A SMALL WORLD
A/N: Chapter 13 - 'Springing the Trap'. Otherwise known as 'The Part Where Everything Goes To Hell'. Enjoy.
“You probably don’t want to hear this right now, but there’s a little voice inside me whispering that maybe this isn’t such a hot idea.”
Bobby looked sideways at Mike, where they sat at the bar in a small, exclusive nightclub. According to Horatio, it was a veritable den for the Mal Noche – a fact that was met with much displeasure by Alex and Carolyn.
“Do you want me to shoot you?”
Mike held up his hands defensively.
“Sorry. I’ll keep my mouth shut.”
Silence reigned for a few minutes before Mike tried again.
Bobby’s head came around so fast that Mike was astounded he didn’t give himself whiplash.
“Don’t you dare, Mike. You started all of this. You’re not backing out now.”
“I didn’t say I wanted to back out,” Mike protested. “I just… don’t know if being here is such a hot idea.” He paused, glancing around the club, and was met with several hostile glares. “They know we’re cops, Bobby.”
“Of course they know,” Bobby grumbled. “The only reason we’re still in one piece is because something’s already been planned for us.”
“And that makes me feel so much better,” Mike muttered sourly.
“Just be ready for when Richie shows up.”
Mike didn’t respond to that because, in all truth, he wasn’t so sure of anything all of a sudden. His clash with Richie two nights ago had left him wondering just what he’d been thinking. Too late now, though, he thought ruefully as he eyed the glass in front of him with distaste.
Whiskey… A slight shudder passed in front of him. The bartender hadn’t even asked what they wanted when they came up to the bar. He’d simply poured out a double shot of whiskey for each of them and gone on with conversing with his other customers. Mike had no doubt the whiskey was compliments of Richie… if compliments was the word for it.
A glance to the side revealed that Bobby hadn’t touched his drink, either. No great surprise there.
A hand on both of their shoulders caught them by surprise and they looked around, expecting to see Richie, but finding themselves confronted by Marco Vega instead.
“You don’t like the whiskey we serve here, boys?” he asked, and neither one could miss the threatening undertones in his words.
“It’s nothing personal,” Bobby said quietly. “We don’t drink whiskey anymore. Bad memories.”
Marco nodded acceptingly.
“Okay. Fair enough. Jake!”
The bartender turned back towards them, one eyebrow going up at Marco’s call.
“Get rid of the whiskey,” Marco told him. “Scotch for my guests.” He grinned his piranha grin at them both. “The best you’ve got, Jake.”
No amount of reproach later on from anyone would compare to the self-admonishment that both Bobby and Mike would heap on themselves for such a simple, and yet devastating lapse in judgment. At that time, though, neither man thought twice about downing the glasses of Scotch that were set down in front of them.
Marco watched with subtle delight in his eyes as they finished the drinks, and then ushered them towards a dimly lit door at the back of the club.
“This way, gentlemen.”
Exchanging rueful looks, Mike and Bobby abandoned their seats at the bar, and allowed themselves to be ushered through the door, into the darkness beyond.
“They’ve made contact with Vega,” Tripp muttered as he listened intently to the conversation coming through on the headphones he was wearing. A frown crossed his features as he deduced their actions from what was being said. “They’re not… Those stupid idiots…”
“What is it, Frank?” Horatio asked, not at all liking the concern in Frank’s voice.
“They just drank the Scotch they were served up. I told them not to touch anything they were given! God knows what might have been slipped to them in it.”
As much as he wanted to disregard it, Horatio knew Frank was right. The odds were that some narcotic had probably been slipped to them in their drinks, and if they had, indeed, ingested them, then time was now against them to get the job done before it took effect.
“All right,” Horatio said finally, making a snap decision. “Call our back-up in, Frank. We’re moving in.”
They found themselves in a small room that was nothing but concrete from floor the ceiling. There was no furniture, no windows, and the only door was behind them.
