I spent a second sleepless night alone.
I can't say Bobby didn't call me because he did.
But I didn't answer.
I wasn't in the mood to hear his apologies or his side-stepping around what was going on in his head.
It scared me to think that I was nearly ready to end it with him.
And more than that, it made me furious.
Why was he doing this?
Why was he shoving this wedge between us?
I didn't think I was asking for too much.
If he loved me, then he should be able to talk to me.
In his mind, he's not talking because he loves me, I reminded myself. He had some warped sense of protectiveness that I hadn't been able to break through.
I listened to the message that he'd left on my voice mail.
"It's me," he said tiredly. "I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking about you…that I'm always thinking about you. And I…well, that's it. I'll see you tomorrow."
That was it.
Although, I'd specifically told him to quit apologizing, so at least he was respecting my wishes.
And he said that he was thinking about me.
But was he only calling because I'd gotten mad at him for not doing it last night? Or was it truly because he was thinking about me?
I kicked off the blankets and huffed out an annoyed breath.
And why was it that I couldn't seem to sleep without him next to me?
He took up a lot of room and he hogged the blankets and he generated so much body heat.
And he was so sweet and affectionate and he couldn't seem to keep his hands off of me.
I sighed again and got up from the bed.
I spent the rest of the night on the sofa, but by morning, I was no closer to making up my mind about what to do.
So I procrastinated.
I went in to work, determined to focus only on the case.
Bobby and I would sort ourselves out later.
I ran into him in the lobby at 1PP.
"I called you last night," he said as we went up in the elevator.
"Let's just finish this case, okay? Then you can take some time and be with your mom."
"And you can decide what you're going to do? About us?"
"I don't know. Maybe," I admitted, unable to maintain eye contact.
Just talk to me, I wanted to yell.
But I didn't.
I continued to studiously ignore him until we got to the eleventh floor and then he hustled off the elevator without looking back.
We met with Ross and started bringing him up to speed, but midway through the recap, Bobby got a phone call. He took it in the conference room, leaving me to finish the update.
After nearly half an hour, he met me in the hall.
"My mother," he said in explanation as we headed for the A/V room. We had Ashton waiting there so that we could show him that we knew he'd lied about the night Amanda had gone missing. "She acts like I haven't been spending every free minute with her."
"Now you want to share?" I asked sharply.
And it wasn't fair of me, I know.
But I was hurting and so I lashed out.
"You're right," he agreed defeatedly. "You don't need this. You don't need any of this."
I felt like I was going to be sick.
We talked to Ashton, but my mind was half on Bobby.
We were so off and he had to be so tired and why in the world had I cut him off when he'd finally tried to open up to me?
He took out some of his frustration on Ashton, mocking him for talking about having each other's back.
I couldn't help but feel it was a direct shot at me.
Wasn't I supposed to have his back?
And yet when he needed me…like now…I was snapping at him and thinking of myself first.
"There's more to this," Bobby said quietly after we took Ashton back to an interrogation room.
At first I wasn't sure if he meant us or the case, but then he continued.
"Something happened over there."
As usual, he was right.
We uncovered a scandal that Amanda's squad had been trying to cover up. Payback on Iraqi insurgents.
I listened while Bobby talked about it with Carl. I watched as Carl broke down, saying that he'd let Amanda down and I couldn't help but see the empathy on Bobby's face.
That's how he felt about his mother. He was letting her down.
This case had personal undertones everywhere and it was only making it harder on him.
I was making it harder on him.
He was encroaching on a meltdown by the time we met with Ross and the commissioner in Ross' office.
"Maybe you should console him, Commissioner. He was almost your son-in-law," Bobby said, almost poking at Dockerty as he stared at Carl through the office windows.
I had the sense that I was getting ready to watch a train wreck.
I stood helplessly by as Bobby kept pushing, until the commissioner decided that he'd had enough.
"What do you know about my daughter? Or about what kind of father I am?" Dockerty yelled.
"Well, as little as you know about who I am," Bobby muttered as he left the office.
"Detective, you're out of line," Ross called out.
Yeah, like that was going to do any good.
This, right here, was exactly why I'd nearly begged Ross two days ago to leave Bobby off this case.
He was an explosion waiting to happen.
I watched as he went to his desk, picking up his binder and then hesitating briefly before swiping everything to the floor.
What was wrong with him?
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was giving him the cold shoulder after I promised to be supportive, my inner voice said.
I'd given him hope of having a healthy relationship and at the first sign of trouble, I'd jumped ship.
But it was because of him that I was backing off, I argued internally.
