A/N: Well, I had planned for this to be exclusively about the boys, but my muse had other ideas. Looks like the women want in on the action, too

When Alex and Carolyn walked into Bobby’s apartment that evening to find the place dark and silent, both women automatically assumed the worst.

“They’re gone,” Carolyn said, with barely contained fury. “They’re gone, again! Where the hell have they gone this time?”

“Something tells me we’re not going to find them at Starbucks this time,” Alex muttered as she looked around the apartment with a frown. She paused, catching the look of growing fear on Carolyn’s face, and imagined that it probably mirrored the look on her own. “Okay, let’s just take a moment, and calm down. Odds are they just got fed up with staying indoors, finally, and went out somewhere.”

“So, where would they go that’s within walking distance of here?” Carolyn wondered. “God knows neither of them can drive.”

Alex chewed on her lower lip, trying to think of somewhere they’d both want to go. To her bemusement, she couldn’t think of anywhere that the two men would have gone together, with the exception of a pool hall, and there was none within walking distance of Bobby’s apartment. She was on the verge of going into Bobby’s bedroom to see if there was anything missing when the door opened and Mike hobbled in, with Bobby close behind. Both men were carrying bags of what looked like steaming hot Chinese food.

“Damn,” Mike said with genuine regret in his voice. “We were hoping to get back before you ladies got here.”

“You went out for Chinese?” Alex asked incredulously. Bobby smiled sheepishly at her as he made his way past to put the bag he was carrying on the table.

“Thai, actually. You know, from that little place just around the corner? You two have been doing so much for us this last week, we figured the least we could do was treat you to dinner tonight. And since I’m not really up to cooking yet, we figured Thai take-away was a good choice.”

Alex and Carolyn exchanged a look that neither Mike nor Bobby could misinterpret.

“You thought we’d bailed again, didn’t you?” Mike asked with a smirk. Carolyn frowned.

“Don’t look so gleeful when you say it, Mike. And yes. We thought you’d gone off and done something dumb again.”

“Well, we didn’t,” Bobby said. He motioned to the table. “Have a seat. It’s our turn to wait on you now.”

Exchanging yet another glance, this time in bemusement, Alex and Carolyn sat down at the table and waited.

“So, are either of you going to come clean?” Alex asked coolly once they’d finished eating. Mike and Bobby had insisted on cleaning up while Alex and Carolyn relaxed on the sofa, only serving to fuel the women’s suspicions.

“What do you mean?” Mike asked, looking wounded as he and Bobby joined them finally. “Are you suggesting we had an ulterior motive for wanting to provide you lovely ladies with nourishment after a long week at work?”

“Save it, Logan,” Carolyn cut him off flatly. “Your charm won’t work with us. And yes. We do believe you have an ulterior motive. Spit it out, or the next time you’re asked it’ll be in an interrogation room at One Police Plaza, and it’ll be Deakins doing the asking.”

Mike snorted with laughter, only to have it fade as he took in the deadly serious expressions on both women’s faces.

“I don’t think she’s kidding, Mike,” Bobby said quietly.

“Damn straight, I’m not kidding,” Carolyn retorted. “If you guys thought being handcuffed to your hospital beds was bad, you don’t want to know what we have planned if you try anymore dumb-ass stunts. And we warn you now, it will be with Deakins’ full blessings. He’s had enough of your juvenile behaviour.”

It was Mike and Bobby’s turn to exchange looks. They both knew well enough when it was time to stop fooling around, and now was the time.

“We have a proposition for you,” Mike told them.

“Why do I suddenly have an urge to get out my handcuffs?” Alex mused.

“Hey, at least hear us out,” Mike growled indignantly. “Damn, if it wasn’t for Bobby, we really would have been gone by the time you ladies got here. I was all for clearing out as soon as possible, but bright boy here talked me into waiting, and letting you both in on it. I said it was a bad idea, but he had some whacked-out idea that you might actually listen to us, and understand…”

“Mike,” Carolyn said with a sigh, “quit babbling like a moron, and get to the point.”

Mike paused, frowning, before going on in a slightly more subdued tone.

“The short and sweet of it is that we have some questions that we want answers to, and it looks like the only one who might be able to give us those answers is Richie Goren. The problem is that it’s not just a matter of picking up the phone and calling him.”

“What is it a matter of?” Carolyn asked, struggling to keep her irritation levels down.

“Richie’s in Florida,” Bobby confessed ruefully, mentally cringing at the dark looks that descended onto the women’s faces. “Specifically, in Miami.”

“In jail, on multiple charges,” Mike added.

