Scribere Est Agere (scriberestagere) wrote in goren_n_eames,
Scribere Est Agere
scriberestagere
goren_n_eames

Fic: What the Captain Saw

Title: What the Captain Saw
Author: Scribere Est Agere
Pairing: Goren/Eames
Spoilers: Up through Season 8
Rating: A
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.

Summary: My name is Danny Ross. This is my story.




//


I’ve seen a lot of things during my years on the police force: murders and drug abuse, child brutality and animal cruelty, stories of human depravity that would haunt your days and give you as many sleepless nights as I’ve had. But, I’m not here to share those tales, because I’ve seen some good, decent things, too. I’ve seen kindness and generosity in the most unlikely of places. I’ve seen good people do good things. I’ve seen love, believe it or not. Love! Seen it, also, in the most unlikely of places between the most unusual of people. I have many stories I could tell, hundreds, maybe thousands, that you might find interesting, but this, this one, this is the only story I can tell anymore.


//


I knew Major Case would be exciting. I was looking forward to a change after three successful years as head of the NYPD’s Joint Task Force on International Money Laundering. I was proud of my promotion and I couldn’t wait to demonstrate my leadership abilities and exceptional people skills. I had everything needed to excel in this position: experience, intelligence, resourcefulness. I had it all.

I had a lot to learn.

I learned, for instance, a lot about Detective Robert Goren during my first week.

I learned he was stubborn, arrogant, highly intelligent, articulate, rude, disrespectful, loud, annoying and tended to sweat profusely when distraught.

I also learned that he was desperately in love with his partner.

I wasn’t naïve. I’d been around. I knew affections were bound to spring up between a man and woman who spent an inordinate amount of time together, working long hours and emotionally exhaustive cases. Surely theirs was just an intense friendship, two people who simply cared about one another’s well-being.

Again, I had a lot to learn.

Just my luck, was my first thought when I heard the news. Just my luck that one of my lead detectives would be kidnapped during my first week on the job. There was understandable panic and worry all around — I was sure I was going to be fired — and Goren insisted on including that nut job Gage in the proceedings. Every time I tried to step in, tried to establish some control and command, there was Goren overriding me. And there I was, letting him.

Of course he was frantic with concern for Eames. Don’t get me wrong: I was, too, but I barely knew the woman at the time and I had a lot on my mind. I’d certainly never had a detective go missing on my watch before, and I was careful to remind everyone of that. But as stressed as I felt, it was nothing to how Goren looked, which was, in a word shattered.

That was my first inkling that perhaps he cared for Eames a bit more than I had presumed.

He staggered around drunkenly as if he hadn’t slept, hadn’t eaten — which he most likely hadn’t — rumpled and creased and twitching like he’d downed ten cups of coffee, which he most likely had. Throwing people up against walls and literally pulling his hair out, and I shudder to think what would have happened if she had been in the trunk of her car. He was, after all, holding a tire iron and I was standing right behind him.

But, it all turned out all right in the end. I was careful to remind everyone of that, too.

I’ve never been the most sensitive man in the world — just ask my ex — but I’m no monster, either. I knew I should go see Eames in the hospital. I even brought flowers, yellow ones to cheer her up. I paused outside her room, straightened my tie and cleared my throat. It wouldn’t do to appear anything less than professional when I saw her. Who knew how she had perceived my lack of leadership during the entire debacle? I peered through the tiny window and my breath caught in my throat and all thoughts of well-wishing vanished.

This is what I saw:

Goren was already there.

So, what? you may ask. He’s her partner. Of all people he should be there, offering comfort. And yes, I completely agree. But what I saw was more than mere consoling. Granted, I had a very limited view through my pane of glass. Eames was asleep, her heavily white-bandaged head leaning slightly to the side, her mouth slightly parted.

And Goren.

Well.

As I mentioned, I hadn’t known precisely how to read Goren through the entire…affair. I mean, of course he was upset, and rightfully so, when his partner was…gone. But I was so busy with protocol and making sure I was doing the Right Thing at the Right Time, filling in forms and letting the Right People know what was going on, that I barely had time to assess the true feelings behind his actions.

