sheets in both hands as he told him, "Caleb's high school records from St. Mary's in Mobile. They had emailed me his grades and attendance record from the past three years…but his personal record hadn't been inputted into their computer database yet so they had to fax it to me."
"Personal record of what?"
"Suspensions, history of fighting and aggressive behavior toward other students, truancy, breaking of the rules, counseling since he was in the ninth grade, with indicators of previous counseling going back to '99. He would've been eleven, or twelve then." Bobby shuffled through the record and saw a lot of himself in this kid; it was frightening. "He maintained a C average, with his only B coming from Gym class."
"How'd you get a B in Gym," Elliot asked as his phone started to ring.
"I got a F in Gym."
Elliot gave him a strange look as he picked up his phone, answering, "Stabler…That's fine Dr. Huang, we were planning on going to lunch soon anyway. Two o'clock would be good. Okay."
Bobby listened into on the one-sided conversation as he skimmed over the nearly eighty sheets filled with indicators of a common juvenile disorder, especially for trouble teenage boys, called Conduct Disorder. If left untreated or addressed, it could manifest into something more dangerous. A lot of criminals developed from such behavior as teenagers. Also a lot of sociopaths.
Getting up, he went back over to Benson's desk to use the laptop again. Bobby really needed to check one out for himself, but he could do that later.
"You got something," Elliot asked as he picked up the file he'd handed him earlier and flipped through it.
Bobby glanced overt at him as he said, "Oh, yeah, I got something." He searched the police database for any record on Caleb Cunningham. A few seconds later he was rewarded with a rap sheet going back to 1999. There wasn't a lot, but what was there spoke volumes. At least for him as he printed it off and jumped up to grab the sheet off the printer. "I'm guessing you also didn't run a background check on Caleb Cunningham in Alabama?"
Elliot leaned forward on the desk as he told him, "I only check for here in New York. He popped?"
"Two counts of arson, one in '99, the other in 2000. Breaking and entering in '03. Two counts of assault in '04, along with one for shoplifting, three for trespassing, and finally illegal use of alcohol and damage to private property," Bobby read off as he tossed the sheet on top of his binder. "And whose to say what else he's done that he was never been arrested for. Most of these were plead down to community service, a short one month stint in juve for the under age drinking and damage to private property. He started to receive counseling as part of his probation starting in '99. His last was in 2004, and once his probation was over, they moved up here."
"Maybe his mother thought that the change would help?" Elliot said as he reached over and picked up the sheet.
"For some reason I highly doubt that her main concern was moving her troubled son to New York," he said as he sat back down and typed in Caleb's mother's name. Meredith Ann Cunningham. When nothing popped for the mother in the state of Alabama, he ran as search on her across the board. Since when he got nothing, he sighed and rubbed his head as he leaned back in the chair and looked over at Elliot.
Elliot was looking right back at him as he said, "This is a dangerous kid."
Giving a nod, Bobby said, "I know. Now all I have to do is convince your Captain of that, and we can get started on proving it. And of clearing Coach Patterson by proving that Caleb lied."
Looking at his watch, Elliot said, "Let's wrap this up and go get some food."
Pulling out his cell phone, he sent a text to Alex as he stood.
658 W. 138th Street
Hamilton Heights, Manhattan
The slopping street that the brownstone was located on was only a few short blocks from where Gardner's body was found. It was a very nice neighborhood and quiet as they got out of the SUV and surveyed the area. Across the street were more brownstones, some townhouses, and a twenty story apartment building on the corner.
"Think if Gardner was killed here the price of the brownstone would go down, or increase?"
Alex looked up at the four story brownstone as she told him, "In today's market, I would think a home where a man died would deplete in value."
"One would think, huh?" Logan said as they ascended the stairs to the front door.
They had obtained authorization, a warrant had been faxed to 1PP for both the brownstone and the storage unit, to enter the house even if they had to break the door down to do it. While she got the SUV, Logan had stopped off in evidence to pick up what keys were left on Gardner's melted keychain, just in case one of the remaining keys fit the door.
Logan tried both, since there were only two, but neither of them worked for the brownstone. "Looks like we have to resort to other means."
"I'll check the other door," Alex told Logan as she went back down the steps.
Pushing open the gate to get to the basement door, she noticed bars on the basement windows and a gated door in front of the basement door. She gave a pull on the gated door and was surprised when it opened, giving her access to the other door. Turning at the knob, she felt it give and she immediately pulled out her gun. "Open door," she called out to Logan.