We had to sort this out. And soon, before I developed multiple personalities because there were already too many voices inside of my head.
I shrugged off my thoughts of Bobby and once again focused on the case.
Hopefully, if I could redirect the commissioner back to the case as well, then there might not be serious repercussions for Bobby's temper tantrum.
It seemed to work, especially since Ross got the word that Wesley had been picked up and was currently en route to 1PP.
Since there was a lull in activity, I took the opportunity to see if I could catch up to Bobby. I found him near the elevator.
"What the hell was that, Bobby?" I asked. My voice came out sharper than I intended, but I was just so damn frustrated with the whole thing. "You want to throw it all away? Just, I know…"
"Back off," he said without looking at me.
The words felt like a slap in the face.
He may as well have said fuck off considering his body language.
He got onto the elevator, his gaze trained on the floor, but I stood rooted to the spot.
And hell, I wasn't even sure what we were talking about here.
Just before the doors closed, he briefly looked up at me. He almost looked like he'd been waiting for the full assault, expecting me to read him the riot act, but I just let him go.
I couldn't keep chasing him.
And I couldn't keep protecting him from himself.
Again, I felt physically sick as I went back to my desk.
This was not how this was supposed to go.
Whoever said that love conquered all needed to be summarily shot for filling people's heads with a line of crap.
I worked at my desk until I got the word that Wesley had arrived. I spent an annoying hour with him in an interrogation room where he simply repeated his vital statistics and then Dockerty came in and requested to have him put in a holding cell.
I knew what that meant.
He was going to try to intimidate him.
His maneuver pissed me off because if Bobby tried something like that, Ross would have his ass and yet the commissioner seemed to have no problem with doing it himself.
And here I was again…being protective of Bobby.
While I waited in Ross' office for Dockerty to finish his strong-arm technique, Bobby came back.
I don't know where he'd been because he hadn't been gone long enough to have driven to Carmel Ridge and back, but I was instantly annoyed with myself for the fact that nerves fluttered through me when I saw him.
How was it that I could be so mad at him and yet still be excited by the sight of him?
"Did you have time to cool off?" Ross asked him when he came in the office.
Bobby nodded, looking everywhere but at me, and then Dockerty came in to tell us that his plan had failed.
But that didn't make Wesley less guilty. It just meant that we needed to figure out a way to get him to admit to it.
We talked about it briefly in Ross' office, and then Bobby and I left, although I walked ahead of him, not looking back.
"It's hard to get a confession from him if he's capable of guilt," he said in that hesitant voice of his.
He was trying to make amends, I could tell, but I wasn't going to do this now.
Our issues at the moment had nothing to do with work and so this wasn't the place.
Besides, I was still pissed off. At him, at myself...just pissed off in general.
"Maybe we should tell him he's got nothing to feel guilty about?" he added questioningly.
"You do that," I said as I walked away from him.
I went down the hall and into the ladies' room where I took a moment just to breathe.
I'd never had times like this with Joe.
He was always steady and even-keeled and personable.
But I also never had passion with Joe, I reminded myself. Not like I had with Bobby.
And it was the natural order of things that the greater the high, the greater the low.
My marriage with Joe had been like a Sunday drive in the country.
Pleasant. Consistent, with few surprises.
My three weeks with Bobby had been an expedition into the Amazon.
Exciting. Unpredictable. And most definitely hot.
So I suppose the only question was were the highs worth the lows.
I ran my fingers through my hair and checked my look in the mirror before leaving the bathroom.
I don't know why it surprised me to find Bobby right outside the door.
"I know you're mad at me," he said quietly. "But can we table that while we get this guy?"
I sighed and brought my eyes to his.
I'd wanted to avoid looking directly at him because it always put that feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I looked and as expected, there came the feeling.
That one that makes me want to smile at him even when I'm mad. The one that makes me want to run my fingers through his unruly hair or stroke my hand over his scruffy cheek.
But even though I looked and the feeling came, I held back all of my other responses.
Instead I gave him a nod.
"Okay," I agreed. "Do you have an idea about how to get him to confess? I spent an hour with him and all I know is where he lives and his date of birth."
"Follow my lead," he said as he started towards the interrogation room. I fell into step beside him, but his phone rang before he could say anything more.
He answered it and spoke briefly.
"I know, Ma," he said in a strained voice. "As soon as I can."
He hung up and stuck his phone back in his pocket.
And I wasn't going to ask, but he glanced at me and his face was clouded over and I couldn't stop myself.