Now, as I peered like a Peeping Tom through my little vantage point, there was no doubt left in my mind.

His head was resting on the edge of her bed. His hands were gripping her blankets. His shoulders were shaking with release, relief, anguish, gratitude. I swear I felt his pain from where I stood. It was palpable. My stomach hurt, my head ached and I felt like I might cry myself as I watched him weep over his battered and traumatized partner.

See? I don’t use the word lover, even though—

Even though.

Yes.

I saw it then. Could see it all so clearly, even through small, wired glass. Goren was sobbing and close to retching and Eames was sleeping, drugged and I was there, holding flowers like some idiot who didn’t even know where he was or what he’d stepped into or who these people were or how they truly felt about one another or.

Anything.

I moved away then, moved to the nurse who took my flowers and said she’d make sure Eames got them. I nodded my thanks and got out of there as fast as I could.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Every time I closed my eyes, this is what I saw:

He loved her. Desperately.

And she didn’t know.


//


They were an odd couple, the two of them. And yes, I started thinking of them as a “couple” pretty much immediately after that scene in the hospital. Whether they knew it or not, they were together, at least in my mind.

And like a couple, they could be completely in synch at times. I often felt they were carrying on complicated and yet completely silent conversations with the mere tilt of the head, the blink of an eye.

Oh, the eyes.

I was an outsider, right from the start. There was no way I was going to break into their private world. I don’t know if I even wanted to, but still. It was a terribly lonely feeling at times, being on the outside looking in.

I was forever standing on the other side of that little pane of glass, holding flowers, waiting for an invitation that never came.

But then there were the other times, the bad times, with the averted eyes, the hunched shoulders, the jerky, forced movements, the clipped sentences, when anyone watching would swear they hated one another.

Those were the times I watched most closely because I knew they didn’t hate one another.

I knew better.


//


I knew things were bad with his mother and had been for some time, but I knew only the bare minimum. I was kept on a “need-to-know” basis mostly.

Holidays are hard enough without adding in the stress of a sick relative. Being called in from our Thanksgiving feasts was hardly fair to any of us, but Goren was livid, miserable, surly beyond all reason. After snapping at Leland Dockerty and having me snap at him: “Detective you’re out of line,” we were all treated to a stunning display of adolescent temper as he paused, considered, then proceeded to sweep everything off his desk and onto the floor.

Robert Goren just kept on surprising me.

Eames stood still beside me, but I felt her body tense, and when I looked down her face was pinched with worry and anger… and something else.

She kept looking over to where he’d disappeared.

When she left, I knew exactly where she was going.


//


They were both single. Eames was widowed, but I only learned this from reading her docket. She rarely mentioned Joe and Goren never mentioned anyone and I certainly didn’t ask, so what was I to think?

What, indeed.

But it’s not as if she didn’t have the opportunity to date. Detective Peter Lyons, for instance, seemed like a nice enough man, and he was interested in Eames. As I mentioned, I’m not the most sensitive man, but I know what I saw.

This is what I saw:

I saw Peter Lyons sitting with Eames in the cafeteria. I saw the body language, saw him leaning forward, engaged in active conversation. I saw an opportunity for an attractive, intelligent and unattached woman to forge a relationship with an attractive, intelligent and, I supposed, unattached member of the opposite sex.

“Sorry I interrupted,” I said after I’d approached and he’d excused himself.

“You didn’t,” she said quickly and, I thought, slightly defensively.

Ah.

“Seems like a decent guy.”

She blinked.

“Yeah, he does.”

I sneaked a look at her as she watched Lyons walk away. Her fingers tightened just a bit around her Styrofoam cup, her brows came together and her lips flattened out. She knew the truth. She knew Peter liked her. But, she wasn’t interested.

She already liked someone else.


//


This is what I saw:

They were always looking at each other. Every damn time I looked at them, they were looking at each other and, I tell you, it started to make me paranoid after awhile. Before he started or finished one goddamn sentence his eyes were wandering over to her, to what? Check to see if she approved? If she disagreed? If she was looking back at him?