He immediately appeared behind her with his gun out. Giving a nod, Alex turned back to the door and reached out to open it. The door swung and banged off the wall as she entered with Logan right behind her. It was dark, with only the sunlight streaming through the door to illuminate the area in front of her.
Alex pulled her flashlight from her coat and clicked it on as she went from room to room and making sure to stay as close to the walls as possible. So far so good as she realized that the basement of the brownstone was recently being renovated. There were wooden frames up where a wall was going to go. Some walls were up but awaiting the drywall to complete it. She could smell fresh paint, cleaners, and something else as she came upon a partly jarred door.
Using her foot to push it open, it revealed a bathroom. Going further down a newly built hallway that still had blue tape covering the base and ceiling from the recent paint job, she came upon a closed door. Reaching out, she turned the handle and pushed it open and was rewarded with a sight. There was no obvious evidence that it was the room Gardner was killed in. However, from the half laid cement and framework that was partly built into the floor, she would bet money that she had just found their kill site.
The room had been cleaned out because there were no equipment laying around, which meant no nail gun. "Clear!" she called out as she headed back down the hallway and through the maze of wooden frames and partly put up drywall.
Across from the door that led outside was a staircase which went up to the first floor of the brownstone. She started up the stairs as she heard Logan's voice call from just inside the door she pushed open into the kitchen.
"Clear!" Logan called out as he rounded the corner, nearly running right into her. He jumped back and groaned, "You scared me."
Alex pointed down the steps, telling him, "He was killed down there. I found the room, minus the nail gun." She pulled out her cell phone as she asked him, "Anything?"
"Nothing. This place has been cleaned recently. I smell a lot of bleach and pledge."
"I'll get CSU out here, maybe they can pick something up," she said as she placed the call to their central dispatch. After she hung up, she asked, "You check all the other floors?"
"Not yet; I've got two more to go," Logan told her as he pointed with his gun toward the staircase. "After you."
Alex would have made a smartass remark about that, but she understood from a tactical point of view how her going first made sense. Her and Bobby did it all the time. It wasn't because she was a hard charger and always wanted to be the first one in, but because since he was taller, he could see over her and could cover them both better than she could. Plus, people always looked directly in front of them and since she could kneel down, get shorter to the ground, it gave them an advantage to catch the bad guy off guard.
Logan thought the same way so it didn't bother her in the least as he let her go in front of her as they started up the steps. She kept her gun and eyes trained in front of her as Logan swept right to take in the area above the staircase and up in the second floor. They stayed together as they cleared both the second and then the third floor of the brownstone.
With not finding anything or anyone, they made their way back down to the first floor. As she stepped off the stairs and into the foyer, she heard sirens blaring down the street. Alex unlocked and opened the front door to let the uniforms and the CSI's into the house.
"I'll talk to the neighbors," Logan said as he walked around her toward the door.
"It's been almost a week; if they had something to say, they would've come forward by now."
Logan shrugged, saying, "Maybe so, but it's worth a shot. You know how it is, someone might not think that what they saw was important until someone shoves a police badge in their face."
Alex followed him down the steps as she told him, "And I'll finally take a glance at that computer disk you refuse to look at while I wait."
"There's a lot of encoding and computer jargon on that thing. I don't understand that stuff."
Alex unlocked the SUV and pulled out the laptop as Logan headed up the sloped sidewalk to the next brownstone. As she searched over the contents of the computer disk, she received a text from Bobby. Checking the time, she cursed as she looked up to see Logan talking to an elderly black woman who lived across the street from their crime scene.
She responded to Bobby's text, telling him it would be at least another half hour before she could meet up. As she turned back to the laptop, a name caught her attention. Opening the file, she quickly read it over and shook her head. "Bobby's gonna love this," she muttered under her breath as she looked up again.
Logan was crossing the street, flipping his notebook closed as he approached the SUV. Getting in, he said, "A possible witness. Mrs. Roselyn Banks claims she saw two men, one black the other white, coming in and out of the brownstone through odd hours of the night over the weekend."
"How reliable is she?"
"She's ninety and it was dark. You tell me."
Alex started the engine to the SUV as she looked over at him, "At least it's something. No description other than race and possible gender."
"They were wearing clothes."
