Are you sure Detective? Dr. Paula Gyson asked her surprisingly calm patient.

Robert Goren first came to see her as part of seven mandated sessions to determine if he were fit to return to duty with the NYPD. Once those sessions were over he continued to see her in hopes of dealing with his long standing anger and abandonment issues. So for close to two years this brilliant, amazingly complex man had been her patient by choice, though what had started out as weekly sessions became monthly and until her called her two days ago asking if she could see him, she hadn't hear from him in 5 months.

I'm sure…..it's time he answered. All my issues with the department are settled and I've got nothing left to prove. So this time, I'm leaving of my own accord. He settled back on her couch and almost wistfully repeated "It's time".

Gyson could tell that there was more to his decision than he was letting on but she also knew from experience that Goren would tell her in his own way and at his own pace. When it came to his personal feelings Robert Goren was a mass of twisted roads, peaks, and valleys and he would get to his destination when he got there. Gyson also noted that he seemed content and at peace with the person he was….a far cry from the man she meet almost two years ago. It was a rough road getting him to trust her enough for their therapy to work but clearly it had, the anger was still there but not seething under the surface ready to erupt. Also seemingly gone was the feeling that he deserved to be alone and that all he was started and ended with the badge. So as the nervous ball of energy known as Robert Goren sat patiently on her couch, she decided on an indirect approach.

So have you told your captain and partner?

I'll tell Bill Hannah tomorrow he shrugs. I'll give him a month's notice…..I owe him that much and more. And as far as Alex he sighed thinking once more how he can talk about "Alex" and talk to "Eames" I'll tell her when everything is signed and official. He said matter of factly "I don't want her to try and talk me out of it" and then almost as an afterthought he added "and I don't want her not to try to talk me out of it either".

With that Dr. Gyson perked up….I thought the two of you were doing fine, has something happen? Goren shrugged we're getting along fine, better than ever actually. So as Dr. Gyson leaned forward to get a better read on his expression she asked "Why don't you think your partner of 13 years will care when you tell her you've decided to retire"? As Goren starts rubbing the back of his head Gyson waited patiently for his response. Finally he spoke…she'll care, I just would rather not know that she thinks it's time for me to go….that I can't do the job anymore.

So Gyson asks, why would she think that Robert? What's happen that led you to this decision? There's no one thing Goren answers. He sits back and starts rubbing his eyes…you know as part of the job Alex and I sometimes pose as a couple. Yes, I know answered Gyson…you've told me those are some of your best memories of the job…encouraging him to continue. Well, we were in a bar as part of a sting trying to lure another couple out and I just happen to look at my reflection in the glass behind the bartender. Gyson interrupted "Robert, I thought we had gotten past the self esteem issues" but as she spoke Goren held up his hands "Let me finish please". He continued... I'm okay with who I saw, a 53 year old man who's finally taking care of himself. So I don't understand Gyson said but Goren continued "I looked at Alex and me together. Would you believe I'm only 5 years older than she is but it seemed I had a lifetime on her? I looked at the two of us together and I thought…no way would anyone see the two of us together. Hell, he thought...I can't see us together either.

Gyson sat there thoughtfully looking at her patient….I think you still sell yourself short Robert, remember I've seen you and Alex Eames together and unless the last 15 months has been incredible hard on her as Gyson thinks back to the two sessions she attended early on with her partner…you two look fine together. Knowing that Goren tend to go in spurts and not wanting him to stop and debate her on this point she encouraged him to continue. You said it wasn't just one thing Robert, what else happen? Well, Goren continued, for the first time in I don't know how long we had a suspect run on us. Fortunately we had uniforms with us as backup but as my pint sized partner zoomed past me in heels, it was painfully clear that my days of chasing suspects has come to an abrupt end…I can't do it anymore. And the last thing I want is for Alex to think that I can't back her up anymore. "So Robert, did she say something" asked Dr. Gyson? No, she wouldn't…the doubts are mine he answered and you can't have doubts as a cop. If you have doubts so will others and then he quietly added "So will your partner".

Gyson thought about everything she had just heard. Well Robert she began I can't say that I don't understand what you're feeling and there is a logic to what you've said. Promise me one thing she continued…you said you were going to give Captain Hannah one months notice, see me at least one more time before you actually retire. As Goren stood to leave he nodded to her. I was planning on doing that anyway he said with a faint smile.

" You sure about this Bobby" Bill Hannah asked for only the second time this evening.

Hannah prided himself on being able to read his detectives and he knew that Goren had been struggling with something these past few months. So when his burly detective sent him an email asking to discuss " a personal matter" it was easy to decide to talk to him as Bill Hannah, academy classmate, narcotics division partner, and friend of 23 years as oppose to Captain William Hannah, Major Case Squad. And as the initial shock of Goren's request to retire wore off, Hannah had to admit it wasn't that surprising. Goren and a desk job just wouldn't do and moving up the ranks was never in the cards for his friend. As Hannah took a swig of beer he realized if he hadn't taken the path toward command and had remained in the field…he'd be in the same spot Goren was in, wondering if he could still do the job.