I swear they could find each other in a room of thousands in a nanosecond.

I wasn’t just paranoid. I was jealous as hell.


//


“I left a message with your partner,” I began, “but when you speak to him, tell him to take all the time he needs.”

“I will.”

I paused, not sure how to proceed.

“Have any arrangements been made?”

Her face fell, her eyes shone before she realized. Then she caught herself, drew herself together again.

“Not yet.”

I arrived late to Frances Goren’s graveside service — I had my boys for the weekend and had to drop them with Nancy before I came — and they were standing around the casket when I walked up. For a moment I felt nervous, out of place. Where was I going to stand? God, not with Declan Gage, that was for damn certain. Then I spotted Elizabeth Rodgers and before I could talk myself out of it, hurried to stand beside her. She turned her head and smiled, just a little, but it warmed me. It was such a cold day. I scanned the mourners quickly. Some I knew, but most I didn’t. Goren was standing with the minister by the casket. Eames, small and dark, hair windblown across her bowed face, was standing next to him, quite close. I bowed my own head but kept my eyes open. I wanted, I needed, to observe.

They were holding hands.

Elizabeth had taken a cab, so I offered to drive her home after. She accepted readily, smiling that smile again.

We talked a lot during that drive, about what I don’t recall now. But at some point I reached over and suddenly we were holding hands, too.


//


He was a show-off and a know-it-all and always had to be right; that much I had gleaned for myself over the years. He was smart, brilliant according to some, solved every case assigned to him and I’m sure he had a bedpost somewhere covered in little notches, but this case he wanted solved for a different reason.

I’m convinced he wanted to solve the case for her. He wanted to impress her.

I tried to take her off the case pertaining to death of her husband’s former partner and she argued, of course. She won, of course. She looked at me with those eyes, and she looked like she’d been crying. She looked like she’d been crying a lot during that case.

They were out of synch the entire time, two live wires failing to ignite a single spark. She was defensive, angry, the set of her mouth tight, emotions simmering just below the surface. He galloped around her, offering suggestions, solutions and she shot him down, again and again.

At times I was sure he just wanted to take her in his arms and hold her.

At times I think she would have let him.


//


“He called her Alex.”

“What?” I almost jumped out of my skin.

Elizabeth rolled over and lay her head on my shoulder. I could feel her breath against my bare skin. It felt good.

“Today in the morgue. He called her Alex, out of the blue. I almost dropped my clipboard.”

I couldn’t wrap my mind around this.

“But…he calls her Eames. He always calls her Eames.”

“I know this. That’s what I’m saying.”

What did it mean? I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Huh.” I touched her hair. She changed the colour again. “Do you think they’re…”

“What?”

“You know.”

Fucking?”

I blushed. Elizabeth had a mouth on her, she really did.

“A…couple.”

“Always the romantic,” she teased. She shrugged in the darkness. “There’s been enough speculation about them, over the years, but no one seems to know for sure. If they are, they sure don’t talk about it.”

“But…what do you think?” I pressed.

She paused then, considering. “I think…they’re symbiotic.”

“Symbiotic.”

I felt her nod. Then she laughed at her silliness. “Now who’s the romantic?” she said and kissed me, hard.

I looked it up, the next day, just to make sure I understood:

A relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other.

Once again, Elizabeth was right, as she so often was.


//


You might say I was becoming overly invested in them, in their strange non-relationship by this time. You might say I had developed an unhealthy interest in whether or not they were together, fucking or otherwise.

Had they kissed? Had they hugged? Had they told each other how much they cared?

You might say I was obsessed.

You might be right.


//


Then came the case that almost did me in. That almost did all of us in.

By now I was used to being kept on a need-to-know basis with these two and I was almost used to it. Almost.

Once in awhile I did, however, make my own decisions. Usually those decisions turned out to be wrong.

Having Goren’s troubled nephew transferred out of our holding cell and back to Tates Corrections was one of them.

“Where’s Donny?” I knew that tone. So did Eames, because she hurried over to him, her voice moving seamlessly into soothing mode.

“Bobby, I—”

“He went back to Tates this morning,” I cut in.

