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This is an old story from back in 2005, but it hasn't been posted here yet. So I'm starting in belated honor of doctorsgirl26's birthday - since she's a CI fan as well as a Who fan. :) Happy Belated Birthday, my friend. :D

Also, when I started writing this series, a lot of information hadn't yet been disclosed about the families of the characters. At this point, it's too much hassle to correct them, so I'll work around them or outright ignore them. FYI. Also, LJ is making my break it up more than it is on FF.N.

Series: Metamorphosis

Author: tkel_paris
Rating: T for all but a few parts
Summary: Every relationship develops and grows/evolves because pivotal moments. Never was this more true than for Alex Eames and Bobby Goren. Inspired by my first version of the story “Shattered.”
Classifications: G&E leading into G/E, A/U
Series Spoilers: Late season 2 eps, the season 3 arc, all Bishop eps, and “Great Barrier.”
Archive: Amorous Intent. Anywhere else, please ask.
Disclaimer: Only the idea is mine. That and the DVD copies I own of Years 1 & 3. Plus recordings of the season 4 eps, all the season 5 eps aired so far, and all but one of the season 2 eps.
Overall Acknowledgments: Susan G.; without her, “Shattered” wouldn’t exist, and neither would this. Lara, for being an excellent beta. Tres Mechante, for giving me a go to put my own take on a possibility she used, and for saying that the original version had her hooked.
Author’s note: Since those at Amorous Intent insisted on knowing more about the events that led to “Shattered,” I have fulfilled that desire. However, this series is gonna diverge from the outcome of “Shattered” since I've realized that their reactions would've had different results. I'll be presenting a new outcome due to the events alluded to in “Shattered.”

Story: Phoenix
Rating: T for emotional angst, except for a M+ part (for the adult version only)
Summary: As Alex prepares to become a surrogate, Bobby learns his long-absent father has died. Ashes, a symbol of devastation, have been part of Bobby’s life since childhood, and the pile seems to endlessly grow... Will anything come to life from those ashes?
Classifications: strong G&E friendship, G/E
Note: I didn’t know the Year 2 time line when I first wrote this, but after seeing all but one of the episodes – not to mention S5's two-hour episode – I had to go back and make changes. I originally had set this a month before Year 3’s “Undaunted Mettle,” but looking at the time line based on about when Alex gave birth told me that UM is probably set after “A Person of Interest.” For part of part 1, I took inspiration from Kyllikki’s “Signifying Nothing.” Thanks, Kyllikki, for writing that collection of missing scenes from “Phantom.” It helped fuel my imagination.

Spoilers (in no particular order): “The Insider” (1-13), “Anti-Thesis” (2-3), “The Faithful” (1-4), “The Good Doctor” (1-9), “Phantom” (1-16), “The Third Horseman” (1-11), “Chinoserie” (2-5), “Badge” ((1-20) I noticed how Alex commented over Bobby’s failure to notice from papers that Terry Randolph was a woman, and guessed that – given her nickname – something like that happened when Bobby first heard about her), “My Good Name” (4-22), “Legion” (2-18), “A Person of Interest” (2-23), “Cherry Red” (2-19), “The Pilgrim” (2-8), “Jones” (1-5), “Faith” (1-21), and “In the Wee Small Hours” (5-6 & 5-7).


Touch pen to paper. Fill in the blank with relevant information. Move on to next spot. Repeat until all blanks are filled. Place in “finished” pile, grab the next page, and start over. Repeat process until all pages are complete.

It’s a pattern he knows well from over a decade on the force. It always drains his patience and it takes him a long time to finish the paperwork. The most mind-numbing aspect of a job he otherwise loves...

Okay, there are days I wish I’d stayed in the army, Bobby amends, where I wouldn’t see as many “politically sensitive” cases. Where the only thing that truly mattered was how well I did my job, and I never had to think about whose nose might get bent out of shape by the questions required to solve a case.