“We’re not going to see Richie, are we?” Mike asked softly, at the same time blinking hard against the blurriness that was threatening to take over his vision. Vega smiled coolly.
“Actually, Detective Logan, you will see him. Just not yet. You boys are very lucky, actually. My bosses are in a generous mood. Otherwise, you’d both be dead already for the breach of trust.”
“What breach…?” Bobby started to ask, only to grunt in pain as he was driven to his knees courtesy of the butt of a gun being slammed into his back, between his shoulder blades. His slow-healing leg gave way beneath him as he went down, and he hit the concrete floor with a dull thud. Vega came to stand over him, all signs of friendliness gone from his face.
“You stupid, arrogant pig. You think we don’t know you have back-up outside? We know, believe me. But like I said, we’re in a generous mood today.” He looked around at Mike, and smirked. The other man had collapsed to his knees, looking dazed and sick. “For now, we aren’t going to do anything to either of you. For now, gentlemen. But we will be in contact with you again very soon, and I think then you’ll both be more inclined to listen, and do what we say… without any interference from Lieutenant Horatio Caine.”
He walked over and lifted his foot, planting it squarely against Mike’s shoulder and giving a brutal shove that sent Mike toppling over.
“Yes,” he hissed, “I think you’ll listen very carefully indeed.”
“Marco,” someone hissed from the door. “Time to go. Caine just arrived.”
Vega nodded and, sparing the two helpless men a sneering glance, followed his friend from the room.
Bobby lay on the cold concrete, his breath coming in rapid, shallow breaths as his body fought against the drugs that he’d ingested with the Scotch. He could see Mike lying nearby, still and unresponsive, and he felt a vicious wave of guilt hit him for letting them both be caught out like this.
He should have known better than to drink anything handed to them in this place, and he damn well should have known not to trust the likes of Marco Vega.
As the dark, drug-induced haze gradually overcame him, he heard Vega’s words, but there was no real comprehension in his dazed mind. Then, he was vaguely aware of movement around him, and a hand on his arm. Then, nothing but darkness.
“Horatio,” Frank said as they made they’re way through the club, “Vega just went out a side exit.”
“Was there anyone with him, Frank?”
“Just another foot soldier. No sign of our guys.”
“Then let them go,” Horatio growled. “We have to find Goren and Logan, immediately.”
Frank nodded, and motioned to the officers he’d brought in with them to spread out and be thorough in their search. It didn’t take long for them to find the room, and the two detectives within. Heart in his throat, Horatio strode over to Bobby’s side and dropped into a crouch beside him. He laid a hand on Bobby’s arm, and peered down at him, searching anxiously for a sign of life.
“He’s alive,” Horatio said finally. Frank nodded from where he was leaning over Mike.
“So is Logan, but we’re gonna need an ambulance. God only knows what they’ve got in their systems.”
Horatio got back up to his feet, frowning darkly.
“Something isn’t right. Why go to the trouble of luring them here, just to knock them out and leave them?”
“We interrupted them,” Frank said. “They never got a chance to do whatever it was they planned on doing.”
Scepticism filled Horatio’s face, but he didn’t argue. Right then, it was important to get Bobby and Mike to the nearest hospital so they could be treated. Then, and only then, could they afford to take the time to analyse the Mal Noche’s confusing behaviour.
Some time later
Bobby awoke slowly, coming back to awareness and prying his eyes open only to be nearly blinded by fluorescent white lights. Groaning, he shut his eyes again and tried to will himself back to sleep, but it clearly wasn’t going to happen. He lay in less than comfortable silence for a while before a voice broke into his solitude.
“Detective Goren? Are you awake?”
With great reluctance, Bobby forced his eyes open once more. This time, though, instead of an unwelcome flare of blinding light, he found himself staring up into the concerned face of Horatio Caine.
“Not awake,” he mumbled, and Horatio smiled faintly. A sigh escaped Bobby, and he tried to shift, only to discover his wrists and ankles were wrapped securely in restraints. Confusion filled his face, and Horatio spoke quickly to allay his fears.
