Horatio arrived at the ER of Miami Dade General after hearing the call of dispatch for an officer assault. Though the officer who had been assaulted had not been identified, Horatio still felt obliged to go. Technically, he might have been off-duty by then, but his protective instinct compelled him to go and see whether he could assist in any way. When he walked into the ER waiting room and saw three of the four detectives he had spoken to earlier that day, he knew in his gut that they had disregarded him after all, and gone looking for Richie. Doing his best to suppress the deep feeling of displeasure and annoyance he was experiencing, Horatio walked over to talk to them.

“Heads up,” Alex murmured, seeing Horatio coming towards them. “The shit’s about to hit the fan. Here comes that Lieutenant Caine.”

Bobby turned around just as Horatio joined them. The lieutenant certainly didn’t look happy, and Bobby supposed he couldn’t blame him. Although, in their defence, running into Richie had been entirely coincidental…

“Lieutenant Caine.”

Horatio nodded placidly.

“Detective Goren. Can I assume that it was Detective Logan who was the victim of the assault that was called in?”

Bobby looked more than a little uncomfortable, Horatio noted and, dare he think, a little bit guilty?

“Yes. We… had an incident at a bar we stopped at after dinner.”

“Was it Richie?”

Bobby looked defeated.

“Yes,” he admitted glumly. “It was Richie.”

Horatio couldn’t suppress his irritation, then.

“You went looking for him, didn’t you? Even after I warned you against it…”

“No, Lieutenant,” Carolyn spoke up quickly in Bobby’s defence. “As a matter of fact, we didn’t go looking for him. It was pure dumb luck.”

“But you didn’t bother calling me,” Horatio said, his focus still on Bobby. Even though he was considerably taller than Horatio, Bobby seemed to wither under the other man’s stare.

“It all happened so fast,” Bobby muttered, hating how pathetic the excuse sounded.

“Excuse me?”

They looked around to see a doctor approaching them.

“You’re the folks that are here for Mike Logan?” he asked, and Bobby nodded.

“Yes. Is he okay?”

The doctor looked uncertain.

“I really should speak to a family member before I talk to anyone else. I don’t suppose you have contact information?”

At that, Alex and Carolyn looked to Bobby expectantly. Bobby sighed softly, and quietly cursed the timing of Horatio’s arrival. So much for discretion…

“I am family, Doctor. Mike is my brother.”

The doctor, however, nodded dismissively.

“I understand the concept of brotherhood with the police, but I mean actual, proper family.”

Bobby’s expression hardened slightly.

“Mike is my brother, and I’m not talking about the thin blue line here. We’re half brothers. I’m the only family he has. Now, will you please tell me what’s happening to him?”

The doctor looked momentarily startled before conceding with a nod.

“I’m sorry. He’s going to be fine, although he may have a headache for a few days. He was very lucky, actually. The worst he’s sustained is a concussion, and a couple of broken teeth. With the kick to the head that he took, it could have been a lot worse. We’re going to keep him here tonight, and then I’ll see how he is tomorrow before I sign off on his release.”

“Can I see him?”

The doctor nodded slowly.

“I guess so. He’s awake, but be aware that he may not be entirely coherent. And, I’d prefer if just one of you went through at the moment.”

“Go ahead, Bobby,” Alex told him. “Carolyn and I will wait here.”

Bobby nodded gratefully and followed the doctor back into the ER. After just a moment’s hesitation, Horatio followed.

“Don’t say it,” Mike moaned when Bobby appeared at his side. Bobby couldn’t help it, and a wry smile found its way onto his lips.

“Don’t say what, Mike? That you’re an idiot who doesn’t know when to shut up and back off? We already knew that, buddy.”

Mike groaned and shut his eyes against the over-bright fluorescent lights of the ER.

“Okay, okay. I get it. Happy?”

Bobby’s smile fade as he looked down at his brother’s battered features.

“No. I’m going to kick Richie’s ass so hard when I get a hold of him that he’ll never want to lay a finger on you again.”

“That’s sweet,” Mike mumbled. “Baby brother’s gone all protective.”

“Don’t mock me, Mikey.”

“Then shut up, Robert. You’re giving me a headache.”

“No, you already had a headache.”