“No,” Alex said, standing up quickly. Though her words were meant for both, she quickly focused an angry glare on Bobby. “No way! You two clowns are not going to Miami! Don’t even think about it!”

Mike threw a flat look at Bobby.

“I was right. They don’t wanna listen.”

“We’ve already listened,” Alex cut in on him heatedly. “And I’m telling you now, this had better be another stupid joke, because if I thought you were even remotely serious about going to Miami…”

“Alex, please,” Bobby pleaded softly with her. “At least hear us out.”

She stood there for nearly a minute, arms folded and lips pressed together to create a thin, angry line. Finally, she sat back down next to Carolyn with a thud.

“All right,” she said tersely. “I’m listening.”

Again, Mike and Bobby looked at each other. They had one shot to get this right. Otherwise, they suspected they could look forward to being handcuffed to their respective beds pretty much until they were both deemed fit to return to work. With that in mind, Mike deferred to Bobby, indicating with a nod for the younger man to go ahead. Bobby shot Mike an annoyed look before conceding and speaking quietly to their partners.

“There are some things that we need to know. We… We want to know how our parents… Mike’s mom… and our dad… how they got together. We can’t ask my mom. Even if she knew, it might just tip her over the edge again, and we… we don’t want that to happen. So, that just leaves Richie. He would have been six or seven when it happened… He might have the answers.”

“Bobby, think about what you’re saying,” Alex said softly, tensely. “Think about what happened the last time you saw Richie. You ended up in the hospital with how many stab wounds…?”

Bobby shook his head, agitated by the memory.

“I know, but this will be different. Richie’s in jail. We… We go… We ask him what we need to ask, and we come home. That’s all.”

Alex looked over at Carolyn, eyebrows raised in a look that very clearly said, is he serious?

“And what if Richie won’t answer your questions?” Carolyn asked. “Have either of you thought about that?”

“I think I can persuade him,” Mike said confidently.

“And I think you’re both delusional,” Alex retorted. “Just how were you going to get to Miami? And don’t either of you dare say you can drive, because you can’t.”

“Hey, I only need one hand for the steering wheel, and one foot for the brake and accelerator,” Mike protested. “If it’s not a stick shift…”

A moment later, he yelped as Carolyn whacked him across the head.

“Idiot!” she snapped. “Listen to yourself, Mike! You cannot drive yourselves anywhere! Do you want to have a fatal accident? And for a reason as pathetic as this? For God’s sake, why can’t you grow up?”

Alex watched Carolyn give Mike a dressing-down with a small smirk that rapidly faded when she got a good look at the expression on Mike’s face. It was a look not of annoyance, but of pure dejection. A moment later, Mike startled them all by pushing himself roughly to his feet and snatching his walking stick up.

“You still think they’d understand, Bobby? Still got any delusions about that?” He looked from Carolyn to Alex with genuine anger and pain on his pale face. “They don’t even want to try to understand. Fuck them. I’m going home.”

“Mike…” Carolyn called after him, startled and confused. He paused at the door of Bobby’s apartment, looking back at them with red-rimmed eyes.

“I want to know how… and why. I want to know whether my mom found him… or he found my mom… I need to know the truth, and there’s only one person who might be able to tell me that. And you call me an idiot for it and say my reasons are pathetic. So, I’m pathetic for wanting to know the truth of my background. Thanks a lot, Barek. That really means a lot. Thanks a fucking million.”

He slammed out of the apartment, leaving Bobby and the women behind.

Both women sat there, stunned for a long minute before they both looked over at Bobby. He returned their stares easily, and the anger they saw there caused both women to wince.

“It looks like I’m the idiot, not Mike,” he said quietly. “I convinced him to wait and talk to you both about it. I convinced him that you’d be willing to hear us out, and that you’d understand. I guess he was right after all. We should have just packed up and left, and not waited for you.”

“Bobby, that’s unfair…” Alex argued.

“No!” he burst out. “No, what’s unfair is that you’re both just totally dismissing us. This is something that’s important to Mike, and that means it’s important to me, too. And you’re treating us like infants over it. Don’t you think Mike has a right to get answers to his questions?”

“Well, yes,” Carolyn conceded, “but…”

“And if that means going to Miami to get them, then why are you so against it? We’re on leave for another month at least, anyway, and this shouldn’t take anymore than a couple of days at the most. We could leave tomorrow morning, and be back home on Monday night.”

“Bobby, you can’t drive yourselves to Miami,” Alex insisted softly.

“Then what do you suggest we do, Alex?”

Alex and Carolyn exchanged looks again, this time in quiet understanding, and Carolyn spoke ruefully.