Alex rolled her eyes as she checked her mirrors and pulled out, heading down the one way toward 125th street. It would take them right by their dump site and then south. "We need to stop off and get a print off of a file on this disk," she said as she pointed to the laptop between them. "It has some information pertaining to Bobby's case."
"What about ours?"
"Ours too, but that can wait until we get back to 1PP."
Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Bobby looked up from sipping on his coke when he heard the door chime, indicating someone had walked into the restaurant. Alex was walking toward them, followed by Logan, and in her hand was a stack of papers and on her face was a grin as she stopped at the table and handed him the stack. "What's this?" he asked as he moved over to let her slide in next to him.
"We managed to recover bits and pieces of the hard drive on Gardner's laptop, and in one of the files was a transcript of his interview with Caleb Cunningham."
"He interviewed the kid himself?" Elliot asked as he looked offended. "Gardner never told us and he never presented a transcript."
Bobby skimmed over the sheets as he said, "It's doesn't look official…more like, a, uh…here," he said pointing to the back page. "He made notes at the end, stating date, time, and place along with his thoughts on the interview. It was informal; he'd invited Caleb to have dinner with him at the Empire State Steak House on November 4th of last year. The interview lasted from seven eighteen to eight fifty-four. Caleb came forward about the abuse in October, right?"
Elliot gave a nod. "The 15th."
Looking over at Alex, he asked, "This was the only one found?"
"So far," she told him as the waiter appeared at the table. "I've still have a lot to look through. I can make you a copy."
Smiling, he said, "Appreciate it." After they all ordered, Bobby finally sat the transcript down as he told Alex, "We also found came across something interesting that might help you guys." He took a drink of the soda as he craved a beer to go along with his food, but pushed that craving aside as he continued, "I was looking up information on Patterson and his family. You know, just trying to gain as much information as possible, and, uh…turns out that Audrey Patterson went to Georgetown University along with Alec Gardner. Then in 1979, both she and Gardner moved back to Manhattan. In December of that year, she marries Guy Patterson; however, four months prior, Zach had been born."
Alex gave that some thought as Logan said, "You think that Zach might not be Patterson's biological son."
He gave a shrug as he told Logan, "It's something to think about. He does look exactly like his mother, not a trace of his father in him. Yet, his daughter, she has his dark hair and eyes."
"If Zach found out, it could give him reason to want to confront Gardner. It could also be motive," Alex said as she sat back when the waiter returned with their drinks.
"You orders will be out in a few minutes," the waiter told them before he left.
"Wait, Georgetown," Alex said as she turned to him. "I told you that Gardner made two purchases in Manhattan. Well, he also made a third one in Washington D.C., around the Georgetown area."
"What would that have to do with anything though," Logan said as he took drink of his soda. "Gardner could have been planning retirement."
"Logan's right," Bobby said. "Especially if he thought something was wrong with his health."
"But why would he buy a place here and a house in Maryland," Alex said in confusion.
"A weekend house to be here with his wife, along with a place in D.C. for work," Elliot said with a light-hearted shrug. "Or he has a mistress."
They all looked at each other at that. Bobby rubbed at his head as he felt them start to shake along with a growing irritation that had no cause to be there as he let his mind wonder about all the possibilities. There was still so much to these two cases that weren't clear, but at least they were gaining some ground.
"Oh, and we think we found where Gardner was killed." When Bobby looked over at her and waited in anticipation, she continued, "Brownstone off 138th Street, in the basement, with a nail gun."
Chuckling, he asked, "Did you find the nail gun?"
"No, but I found framework and half laid cement. He was interrupted," Alex told him as the waiter returned with plates full of food for everyone.
"How about the unknown cell?"
Alex shook her head. "Your friend couldn't work his magic with that one. He said it's an unregistered drop phone and that it hasn't been used since Wednesday. There's a red flag on it just in case it's used again, but until that happens we got nothing on it."
"Alright," Elliot said, "enough of work talk. Let's eat."
"I agree," Logan said as he picked up his meatball sub and took a hefty bite out of it.
Bobby looked over at Logan as he asked, "You're not pissed off with me leaving?"
Logan gave him a glare but then said, "I'm not complaining. Eames's nicer to look at, plus, I no longer have to deal with your mommy/daddy issues."
Bobby smirked as he told him right back, "That makes two of us…Well, Elliot's not nicer to look at."
