Sorrow and Silence
by Nicole Clevenger (c) July 2003
Notes and disclaimer: If they belonged to me, I could quit my day job. And then my world, at least, would be a happier place. This is a post-ep scene for "Suite Sorrow," picking up immediately after the credits rolled. Remember Goren starting to loose it at the very end? I did.
"Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike." - Evangeline, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When Eames walks back into the room, Goren's standing by the wall. Arms crossed over his chest with the knuckles of one hand pressed to his mouth, his eyes on the body. It's a pose of dedicated contemplation of a matter at hand, betrayed only by the way he's rocking slightly on the balls of his feet - all that explosive frustration from a few minutes ago tapered into this tight movement. He doesn't look up at her when she comes in. Doesn't take his eyes off of Ben Turner sprawled there on the floor.
Okay, she thinks. Bad sign.
She waits, and remains unacknowledged. It isn't until she crosses to his side and rests a hand on his folded elbow - too awkward an angle to comfortably reach his shoulder - that he finally shifts his gaze to her. He doesn't turn his head, just slides his eyes from one person to the other. Dead. Alive.
"Deakins wants us back. They'll take care of things here."
He looks again at the body (Alive. Dead.) and still she waits, watching him. Already forming in her head responses to the Captain's anticipated questions. Already plotting how to back a play gone disastrously wrong. Already trying to figure out how to make Goren see that there wasn't anything they could have done to anticipate what happened.
That last one - definitely going to be easier said than done.
Things had seemed to be going so well, playing out according to plan there on that tiny television screen. And then she found herself racing into that room, struggling to match Goren's long-legged stride and hoping around the dread that they would make it in there in time. But when they'd rushed in, there was Turner on the carpet; there was Julie standing over the body. Even as Goren was getting to his feet after checking for a nonexistent pulse, she knew this one was going to be bad.
He'd been oblivious to all of them - including her - in that moment, and she'd been quick to lead Carver into the other room so her partner could have a couple of minutes to himself. She'd had to fight the D.A.'s reflexive resistance, pulling at his arm until he started to walk, but something in her refused to let Carver play witness to Goren's vulnerability. Something in her demanded that he be allowed a bit of privacy.
But a few moments had been all she could give him, knowing that soon the place would be crawling with people. So here she is again, standing beside him, waiting. Waiting and wondering just how deeply this thing is going to cut.
He doesn't even twitch when, moments later, people begin filing into the room. Cameras and notepads and a body bag, arriving to catalogue and record and inevitably remove. The people behind the scenes, ready for their daily tasks of getting everything down before clearing it all away. She wonders if anyone will ever stay in these rooms again.
"Coroner's here," she tells him. Not because she thinks he hasn't noticed, but because she feels like something needs to be said. Something surface level and impersonal, to carry them out of this scene with its new influx of strangers. Something to get him moving, away from the immediacy of it all.
She can practically feel the energy running through him, tight spirals of trapped electricity circling endlessly through his large frame. It's a frenetic - almost dangerous - feeling, spinning under her fingertips where they connect at his elbow.
All that cooped up energy just makes her feel tired.
"Come on, partner. Let's get out of here," she says.
She's no less tired watching Goren and Deakins through the office glass. She's already had her turn with the captain, standing beside her partner as they made their preliminary reports. Now she sits outside, watching the silent play of body language and facial expressions like somebody hit the mute button on her remote. Trying to decide if a cup of stale coffee will do her more harm than good.
Goren paces back and forth like a caged animal, head hanging low as he rubs the back of his neck with one large hand. Eames sees Deakins's lips moving, vaguely tries to make out what he's saying. She can imagine well enough, and wants to tell him to not even bother. In the end, Goren's either going to take this one all on himself or he won't, and no amount of "It wasn't your fault" pep talking is going to make a difference. Even standing at the crime scene planning her own feeble words, she knew that.
Doesn't mean she won't try, of course. Partners should always try.
Goren's gesticulating now, wild emphatic hand motions to match the look on his drawn features. She briefly considers going in there, but reconsiders a beat later because she doesn't know what she would say. Hi boys, I'm feeling a bit left out here. Or: Anyone want some bad coffee to round out the day? Maybe something more classic, like: If anyone wants me, I'll be in my room. She shakes her head, smiling a little at herself as she runs a hand through her hair.
