It was harder than I expected, being on the outside.
Alone on the outside, rather.
And while I couldn't wait for Eames to join the operation, I was also having second thoughts.
What if things went to hell?
What kind of man would I be if I subjected her to such a dangerous situation simply for personal reasons?
But it wasn't simply for personal reasons, I argued with myself.
She was my partner.
And I was fooling myself if I thought for one second that I had any say in the matter anyway.
She came to me after Van Dekker was killed.
It wasn't any big surprise that the feds were all over that, but it did make me feel good to know that apparently Nichols was on my side.
He'd encouraged Eames to come to me and keep me in the loop.
"I guess we can take him off our list of suspects, huh?" I joked.
"I guess," she agreed, still standing just inside of my door. Despite the stress of our current situation, she looked good. It felt like days since I'd seen her, even though it had been only one. "He did put on a nice show for the agents."
"He's protecting a fellow officer. It was the logical thing to do."
"Nichols may have a rational reason, but I hate them telling us what to do," she argued.
"I know. But you gotta go along with it, right?"
Because it actually worked to our advantage.
As far as Nichols was concerned, it gave Eames a reason to come make contact with me, so she didn't have to worry so much about getting spotted.
And as for the feds, well…I didn't care if they saw Eames with me. It might work to our benefit in the long run.
Because once I got in good with the feds, I'd still need a reason for them to bring her in with me, one that wouldn't make them suspicious, and I had an idea about that.
She asked me about my alibi, and then teased me when I said that I'd been at home.
I wondered what she would've said if I'd said, no I wasn't alone.
She probably would've spit out her coffee.
And I really wished that I hadn't been alone. I wished she'd been here with me.
I forced my mind on business and told her what I'd found.
"So you're still accessing the police database?" she asked me in concern. "They'll use that. They'll add it to the charges."
She had a point in that we didn't know who might be monitoring the system. If there was someone leaking information from inside of the department, then they'd know what I was up to.
And as for the mention of charges, well…I think that she was worried about the legitimacy of this operation. And to be honest, I was a little bit worried, too.
How much weight did Maas hold?
And how much did I trust Moran?
He'd been sketchy in the past, but…he'd liked Ross. A lot. So I had to believe that he wanted to do the right thing with this.
"Yeah, it doesn't matter," I said dismissively.
Because it didn't.
I was already in. It was too late to change my course.
"The FBI wants your head," she insisted.
But that was fine with me, too.
Because I knew how they worked.
That meant that they'd be keeping a close eye on me, which would make my job easier.
So I mapped out my plan to Eames so that she could tell me if I was crazy. Not that I'd change my mind, but just so that I'd know.
And of course, she didn't disappoint me.
"I really feel I should try to talk you out of this," she said quietly with an odd mixture of pride and frustration on her face.
"But that's always been a wasted effort," I teased gently.
"Yeah," she agreed.
Her eyes were glassy when they met mine, and I fought the urge to hug her.
I'd been doing that a lot lately, and for some reason today I decided to quit fighting.
I stepped up to her and wrapped my arms around her.
I was amazed by how small she felt and then I was thrilled by the realization that she'd slipped her arms around me as well.
We stood there like that for a minute, neither of us saying a word, and then we both slowly pulled away.
"I'll be fine," I told her in an effort to smooth over any potential awkwardness.
"I know. Just hurry up and do this so that I can watch your back again."
"You're not going to talk me out of it," she said firmly.
I didn't argue. I didn't want to ruin our moment.
But at some point, before she went too far, I was going to have to give her the opportunity to back out. For her sake.
Two days later, I went back to 1PP.
The case had progressed even better than I'd hoped.
The feds had tracked me, and I'd convinced them that I was on their side.
Which was funny, really, considering they'd put a bag over my head and abducted me at gunpoint.
The feds worked in mysterious ways and it made me more uncomfortable about bringing Eames on board.
What if that had been her?
What if someone had shoved a hood over her head and thrown her into the back of a van?
I mean, sure, this time it had worked out.
But what if it had been the rogue agent?
So I was nervous when I went into 1PP.