Goren stopped. He looked at Eames, not me.

“We can’t send him back there…he’s at risk…because of what he knows.” Eames nodded. They kept looking at each other.

“When this dies down—” I began, but I got the feeling no one was listening to me. I was wrong.

Then there was a flurry of voices, then, Goren’s rising above the rest as Eames attempted to calm and placate, but he was having none of it—

“When it dies down? That’s not good enough, are you crazy?”

The noise stopped, chopped short as if with an axe. Everyone was looking at us. Everyone was waiting. I had a decision to make and I had to make it quickly. Eames, I noticed, was staring at the floor, shaking her head. She knew, she knew he’d gone too far.

“Detective in my office now.” I was proud of the strength in my voice. I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. I meant business.

Thankfully he actually listened and followed me.

“I know you’re worried about your nephew’s safety and mental health. I’m worried about yours,” I said.

That took him by surprise.

“I’m fine. How are you?”

I could have flattened him for that, happily. Except he would have broken both my fucking arms, and my neck for good measure.

“I need you to take a week’s sick leave.”

He looked shattered at that.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

Could have fooled me.

The phrase psych services was thrown in for good measure and though it made me feel slightly ill, I knew it had to be said. I was worried about him. And I was worried about how he could affect my job.

But it was her face I watched when Goren walked away. Only hers. The look she gave me before she turned to her partner cut me to the bone.

I knew she’d never forgive me for that one.

I knew she was standing in the doorway without having to look. I could feel her anger radiating towards me.

“Sir,” she began. “Sick leave? Was that really—”

“Yes, Eames, it was.” I shuffled some papers before I looked at her. The anguish in her eyes was quickly shuttered away and she was as cool and shuttered as always. She stood there, staring at me for three more agonizing seconds. Then she, too, turned and walked away.

I thought that was the end of it, truly. I’d asserted myself, made a decision, been a Real Captain.

But those two kept on proving me wrong.


//


I had a date with Elizabeth, a real date. I had on my tux. I looked suave. I was ready to let her know how much I enjoyed her company, how seriously I took our relationship.

Then Eames appeared.

“Captain?”

And fuck if she didn’t have That Look on her face. That I’m In Love With Goren And You’re Going to Help Me Whether You Like It Or Not Look.

“Overture begins at seven, Eames,” I said, though I knew it was hopeless. A lost cause. I wasn’t going anywhere. “I’ve got a half hour to get to Lincoln Centre.”

She bit her lip. She stared at me. Her eyes were shiny. Her throat worked.

“It’s about Goren.”

Of course it bloody was.

The doors slid open and there stood Elizabeth, looking ravishing. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Talk to me on the way down,” I said to Eames.

We stepped in. I looked at Elizabeth. She blushed. My heart broke.


//


Now, I knew Eames had been in contact with him, but I just didn’t know the circumstances.

I always knew she was a good actress, always keeping her true emotions carefully concealed, but this? This performance was Oscar worthy.

Damn, she was good.

“Where did your judgment go?” I barked as I stomped back to my office, loosening my tie. Elizabeth had been gracious, as always, but the look she’d given Eames was among the nastiest I’d ever observed. At least Eames had had the good grace to fidget and look away.

Goren, locked in a mental institution. Really, it would have been hilarious if my goddamn job wasn’t on the line. And both of theirs, when it came down to it. As I stood there and listened to her voice throb with barely concealed fear and worry, listened to her try to blame me for their idiotic course of action, it all became clear. The bell jar lifted and I realized what I’d always known, but hadn’t wanted to admit:

It was them against me. It always had been and always would be. And if I couldn’t beat them—

“Then I head up there myself. I’ll drive all night,” she was saying as she walked away.

And fuck if she wouldn’t do it, too.

The bell jar dropped.

I knew then there was no hope for me, or my life. Everything was about them. It all came back to the two of them. They’d infiltrated my life and I was stuck with them.

But, they were stuck with me, too.


//


It was dark and raining, the roads slickly black. Eames was a good driver. I could see why Goren left it to her.