He had more of those days several years ago. When he worked, people noticed his uncanny ability to notice tiny details and read people, but mostly focused on his habits. The way he tilted his head, the gestures, the off-the-wall questions to suspects and witnesses... They didn’t know how to deal with him. In small doses, or for a few weeks most could tolerate him... All were pleased to not be partnered with him anymore. He tried adjusting his behavior, to not be so... difficult... by his partners’ standards, but keeping up a... less eccentric... set of behaviors only came naturally when he was undercover, or creating an image while dealing with a particular person.

He even heard a rumor in Narcotics that there was a running bet that no one would last more than six months working with “that whacked Sherlock.” And no one did.

Hence, undercover work became an outlet for him. Where what mattered was pulling off your character and catching the perps. He had worked in seven undercover operations before running the three that the crooked Agent John Hampton mentioned.

The memory of the undercover FBI agent building a case against the Genovese crime family still pisses Bobby off. How that man used a young debutante, took money from her, gave her drugs, and then killed her father to keep his bosses from finding out... Hampton nearly escaped through the rabbit hole his superiors set up for him, but Bobby – and his partner, Alex – found enough evidence to convince the US attorney and the FBI to give him up.

Undercover work was one of his “special skills,” as one of his former bosses noted. He was good at it. Too good...

He told Hampton that he wouldn’t be good at it, that it wasn’t his nature because, by then, Bobby wanted to forget about those days. Of course, I didn’t trust Hampton from the moment I met him, Bobby thinks, especially after the penetrating stare when that agent revealed that he’d read Alex’s file. Never mind my own... As he was closing that last Narcotics operation, his boss suggested he work on another. The ease in slipping into a role was, he’d realized, an escape from having to deal with people regularly. An escape that could become dangerous to his sanity. Whatever I have of it, he always sighed... Plus, undercover work didn’t allow him much time to actively investigate, which he enjoyed more but didn't get much chance for in that squad.

He promptly put in for a transfer to the toughest place within the NYPD to get into: the Major Case Squad. They got the hardest and most misleading cases, the smartest and most difficult humps to catch. Bobby always loved the chase, and there was always satisfaction at successfully closing a rough case. And he wanted to be working those tough cases, even if he had to work more often with a partner. His fellow officers and detectives in Narcotics didn’t doubt that he would do well, but many wondered if MCS would want to deal with him.

But Bobby had reason to think he had a good chance: he wasn’t a stranger to the boss of MCS. James Deakins – then a detective who had just started on the command track – had given a lecture at the Academy during Bobby’s last month there, and Bobby asked questions about the cases mentioned. He had far more questions than Deakins had answers, but the older man had seemed impressed – not just surprised – at the intuition shown by the former army officer. Years later, Bobby learned that the kinds of questions he had asked actually helped Deakins – and the detectives working under his command – crack a few cases that would have gone unsolved.

Deakins hadn’t forgotten that, and Bobby started at MCS within a week of his request, as there was an immediate vacancy to be filled. Before he set foot in the eleventh floor of One Police Plaza, he skimmed Deakins’ notes on the new partner, a four-year veteran of the squad and a former Vice member. Somehow, what little he read about “Detective Alex Eames” never clued him in to the most important detail about his new partner...

I assume, Goren,” Deakins says as he leads Bobby into his office, after they passed Bobby’s new desk, where his binder now rests, “that you’ve read the list of case types we usually handle?”

Yes, sir.” His stock answer at times when dealing with superiors now, it comes from his years in the army, even as an investigator. He’s also learned that people don’t like silences – even police officers – and feel a need to fill them. You can learn an amazing amount of information by mastering that skill.

Deakins looks him hard in the eye, noting his new detective’s reluctance to reveal anything else. Whatever Deakins’ thoughts are, Bobby has a hard time guessing them. He must be a good poker player, Bobby thinks as his new boss slightly shakes his head and continues. “You read the memo about who your partner is?”

