DISCLAIMER: Bobby, Alex, Logan & Danny still property of Dick Wolf. I’ve only taken them out to play, they’ll be home in time for supper. I promise.
A/N: This takes place after Blind Spot but before War at Home. The new captain finally gets the enigma that is Goren.
Captain Danny Ross sat in his office looking out over what was now his domain, The Major Case Squad. He’d never deviated from his goal; to command the most elite group of detectives, the best investigators, he considered in the United States, maybe the world. Now he was here at the expense of his marriage, custody of his sons, and the loss of close friendships; and having paid the price intended to bring this squad under his thumb, the best of the best commanded by the best. . .
His eyes paused at Mike Logan, and he sighed, Logan, he’d been warned by Brass was a loose cannon, though Danny found he was a wild card with a short fuse and a warped sense of humor, he had discovered Logan a good old-fashioned investigative detective. Logan was also one of those who followed his gut detectives and a damn good one; who, if he kept his temper under control could become one of his stars.
In the short time he’d been here he’d already risen to an eighty-four percent solve rate and seventy-five percent conviction rate. God bless bleeding heart juries; and that rate with having to change partners twice, due to no fault of his own. He was also a pain in the ass and had Danny up with him before the I.A.B. twice since he’d taken command. That too, was not his fault but Brass’ intense dislike of Logan. So far, Logan was worth fighting the Brass to keep. Yeah, Logan had star potential.
Speaking of so-called stars, Robert Goren walked back to his desk from the conference room, gathered more files and a book and returned there. Goren with his and Eames’ ninety-nine percent solve rate and ninety-two percent conviction…So many rumors, ‘genius’ to ‘crazy’…‘unstable’ to ‘reliable’ but all agreed honest to a fault. The man remained a mystery, never giving any insights, to his new captain, of the man beneath the hype, never revealing his, for want of a better word, feelings. Goren was a private man personally, never socializing with his colleagues not even in the office. . . except maybe Eames, but even there he sensed Goren drew a deep line in the sand he never let himself or his partner cross.
Danny was a man who was accustomed to reading people. It pissed him off he couldn’t get a read on Goren; so it was difficult to separate truth from rumor. The only proven fact was that the man was extremely eccentric. He’d heard that Eames had once told a perp that Goren lived and breathed to catch bad guys. That much at least, Danny knew was also true. Like himself, Goren was an alpha male, but unlike Danny, Goren didn’t want a pack following him. Goren was a lone wolf; except for his female partner who served as translator, buffer and occasionally protector to and from the outside world.
Goren, who never accepted the obvious. In fact, if a case was presented to him on a silver platter, he went out of his way to dig for the least obvious solution. This made him unpopular upstairs. Goren made sure he put the right person behind bars for the right crime, but often stomped toes doing it. Danny didn’t have a problem with the putting the right perps behind bars for the right crimes; it was the toe stomping…because that got his ass chewed. And Danny Ross liked his ass just as it was.
Danny, once in infuriated frustration told Goren a little too loudly in a full squad room that sometimes a duck was just a duck. Goren had looked at him like he, Captain Danny Ross, was a moron, and in that soft, patient voice he used with witnesses replied, “When it looks too much like a duck, walks too much like a duck and sounds too much like a duck…it’s probably a pterodactyl,” and turned and walked away.
It had turned out Goren was right about the case, the duck had turned out to be a pterodactyl. That stung. Danny almost hated Goren in that moment, and still smarted over it. And though Goren probably immediately forgot the incident, Ross knew it had damaged his credibility with his staff.
He’d watched the big detective fray around the edges and began to unravel when Eames was kidnapped; thereby, verifying all the rumors. Then Danny watched Goren pull himself together to ignore the obvious, to solve the case and bring down his mentor’s daughter, thus destroying that relationship forever, without hesitation...with no thought to consequences to an old friendship; thereby, disproving all the rumors. An enigma…that was Robert O. Goren.
Having to use his skills on Declan Gage‘s daughter, Danny empathized, what that had meant to Goren; having had a mentor himself early on, that was almost as big a disappointment as Gage to Goren, Goren had a strong sense of right and wrong,good and evil. The one weakness, that Danny could detect, was for the mentally ill. Not that Goren wished them to go unpunished, only that they deserved a different type of justice, confinement for life but never the death penalty. But make no mistake, according to Eames & Jimmy Deakins, Goren lived for the hunt of evil, the cornering and the proverbial kill. Danny had yet to be convinced.