“Oh. Right. Crap, my head hurts. What’d the doctor tell you?”

“That you’ve got a concussion, and a couple of broken teeth. They’re getting a room ready for you. You have to stay overnight.”

At that, Mike started up.

“The hell I am… Aw, crap…”

He collapsed back on the gurney as a sickening wave of pain, dizziness and nausea swept through him. Bobby couldn’t resist a smirk.

“You were saying?”

“Ah, shut up.”

“So, you really are brothers.”

Bobby looked around, and groaned softly at the sight of Horatio standing there, watching them.

“Yes, Lieutenant Caine,” he confirmed ruefully. “We’re really brothers.”

Horatio walked over to stand at the end of the bed, looking thoughtfully from Bobby to Mike, and then back to Bobby again.

“And you were planning on telling me this when…?”

“Try, never,” Mike mumbled. “It was none of your damn business.”

“Mike, don’t,” Bobby said with a sigh. “It is his business when it interferes with his investigation, and that’s exactly what we did tonight, whether we intended to or not.”

“We didn’t go looking for Richie,” Mike pointed out. “He found us.”

“So I’ve been informed,” Horatio conceded. “But that doesn’t change the fact that one of you should have contacted me immediately. I don’t appreciate being kept out of the loop, gentlemen.”

“We’re sorry,” Bobby apologised sincerely for both of them, and Horatio’s stern expression softened some.

“Apology accepted. Now, do you think you might be willing to tell me the truth?”

“Truth?” Bobby echoed, as though he had no idea what Horatio was talking about.

“Yes, Detective Goren. The truth. Why do you want to talk to Richie so badly? What are you hoping to get out of him?”

“Answers,” Mike answered finally when Bobby did not.

“Answers to what?” Horatio asked.

“To my parentage. Look, here’s the deal,” Mike said with weary resignation. “We just found out we’re brothers a little over two weeks ago. A little over two weeks ago, I found out that my mom had an affair, and that the guy I thought was my father, isn’t. I want to know how my mom got together with his… I mean, with our father, and Richie is the only one still around who might be able to give me some answers. I know, it’s stupid, and I know I’m an idiot for chasing this, but it’s just something I have to know.”

“As a matter of fact, Detective Logan,” Horatio said quietly, “I think I do understand where you’re coming from, and I don’t think it’s stupid at all. Perhaps we can come to an agreement… I’ll work with you, and help you get the answers you want, but I need you both to reciprocate that courtesy by not searching out Richie on your own.”

“What is he involved in?” Bobby asked, frowning.

“Have either of you heard of the Mal Noche?” Horatio asked. Mike answered no, but Bobby nodded slowly.

“Miami mafia,” he said. “They’re Miami’s equivalent of the Masucci family in New York.”

“Correct, Detective Goren. They’re also considerably more violent, and your brother has fallen in with them. He’s running with some very dangerous people, gentlemen, and believe me when I tell you he’s been behaving accordingly.”

“The manslaughter charge?” Bobby wondered.

“Yes, but we also have investigations pending against Richie for violent assaults committed during a number of robberies, all of which we believe were orchestrated by the Mal Noche.”

“To get funds for drugs?” Mike asked, pushing himself up just a little so that he could see Horatio more clearly.

“Partly, yes,” Horatio confirmed, “but also to fund the purchase of weapons.”

Bobby frowned deeply.

“Richie was only ever into gambling,” he said. “The trouble he got himself into over that was bad enough, but he was never into big league stuff like drugs and guns. Definitely not assault… or murder.”

“You mean, aside from that time he stabbed you over the drugs?” Mike put in, winning himself a glare from Bobby. Horatio raised an eyebrow at him.

“He stabbed you?”

“That’s in the past,” Bobby said dismissively, and Mike snorted loudly.

“Like hell it is.” And then, to Horatio; “When Bobby was still with Narcotics, Richie came to him looking for drugs. When Bobby told him no, Richie stabbed him… how many times, Bobby?”

Bobby studiously ignored Mike. Horatio’s interest, however, was piqued.

“He wanted the drugs for himself?”

“No. I’m pretty sure he wanted them to sell, to pay off a gambling debt.”