He nods. “Detective Alex Eames.” The memo didn’t say much else, but Bobby decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to find out anything. No partnership lasted long enough for it to be worth learning details about them that he couldn’t learn from watching them on the job. Based on what the memo did say about Eames’ excellent record, he’s expecting someone tall and intimidating. “I know that to be working here for four years – and to make it here so quickly – he must be an exceptional detective.”

Suddenly Deakins’ eyes turn inquisitive, like he sees something amiss in the words. What, Bobby wonders, could possibly be off? Then Deakins' eyes seem to be caught by something, and then the sounds a firm yet quiet set of footsteps approaches. “Ah, there you are, Alex. Meet Detective Goren.”

Bobby turns his body, and freezes. The person facing him is anything but tall or menacing. Or male. He’s looking down at a woman whose head probably barely reaches over the tops of his shoulders even with the heels she wears. Whose dark blond hair drapes just past shoulders covered by a professional, tailored dark suit. Her skin is semi-pale, but shows few signs of aging aside from the weary lines all cops seem to get after even a few years working tough cases. But her eyes... Those hazel orbs have seen a lot in a short time. That much he can tell, but beyond that...

His ingrained manners, one of the things his mother had impressed the importance of upon him before she started slipping away, slap him upside the head. Not the best start, Robert Goren, he silently berates himself.

She smirks and rolls her eyes, seemingly amused at his mistake. He clears his throat. “I’m, uh, sorry, Eames.” He watches to see if she was offended by his mistake. I hope using her last name helps, because I'm getting the feeling I don’t want to piss this woman off...

She simply waves her right hand in dismissal. “It’s not the first time someone’s made that mistake, Goren.” She extends the hand, an offering of some sort. He blinks, but accepts, and is surprised by how firm her grip is. Who is she?

When they were sent on their first case, somehow she kept her surprise over his actions to a minimum. Oh, she wasn’t prepared for some things, he remembers with a wince, but she seemed to take it in stride. That she liked driving was a bonus, but the biggest plus in her favor was – even as they were getting used to each other – that she never interrupted his quiet thinking times unless she had something to share about the case.

Still, it wasn’t easy. Almost two and a half years ago, they had one case that did a number on both of them, the murder/assassination of Dr. Leo Cavela. Alex had been on edge since their previous case – involving a grim family dispute – where he had to resort to intense psychological pressure to get one suspected witness to tell the truth, and Bobby still squirms at the memory of her glare afterwards. She clearly thought he'd pushed it too far. How noticeably on edge she acted varied – Bobby knows well that she keeps a tight watch on her reactions – and in the weeks during and after the Cavela case, he waited for the other shoe to drop. Waited for Deakins to tell him that he would have to move on to another partner... and waited... and waited...

Yet – despite that it had been about six months into their partnership, the exact upper limit all previous partners could stomach him – no notice, no visit came. If anything, Alex started to relax around him. Hell, Bobby thinks, she didn’t even bat an eyelash over how I used those bronze and porcelain “toys” to rattle a confession out of Lucile Mobray... Not that he'd been looking at the others, but he could feel the disbelief coming from Carver and the lawyer. Yet it seems that Alex spent the whole time watching both him and Mrs. Mobray, and not reacting much.

Looking back, Bobby still marvels at his luck. Alex has proved herself to be reliable, an excellent listener, good for the ride to give his hunches a look-see, and able to follow his thoughts. She has no problem poking at his hypotheses, to find the holes in his logic, and help him find the right paths to take. She also does not put up with any of his crap, is not intimidated by him even though he’s practically twice her size, and looks out for him.

She is the kind of person he never knew could exist in his life. She has become... almost family. The one constant in his life, the one person he can depend on. His hands become restless, the pen waving slightly above the paper. The constant who has been going to various doctor’s appointments for over a month. He’s now positive that it’s not routine check-ups; the appointments are just too close together. The implications of that send shivers down his spine, make his knees twitch, and shock the tiniest fibers of his being into seizures.

After all, this is Alex Eames. His partner, his best friend, his lifeline, his touchstone, his... everything. She has brought light into his world where there was at best perpetual, thick fog, and at worst murky darkness. Stability, a sense of normalcy, and a feeling of being appreciated and valued. Things he didn’t dream he’d ever have... She’s given him all of that.