Then there was ambition, or rather lack of ambition. Ross knew that when you joined the N.Y.P.D. you chose one of three paths. It’s a paycheck you planned on being an officer for life, skating by with no ambition; the detective, of which his M.C.S. was the top of the N.Y.P.D. food chain, and the leadership path, of which Danny had reached its heights, without moving into the public politics of being part of the Brass. Perhaps that was why he distrusted, and disliked the big detective; he saw Goren as a man not fulfilling his full potential. He was certainly smart enough to lead, but chose a path of solitude. He had absolutely no apparent regard for anyone’s thoughts or feelings and thumbed his nose at all protocol.
Another reason, Danny admitted to himself, he disliked Goren was simply because Goren might be smarter than he himself. Danny Ross was used to being the smartest man in the room; thereby, having the most control. With Goren he wasn’t so sure, anymore. Goren apparently wasn’t smart enough to keep his intelligence hidden beneath the proverbial bushel basket, he rubbed people’s noses in it, just didn’t care what anybody thought of him. He appeared to possess no people skills at all or chose not to use them…for Danny had seen him use those cobra-like skills weaving about being extremely charming with perps and once mesmerized, he suddenly struck out fangs bared for the kill.
People, Danny learned the hard way, were extremely jealous of those possessing above average intelligence, and became petty, even vicious when around others more intelligent than themselves. That gave Danny a minute of pause, was that what he, himself was doing? Being petty? He waved the idea away. Nah, most rumors had some grain of truth. Besides he wasn’t positive Goren was the genius everyone thought.
Eames was on leave, so he was having to deal with Goren directly. It was obvious Goren disliked him as much, for just the opposite reasons. Ross simply was an irritant getting his way. Goren seemed to take for granted he was the smartest man in the room. He didn’t understand why people did not just take his word for...whatever came out of his right-brained head. His tone to Danny was always condescending and borderline insubordinate. It was obvious Goren held no respect for his new captain. Something Danny was not going to tolerate much longer.
Lastly, Goren towered over him. Danny didn’t feel he had short man’s syndrome at five eleven, but he was more comfortable catching Goren sitting at his desk than calling him into his office.
When he’d call other detectives into his office, they sat and he stood leaning against his desk in the position of power. But Goren would suddenly jump up and start pacing, those hands of his never still, waging war with each other, one hand twisting the other or pointing at nothing in the air in particular, rubbing his face, or the back of his neck forcing Danny to take refuge behind his desk.
Half the time he wasn’t listening to you anyway, his eyes glazed over, lost in his mind somewhere working out his next puzzle. The man was never still always appeared out of control mentally, emotionally and physically. It unnerved Danny, this loss of control and he hated being a man not in complete control of himself and his environment. He had to face it, he could not control Goren or the disorder that surrounded him.
A phone rang and his eyes roved back to another set of detectives. Here were two of the four excess pork in the department. There, in his elite M.C.S. due to nepotism, favors from the Brass or someone’s stupidity; certainly not talent or investigative skills. Lazy, incompetent, disorganized and coasting until retirement both sets of detectives with less than fifty percent solve rate. One set with forty percent conviction rate due to incompetence, and their paperwork.
His last two Jeffreys and Norwood were plodders. He would never give them the high profile cases. They were slow, never to be stars, but given an even caseload got their jobs done and it stuck once done. Every department needed their dependable, steady plodders. And they were his assisters. Good at backing up the other detectives who were the stars, his support staff.
Danny was biding his time to trim the fat, and bring in his own four; forcing retirement or demoting as he found his new potential stars. He had feelers already out. They would be hand-picked from the best N.Y.P.D. had to offer. Goren was still on his replacement fence. Eames could do her job with anyone.
He’d just started back on his own paperwork, when Goren came out of the conference room shedding papers like skin, only to bend and scoop them together. He looked at his desk, his binder with papers sticking out of it in disarray clutched to his chest, and across it to Eames’ empty chair, and then just looked lost.
Danny gathered his patience and chained his temper, as he treaded out into the chaos that was Bobby Goren.
At least he was sitting now, “You find something, Goren?”
Danny caught the grimace could almost read Goren’s mind for once…Ross was incapable of understanding. . .but Bobby’s mind was steamrolling and without Eames he had to. . .had to do. . . something or explode. He needed an impartial sounding board, “Captain Ross. . .these murders don’t align right, d...don‘t make sense in this order. The three murders are all rec...recorded, presented in the wrong order, if. ..if they’re in the wrong order and you. . .”
