Hearts And Swords
by Mandy

He remembers a brief period of time he had to spend with his father, completely against his will, when he was 16. His mother was in hospital and Dad had just come around, out of the blue, tie pushed to one side and leaning heavily against the doorframe. Come with me Bobby. We're goin' on a trip.

In the tradition of everything his father had ever done, the trip was a disaster, a tension-fraught expedition to drop some car off in Vegas and find their own way back. Bobby never looked in the trunk of the car, because he didn't want to know.

And it was probably the worst trip of his life, but he can remember one thing that wasn't quite awful: sitting in a cheap motel room in the outskirts of Vegas, his dad teaching him how to play cards. More importantly, how to cheat.

He remembers learning how to count cards, how to stack the deck. How to put on a mean poker face that he still uses today. He remembers sitting with the deck of cards long after his father had abandoned him for the real tables and bright lights, and sorting through every card. He put the king of hearts in his pocket, because it disturbed him.

In every deck, the king drove his own sword through his head. Some called the card the Suicide King.

This was not what Bobby saw. He saw a man, betrayed by his own strength. In every deck, the king fell on his sword.




He tells Eames about the note, because she's his partner and has a right to know, but also because he wants to.

He never put it in an evidence bag, never even thought about sending it to the lab. There will be no latent prints on this simple piece of clean white paper, notebook-sized. The words are handwritten, in the middle of the page.


Eames looks at him for a long time, a really, really long time, and then slides her hand across his kitchen table to grasp his. Chopsticks are dislodged, and roll away to fall to the floor. Their cartons of food are going cold.

"It was beneath my door this morning," Bobby confesses. Eames nods, and he knew she would. Her hand squeezes his, both their knuckles going white, and he's filled with anger and fear and a slow prickle of excitement he wishes didn't exist.

Tit for tat. Nicole is coming for him.


That night the food is forgotten, and he and Eames sit very close on the couch, and he whispers in her ear. When he has finished telling her, she presses a lingering kiss against his cheek, her hand cupping his neck, so sad and gentle.

It is a promise that will never be fulfilled.




A long day passes, of phone calls and questioning, and the lead ball in Bobby's stomach seems to weigh a little more with every negative truth that comes to light. Nicole has left her husband. Nicole has not been seen since. Nicole is out there, somewhere, and he got her once but it's his turn now.

Carver comes about another case, but stops by their desk on his way out, and Eames obviously figures it's his fault Nicole is not in jail and almost pops him in the nose.

Deakins doesn't really seem to mind.

Bobby works late, long after every other cop in the building has gone home and Eames has been trundled off under protest. Bobby drinks coffee that might as well be battery acid, and realises he has to go home. He has to.

The light is on, the door is ajar. He draws his gun.


Her hair is blonder, her mouth a pale pink pout.

"I was hoping to see you alone. But someone interfered," she says. Soft and silky.

Eames is sitting on one of kitchen chairs, handcuffed, blindfolded, bleeding from the temple. Nicole's gun rests casually against her throat.

"Not your usual level of sophistication, Nicole," he sneers. He drops into game face; the chips are down.

She shrugs, one shoulder lifting and dropping carelessly. Her gaze comes from under her lashes, almost flirtatious, and he remembers that she seems to want him as much as she hates him. And always before, he hasn't dared to walk down that road, to use it against her, because the path is too narrow and he is afraid of straying.

Eames is breathing a little too deeply, flexing her shoulders rhythmically, wanting to move but knowing it could cost her life.

He has no choice.




"I miss the old revolvers," he says conversationally. He lowers his gun, crossing to the bookshelf. Nicole watches him go, but seems comfortable. No itchy trigger finger. He lays his 9mm next to a stack of books, and reaches to a very top shelf, taking down a steel box. He flips it open.

"I find greater satisfaction in them," he says, casting a wry smile in her direction. She seems curious, not even flinching when he takes out his father's old .38 and one bullet. "A place for everything and everything in its place."

He drops the single bullet into the chamber, holding it out and lining it up as carefully as he can. He spins the barrel, smiles goofily, and slaps it closed. It dangles from two fingers. His father, always in and out of trouble, taught him the strategies of war.

He knows exactly where the bullet is. Stack the deck.

"You're playing dangerous games, Bobby," Nicole says. She is delighted.