The idea that something’s not right with her is definite cause for concern.

He’s stayed silent so far; he doesn’t like to pry into her life. Almost everything he’s ever learned about her has been through little admissions during investigations, or when she tells him a story about herself while they’re having a meal during, or after, a case. A few times he’s found it necessary to ask, but only if something about whatever they’re dealing with seems to be bothering her. Which can be hard to detect; she’s sometimes better at hiding her real feelings than he is at hiding his. And that’s also something he worries about...

Everything she knows about him is a result of one of three scenarios: he volunteered something during an off-duty moment, he said it as part of an act while questioning someone – all of their acts have a basis in reality – or it spills out during a moment of stress. The last ones only happen during, or as a result of, an interrogation. One from just four months ago comes immediately to mind, and Bobby promptly rubs his forehead with his left hand – holding a pen – to push the memory back into the abyss, where Alex still says it belongs.

God bless her, she wouldn’t leave him alone for almost six weeks, except at night when she had to go home, after that day. But she started spending every hour she could spare with him, even though it meant putting off some regular dinners with her family. All starting the night after Nicole Wallace had fled...

Why would she insist on coming with me to the grocery store? Why did she buy things that won’t last till she gets home, and why, Bobby wonders as he unlocks his apartment, did she follow me up here? Never mind the fact that she’s never been here before... But he doesn’t argue; he’s too drained to argue with her. He hates it when they argue, even when it’s just about a case. Those moments hit somewhere deep inside, and revive the anxieties that have festered since he was seven.

As they put the bags on his counter, Bobby sees his partner glancing around. He decides to put away everything while her eyes explore the living room and kitchen. “Nice place,” she compliments, even though she couldn’t have looked for more than a few seconds. “Bookshelves against every wall. Not surprising knowing you.”

Bobby finds that he can’t move. Despite his decision to not question her motives, the need to know why she’s here is too strong. “Eames, you don’t have to be here.”

I know, but I want to help.” Her expression is so open, offering without asking for anything other than the chance to help.

She’s acting like it’s no big deal... In his weary state, he can’t wrap his brain around that idea. “But don’t you and your family usually have a dinner or something on this night?”

Shrugging, Alex calmly explains,“I told them I was busy dealing with loose ends on a case. Which is true.”

Bobby feels bad about that, and can’t meet her eyes. “Eames, I’m taking up so much of your time, your social life is getting more unexciting than Father McShale’s.”

Alex doesn’t blink at the reminder of an uncomfortable case from their first months as partners. They’d argued over how to resolve it, and then over Bobby’s decision to go behind Carver’s back to convince McShale to take a deal. They’d settled into a routine by then – they knew each other well enough to communicate through some hand signals – but Bobby hadn’t been sure whether that would be the final straw. Only a few months earlier – only a month after his transfer, no less – they had argued in front of Deakins on how to proceed on catching Dr. Peter Kelmer for the murder of his wife, and Deakins sided with Bobby, forcing Alex to break a promise she made to the victim’s cousin.

Alex’s anger over that – he quickly learned that keeping promises is important to her, and he’s never heard her make a promise she didn’t think she could keep – had prompted Bobby to buy their meals for a while after that, and make sure the coffee she liked was ready for the moment she arrived at work. He went back to the same pattern after the McShale mess, and it seemed to work again. Somehow, they haven’t argued in front of anyone else since, unless it was part of a ruse. Only once since did I feel convinced that she'd walk away, yet nothing happened...

Alex casts a soft yet determined gaze in his direction. “I can’t let your thoughts torment you, Bobby,” she explains. “Especially when you have trouble not letting them do so.” An eyebrow quirks gently, and he finds it impossible to not squirm under her gaze, a little embarrassed that she knows that. It’s nothing like the things Nicole said, he tells himself. Alex would never hurt him, and he knows it. Her face softens, and she adds, in a gentle yet firm voice, “I want to see you get past it sooner rather than later, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let her leave you hurt for long.”