" I didn't mean to bring you down Bill", Goren spoke after several minutes of silence had passed. I just wanted to give you as much notice as I could and to tell you once again how much I appreciate you bringing me back to Major Case. Goren continued " I know you called in a lot of favors and that means the world to me". As Goren said that he thought about his two previous commanding officers at Major Case.

James Deakins had already perfected the light touch needed to deal with the egos at Major Case and the politics at 1PP. Add in the fact that he had no desire to move any further up the ranks and he was the perfect CO for Goren. Then at the end he had enough personal integrity to walk away from the job and as he considers that Goren realizes that's what he admires most about Deakins, that the job didn't define who he was and that as long as he was right with the people who mattered, he could walk away with his head high.

Of course Deakins left before his brilliantly eccentric detective's life fell apart. Goren chuckles silently as he wonders what could Danny Ross have thought when he took over Major Case. Temper tantrums, insubordination, arguments, and still Ross kept him around when anyone else would have booted the "whack job" first chance they had. Goren smiles as he remembers the "performance" in front of the first deputy commissioner and his dramatic exit as he knocks everything off his desk shouting at Ross to fire him if he wants….he doesn't care and then realizing how much he really did care.

But Ross didn't fire him and didn't make him beg for his job either. And then he found out later that Ross tried to smooth things over with the brass as well. And then Tates and the mess that followed "Hell…I would have fired me" Goren thought but Ross kept his word…he got him back to Major Case and he kept him there. Hindsight really is something as Goren sends a silent thank you to his late captain.

Well, Hannah said breaking his thoughts "I take it you haven't told Eames yet"? No Bill not yet, I was going to once everything is signed. Goren wasn't too sure how to broach this next topic with his friend and captain.

"Can I ask you something Bill" Goren asks?

Sure go ahead Bobby..What's on your mind? Goren continued "Do you think with me out of the way that Alex might be able to move up the ranks, get her career back on track"?

Bill Hannah put his beer down and looked his friend straight in the eye. I doubt it Bobby, he said. Hannah tried to temper his words…she walked away from a captain's badge and let the brass know in no certain terms why. Goren interrupted "she did that for me, when I'm gone". When you're gone Bobby said Hannah, it won't change a thing. Remember Alex has been with the department longer than we have, she went in the bag right out of school. You know when they dumped her in Staten Island she did try for a lieutenants' job. Hell, she even posted for a sergeant's job back in uniform and she couldn't get that either.

Hannah continued Moran might be gone but too much time has passed, too many people are in front of her. Hannah saw the guilt in his friend's eyes and added…in 20 years with the detective bureau Alex Eames took the lieutenant's exam once, that's not somebody trying to move up the ranks. I hope your nothing leaving thinking that you're clearing some path for her, I'm afraid you're not, that door is closed. Beside, why do you think she has to get her career back on track? She a detective first grade with the Major Case Squad, her career looks pretty damn nice from where I sit. Goren thought about his captain's words and nodded.

I hear you Bill and your right but I do have one last favor to ask? Name it Bobby Hannah says. I just want to walk away….I just want to walk out the door Friday like it's no big deal. I get it Bobby, Hannah says, no problem. You know what Bobby it's getting late, how about one more for Major Case and we call it a night"? Goren nods his head in agreement…..one more for Major Case.

So, says Paula Gyson, in 5 days you'll be a retired NYPD detective, any second thoughts on your decision?

" If I were to be honest" Robert Goren begins as Paula Gyson interrupts with a smile "please be honest". Yes, I'm having second thoughts but this is the right call for me at this time in my life. Goren continues "I really thought I would be miserable but I'm ready to go". Too many bodies, too much politics, too many games….I just don't want to do this anymore.

" You know Robert" Gyson starts " if you weren't having second thoughts I'd be concerned" " Being a detective is how you defined yourself for many years and I'm glad to see that you can put the needs of the man before the job". She continues "I just hope that you're not just saying the words and that you really feel this way".

Goren looked at her and nods "I do Dr. Gyson…and I have you to thank for that…without your help I don't know if I would be brave enough to walk away" Gyson considered his words for a minute "it's important to you that you walk away, isn't it". "Yes" is all he says. When he doesn't elaborate Gyson continues "how did your partner take the news?" Gyson thinks she sees pain, regret, and disappointment in his face all at once…and then it's gone. "She was okay " Goren simply states " she asked me if I was sure and I said I was". She hugged me and said I was the best and drinks are on her my last day. "Robert come on" Gyson looks at him with her best stern look " you've been my patient for almost two years and I've seen how you and Alex interact, I know what she means to you"…." And what you mean to her". " You can't sit there and tell me that's all there was between you two when you told her you were retiring".

