Summary: Quiet moments are few and far between for Bobby and Alex.
Disclaimer: The characters and universe of Law & Order: Criminal Intent belong to Dick Wolf, NBC, USA, etc. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Set in the general timeline of early Season 8, but no references to any of those episodes. Written for the ci_fans_unite May Challenge.
The first rays of dawn glow insistently against her lids, demanding entrance. Alex scrunches her eyes even tighter shut and tries to pretend that she is four again, when everything she wasn't touching winked out of existence the moment she closed her eyes. Morning always comes too early in her opinion, and today she'd give anything to be able to tuck the sun back under the horizon.
She's spooned up against Bobby's back (and maybe the term doesn't apply exactly, because she's a delicate teaspoon and he's a long-handled ladle, but somehow they fit). Her nose is squished almost painfully into his shoulder blade, and so she's blissfully surrounded by his scent, even if her septum won't thank her for it later.
She's hooked one leg over his thighs and imagines she looks like a starfish wrapped tightly around an outcropping of rock, trying not to be washed away by the current. She snorts and clutches him tighter. It figures it would be Bobby who makes her feel like a slimy, oozing sea creature that thrusts its stomach outside its body to digest large prey. (A fact to which he had enlightened her only the other day, and which has nearly ruined her childhood image of cheerful orange stars frolicking merrily on the ocean floor in the company of bright corals and wide-eyed fish; luckily, she managed to distract him before he blithely plunged into a graphic discussion of the sexual habits of seahorses. When they first were partnered, it didn't take her long to realize that he got a kick out of grossing her out. Sometimes she plays along now just to coax that gleeful grin out into the open, a rarity these days that's usually worth nearly losing her lunch.)
Her fingers tangle in his hair. She doesn't have to look to know there are fewer black curls amid the white than there were last year or even last month. Releasing her grip, she lightly outlines the curve of his ear and tugs gently on the lobe and longs to murmur soft endearments. She knows sharp words, caustic words, words that wound. (And, yes, she has used them on him, and there are only three things in this world that hurt worse than that incredulous twist of betrayal that only lately has faded from his face.) "I love you" has never come easy for her, and even now it lodges in her throat, and her tongue lies thick and heavy and silent.
Her palm cups his cheek, two days of stubble prickling rough against her skin, and she lingers there, letting her thumb stroke back and forth just to hear the whisper of nascent bristles along his jaw. There are days when she itches to ambush him with a razor, but this isn't one of them.
She squeezes his shoulder and moves on to drape an arm around his waist, her hand curving protectively over his belly. She doesn't mind the weight nearly as much as she would've thought eight years ago; he's built for it, and it's strangely comfortable (and, though she'd never admit it to her sister or her female colleagues or the kindly old lady next door who still nudges her toward wildly unsuitable, wiry young men in the hopes that she'll 'settle down' again, his heft and his height send sharp thrills twanging through her tangled heartstrings--and other places less sentimental and even less mentionable).
Thump, thump, thump.
"Sir, you have to let us come in now!"
Ross readjusts the angle of his shoulder against the door and stares through the grimy window into the rising sun (anywhere but the corner that draws his gaze like a ten-car pile-up).
He'll take the rap for obstructing the CSIs and tampering with a crime scene, and do it without protest. It's too late for anything else, and he owes them this much.
Two of his best detectives (but now, best or worst or mediocre, it matters only that they're his) are curled together on a concrete floor, one with a rapidly falling liver temp and a ragged .45 hole in his chest and the other clinging to him silently, her tender gestures so intimate it seems a sacrilege even to witness.
He's doing all he can to defer the inevitable separation. The men and women outside the door are some of New York's finest, though, and they'll stop at nothing (not even the captain of Major Case Squad) to maintain the integrity of their evidence. If it were any other body than his, any other grief-stricken woman than her, anyone else's fault but his own, he'd swell with pride at their persistence and dedication.
As it is, he can hear someone shouting for a battering ram.
He's never had Goren's intuition--never wanted it when he saw the baggage that came with it--but somehow he knows she's going to break with the hinges on the door. She'll shatter so completely that no department-mandated psychiatrist, no solicitous grief counselor, no guilt-stricken captain or well-meaning family will ever be able to piece her together again, and the cold certainty of this knowledge nearly buckles his knees as the door shudders under the first blow.
He's had blood on his hands before, but never has it been so red.