"Same here. I'm missing Liv already," Elliot shot back at him as he took a bite of a slice of pizza.
Major Case Squad
It was going on nine o'clock at night and Bobby had received a call from Alex an hour ago. She had told him that she didn't think she could have dinner with him because of the case. Her and Logan were having the pressure beat down into them from the Governor on down to the brass to get the ADA's murder solved. Deakins had been on a tirade after he returned from another meeting and press conference for the evening news.
Bobby got off the elevator and rounded the corner, heading toward the Major Case Squad room. He spotted Alex leaning over her desk, chewing on her pen with her head in her hand, staring down at a thick file. The desk across from hers was just as cluttered with files but Logan wasn't in the chair.
As he approached the desks, he looked around but didn't see Logan anywhere. Pulling out the chair that used to be his, he sat down and waited for Alex to look up.
Sighing, she said, "I think my eyes are going to dry up in my sockets," and then she finally looked up. At seeing him, Alex frowned and looked around. "You're not Logan."
"No, but I brought dinner," Bobby said as he held up two bags; one a plastic bag containing dinner for three and the other was a small brown paper bag.
He sat the dinner down on the files and then unwrapped the paper bag. He pulled out a single chocolate cupcake and then his lighter. He lit the candle on top of it and then placed it in front of her.
Alex looked at it and smiled, shaking her head. On the cupcake were the words 'I Love You' written in red icing over a white whipped topping. "I love you too."
"This was supposed to be our romantic Valentine's dinner, but…" he shrugged. "I understand." Bobby watched as Alex picked up the cupcake and blew out the candle.
"Was I supposed to've made a wish?" she asked.
"I don't know. I asked the lady at the store about it and all she could tell me was that it was the last one left, and she had no idea why it came with a candle."
She pulled out the candle and gave it a lick as she peered over at him in a seductive manner.
Bobby shifted in the chair and gave her a smile. "I think I know why now."
She chuckled as she tossed it into the trash and then licked at the whipped cream icing, giving a hum of pleasure.
At feeling the heat creep up his neck, he shifted again as he tried not to stare. It wasn't working. "Where's Logan?" Bobby suddenly asked as he glanced around the squad room.
"Gardner's cell phone is finally out of recovery; I sent him to check it out," she told him as she took a bite out of the cupcake. "This is really good."
Smiling, he picked up the bag of food and after taking out the container for Logan, gestured toward the conference room. "Care to join me?"
"You're not nauseous again are you?"
Shaking his head, Bobby told her, "Thankfully no. Everything else is still there, and I've had to do a lot of twisting my hands and nearly sitting on them at one point to keep them from shaking, but…I haven't felt sick since yesterday."
"That's good, at least it's getting better and not worse. I've noticed you haven't been angry today."
"Not angry, but highly irritated and ready to throw a few people through the wall," Bobby teased with a smirk as he took the containers out of the bag, placing them on the table. "Red or white wine?" he playfully asked, gesturing out the door.
"I'll have what you're having," she told him as she peeled open the foiled lid covering her food.
Bobby went into the break room and got them both a coke and then rejoined her for their dinner. Handing her the can of soda, he sat down next to her and started digging into his food. "That transcript was a great find. From what I got from it, and everything else I had on Caleb, and with a little help from Dr. Huang, I was able to convince Captain Cragen to let us put a surveillance team on him. Stabler and Fin are working it right now. If Caleb leaves the apartment tonight, they'll let me know."
"And what're you going to do?"
"Follow him, and when, and if, the opportunity presents itself, I'm to talk to him. Get in close with him. The kid already thinks I'm his friend. It's not going to be hard to get him to open up."
"What if he accuses you of sexual abuse?"
"Then I have my proof that he could've also falsely accused Patterson," Bobby told her as he took a bite of the eggplant parmesan. He spotted movement in the squad room and when he looked, he saw Logan staring at the desks.
Logan picked up the foiled food container and then looked around. At seeing them together in the conference room, he gave him a smile and sat down at the desk to eat.
"You two doing okay?" he asked Alex as he picked up his soda to take a drink.
"We're doing great. He's a good partner," she told him with a pleased look. "Whatever happens, I think this could be okay."
Bobby stared into her eyes and at the genuine look of sincerity, he softly smiled. "So do I," he agreed as he leaned in closer and gave her a quick kiss on the lips.