"Hi," she replied, keeping her eyes on the television.
He hung his jacket up in the closet and sat down on the corner of the bed, petting Bruce. He hesitated to speak, but felt the need to anyway, and before he could stop himself, he had started. "So how was your day?"
Now she looked at him, a look that read 'Are you stupid?', before responding, "Fine...and yours?"
"Okay. I missed you."
She didn't answer, but had gone back to watching television. He knew this was incredibly hard on her. She wasn't meant for a life of nothing. "I was wondering if you might like to go out to dinner tonight," he said, catching her hand in his.
Her eyes moved to their hands, and he saw what he knew he would: the tears, filling her eyes, that had been erratic but frequent over the last several days. "Not tonight," she whispered. "I'm just not able."
"Okay." He stood and pulled all his clothes off and climbed into bed with her.
She looked surprised for a minute, then said, "Do you want to do it or something?"
"Only if you do. Actually, I just wanted to be with you. I woke up wanting that and I've wanted it all day."
"Bishop on your nerves again?"
"Not particularly. I just need you."
Her face was doubtful for a moment, but he kept looking at her, until she finally met his eyes. And she read them, telling her it was okay, whatever she felt was okay, and she burst into tears and buried her face against his chest.
His arms were strong and thick, and wrapped tightly around her body, pulling her closer. He didn't shush her or tell her it would be okay or to think about the positives. He remembered after her attack, the times he would hold her and they wouldn't talk. And how it helped. He was hoping it would help now. He knew she was in pain, feeling useless, the same as he would feel if it had happened to him. Deakins hadn't been able to get anyone to budge yet, and the wait was torture for her.
He continued to hold her, feeling her tears spreading across his chest and the sobs wracking her body as her disappointment flooded to the surface. She was shaking, her body vibrating from within, but he held on and didn't let go.
The minutes passed by. Five, ten, twenty. The sobs were less frequent but still came, breaths in between. He hadn't loosened his grip, and he continued to hold her until all that was left was soft gasps and tiny whimpers, and her cheek was pressed against him, flat and wet and hot.
She finally said, "How long are you planning on staying like this?"
"As long as I need to. I have sick days accumulated."
She didn't move. He knew she was exhausted. He meant what he said, too. He would stay as long as he needed to, just like this, until his arms fell off or her cheek welded to his chest.
When he woke in the morning, she wasn't in the bed. He heard the shower running. For a second he thought maybe he was dreaming but then decided he was too chilly to be asleep.
The bathroom door was open, and he went in. She was in the shower. He could see her outline, the shampoo in her hair. He stepped in behind her and she immediately leaned back into him.
"I'm about done...I figured I'd try to finish up before you needed to get in." She turned around to rinse her hair and he reached up, running his fingers through the lather, helping to get it out. She smiled at him, the first smile he'd seen in a week. "If you sit on the ledge, I'll wash yours for you," she offered, and he quickly took a seat as she began to wash his hair.
She lathered and scrubbed his scalp, then squeezed his body wash onto his sponge and began to wash him. He sat quietly, gratefully, letting her take the lead. After a moment, she directed him to stand and she finished lathering him up. "Hold still while I rinse you," she said, then took the sprayer and rinsed him off. Turning off the water, she stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel before grabbing one for him. "Here..." She smiled at him, then left the bathroom. He followed her into the bedroom, using the towel to dry his hair, then his body.
She had pulled on a pair of panties and was reaching for a bra when he realized she was really going to get out of bed today.
"What are we doing today?" he asked, slipping on his jeans.
She looked surprised. "You're going to work...and I'm calling the doctor...I need to go in for a gynecological exam. I want to make sure I'm doing everything I should be doing." She hooked her bra, then turned to him. "I'm going to do some laundry, maybe walk Bruce, and make some lists. You know, lists of where I'm going now...what I'm going to do with my life."
He pulled on a black tee, then sat down on the bed. "I took the day off. Whatever you want to do, we can do together."
She sat next to him. "You don't have to babysit me. I'm okay. I know I've been a complete child about all of this but I'm done...it's time to put on my big girl panties and get a grip now."
"So I put them on...did you notice?"
"Yes...yes I did," he joked back, and she suddenly threw her arms around him tightly.
"I love you, Bobby. I know I've been a nightmare and I'm sorry."
