Improbable Cause

Chapter Eleven: The Final Decision

"We've already testified."

Goren looked up at his partner, pulling himself from his thoughts. "I know. Why?"

"Your wheels are turning, Bobby," she said gently. "Don't tell me you're doubting we have the right guy. We caught him in the act, and you took his confession."

"What? Oh, no. It's not that, not at all. I know he did it."

"Then you're trying to figure out why." Eames figured she shouldn't have been surprised. Her partner cared almost as much about why people committed crimes as he did about catching them.

"No," he replied, surprising her, "not exactly. I know why, as much as we ever will anyway. It's a couple of other things just swirling around up there. Nothing relevant to the case, just a few things I've noticed."

"Such as?"

He shrugged, looking almost embarrassed to be put on the spot. "For one thing, I'm pretty sure Mrs. McIntyre isn't actually her dad's biological child. I had been thinking that already, and her mention of having a child out of wedlock reminded me."

"You think it's Penobscott?"

He shook his head. "I considered it, but the timeline doesn't fit. Judging by the age she was in a few photos her parents had around, she would've had to be born several years after the divorce. Not to mention, the Army would've discharged Margaret if she'd gotten pregnant during the war, and they both said they served right up to the ceasefire."

"Okay, so her parents knew each other long before they were married," Alex pointed out. "They could've had a child together before they were married."

"She has hazel eyes," Bobby replied a little distractedly. "The chances of two blue-eyed parents having a hazel-eyed baby are statistically insignificant." He shrugged. "It's not like I'm planning to discuss this with them. It's just - a curiosity."

"And God knows you're full of those," Alex teased, and was gratified to see his smile in response. His amused smiles had become few and far between since his mother had been diagnosed with the cancer that had ultimately killed her. "Personally," she continued, "I'm more interested in the trial she mentioned, the one she testified in as a nurse. We talked at some length about the reasons she didn't report the rape, and she mentioned those attitudes, but she didn't mention the trial."

"Yeah, I was thinking about that too," Goren added. "I don't know if you noticed that she paused for a few seconds before she mentioned it."

"I did," Eames confirmed. "It was like she was debating whether or not to include that story."

"It did," Goren agreed, "but not for herself. I followed where she was looking."

"Of course you did," Eames interjected.

"She looked right at her husband, and he nodded," Goren continued, again giving a small smile of acknowledgment to his partner's quip. "Somehow, that case involved him. And considering that she seemed to feel the need to ask his permission, when their relationship is pretty clearly an equal partnership and she didn't actually bring his name into it, I don't think he was testifying as a doctor."

Eames sighed, shaking her head. "Talk about things that weren't accepted in the fifties."

"Again," Goren said, "I'm not planning to take this anywhere. I just - like putting all the pieces together."

"I know," Eames replied, smiling.

At that moment, the phone rang, forestalling any further conversation. She reached out and picked it up. "Eames. Okay, we'll be right there." She hung up and turned to her partner. "Jury's back."

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Between the two surviving victims and their families, the families of the murdered women, the press, and curious onlookers, the courtroom was packed. There was a low buzz of multiple conversations, conversations which stopped as abruptly as if someone had thrown a switch when the judge walked into the room.

The bailiff handed him a piece of paper, which he looked over before handing it back. "Has the jury reached a verdict?"

"We have, Your Honor," the forewoman said solemnly.

"Will the defendant please rise?" He gave Penobscott a moment to stand before turning back to the jury. "What is your verdict?"

"We find the defendant guilty on all counts."

As Penobscott reeled, a cheer went up in the courtroom. "Members of the jury," the judge said, "thank you for your service."

He kept talking, but one couple wasn't hearing him. Margaret and Hawkeye Pierce were, for a moment, instantly transported to another courtroom, another guilty verdict. As they had that day fifty years earlier, they held each other. Even when they were brought back to the present, they held each other.

"It's over now, Margaret," he whispered.

"I know," she whispered back. "Thank you for being here with me."

"Anytime," he replied immediately. "Just give me a sign and I'll be there."

The End

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