"It's fine," he snapped. We were right outside of the interrogation room and he paused and took a deep breath and added, "Just use your anger in here. It'll work for us."
So I did. And it worked.
We got Wesley to confess, and then a uniform came in and led him away.
I closed the file and left without saying a word.
I waited outside the room, planning to offer to take care of the paperwork for Bobby. Just because I was mad at him didn't mean I couldn't cut him a break so that he could get back to his mother.
But right as he came out, Ross called out, "Good job, Detectives. You can give me your paperwork before…"
"Yeah, save it, alright? I'm leaving," Bobby said as he walked away. "You want to fire me, fire me. I don't care."
I watched him until he turned the corner, heading for the elevator.
"Eames, your partner…" Ross began.
"Had no business being on this case," I finished, unleashing some of my mood on him. "I told you that from the beginning."
"Yes, you did, but he's a Major Case detective. He can't pick and choose his own hours."
"You could've taken his personal situation into account," I fired back. "This is exactly what you were hoping would happen, isn't it? You haven't wanted him in this department from day one. That's why you keep pushing him. You were waiting for him to snap. Well, congratulations, Captain. You got your wish."
I left Ross standing slack-jawed in the hallway.
I went to my desk and grabbed my coat and then reached over and picked up Bobby's binder that he'd tossed onto his desk. It was vital to him and he never left it behind so it worried me that he'd done so this time.
"You're wrong, Eames," Ross said, coming up behind me. "I didn't want this."
"You could've fooled me, Captain."
"Look, it's been a difficult case during what should've been a holiday weekend. I signed off on Goren's vacation time. You take a few days yourself, okay? Come back fresh mid-week."
I stared at him for a moment, and even through my hostility, I recognized the fact that he was cutting me some slack. My words were cause for reprimand and yet he'd taken them in stride. Maybe he wasn't such a complete ass after all.
"Okay," I agreed with a nod. "Wednesday."
I left 1PP and headed for home.
My head was a mess.
Normally when I felt like this, I'd call Bobby.
But now I was a mess because of him and I was pretty sure that we weren't going to be doing any talking any time soon.
He was probably half way to Carmel Ridge by now.
By the time I got home, I'd decided that I would order a pizza and drink a bottle of wine and then go to bed. I'd had two nights in a row with no sleep so I was going to get some rest tonight even if it was alcohol-induced.
I got out of my car and grabbed my things, including Bobby's binder, and went up the front walk.
"You know, I warned you."
I looked up in surprise to find Bobby sitting on my steps.
I stopped walking and instead just looked at him.
"I told you that I'd screw this up," he added.
"That's what you're going with?" I responded, ignoring the fact that my stomach was doing somersaults. "I told you so?"
He stood up and came down the steps, coming to a stop right in front of me.
I mentally chastised myself for the way my heart started pounding just from his proximity.
"I let this thing go off the track somewhere, Alex," he said with no small amount of regret. He reached his hand out and touched my cheek. "I felt like I was being pulled in so many different directions and I…I forgot the most important thing of all."
"Which is what?"
"That I need you and I love you. Without you, everything else just falls apart."
I sighed and leaned into his palm slightly.
I wasn't over being mad, but I also wasn't going to turn him away if he wanted to talk.
We'd been needing to do this for two days.
"What about your mother?" I asked. "She's expecting you."
"I called her and told her that I'd be up in the morning," he answered as he brought his other hand up to my cheek as well.
"You didn't have to do that. I'm not trying to compete or take you away from…"
"I want us to spend some time together," he interrupted.
"I thought you wanted me to back off."
He closed his eyes and have me a repentant half-smile.
"Let's go inside," I said softly.
"And talk," he added as he leaned down to kiss me.
I wanted to drop everything and put my arms around him, but instead I stood still as he put every ounce of passion into that kiss.
"You're trying to butter me up," I accused lightly when he stepped away and took my things from my hands.
"Is it working?"
"You're going to have to do more than that."
Although I was so glad that he was here.
I didn't want to end things with him. I loved him too much for that.
But we also needed to sort this out so that we could hopefully avoid another similar situation.
"I guess I really did screw this up, huh?"
"Yes," I agreed as I unlocked the door. "But it's reparable."
"Are you sure? Earlier you said that maybe…"
"Earlier we both said a lot of things, so maybe we need to start the conversation over."
We went inside and he tossed my things on the table before pulling me into his arms.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I know you banned that word, but I need to say it. I'm sorry for keeping you in the dark. I just…I didn't want you to know what she's become."
"But look at what it's doing to us," I pointed out.
"I know. It ends right now."