He hugged her back. "No worse than I would have been." He pulled her back to look her in the face, then smiled again. "Do you want to call your doctor first or go to breakfast? I thought a big breakfast is definitely needed today. It's a big day--the start of the next part of our lives together."
She nodded, a firm, quick assent, before saying, "I'll call the doctor, and then we'll go. A breakfast with more than coffee...I'm sure I'll remember this for a long time."
An hour later they were eating breakfast, large and hearty and hot. She had ordered an omelet, bacon, homefries, and toast--big, homemade pieces of a dark, cinnamon raisin bread. When her food arrived, he had laughed.
"I hope you've got enough there," he said, nodding to her plate.
"I'm hungry today," she told him, digging in. "I would think you'd be happy that I'm not eating off your plate this time."
He grinned. "You know I'm always thrilled to share whatever I have with you."
"In that case," she returned, "you won't mind giving me a piece of your sausage."
"I'll give you some sausage, but not the one on my plate."
"Gross!" She made a face. "Speaking of your sausage, my appointment is next Tuesday at three. It's okay if you can't go...she'll just do a general exam and give me information, all of which I'm sure is in the books you've already gotten."
He was cutting up his eggs and smiling to himself. "I'm glad you have embraced my decision to learn more about this process."
"Yeah, but I want you to do me a favor."
"Stop pressuring me to have sex every day...it's so not romantic or sexy when you're so...I don't know...driven."
He stopped mid-bite. "You really think that..that I'm pressuring you?"
"Sometimes. I mean, there has to be a happy medium between wanting to do it out of desire and needing to do it for conception." She pushed the omelet around on her plate. "I just hate feeling like we're only doing it to accomplish a goal."
He leaned forward. "You do realize," he said in a hushed voice, "that I can't do it if I don't want you, right? I mean, there's a definite element of wanting to do it no matter what...at least for me." His fork touched hers. "Are you saying you don't want to do it sometimes?"
"No, no...I'm just saying there have been a couple of times it's seemed less like us and more like it's goal oriented."
He sat back and considered what she was saying. "I'm sorry," he said. "I guess maybe I did get carried away, initially, in looking at it as a goal."
"Well, it is...I guess I just worry that it will turn into that being the whole focus..." She took a bite of her bacon. "On a similar note, Wednesday through Saturday next week should be the prime time. So we probably want to make sure we get it in each day then."
He choked on his coffee. "I'll do my best to get it in," he sputtered, and she suddenly laughed, hard and loud. He grabbed his napkin, chortling in it too, until she finally stepped on his toes to get him to stop.
They both worked hard to regain their composure, wiping their eyes and trying to focus on their breakfasts. After a couple more minutes, he said, "I'm sorry if I haven't been romantic enough...I'll try to keep that up. I don't want this to be a chore for either of us. It seems like it should be more special, if anything." He was still interspersing his words with chuckles. She reached over and touched his fingernails. They were smooth and well-manicured. He actually filed his own nails. She had seen him do it, and admired him for it.
"I agree...and I'll try to keep an open mind." They looked at each other, and he suddenly grabbed her hand and squeezed it, as he had the night before when she had been so upset.
"I love you, Ness...more than anything. I love you."
"I love you too, Bobby. You're amazing."
"So," she said, tapping the side of the box, "I'm here to pack it up."
Deakins stood from his chair and looked at her awkwardly. "I'm sorry," he told her. "I was so sure I could make something work quickly." He shook his head and sighed. "This is a huge mistake by the brass and they know it...if and when you go back to working, have them contact me. I'll give you an outstanding recommendation."
She nodded. "I never doubted that. And don't worry...you're not getting rid of me. Just because I'm not here every day doesn't mean I won't be around." She smiled shyly at him. "I wanted you to know how much I've appreciated all your support over the years...you've been incredible to work for. I've learned so much from you, and you're such a good person. I never could have made it through everything without you, Captain."
He shook his head again. "Rayden, you're too modest. You're one of the stars of this squad and we're all going to miss you." He walked around the desk, following her to the door of his office. "I expect you to be here regularly...to have lunch with your husband and your friends...and I know Angie is going to be calling you soon. She wants to bring you dinner. You'll let us know when you're...successful...in this next venture?"
She knew what he meant and smiled. "Yeah, I'm sure you'll know shortly after we do...my partner in crime is pretty excited about the prospects." They both glanced over at Goren's desk, to see he and Bishop actively engaged in a lively conversation.