“Deakins is going to kill us…”

Mike was still waiting impatiently for the elevator when a voice spoke right behind him.

“I’m sorry, Mike.”

He froze momentarily, caught by surprise. Recovering quickly, though, he turned slowly to face Carolyn, careful to keep his expression neutral.

“Are you really, Barek? Or are you just play acting?”

Carolyn drew in a steadying breath.

“Okay, I’m not going to take offence to that because I know I was in the wrong. I shouldn’t have said what I did. And yes, I really am sorry, Mike. If you’re serious about this… if it’s not just another stunt, then I’ll back you up.”

Even though Mike’s facial expression didn’t change, the look in his eyes did. Carolyn read a multitude of emotions there, but the prime one was relief, and gratitude.

“Thankyou,” he murmured. She reached out tentatively to touch his hand, where it gripped the walking stick tightly.

“Come back inside? Please? Let’s talk it through.”

He went, if only because it had occurred to him as he waited for the elevator that he had no money for a cab fare, and he would never have made it home via the subway.

Bobby was still seated when he followed Carolyn back into the apartment, but Alex was on her feet, cell phone pressed tightly to her ear and pacing restlessly back and forth in a manner that was almost disturbingly reminiscent of Bobby. Mike watched her for a long moment before looking questioningly to Bobby.

“What’s she doing?”

Bobby smiled wryly.

“Calling Deakins to let him know that she and Carolyn need a few days to take us to Miami.”

Mike blinked, startled.

“Take us…? You mean, they’re coming with us?”

“Face it, Mike,” Carolyn told him. “All else aside, you really can’t drive yourselves. So what other options do you have but to let us drive you instead?”

He grimaced as he slumped back in the armchair.

“I wish I had an answer for that.”

“On the bright side,” Bobby offered, “Alex is breaking the news to Deakins…”

He trailed off just in time for them all to hear an angry squawk coming from Alex’s cell phone, forcing her to cringe and hold the phone away from her ear. Sparing the three of them a sardonic look, Alex reluctantly brought the phone back to her ear.

“Yes, sir. I know… Yes, I know that too. The point is… Captain… No, you don’t need to…”

Alex winced again, and then slowly closed the phone.

“Brace yourselves. He’s coming here now, and he’s not happy.”

“Uh, any chance we could go right now?” Mike asked with little hope. Carolyn rolled her eyes.

“Now that really would be an idiot thing to do.”

When Deakins left One Police Plaza, he was seeing only one shade: bright red. He could barely fathom what he’d heard from Alex. Firstly that Bobby and Mike seriously wanted to go to Miami, and secondly that Alex and Carolyn had actually let themselves be suckered into agreeing to take them. After the behaviour of the two men whilst in the hospital, he honestly thought the women would have been much harder to con. Obviously he was wrong.

By the time he was halfway to Bobby’s apartment, Deakins found himself reluctantly contemplating the explanation that Alex had tried to give him over the phone. As near as he could understand from Alex’s explanation – before he’d seen red and lost his cool – was that Mike wanted answers to his own parentage. Answers that it appeared only Richard Goren might be able/willing to provide.

Deakins grimaced. ‘Might’ being the operative word there, people. Deakins knew Richard Goren by reputation, and from what little he had been able to garner from Bobby himself. Bobby had told him a few grim stories during occasional moments when he’d let down his emotional guard for whatever reason – mostly because he’d been drunk at the time – and he shared the detective’s intense contempt for a man whose entire world apparently revolved around the motto ‘what about me’.

He’d never met Richard Goren himself, and he could honestly say he never hoped to.

On top of what Bobby had deigned to tell him, he also knew about the incident that happened while Bobby was still with Narcotics. Bobby’s former captain had called him shortly before Bobby’s application for Major Case was approved, and told him all about it. Bill Dodson had been anxious that, should Deakins accept Bobby’s application, he be aware of the possible negatives that might come with the positives of taking on the likes of Robert Goren.

Dodson had told him all about the incident where Richie had attacked Bobby in his own apartment, and Deakins had had no problems sensing Dodson’s displeasure over the fact that Bobby had refused to press charges, or to even make a statement that implicated his brother in the attack. In all honesty, Deakins had spent the last five years anticipating a similar incident, and he was happy to admit his relief that nothing had happened. Maybe, though, that good fortune was soon to change.

He couldn’t imagine that Bobby wouldn’t have told Mike something about the estranged brother who had been such a thorn in Bobby’s side all his life. But whatever information Bobby had been willing to give up, it clearly had not been enough to deter Mike from his quest.