I tried to fathom what had driven them to risk everything for some junkie kid, relative or not.

“Is he just trying to get as close to the edge as he could?”

“All he was thinking is that he had to save Donny.” Her voice held no judgment. I wasn’t going to get through to her. There was no reasoning with her when it came to him.

Tates, in the bleak morning light, was grey, imposing, as was the warden who stalled and side-stepped when we demanded to see Goren.

We heard the words catatonic and schizophrenic and beside me Eames twitched and clenched her hands. I thought she’d leap across the desk and throttle the warden into submission.

And I heard myself spewing lies, one after another! Altered his appearance for another assignment? Important to the NYPD? I was losing it. I was risking my reputation, my job for these two and I don’t know if they even cared.

At the hospital she took charge and I let her. I certainly wasn’t going to get in her way. My job, essentially, was done. She was shaking, trembling, twisting her hands, chewing on the inside of her cheek and all she wanted to do was see the man, make sure he was okay.

I wondered if Elizabeth would do the same for me.

I found myself standing at yet another hospital window, watching yet another bedside scene, only in reverse this time. She hovered by his bedside, spoke with the doctor. She touched his hand briefly and he smiled up at her, fleetingly. They didn’t speak much, but I had the feeling they said everything that was needed. Then she leaned down, let her lips linger against his forehead. He closed his eyes, swallowed hard.

I was leaning against the wall when she emerged.

“He’s staying overnight for observation,” she said dully. “He’s severely dehydrated, and pumped full of god knows how many drugs, but he’s going to be all right.”

I nodded. “We’ll go find a motel.”

I drove this time. She was silent beside me, staring out the window.

“It’s good news, then, that he’ll be okay.”

She nodded. She seemed to be wrestling with something. “I…I should never have let him go.”

No shit.

“You were only trying to help.”

She shrugged. “He would have gone anyway, with or without my help. I couldn’t let him do it alone. I knew it was…wrong, dangerous, but he somehow…talked me into it.”

“He has a way of doing that.”

“I just…I—” She stopped, shook her head. She looked at me then and this is what I saw:

I saw it in her face, saw everything open and raw. It was a wound that would never heal.

“You love him,” I said and I had no idea I was going to say it.

“Yes,” she said without batting an eye. “More than anything in the world.”


//


I tried to make it up to him, God knows I did. As angry as I was about the stunt they’d pulled, and how they’d pulled me into it, I knew he was dying with the suspension, with the not being able to work. With the not being able to work with Eames.

I got him an undercover gig, dangerous enough to get him back in the Chief of D’s good graces if he managed to pull it off.

He had to pull it off.

The trick, of course, was keeping Eames in the dark, and making sure Goren did the same. Not an easy feat, believe me.

“We need to make a few things clear,” I told him, using my best authoritative voice. My throat felt very dry. I needed a drink. We were seated across from each other in Olivet’s office. Goren was nervous, twitchy, his foot bouncing a mile a minute. He stared at me, waiting. “It’s about…Eames.”

At the mention of her name he stopped twitching. He raised one eyebrow and his hands clenched on his knees. He kept waiting.

“You can’t…talk to her. You can’t…” I took a deep breath. “You can’t see her. At all. It’s too risky. For both of you.”

For a long moment there was only the tickticktick of Olivet’s clock behind me.

“For how long?” he said, still staring. It was unnerving, this trait of his. I wondered, not for the first time, how Eames felt when he looked at her like this.

“As long as it takes.”

I watched his jaw clench. He was grinding his teeth. He was deliberating.

“If I do this…thing…” His voice was unnaturally quiet. “You’ll get me back? I have your word?”

“You do.” And there I went, saying things I didn’t mean again, all to keep him happy, keep them happy. Fuck if I didn’t want them both to be together, and happy.

He nodded tersely, apparently satisfied for the time being.

The twitching resumed.


//


One month, two. Then three and four.

How much could two people endure?

I continued to play messenger between them, when they dared asked me how the other was doing.

They were both so fucking restrained. I had to admire them for that, but enough already! You’re in love, people. It’s all right to show it, once in awhile.