"Let me know if you need any help packing." He started to turn back to his desk, then stopped. "Oh--Eames went on maternity leave today. Just thought you would want to know."
"Thanks." She headed to her office to finish what she had started a week and a half ago. Forty-five minutes later she was done, and sat back to examine her office one last time. There was nothing left that really made the office hers, other than memories. After a few more minutes, she picked up her box and left the office for the last time.
"Hey," Goren said, jumping out his chair and bounding across the bullpen to her. "I can take the box home when I leave later, if you want."
She nodded. "Okay. I think I'm going to visit Alex for a bit."
"Tell her I said hi, and I hope she's doing well." He took the box from her, carefully setting it on his desk.
"I will. We still on for tonight?"
"It's Wednesday, right? You bet." They both smiled at each other, and she headed toward the elevator.
"So you're keeping the same ob/gyn?" Eames handed Rayden a cup of tea and had a seat next to her on the couch.
"I think so. I've been seeing her for years and she knows me pretty well. I've started on these vitamins and I'm supposed to be drinking orange juice each day for folic acid..."
"Did you figure out your ovulation schedule?"
"Yeah." Vanessa smiled and leaned back. "I feel like this is such a science experiment. I almost wonder if I should just have stopped my birth control and seen what happened, you know?"
Alex laughed. "Yeah...I know. Trust me, with this baby I became an expert on the scientific makings of conception!"
"I guess so." She put her glass of tea down. "I'm sorry I missed your shower last weekend...it was just a really bad time."
"Don't worry. I felt so badly for you. I was going to call, but Bobby told me to just give you a bit of time."
Vanessa nodded. "That was probably good advice...I was a real wreck until the end of last week...it took me several days to pick myself up again." Eames was resting her hands on her belly, as she always seemed to do these days, and Vanessa asked, "Is he moving?"
"Always...the doctor said that's pretty normal toward the end. I guess a week from now, he and I will be heading in different directions."
Vanessa hadn't thought about it that way, but she knew it was true. After Nathan was born, Eames would recover and go back to work, and he would go home with her sister and brother-in-law. "Are you sad?"
Eames was quiet for a minute. "Yes. But please don't say anything."
Vanessa nodded. "I'm so sorry, Alex. I'm just so sorry."
"Don't be. I chose this for myself. I don't regret my choices. And please--please don't feel like you have to keep your own excitement and joy from me because of this. I'm so thrilled for both you and Bobby...your baby will be so fortunate."
"Let's hope." She took another sip of her tea, then said, "Bobby wanted me to tell you he was thinking of you."
Eames smiled. "He's a great partner. I'll be so glad to be back to work--" She froze, but Vanessa nodded.
"It's okay." Suddenly she laughed. "You and I could tiptoe around each other all the time if we weren't able to handle this crap. Thank God we're stronger than that."
Eames grinned. "Wait til you see this kid. He's gonna be gorgeous...and I'll always get to say I gave birth to him."
"Oh!" Vanessa reached around, grabbing her purse, and pulled out an envelope. "I struggled with what to get you...we sent a package to your sister's for the baby, but I wanted you to have this." She handed the envelope to Eames, who looked at it confusedly before opening it.
It was a letter. Eames read it slowly and Vanessa watched her expression as she took in the words of admiration. Then she opened the gift certificate and gasped.
"I can't take this...it's too much...too generous..."
Vanessa shook her head. "Are you kidding? I want you to have it. So does Bobby."
When she had read about the spa weekend for new mothers, she had thought of Alex immediately, and before she could talk herself out of it, she had purchased the package. Alex deserved the pampering after carrying her sister's baby. She knew Eames would never be able to afford something like that on a cop's salary, nor would she spend money on something so frivolous. But now her eyes were glowing and glistening, and she wiped away a tear.
"Ness...thank you...tell Bobby thank you too. Thank you so much."
Vanessa nodded. "You deserve it, and so much more...you're an amazing woman. I'm just glad I could do it for you."
Impulsively, Eames hugged her, and Vanessa hugged her friend back. Eames was never this affectionate normally, and Vanessa wrote it off to the pregnancy hormones. For a minute, she wondered if pregnancy hormones would make her want to push people away. Otherwise, she'd probably be on top of people all the time.