Deakins supposed he couldn’t fault that. After all, Mike had a right to know about his own heritage, for better or worse. And he couldn’t begin to imagine how much of a blow it had to be to learn now that the father he remembered so fondly was, in fact, not his biological father at all.

By the time Deakins arrived at the door of Bobby’s apartment, he found he’d calmed down considerably, and was prepared to hear his detectives out. This was nothing like their idiotic antics whilst in the hospital. It was a serious matter, and they deserved to at least be listened to reasonably.

Drawing in a slow, calming breath, Deakins rapped hard on the door, and let himself in.

“Well,” Carolyn muttered, “he doesn’t look as angry as I thought he would.”

Deakins chose to ignore the comment. Instead, he walked straight past them into the kitchen and poured himself a tall glass of water, downing half of it before finally turning to look at them.

“All right,” he said in a deliberately quiet, non-confrontational tone. “Who is going to explain this to me?”

“It was my idea,” Mike owned up. “I wanted to talk to Richie to ask him a few questions. Bobby thinks he might remember how my mom and… and our dad got together. Please, don’t ask me to tell you why I have to know. I don’t think I can even explain that to myself. I just want to know. Whatever he can tell us… you know?”

Deakins nodded slowly. Yes, he did understand that, more than Mike would probably ever know.

“I take it you managed to track him down, then?” he asked, looking over at Bobby. He knew well enough that Bobby had deliberately lost contact with his older brother some time ago, and had no interest in where the guy was.

“Mike had a friend who found him for us,” Bobby explained, holding back from mentioning that the friend was actually a cop in Mike’s old precinct. Deakins nodded. He could read between the lines as well as anyone, and could easily guess what Bobby meant. He diplomatically chose to ignore it.

“So why the need for a personal visit?” he asked. “What’s wrong with just picking up the phone and call him? Or have you already tried that?”

At that, Bobby and Mike exchanged uneasy glances. Here was where the proverbial truly hit the fan.

“That’s where we have a problem, sir,” Mike said tentatively. “He’s not exactly where we can just call him anytime.”

Again, it didn’t take the captain long to read between the lines.

“He’s in jail?”

Bobby nodded, feeling inexplicably embarrassed. He kept his gaze firmly on the floor as he answered.

“In jail pending a bail hearing, on charges that include manslaughter.”

Deakins raised an eyebrow, but refrained from commenting. He didn’t need super vision to see how uncomfortable Bobby was. After a moment, he walked around and sat in the remaining free armchair.

“Let me make sure I understand this. You have questions you need answers to. Richard Goren might be the only person who can give you those answers, but because he’s locked up at the moment, you can’t just call him. So, you want to go to Miami, and ask him face to face. Is that pretty much the sum of it?”

Mike nodded.

“Yeah, that’s about it. Captain, I know it sounds nuts, but it’s just something that we have to do.”

“Detective,” Deakins cut him off quietly, “I understand where you’re coming from with this. I really do. But what you need to understand is that this course of action you want to take may only lead to severe disappointment. You might not get the answers you’re hoping for.”

“We know,” Bobby agreed. “We’ve already talked that through. We’re willing to take that chance.”

Deakins looked from one to the other with interest. If he wasn’t mistaken, Mike was the primary instigator behind this particular action, and yet Bobby was placing himself very firmly into the mix with his constant use of the words ‘we’ and ‘us’. It truly amazed him that, in just one week, the two men had so rapidly shifted their relationship from simple friendship to a clear level of brotherhood.

His mind already made up, Deakins looked over at Alex and Carolyn.

“You’re both willing to go with them? You’ll look out for them?”

“We promise,” Alex assured him, quietly stunned that Deakins seemed to be conceding so quickly. He nodded, as appeased as he knew he could ever hope to be.

“All right, then. When were you planning to leave?”

“As soon as possible tomorrow,” Bobby answered. “We… We could be back on Monday morning…”

“No,” Deakins said, shaking his head and Mike and Bobby briefly shared looks of dismay, thinking they were being refused. Then Deakins went on, and the relief on their faces was palpable. “If you’re determined to go, I don’t want you rushing through it. Go, take your time and get the answers you need.”

“How much time?” Alex wondered. Deakins paused before answering, silently hoping he wouldn’t regret what he was about to say.

“Take the entire week. That should be long enough. But only on the condition that you call me every evening at five o’clock, and give me an update on what’s happening. All right? Five o’clock, on the dot!”

The four detectives exchanged wry looks, and then Mike nodded with a small smile that reflected the enormous relief he felt, and spoke for all of them.


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