“Well,” Horatio said, “that’s how he fell in with the Mal Noche. His debts were sold to the Mal Noche. To begin with, they just called on him for favours to pay off the debts. Now, as near as we can tell, he’d paid off what was owed, and now he’s employed by the Mal Noche as a low ranking soldier.”

“Low ranking,” Mike retorted. “Sounds about right.”

“The point, gentlemen, is that even a bottom-of-the-ladder pawn in the Mal Noche still has the protection that being Mal Noche affords. Richie might not have been accepted completely into their ranks yet – he’s still a probationary, so to speak – but he’s working towards it. And if the Mal Noche see the two of you as a threat to him, you will be in danger.”

“We don’t want to cause trouble, Lieutenant,” Bobby said quietly. “We just want to get a personal issue resolved, and get the hell out of here.”

Horatio nodded in sympathy and understanding.

“Fair enough. We’ll work together on this, then. Agreed?”

Bobby and Mike exchanged glances, and Bobby nodded and spoke for both of them.


Early in the morning

“So, who were those guys in the bar?”

Richie grunted as he settled into the back seat of the Cadillac.

“No one important. Just my little brother, and one of his buddies.”

Rico turned sharply in his seat, looking back at Richie with a dark frown.

“Your brother? You said your brother’s a cop in New York.”

“Yeah. So what?”

“So… What the fuck is he doing in Miami?”

“Sight-seeing? How the fuck should I know?”

Rico’s expression turned downright dangerous.

“Don’t you mouth off to me, man. Tell me what he wanted?”

Richie sighed.

“He wanted to know about something that happened before he was born… when I was just a kid. The guy that was with him… his name is Logan. He’s Bobby’s half brother.”

“We don’t need this,” Rico growled. “We don’t need this complication.”

“Relax, Rico. They’re not interested in what’s going down here. It’s family matters, man. That’s all.”

“They’re cops, asshole. Of course they’re interested. And if they’re looking for you, that could mean problems for us. And that’s not acceptable. Is it, Richie?”

“No, Rico,” Richie conceded with a sigh. “It’s not. So, what do you want me to do? Try scare them out of town?”

Rico snorted derisively.

“They’re New York cops, fool. Totally dumb shit that don’t know when to let something drop. You ain’t gonna be able to scare them off. No, we gotta deal with them so they can’t interfere. You know… make an example of them. Maybe we can send a message to Horatio Caine at the same time.”

Richie was silent for a long moment. He knew what Rico meant without having to ask.

“We’re going to kill them?”

“Yeah, Richie. We’re going to kill them. And you’re going to do it. This is it, my friend. Your ticket into the Mal Noche. You kill your stinking cop brothers, and we’ll know you’re a hundred percent loyal to us. You don’t…”

He trailed off, leaving the threat unspoken. Richie looked away, out the window, disturbed by the ultimatum he had just been delivered. Sure, Bobby wasn’t high on his list of favourite people… Actually, truth was he hated the fucking little runt with a passion. But kill him? That was a step that he really wasn’t sure he was willing to take.

On the other hand, he mused, it would be a stepping stone into the Mal Noche, and that was something he desperately wanted. It was his ticket to money, power, and protection. A small, tight smile spread across his face as he made his decision.

“Okay,” he told Rico. “I’m good for it. But we do it my way, you hear? I’m not just going to grab a gun and shoot them down. There are some things I want Bobby to know before he dies, and I want to be the one to tell him. I want to see his face when I tell him. I want to see the despair in his face.”

“Okay. Any suggestions as to how we get a hold of him for you to be able to do that?”

“Well, they’ll still be looking for me, so I guess all I have to do is set up shop somewhere, and wait for them to come to me. And when they do, I’ll be able to have some real fun with them…” Richie’s face positively lit up with sadistic delight. “It’ll be just like old times. I’ll remind the son of a bitch just why he was so fucking scared of me when we were kids.”

Rico smirked. This was why he put up with Richie. The guy had a sadistic streak a mile wide that only needed a little bit of prodding to appear.

“Okay, man. We do it your way. Congratulations, Richie. You’re on your way to being a true Mal Noche.”

Richie grinned and settled back in his seat. That was what it was all about for him, and if he had to sacrifice his little brother to get it, then so be it. That was how it had to be.

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