Nervous for two reasons, really.
For starters, I was wired.
I really, really hated that, but Stahl had suggested it, and it would be the best way to gain her trust. I had to talk Nichols off of this case as a show of good faith.
And I had to be convincing so that he wouldn't be suspicious, but ultimately the FBI wanted Hassan to go free so that they could follow him.
By doing this, I would be proving my loyalty to the Bureau as opposed to the NYPD.
Eames knew what I was going to do, so together, she and I went to Nichols.
It didn't go over well, but I hadn't thought for a second that it would. This was the guy who had ordered that Ross be killed.
But what Nichols was missing was that it went so much deeper than Hassan.
"Zach," Eames said firmly. "Making deals that are painful, doing things we hate…sometimes that's part of our job."
And she was looking at me while she said it. Which made me all that much more nervous about what was about to happen next.
Had she made up her mind not to go with me?
Moran had set it up perfectly for her.
I firmly believed that the offer he'd made to her was more than just a set-up.
She'd earned it.
And he was giving her an acceptable alternative to joining the undercover side.
He'd offered her the captain's job in Major Case.
Of course, I knew that her first order of business would be to fire me.
She had to in order for the plan to work.
I'd still be wired.
The feds would be thrilled that I'd derailed the department's investigation.
And now I'd suddenly be unemployed.
I'd be ripe for the picking.
And Eames, well…she could stay on with the department.
She wouldn't be forced to work with someone else, because now she'd be working alone, as the boss.
She could feasibly be my handler through her office.
It was the safe route.
But at the same time, it would mean that our contact would be limited.
I'd be meeting her in clandestine locations and offering up data sticks with information and each time the clock would be ticking.
I was nearly making myself sick with wanting to know her choice. The mere idea of going days, even weeks on end without seeing her had me in a panic.
And it made me more aware of the depth of my feelings for her.
"And you're buying this," Nichols asked Eames skeptically.
"I'm listening," she said with a nod.
In the end, he had no choice. I felt bad for him. I'd been in his shoes. I knew what it was like to feel like your hands were tied.
But eventually, at some point, I hoped that it would all make sense to him.
I followed Eames to her new office. I was reluctant, especially considering that I was still wearing that damn wire.
I wanted to talk to her in private.
I wanted to tell her…something.
I wanted her to keep her job here where she'd be safe.
And yet I desperately wanted her with me.
But circumstances were going to force me to continue on with the game. Agent Stahl would be listening and so this was our best chance.
If we waited for another time, maybe some time when she wasn't listening, then I'd be going to her.
I'd be telling Stahl that I got fired, and we didn't want to do it that way.
We just wanted her to know it so that then she would come to me.
So I played the game. And so did Eames. She was really convincing, too.
I wondered if her emotion was because she was truly letting me go.
I thought that maybe it was.
And I couldn't blame her for her decision. Like I said, it was the safe thing to do.
And maybe she thought that she'd have more leverage to protect me politically if she stayed here.
Otherwise, we'd both be out in no-man's land, trusting Moran and Maas not to screw us over.
But if this was really going to be it, I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to wrap my arms around her again. In fact, I even kissed her on the cheek before I hugged her.
She leaned into my embrace and I felt her shudder slightly as she worked to keep her emotions in check.
I wanted to say something, but nothing that I could think of would be something I would want to have show up on a transcribed document that would result from this wire.
So instead, I let her go.
"Well, I'll see you around I guess," I told her quietly.
And then I walked away.
It was in her hands now, but as I walked through the squad room, I began to wonder how long before I could arrange a meeting with her.
Usually an undercover was supposed to wait until they had information to pass along, but I wasn't sure if I could wait that long.
Hell, I was sure that I couldn't wait that long.
As I got on the elevator and it had now only been a minute since I'd seen her last, I already wanted to turn around and go back.
I should've told her that I loved her.
But then she would've come because of that, I argued silently.
Or she would've stayed because she doesn't love you back, the cruel side of my brain added.
No, it was right to do it this way.
I couldn't bring emotions into the decision.
I got off of the elevator and went into the parking garage.