He saunters across the room, stopping just in front of Eames. He touches her face, trailing one finger down her cheek. She turns into his touch.

"You... know how to play me," he murmurs. "Deadbeat dads, my mother... my partner."

He leans close, and Nicole leans closer, and they are just inches away, separated by Eames between them. She licks her lip, and then bites it.

"You've got no lawyer now, no captain, no badge."

"I've got Eames," he says. He jerks his partner's chin up, bending down until his mouth hovers just over hers, and flicks his gaze up to Nicole. Anger is flaring hot in her eyes.

"Such a jealous girl," he says. "You loved him in your own way, didn't you? Loved the man who fucked you in your own bed. Daddy, please. Don't, stop. Please don't stop."

Nicole blinks slowly, her right eye closing slower than the left, lashes fluttering. Her tell.

Her hand tightens on the gun.

"You... wanted him to LOVE you!" he says, straightening up, voice rising, "You wanted him to never let you go! You liked it. I bet he looked like me. Big man, six foot-something, but he never paid you any attention except when he was screwing you."

Her smile has faded, her mouth is quivering.

"But I pay you attention, don't I, Nicole? Every time you come calling. You look at me and you want to break him, that man who smeared dirt across your life. You want to show him you're smarter, better. You want to win."

He holds up the revolver.

"But I bet you want to play most of all."

He bends down, pressing his lips against Eames' cheek, and put the revolver to her head. He looks up at Nicole, and pulls the trigger.

Click. The hammer echoing on the empty chamber.

Eames lets out a ragged sigh.

"Playing with your partners life. Does she know, Bobby?" Nicole asks. She smiles at him as he straightens up. Tit for tat. "Does she know about the nights you can't sleep, the dreams you try to forget, the panic attacks you have in the shower?"

His heart skips a beat.

"Does she know about that little boy, Bobby?" Nicole asks, and he closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, but she won't stop. "Where did you hide? A cupboard? Under the bed? How often did she find you, Bobby, and how often did you believe her? I bet it was easy to slip into the madness. I bet that you saw what she saw. I bet you knew it wasn't real... but you wanted it to be."

Bobby opens his eyes, puts the gun up to his own head, and pulls the trigger.


"Jesus Bobby," Eames whispers. Nicole pushes the gun into her throat hard.

"It isn't about you, Detective," she says.

"It's about us," Bobby finishes.

He circles the chair, away from Eames, standing toe to toe with Nicole. She keeps her grip on the gun but allows herself to face him, arching her back, leaning into him, centimetres away.

This is the point he knows he should back off, but doesn't.

"You and me," he says. He puts the gun to Nicole's head, and pulls the trigger.


Then he kisses her. Her mouth is soft and hot and opens under his, and he pulls her to him with one arm, putting all his rage and frustration into the kiss.


Nicole tips back, looking up at him, surprised. Her gun clatters to the floor. He lets her go, and she looks down at the blood spreading across her breast, and then at the blood on the muzzle of his gun. He lowers it slowly.

She tilts her head at him, and then tumbles back, sprawling on the floor.


Every breath is a horrible, wet, sucking sound. Eames is in the kitchen, using the phone, and he kneels beside Nicole. The bullet has punctured her lung. She is probably drowning on her own blood. He lifts her head, her eyes swivelling to look at him. She smiles a little, and there is blood in her mouth.

"You could have been just like me," she says, lisping with pain and blood. "You could have loved me."

"Yes," he says.

He waits until she dies, and then puts her head back on the floor.


Eames touches his arm, drawing him away.

"You okay?" she asks. He nods slowly, his eyes still fixed on Nicole.

He hears sirens outside the building, and Eames goes to the door, leading in the EMTs when they arrive, knowing it is too late. Then there are cops, and she pulls him out into the hallway, stealing a moment before they have to give their statement.

"What did she say to you?" Eames asks, "Before she died. What did she say?"

"Please," Bobby whispers, "Don't ask me that."

He turns, touching her cheek, his heart twisting.

"Don't ask me that ever again."

A tear tracks down her cheek, and Eames nods. He can hear Deakins coming, barking orders, sees her pull herself together, ready to battle on his behalf, to help him when he can't help himself. He has no energy left. He has played the game, and Nicole is dead.

A king must always fall on his sword.


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