Mentally Ross rolled his eyes, Goren wasn’t making sense, so he interrupted, usually a fatal error with Goren, “Time of death was approximated by the coroner we are talking about days here, Goren, not hours.” Danny heard his own tone ‘this is a stupid path to pursue and a waste of time,’ before he could stop himself. This was not how to deal with Goren. You shut him down. Scattered his thought processes. He’d learned that much from Eames.
Bobby huffed a breath of disgust, twisting his fingers together anxiously then rubbing his left hand through his hair, why did he even bother without Eames to translate, but his mind would not be stilled, he gave it another try and waved a sheath of coroner’s papers at Ross. “But there are ways to change liver and body temp. and body de-comp.; don’t you see; if we change the murders order then things change, alibis, other st. . .stuff,” he drifted off when he looked up. He recognized Ross’ expression and realized this was an effort in futility.
Ross was thinking, “How the hell does Eames make any sense out of this man…maybe its all Eames and Goren’s riding her coat tails. Sure he has the interrogation skills, got the confessions but…”
“Never mind, I...I’ll just find…” Bobby ran his hands over his face and sighed, when was Eames coming back. Would this guy kill again before he could find someone who could help him sort this chaos in his mind; to help him verbalize it. He needed to talk to someone, now. No, not Eames, she was still too fragile, maybe Logan. His eyes lit on the lanky detective flirting with Ross’ secretary.
Ross followed his gaze immediately pissed that Goren thought Logan could get him and he could not, and Danny was embarrassed that as Captain he’d let Goren see the disdain on his face, and may have caused the solution to these brutal murders pushed onto a back burner. So he gathered his patience like he did with his sons, suppressed his ego, and tried again.
“No, Goren, let’s say IF they could have been done in a different order, IF the coroner was wrong, then...what?”
A glazing of his eyes, a blank expression, and Bobby sat up suddenly; pulled out two sheets, looked down then looked toward Ross. His eyes were still glazed, then Danny saw them clear, like...no not like dominoes falling; but leaps like watching the alphabet being recited. A,B,C… L,M,N …Z. “It was Joey, the nephew.” He excitedly began trying to explain his brain moving faster than his mouth could catch up, stuttering, tripping over words.
Ross put his hand on Goren’s shoulder, “Since I don’t have Eames’ ESP, yet. Let’s go to the conference room and you settle that brain of yours down and explain it to me.
Bobby gathered his things and once in the conference room rearranged the photos on the board, the reports on the table. He turned to the flip chart and forced himself to settle; with a deep breath he began.
Danny realized at that moment, mentally he was no Robert Goren, but he was a genius in his own right. He just went a bit slower, but could make his own leaps…only his went from A,B,C,D,E … L,M,N,O, …X,Y,Z. Got it” he said stopping Goren mid-sentence. “Goren, I’ll call the D. A.’s office and you’ll have an arrest warrant by the time you get there. Take Logan with you he’s just sitting on his ass right now.” Bobby started out the door.
Bobby turned at the use of his first name, surprised, “Captain Ross?”
“Hell of a job.”
Ross returned to his office. Now he understood what Jimmy had meant, “Just watch him get it once, and you may doubt his solutions…but you’ll never dismiss them. You just have to settle him, and make him prove it.” Goren didn’t think outside of the box, hell, he didn’t even have a box.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Ross sat at his desk overseeing the domain that was his squad room. Logan sat arguing with his partner, the four idiots were pushing paper around. Jefferies was battling the fax machine and Goren was in his chair leaning back horizontal to the ground defying gravity, his fingers twisting on his belly. Ross was sure his eyes were glazed. Danny glanced down back to signing his signatures to endless forms, until he heard the screech of chair wheels and Goren was suddenly at his door.
“Captain, we need to talk to Weezer, he’s got the right…“and trailed off as he threw their destination over his shoulder at his Captain where they were off to, sort of…for he was gone, off toward the elevators, Eames scurrying behind. Ross assumed the Wilson murder had just been solved. He also realized Goren had given him the respect of trying in his own fashion to inform him of his actions, and not just haring off on his own. He also noted that to Goren he had become ‘Captain’, not ‘Captain Ross.’ Respect indeed.
Danny Ross had no trouble riding the comet he now recognized was Robert Goren as it blazed through the criminal element of New York City. And he’d do whatever he could to help Eames keep the comet burning brightly as long as humanly possible. The comet that would fizzle at times, but his partner stoked it back to flames. And though he’d not tell either of them that just yet; he’d do what was necessary to protect Goren from himself, and off the radar and hopefully the toes of the Brass.
To protect his best detective, his very best man.