Bobby stares in shock. She doesn’t want to see me hurting? She... cares... about how I’m doing? “Eames... I’ll be fine.” His tone, quiet and weak, fails to convince himself. No way will it convince Alex, he thinks.

In how long?” She grabs the cocoa mix – something he never buys – from one of the bags, and the milk from another. “How long are you going to dwell on what she said, on what she did, on what she made you feel?” She grabs two coffee mugs out of one of his cabinets, and pours milk into both. Her voice isn’t accusatory, but the matter-of-fact tone makes it clear that she doesn’t really believe his assurances. “Bobby, she had no right to say any of those spiteful things. She had no right to dig into your past, to find information that she could use against you,” she adds as she puts both mugs in the microwave.

His voice is barely audible. “Isn’t that what I do? Observe people carefully, gather information from looking into their past, and use it to trip them up. To make them confess to knowing something about a crime, or about their involvement.”

Her eyes dart to him, as though she can’t believe he’s comparing himself to a fleeing perp. “You are a detective,” she finally asserts as she looks for a spoon. It takes her a few tries to find the right drawer. Bobby can’t find his voice or even point to tell her where to look. She brings it over to the cocoa can below the microwave. “You use it to learn the truth, to gain cooperation, to get a bad guy to admit to what he did. You’ve got a great memory, and you’re diligent about learning the details of human psychology. Having talents like that doesn’t make you a low-life, Bobby. It’s what you do with it. Nicole Wallace uses it for personal gain, to keep people from finding out too much about her, so they can’t hurt her. She saw you as a threat.”

Bobby’s head shakes before he can stop it. “Maybe, but I don’t think that was the whole case here.”

What was the case, Bobby,” she asks, apparently fried at him holding his ground. The microwave beeps in the background, but she’s focusing on him.

His hands fidget like crazy in a tiny space in front of him. “It’s what I said in the interrogation room. When I met her, she wanted me to know the real her. Not the persona she created to hide herself from the rest of the world, but the-”

Bobby,” she interjects tiredly as she retrieves the mugs from the microwave, like she's telling him to shut up for the moment. She holds off speaking till she puts the mugs down, and nearly turns around. She bites her lower lip, trying to find the best way to express her thoughts. She opens her mouth to say something, but looking at him seems to make her change her mind. Finally she sighs and opens the cocoa lid. “Stop it. Stop thinking about her.” She spoons some of the powder into the mugs. “We failed to catch her. We made a big mistake using that deception with the keys, and she’s slipped through our grip. With any luck, she’ll never show her face here again, and maybe get caught elsewhere else. In fact, while you were dwelling on what happened and not doing anything else, I was on the phone with the Australians.” Bobby's eyebrows raise. What... When did she have the time...? “You were talking with the Captain and Carver,” she adds, like she senses his question. He flushes slightly as being so well... understood.

Alex continues, as fact-of-fact as ever, “We'll be exchanging information with the Australians, the Thais, and Scotland Yard for a while. The evidence will be compiled, every aspect of her life will be checked, and I'm hoping that we'll come up with more than enough to bury her should she ever resurface.” Her tone is hard, biting. She's angry, Bobby wonders through his tired state, at Nicole? Or is she just pissed over a failed solve? “Right now, we wait. I'll let you know when there's new info, but the point, Bobby, is that it’s over. Out of your hands.” The finality in her voice, the soothing tone, connects with something deep inside. The frightened seven-year-old within who wants reassurance? “Please start letting go,” she pleads, slowly enunciating each word as she finishes mixing the cocoa.

Bobby shifts, uneasily. “That’s easier said than done, Eames.” Because I can’t remember the last thing I was able to let go off that wasn’t by accident...

Well,” Alex declares, tone forbidding questions, “until I see you trying, I’m coming over every night to check on you. Even if I have to postpone family obligations.” She turns, holding the mugs without the contents coming close to spilling, as he stares in shock. “Like I said, I’m not letting her leave you hurt. No one messes with my partner. I only wish I could’ve taught her a lesson,” she adds she hands him the mug.