I ached for them.

Eames found me one day, early into the fifth month, seated behind my desk. She closed the office door. This is what I saw:

“Sir?” She hesitated. Her hands were balled at her sides. Her face was drawn and white. I wondered if she was sleeping at all. “Any news on…” She paused. “He isn’t returning my calls and I just wondered if you had heard…”

She was trying very hard to not cry.

“Not yet, Eames,” I snapped. Her tears had thrown me. “Listen,” I added more gently. “If I hear anything, you’ll be the first to know, trust me.”

I knew, then, that Goren was holding up his end of the deal. He hadn’t been in touch with her and it was damn near killing her.


//


I knew she’d probably never forgive herself for almost blowing his head off, but at least it was almost over after that. The end was in sight and they both knew it.

The scene in the holding cell, though, well. It’s one I won’t ever forget, hard as I try. Eames clueing in, finally, and Goren shuffling, nervous, anxious to tell her the truth. Five long months and no happy ending for my duo.

“What’s going on here?” Her brows drew together. She stared at Goren like she couldn’t see him properly.

And he looked to me. Me! I wanted to yell that it wasn’t my fault, but I knew she’d see right through that lie in an instant.

“Is now okay?” he said quietly, pleadingly. Eames started. Oh, god. It was too late.

“You’re undercover you don’t tell me?” Her guard dropped and I saw it again, same as I saw in the car on our way to Tates: raw, open, unimaginable hurt.

“Those were my orders; they came from the top,” I said, but I doubt she cared. It was Goren who had betrayed her, not me. I could have spontaneously combusted at that point and neither would have noticed.

“I can’t believe this.” She backed away from both of us.

“It was a need to know case. I’m sorry.” Now, I would be lying if I said that didn’t feel good, just a little. For once, for once in my weird and wonderful relationship with these two, I had been privy to something that one of them had not. I’d been in on the plan, I’d been a part of the club. But when I looked at the two of them, my happiness quickly fizzled.

I’d never laid eyes on two more miserable faces in my life.


//


“My detective’s in trouble. What do you know?”

My detective was always in trouble, it seemed, but when Elizabeth told me about the DNA test that Goren had requested for Mark Ford Brady I wondered, not for the first time, about my detective’s mental health. But again, I was proven wrong.

So his mother was schizophrenic and his father was a serial killer. And as I wandered around the late Frank Goren’s disgusting, decrepit apartment, I thought only one thing:

How much could one person endure?

So, why did I keep pushing? Why did I make Goren feel like a suspect in his own brother’s death? To prove a theory, maybe. To prove to myself, once and for all, that my detectives’ love for each other could withstand anything. Could withstand this, even this.

When he found us in my office, though, I wondered if I hadn’t made the biggest mistake of my career.

“You think that I’m a suspect?” He was almost spitting at me.

“Bobby right now you are a suspect.” She looked like she was going to weep.

“You’re under sustained stress. Your mother’s death. Your suspension.” I took a breath. It was now or never. “Your father.”

Oh shit.

He attacked.

“My father? Your girlfriend tell you that?”

Wait. How the fuck did he know?

“You don’t have the guts to ask me yourself?” Now it was getting personal.

“I’m asking you now.”

Was he a killer? No, he wasn’t. I know he wasn’t. But I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. Not then.

“Are you happy Captain?” she said in a choked voice as Goren stalked away.

No. No I wasn’t.

I saw no love between the two of them and I was pretty sure Robert Goren hated my guts.


//


Declan Gage was sharper than I ever gave him credit for.

Declan Gage, keen observer of human nature and longtime friend of Robert Goren, knew a few things about people and he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinions.

And Eames and I were forced to listen.

“You care about your partner, deeply,” he jabbed his finger at her. “You know more about him—”

“I don’t have to listen to this.” But Eames knew it, too. Crazy as the man seemed, he had insight. He knew. We all knew.

I would have liked to ask him more, ask him how he knew, when I got the call from the morgue, I was running, and Eames was right behind me. We could hear Goren yelling from all the way down the hall. We could hear the metallic clangs of trays hitting the floor. Eames would have passed me if I’d let her.