When they finally come out of the office, Goren's got his black binder in its habitual place under his arm. He almost left it behind at the hotel - they were stepping out onto the sidewalk before he remembered and went back for it - which was something that said more to her about his state of mind than anything else. He takes that thing with him everywhere; in the occasional bleak moment of midnight self-pity, Eames has always figured he'd forget to take her along before he'd ever forget to bring his thick leather file.
"You two go on home," Deakins says. "You can get the paperwork done tomorrow." He catches Eames' eye from behind Goren's left shoulder; they share a quick look before he shrugs his eyebrows towards the other man's back. Eames gives him a little nod and turns away to grab her jacket, wondering what it is exactly that Deakins expects she'll be able to do.
"You want a ride?" she asks Goren, when he moves to collect his overcoat.
Goren's slumped in the seat beside her, looking so drained that it's hard to remember all that excess energy from before. But the picture of him as she led Carver from that hotel room is burned into her memory, and when she rubs her fingers together the tips still seem to tingle. Eames watches the road and Goren watches the sidewalk; she steals occasional sidelong glimpses at the tense line of his jaw, trying not to wince each time she sees it tighten.
Her eyes are gritty and her shoulders feel hitched up to somewhere around her ears, and the only thing she wants to do is go home and wash it all away in a haze of water and steam. Maybe put on a movie until she falls asleep on the couch - anything, just so long as it means putting this day and this case behind her. No more dysfunctional family values, no more aging women desperately clinging to expensive illusions of youth. No more watching her partner bleed.
What she says, though, is, "Are you hungry? Want to stop somewhere?"
He shakes his head silently, close enough to the window to brush it with his hair. She thinks that might be all the answer she's going to get, but then he rouses himself and glances at her. "Uh, no... but thank you." The gentleman as always. A ghost of a smile in return for her consideration, and he's back to looking out at the passing city scenery. "I'd rather just... go home."
"You and me both."
He turns his head a little to look at her, the faint fleeting smile back this time with a more sympathetic flavor. "Tired?"
Eames shrugs, her eyes focused through the windshield. "Yeah." She lets smile of her own quirk the corners of her lips. "But I'd better not hear any comments about the circles under my eyes or anything. I'll have you know that just a few days ago, there were women willing to kill for my skin."
The exaggerated upper-class stretch she gives to the word "kill" makes him chuckle and hold up his hands in a gesture of surrender. He goes back to his window watching, but the mood in the car has lifted a little. "No, no circles," he says, his breath leaving a thin cloud smear on the glass. "Actually, it's your hair."
He nods, not looking back at her. "You always..." he makes a vague hand motion in her general direction "... run your hands through it. When you're tired. You've done it six or seven times now, just since we've been in the car." Now it's Goren's turn to shrug, broad shoulders moving little in the compact space.
She's surprised that he's noticed - since she herself hadn't even made the connection - but, then again, she's really not. That is, after all what they do. What he does, usually to the point of uncanniness. Putting together all the little details that make up the whole picture, noting every individual tile in the mosaic. Of course he noticed.
Eames hits the signal, turns left at the light. "Mom always was telling me to stop playing with my hair. Half the reason I cut it short, the first time."
"Push her one way, she goes the other," Goren says softly under his breath.
Her hands tighten on the wheel, a quick spasm before she forces them to relax. The words of a manipulative dead man, the fate of that man's only daughter. Echoing muffled through the thick silence that has returned to wrap itself around the inside of the car. God she wants this day to be over.
They don't speak again until she pulls up to the curb in front of his building. She's been trying to think of something to say, to come up with the words that'll make today seem like less of a disaster. But she's too tired to focus, and maybe there aren't any words anyway. Sometimes you just don't draw the cards, and there's no amount of bluffing that can win you the hand. Her dad likes to say that, and she almost repeats it to Goren now.
He's reaching for the door handle when she puts her hand on his knee. The unfamiliar touch makes him pause, his eyes falling to her pale fingers against the grey fabric of his pant leg. Then those eyes slip up to meet hers, the question clearly written there.
"Bobby, look..." she starts, a thousand useless sentiments tumbling pointlessly over one another in her mind. He's the one waiting now, waiting to hear what she has to say. Waiting to see if she really can somehow do the impossible and make it all go away with a couple of carefully chosen phrases. But they both know it doesn't work that way, that some things are just meant to end up broken. That pain can be lived through, no matter how much it might sting.
"Turner really was a scumbag," she finally says.
Goren covers her hand with his own, enveloping it with one warm gentle squeeze. Eames watches him get out of the car and walk toward the front door, not pulling away until he disappears inside.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Nicole Clevenger
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