Lean on me: Chapter 9
By: The Confused One
A/N: I know this chapter is long in coming, and really, it took a little more than I first expected. This story is taking a different turn… Just bear with me. So please enjoy the chapter and remember to reply. Thanks.
It was almost ten when Alex woke up. Taking a shaky breath, she stared at the clock. She didn't want to move. She felt sick. It was still so hard to face the day without Jack. A few tears slid down her cheeks.
Reveling in memories, she almost missed the shower going off in the bathroom and the other tell-tell sounds that her bathroom was being used. For the briefest of moments she let her mind wish it were Jack. She closed her eyes. She knew that was impossible. He was gone and was never coming back. A chill went down her spine.
Shaking her head, she forced herself to get up. It was probably time for Bobby to go home. Making her way into the kitchen, she had to smile softly. She was going to miss having someone around, someone doing little things like making coffee. Getting herself a cup, she sighed. She hoped he understood. Sitting down at the table, she realized that she already knew he would. She had learned a lot about him since this all happened, and one of those things was how attune he was to people and their emotions, and how he could connect with those emotions without really even trying. She sipped her coffee again. Yes, he would understand.
Dressed, Bobby made his way into the kitchen. Pouring himself another cop of coffee, he casually greeted her, "Morning."
Startled out of her thoughts, she jumped. "Sorry. Morning..."
Worried, Bobby sat down next to her. Watching her, he ventured, "You alright?"
Alex nodded. She assured him, "Yeah. I'm alright." She took a deep breath. "Bobby, we need to talk…"
Bobby nodded. He was about to speak again when his phone rang. He sighed. "I'll be right back." Getting up, he left the room and answered it. "Goren."
Vickie, a nurse at Carmel Ridge, put the phone against her neck as she pulled up a file on her computer. "Bobby, hi. It's Vickie. I'm sorry to bother you, but is there any possible way you could make it up here in the next couple of days? Your mother is getting extremely agitated. She wants to see you."
Bobby closed his eyes. Walking outside, he rubbed his forehead with his hand. He was suddenly feeling extremely guilty, and he wanted to be in two places at once. "I know. I've talked to her. Things have just… I'll try to get up there in the next couple days. I'll talk to her again and explain that to her."
Vickie finished typing up the information and saved it on the computer. She sighed. "Please do, and make it soon."
Bobby nodded. "I will. Thank you, Vickie."
Vickie smiled. "I'll see you around, Bobby."
Hanging up the phone, Bobby sighed. It was time to get back to Alex. Going back to the kitchen, she was on her second cup. Sitting back down, he took a sip of his coffee. He ventured, "Are you sure you're OK?"
Alex nodded cordially. She looked at him. She quietly answered, "I guess as good as I can be today." Wanting to change the subject, she asked, "Who was that?"
Bobby hesitated a moment before answering, "A friend with a reminder."
Alex nodded again, accepting this answer. She knew there was more to it than that, but she was beginning to decide there was no getting Bobby Goren to talk when he didn't want to. He didn't trust anyone, and he didn't share. Maybe one day he'd trust her enough to tell him why. She sighed. "I'm going to get ready."
Bobby nodded. He offered, "I'll fix breakfast if you want while you're getting ready."
Alex turned to look at him again. She smiled softly. "Please. Thank you, Bobby."
Bobby nodded. Getting up, he began pulling out what he needed to cook breakfast. He called his mother as he cooked.
Breakfast was quiet. Alex once again chickened out about talking to him about anything. Afterwards, Alex had tried to avoid memories of Jack by busying herself with cleaning the apartment. She vacuumed, dusted, and picked up. During that time, she came to another decision.
Wanting to be helpful, Bobby took her lead. He busied himself with the dishes, stove, table, counter, and the floor. He swept and even mopped.
It was afternoon before Alex finally ventured into the kitchen again. Pouring another cop of coffee, she softly replied, "You don't need to do any of that, Bobby."
Bobby was ringing out the mop. He assured her. "I was just finishing."
Alex nodded. Taking a sip, she sighed softly. "Thank you…for doing this, but I don't expect you to clean, Bobby." Walking back to the den, she curled up on the couch.
Following her to the den, Bobby furrowed his brow. Something was bothering her. Sitting down on the coffee table, he asked, "What's wrong?"
Alex shook her head. "I'm sorry. I'm being… I'm all over the map today. It's not you."
Bobby nodded. Meeting her eyes, he assured her, "That's understandable." He sighed. Seeing the boxes they had stacked up. Pointing to them, he offered, "I can go ahead and load those up in my car."