"Goren," Stahl called out to me. She was loitering behind a column in a classic spy-like fashion.
I took my time walking over to her, surreptitiously checking the surrounding area for other cops.
"You're clean," she told me. "I wouldn't have spoken to you if you weren't."
I pulled the wire from under my shirt and gave it back to her.
"You got what you needed," I stated. I kept my tone low and free of emotion.
"And then some," she replied. "I heard what happened. That's a hell of a blow from your partner, huh? And a nice fuck-you from the department."
I shrugged and put my hands in my pockets, my eyes locked on the elevator.
What was Eames doing right now?
"Well," Stahl continued, chatting on as though we were friends. "They might not want you, but we do."
"What do you mean?"
"The Bureau. We'd like to bring you on. You did some good work on this case. Maybe you'd like something a little more permanent."
"Do I have to spell it out for you, Goren?"
"Yeah," I replied obtusely.
And then I wondered if this would be a meeting place for me and Eames.
In the parking garage at 1PP?
No. It was really a pretty stupid place for a secret gathering, and Eames wasn't stupid.
She'd come up with some brilliant idea to make sure that I was never made.
Unless, of course, the mole in the Bureau gave me up…
"Goren, are you listening to me?" Stahl asked in annoyance.
Come on, Eames, I begged silently.
Because if she was coming, it was supposed to be now.
"Yeah, I'm listening. You want me to work for the Bureau doing undercover assignments."
The elevator pinged.
The doors opened and there she was.
I watched as she scanned the garage briefly before her eyes settled on mine. She flashed me a quick smile that was both nervous and relieved at the same time.
"Shit, what is she doing down here?" Stahl whispered as she eased deeper into the shadows. "Get rid of her."
"Hang on," I replied and then I crossed to meet Eames in the middle of the garage.
"What's going on?" I asked her.
"I can't do it, Bobby," she told me. "I quit."
We both kept our voices at a volume to be easily overheard.
"You…you did what? Eames, no. You're throwing it all away."
"What they're doing…it's not right. I can't work for them anymore, and…I don't want to be there without you."
"Are you sure?"
And my question served two purposes.
It was for the benefit of Stahl, who was undoubtedly listening to us.
Me asking if she was sure was a valid question and would make it seem as though I didn't know that her quitting was a possibility.
But I did know. Because we'd talked about this.
So what I was really asking her was, are you sure that working undercover with me is what you want to do?
Because our cover story was going to have to be that we were a couple.
Why else would she walk away from her job?
Seeing someone treated unfairly brought about outrage and indignation. It didn't prompt a person to quit. Not when that person has just been promoted.
Not unless that person was in love.
"I'm sure," she said firmly.
Together we went back to where Stahl was waiting. She shook her head slowly, looking only at me.
"You're breaking protocol already, Goren," she said.
"No, I'm not. She needs to be part of the deal."
"If you want me, you get us both."
"She was just promoted to be the pro-temp captain of Major Case!" Stahl fired back.
And wasn't it interesting that she knew that specific detail?
I mean, yeah, she knew that Eames had been the one to fire me, but…I wondered exactly where her ears were in the department.
"And I know that you heard her just say that she quit," I told her.
"I did," she admitted. "I'm having trouble believing it, but…why? Why would you do that? It can't just be because of politics."
"No, it's because I love him," Eames answered.
And yeah, it was our cover story, but boy was it ever music to my ears.
"That's right," I said, taking a hold of Eames hand as though it was an every day occurrence. "We're together and you know as well as I do that undercover work requires a lot of time apart from family, and we're not willing to do that. So as far as the job goes, we're a package deal. Take it or leave it."
"I had no idea," she managed to say.
"Because we're good at keeping secrets," Eames told her.
"I guess you are," she agreed. "Okay. I'll have to get official approval, but…so you really quit your job?"
"Yes," Eames said, only now she was looking at me.
Stahl gave me a nod and pulled out her phone to make a call. I had all kinds of questions that I wanted to ask Eames, but I held back.
My curiosity would have to wait until we ditched Stahl.
"Okay," she said when she hung up. "You're both in."