Goren spoke on like he hadn't heard a word she said " Hannah found her a new partner last week and they're working together now" he continues " I'm pretty much in the office at this point….and doing some easy field work, follow ups, stuff like that". He's a good guy, good reputation from the 2-7 he continues.

How do you feel about seeing Eames with a new partner asks Gyson.

"Weird" admits Goren and then he adds "You know , Alex and I have been a partner for close to 13 years now and there isn't anything either of us probably wouldn't do for the other" " But we're work friends and sometimes I'm not even sure about that much".

" Robert" Gyson says…you don't really think that "Hear me out" Goren says " partners are everything to one another and in most cases they do have a relationship away from the job….but Eames and I, we don't". We're dead on were the job is concerned and I know more about her than her family and she knows things about me that I wish nobody did but away from the job,…..there's nothing . He continues " I could tell from her reaction that she thought this was best for me and that's really the one thing I didn't want to know, her thinking I wasn't up to the job anymore. " And without the job, I've got no connection to her".

Goren face is unreadable as he says this so Gyson ask him, not for the first time " do you want a relationship with Alex Eames away from the job ?"

Since he won't answer she try's another direction " you were seeing somebody, a history professor right ?

" Yes, a professor of American history. " say Goren. He continued " She was offered a tenured position in at the University of Michigan a few months ago so she's left for Ann Arbor."

" I'm sorry to hear that Robert" Gyson says.

"So am I" said Robert Goren. "She was my first real relationship in a very long time and it was good to know that I was capable of a relationship after all these years. Makes me realize I want another one….and I'm going to try and find someone to have one with".

"Good" say Gyson…..then as an afterthought she say " you're not going to say anything else about Alex, are you" As Goren stands to leave he say "No, but I would like to come by in a few weeks and let you know how I'm doing". "Good, I'd like that" say Paula Gyson as she sees him to the door.

It was actually 5 months to the day after he retired from the New York Police Department that Robert Goren found himself seated on Paula Gyson's couch.

" I took a job with Capital One doing fraud investigations, background checks, stuff like that" It's challenging work, I like it" Gyson nodded " Good, so did you have your drink with Alex Eames ?" Goren glanced at her with a look she couldn't decipher "No" he stated softly " I actually didn't work those last couple of days and she had cases and a new partner so the timing just didn't work. "Bobby" Gyson considers her works carefully " that not the way to end a relationship, not one as important to you as this was, and not with somebody as important to you as Alex has been" As Goren looks at his feet and rubs the back of his head Gyson thinks with a smile something's just don't change.

" Your right" Goren finally admits " I didn't want to say goodbye and I didn't want to know that she could" He shrugs " the coward's way I know " .

She study's him for a minute and speaks " tell me something Robert, when you told Alex you were going to retire, her reaction was more than a " are you sure" and a hug right?

After a minute he answers " actually no, that's pretty much what it was" "If it had been more, I would have still retired but I might have taken her up on that drink, maybe said a few things I've been holding on to for awhile…if nothing else stayed in touch.

So Gyson says " no calls from her, no text messages, nothing?" " That's hard for me to believe".

I didn't say that Goren admits " she left me a few messages asking that I call her, that she wanted to get together and talk, see how I was" " I finally texted her back and said I had a new job that was taking me out of the state for awhile and I would be in touch" " That was three months ago"

"So" Gyson asks, already knowing the answer " are you going to tell her your back"

"No" says Robert Goren as he stands to leave. " Things don't always end on a happy note…..sometimes they just end and that's that". "Alex and I had a great run but it was all about the job….and now we're done." Without the job…there no connection between us" he softly says.

"Robert, sit down" Gyson says "give me a minute before you leave"

Goren takes a seat on the couch and looks at her expectedly.

"Robert" Gyson looks him straight in the eye as she speaks" you've never been clear what Alex means to you in your own mind, have you". As he nods she continues " you need to close this, you need to finish this chapter of your life, if that's what you want" She continues "even if you can't do it for yourself, do it for Alex".

You actually do owe her that much and with that Paula Gyson says no more…not quite sure she should reveal to Robert Goren that Alex Eames actually came to see her about her ex partner two months ago. While Gyson couldn't tell her anything about her patient and it was only that one time, it was clear that Robert Goren wasn't the only one with unanswered questions about their relationship. As Robert Goren stood to leave Paula Gyson rose to see him to the door, "Call her Robert "she said one last time. As he closes the door behind him, Paula Gyson knew he wouldn't and with that she sighs and walks back into her office.

The end