“This is my life! And you promised this would be confidential! You promised me!”

Ah. The DNA test returned to haunt me. For a moment it was a stand-off, dead guy with his guts hanging out separating Goren from the rest of us.

“Are you all right?” I asked Elizabeth. I’d never seen her look so shaken. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to hit Goren. I wanted Eames to hug Goren. What a gigantic fucking mess.

“Fine. I’m fine. I…dropped my tray. Nothing broken or damaged.”

Eames approached her partner tentatively. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said, passing very close behind him.

He went.


//


Kevin Mulrooney was slimy and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what Eames ever saw in him. Neither, apparently, could Goren.

For once we agreed on something.

As difficult as the case was, it was the first time they’d been in synch for months and months. I caught them looking at one another again. Well, it was mostly Goren staring at her, as if he could not fathom the notion that she’d considered sleeping with a man other than her poor, dead husband. His consternation was palpable, and almost comical.

In the end they came to their senses, I suppose, and I caught them. I finally caught them.

It was late that night, after they’d finished interrogating Mulrooney. I’d listened to their recount, mostly from Goren — Eames seemed too overwhelmed to speak — and then they left. I watched them walk away, waiting for a sign, a touch, a look, but there was nothing. They simply gathered their coats and left.

I followed them. Down the elevator into the parking garage. I knew they both parked on Level 2, and while I was on 3, I slipped into their lot, quietly, staying by the wall, in the shadows until I found them. They were there, standing by her car.

This is what I saw:

He had his arms around her. Her head was resting against his chest. He was murmuring into her hair. I wish I could have heard what he was saying but, of course, his words weren’t meant for my ears. So, I simply stood in the shadows and watched them, same as I’ve been doing for three long years. After some time she lifted her head. I saw him raise his hand, press his thumb to her cheek, wipe gently. Then he lowered his head and he kissed her. It was no friendly kiss. No partner kiss. No consoling kiss.

It was a first time kiss, and it was passionate and tender and gentle and anxious it was about fucking time.

She was kissing him back, her hands on the sides of his face, pulling him down, pulling him closer. He slid his arms around her and held on tightly. Then he moved one hand to her hair, his fingers sliding along the back of her head. After awhile they moved apart, startled, breathing heavily. Then they both got into her car and drove away.

I know true love when I see it.

And that’s what I saw.


//


This is also what I saw, two weeks after:

A flash and a blur. I saw Goren walk into the bedroom of the apartment, where he thought our suspect was hiding. I saw Eames in the way and I saw a man with a gun come out of the closet and that’s about all I remember, really.

A saw a gun pointed at Eames and I thought not of myself or my kids, or my ex or even Elizabeth, I’m sad to say. I saw Eames lying in a pool of her own blood and I saw myself having to inform Robert Goren that his partner was dead. Except she wasn’t just his partner. I knew that much now. And I knew what his reaction would be.

How much could one person endure?

I wasn’t about to find out.

I had a decision to make and I made it quickly. I yelled. I grabbed Eames by the arm and pushed her, hard as I could. She fell. The gun fired and I was shot. I fell, too.

I died.

It was very dark and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would.

It was very quiet after that, as I faded away. I felt warm. I suppose it was all the blood, but I’m not sure. I do remember Eames’ face above mine. She was crying. She was speaking. At least her mouth was moving, but I couldn’t hear a thing. She touched my face. She shook her head. She spoke again.

I think she was trying to say thank you.


//


So, it’s a simple story, really, and perhaps I told it poorly, but it was in my own words, seen through my own eyes. I took a bullet for Eames. In the end I saved her, saved the two of them.

Am I bitter? Am I resentful that my life was cut short in order to ensure that hers was not?

No.

In the end I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my boys and for Nancy. I’m grateful for Elizabeth, even though we didn’t get to enjoy the relationship we’d been slowly building. I’m grateful for the time I did have and I’m grateful I did something truly important and noble, something that people will truly remember Danny Ross for.

In the end, I’m grateful it was me instead of her.

I like to think I died for a good cause.


//


Fin
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