A/N 1: Chapter spoilers for: Lady's Man, Season 8 & Purgatory, Season 7.CHAPTER 2: LOVE & ANGER
It was late April when Goren overheard Eames talking on her cell with her sister. They'd been on the outs for a while, it seemed, but whatever their issues were, they were not a topic for conversation between Eames and her partner.
Since the angst over Mulrooney had dwindled, he'd allowed himself a hint of anticipation prior to seeing her in the morning; she seemed so relaxed and happy to see him, and her eyes sparkled in a way he hadn't seen in ages, maybe years. Maybe ever.
He wasn't quite ready to think about what his own face was revealing.
"…No, it's fine, I'm not busy." He arrived to find Eames hunched over her desk, her slumped back a 'C' of self-protection, picking at a hangnail on her thumb. Her face, whose expression had so recently and beautifully softened, wore a brittle mien.
"Who?" She glanced briefly at Goren's face, sharply down at the coffees in his hand, then back down to her desk, her expression unchanged. "No, I'm not joking… I'm sorry, OK? No, I remember, it was just an unexpected question, that's all. No of course I do. Why?"
Goren sighed as he gently placed one of the coffees within her reach, then plonked himself heavily into his own chair. He tried hard not to dislike Nathan's mother, but – although he and Liz had never really warmed to each other – lately Goren found it very difficult not to be angry at her. It was not great but not surprising that she didn't approve of Goren, but what had always irked him was that she seemed to think she'd been doing Eames a favour by letting her carry Nathan, and she was ready to pick a fight with anyone who intimated that Eames (or anyone associated with her) had undergone any hardship bringing Liz's only chance at motherhood into the world.
Eames was silent for a long time. Goren watched her surreptitiously, as her expression morphed from hunted to guardedly thoughtful. "Hmmm…" she said several times as she rummaged around in her handbag for her Blackberry, then entered something one-handed. "Well… OK… you've given me a lot to think about… I'll let you know. When? OK, remind me if you don't hear back from me about it. Yup… OK. Yeah, OK, right. Bye, you too." Eames sighed as she closed her both her phone and Blackberry with a decisive snap. "Thanks for the coffee, Bobby," she muttered before turning her face to her computer screen. She sat staring speculatively at it for a long time.
It didn't help that Eames was so darned loyal that she would rather have chopped off her own finger than complain of any wrongdoing done to her by one of her own (Goren treasured her reticence though, because it spoke to her professionalism and integrity), and so prideful that she'd never admit to being wounded by someone she loved (this one pricked Goren a little, or rather pricked his conscience), but despite the way she absorbed whatever Liz seemed to dump on her without a whimper, it was clear to Goren that their conflict had deepened.
In fact, lately when she was speaking to Liz, Eames looked almost as defeated and miserable as she'd looked after he'd returned from suspension.
Now that was a depressing thought.
It was two weeks since Eames's conversation with her sister, and she still felt wrung out. She'd known that she needed time to consider Liz's proposal, but time hadn't eased her tension and uncertainty; it was time to sit down and make a decision. She didn't feel good about it, but – like Jack Nicholson said – maybe this is as good as it gets?
Now that was a depressing thought.
No wait a second, not entirely. She had a good life; certainly much better and much happier than she thought it could ever be during her darkest times. In fact, she got almost everything she needed from one place: work. As Liz loved to remind her. Actually, from one –
As Liz loved to remind her.
Liz and her mother relished telling her how hard she was, how unyielding. At best she'd been proud of their opinion; other times, defiant. Certain they'd been wrong – not about their assessment, but about its effect on her. But maybe she's the one who'd been wrong. Maybe it was impossible not to compromise, and maybe she'd been alone for so long because she hadn't seen that. If compromise was a necessary part of life, and she'd long ago chosen to never compromise at work, then it must be in her personal life that she'd be forced to yield.
It wouldn't be the first time.