Alex nodded mutely. She watched him get up and start to check over the boxes. She had a million different emotions run through her at once. Swallowing hard, she suddenly wasn't sure she was ready to let his stuff go yet. She wasn't sure she wasn't just trying to vanquish every memory she had of her husband, as if that was really going to happen. She spoke quietly from the couch. "Bobby, actually… Leave them there, please."
Bobby suddenly stopped. He was starting to pick up the subtlest clues in her voice. Looking up, he met her eyes. She tried to mask it, but he knew he was reading her perfectly. He simply nodded. Standing up straight, he did what his first impulse dictated. Walking over to the couch, he sat down beside and pulled her into a hug.
Alex relaxed against him. No tears came, but the comfort he gave strengthened her. She didn't speak for a long moment. She didn't need to. A part of her was grateful. She finally broke the spell. "I thought I was ready."
Bobby nodded. He assured her, "It's OK not to be. They can stay as long as you want them to. I can move them whenever you are ready."
Why she had thought she would be ready the day after the funeral was beyond her. She wondered if she wasn't pushing too hard. She knew what Jack would say, but she just didn't want to feel the pain any more. She wanted to prove she was OK, that she was stronger than this. With a sigh, she resigned herself to having to take it a little slower.
Swallowing hard, she pulled away from him a little. Meeting his eyes, there were two things she really did think she was ready for. "I'm going back to work Monday."
Bobby met her eyes and nodded. There was no arguing when she had decided on something. "If you think you're ready."
Alex nodded. Relieved, she relaxed a little. Now came the harder one. She didn't want to hurt him. She hesitated a little before finally coming out with it. "And I think… I need to stand on my own two feet again, Bobby. I think it's time for you to go home."
Bobby had expected this eventual banishment, but he hadn't expected it to feel quite like this. It hurt worse and in ways he hadn't been prepared for, and he didn't like it. It made him nervous. He suddenly decided she was right. They needed some distance. With a nod, he agreed, "Yeah. I-I can go now…if you…want."
Alex relaxed completely now. She tried to assure him, "You don't have to go right this second, if you don't want to, and Bobby, you've been really amazing this past week. I appreciate it more than you know. I'd like for things to be like this at work."
Bobby was almost surprised by the admission. He tried not to smile. "Yeah, I'd like that, too." He rubbed the back of his neck. "Look, I should go ahead and do a few things. Get out of your hair…"
Alex gave a soft sigh and mentally heard a door close. Looking him over, she prodded, "The same mystery things you do every week and involve the call you got this morning?"
Bobby looked at the floor. He quietly admitted, "Yes."
Elated to get that much, Alex knew she needed to tread lightly. She pressed gently, "You mean the things you never tell me about?"
Bobby looked up and met her eyes. He sighed. "There are a lot of things I never tell you."
Alex rolled her eyes. She nodded in acceptance of this. "I know." With a sigh, she continued, "I don't know what you think is going to happen if you open up to me, and let me in, but I can guarantee you that I'm not going anywhere. After this week, I can't believe you think I would."
Turning this over in his head, Bobby sighed. He understood her point, and he did trust her. Swallowing hard, he came out with it, afraid if he didn't tell her everything he would never tell any of it. "Eames, I…my mother is schizophrenic. She lives up at the Carmel Ridge Center. That's…where I go every week. I go to…visit her. It's just us. My father left when I was eleven. He decided he'd rather run away from his responsibilities and get drunk than deal with his family. He…slept around, gambled, and completely ignored my brother and me. My brother…he took after him. He's as bad as Dad. He stayed away as much as possible. It's the reason he went to school...to get away. The only time he calls is if he wants money to pay his gambling debts. I'm…all she has, and she's all I have."
Staring into his eyes and listening to him, Alex's heart ached for him. This man who could be so gentle and kind, who she had finally taken the time to get to know, had been through so much. Added to her knowledge of how many partners he had had, Alex found herself putting together the last pieces of what made him tick. She suddenly found herself understanding him in ways she hadn't expected. It was like a cloud was lifted, and he suddenly made sense, all of his odd behavior, his deference, his fears…
Thinking about the letter, she knew now there was no way she could ever tell him. There was no way she could hurt him in that way. She couldn't risk losing the trust she had finally built with him. She would talk to Deakins. She would withdraw the request, and he would never know.
Alex had never imagined this. She just wanted to reach over and hug him. She wanted to comfort him and forget her own pain. She settled for putting her hand on his. She found herself suddenly struck dumb. Alexandra Eames was struck speechless, which she found ironic. She always had something to say about everything, but she couldn't find the words to tell him how sorry she was. Swallowing hard, she forced her voice to work, but only one word would come out. "Oh..."