His eyes drop to the contents, needing a distraction; her eyes are staring too intensely at him. “Hot chocolate?”

My grandmother Eames’ remedy for exhaustion and weariness.” She smiles at some memory. “She made a point of giving some to every person in the family who’s a cop. Said the cocoa soothes the soul, and the hot milk helps you rest.”

He looks hard into her face, trying to not profile her. The don’t-argue-with-me stance tells him that it’s better to go with the flow. He sighs, giving it. “I guess I owe you dinner. What do you want?”

Her simply being there with him, talking constantly – even about the most inane things – always made him feel better. Just the sound of her voice, Bobby discovered then, had a calming effect on him. Still does. Hearing her talk while we’re doing paperwork makes the time seem to pass sooner, he remembers. Which is a bonus during any mundane task.

Forcing the pen back to the expense form, his mind thinks back to after those first six weeks after Nicole fled. He’d gotten used to having her around off-duty, and so he started looking for activities they’d enjoy and events that they could attend together. It’s only been about three months, so all they’ve seen are a few car shows and a performance of “The Nutcracker.” But Alex loved them, and her enjoyment rubbed off on him, even if he already liked whatever they were seeing.

Bobby grins as he remembers Alex creating a game out of her habit of having snappy one-liners at her disposal. The rules are simple: the players try to out-wit each other, seeing who can think of the best comeback. Scoring is somewhat arbitrary, but whoever has the most points at the end of a set time wins.

It’s a game he always loses. As much as he knows, the talent of creating snappers – what her nephews and nieces call them – requires specialized emotional and people skills. Skills that – while he’s tried hard for years to master – he’s never been good at.

Not that he minds losing; the journey of the game is the whole point. Seeing what ridiculous thoughts pop out, and finding how “out there” they get before his brain can’t create any more of them.

Besides, the game never fails to make him laugh out loud, and she laughs while they play. Especially when he does. It’s surprising how much he loves to hear her mirth, although it is a delightful sound. And she always gives him a big smile – one that lights up her entire face, and makes her eyes glow with pleasure – when his sides are hurting from laughter. Alex has the most beautiful smile...

Bobby’s eyes widen as he realizes where his thoughts are going: into very forbidden ground. Ground he’s been going into more and more often in the last four months. Ground he occasionally slipped into before then... His hands – dominant one still holding his pen – immediately cover his eyes and rub them. Listen loud and clear, Robert Obadiah Goren, shouts the voice that sounds like a blend of his past bosses and commanders. Cease those thoughts immediately! Detective Alexandra Eames is your partner, and you will only think of her as such! Understood?!

This kind of “voice” is just part of being normal. People who have been authority figures to you generally have some particular thing they always tell you, and your internal parent/caretaker tends to absorb those admonishments. It’s not a sign of schizophrenia; just something everyone experiences. Something that is an annoyance on most good days... but still normal.

In any case, a partner can – in the best of circumstances – be your best friend, he reminds himself. And that’s a wonderful thing.

He clasps his hands down on the desk, and waits a few seconds. All he hears in his mind is Alex’s snarky laugh... Then her voice tells the voice of those bosses exactly where they can shove their opinion.

Bobby sighs, resisting the urge to groan as his right hand covers his eyes while the left drops to the desk. He never had a snarky voice in his head until after being partnered with Alex. Why does it have to be her voice, he wonders. Why does it entice me to indulge in dirty thoughts about her? As he lets his hand drop to cover his mouth, he sees Alex coming back with papers in her hands. Dammit, why does it always happen at the worst moments?

His desk phone interrupts his train of thought before it can go any further. Taking a huge breath and nearly heaving it out in relief, he grabs the phone, pretending to not notice his partner’s footsteps. Please, God, let her be engrossed in work; she’d run away and never look back if she knew about those thoughts. I don’t want that...

Part Two

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