“It’s all right, Detective. You were restrained for your own protection, Detective. We didn’t know what you’d been drugged with, and the hospital staff didn’t want you injuring yourself.”
“The drinks…” Bobby mumbled. Horatio nodded in confirmation, and Bobby groaned. “Oh god… we’re idiots…”
“Fortunately, it was just a sedative,” Horatio reassured him. “You’ll feel a little dazed for a while, but there shouldn’t be any lasting effects.”
“What about Mike?” Bobby asked.
“He’s fine,” Horatio reassured him. “He was drugged with the same sedatives you were, but he's awake and recovering.”
Bobby shuddered violently. Damn, he was feeling sick. A nurse appeared at his side at Horatio's beckoning and loosened the restraints so that Bobby could sit up. He did so slowly, groaning softly as his head spun, and his stomach lurched unpleasantly.
“Easy,” Horatio murmured, catching hold of Bobby's arm gently to steady him as he swayed visibly. “Take it easy, Detective.”
“It was all wrong,” Bobby mumbled, pressing one hand over his eyes. He paused, and then looked back up at Horatio slowly. “Richie wasn't there. They... never intended for him to be there. It was a trap... for us. For me, and Mike.”
Horatio hesitated, and though it only lasted a split second, it was enough for Bobby to notice.
“What is it?” he asked, his eyes narrowing slightly. Horatio let his breath out slowly.
“It was a trap,” he conceded softly, “but not for you and Detective Logan.”
In his fuzzy state of mind, it took a good half minute before Horatio's words finally registered. When they did, Bobby looked around at him slowly, his brown eyes boring into the lieutenant.
“What do you mean, not for us?”
It seemed to Bobby that Horatio was the one looking sick now, and when he spoke he had to make an effort to keep eye contact.
“The meeting was a diversion,” he explained softly. “It appears that you and Detective Logan were not the targets.”
Bobby felt an icy cold rush of panic crash down over him. He suspected that he knew where Horatio was going with this, but he prayed he was wrong. Oh God, how he prayed he was wrong.
“Just say it,” Bobby whispered hoarsely.
“The meeting was a diversion,” Horatio repeated, looking as though he was struggling to find the right words. “By the time we realised, it was too late.”
“What do you mean, too late?” Bobby burst out, at the same time cringing from the blast of pain seared through his skull. “Will you just say it?”
Horatio shut his eyes for a long moment, steeling himself for every reaction he'd tried to anticipate.
“At the same time that Marco Vega was dealing with you and Detective Logan, a Mal Noche hit squad arrived at your hotel. They killed three of my officers, and wounded several others...”
“Alex and Carolyn,” Bobby whispered, his already pale face draining of what little colour remained. Horatio nodded reluctantly.
“They were both taken by the Mal Noche, Detective. We received notice half an hour ago from Rico Peres, the man who is responsible for... mentoring your brother in the Mal Noche. They're demanding that you and Logan trade yourselves in return for the safe release of Detective Eames and Detective Barek.”
“When?” Bobby asked hoarsely.
“As of half an hour ago, we had five hours to respond,” Horatio answered. “They'll provide details for the exchange if we agree to their demands.”
“If?” Bobby growled. “What do you mean, if?”
“We don't negotiate with the Mal Noche, Detective Goren,” Horatio said, his voice taking on a hard edge. “I understand you wanting to do whatever you can to get your partner back safely, but handing yourselves over to the Mal Noche is not the path to take.”
“Tell me, Lieutenant,” Bobby said in a low, dangerous voice. “What happens if, at the end of five hours, we haven't found where they're being held, and we say no to their demands? What happens to Eames and Barek?”
Horatio grimaced. Right then, he was wishing desperately that Bobby Goren was not a cop.
“They've threatened to kill them,” he confirmed. Bobby nodded.
“I'll tell you what we're going to do, Lieutenant. When they contact you again, you're going to tell them we agree to their demands.”
“And then what?” Horatio asked. “You and Logan go ahead and turn yourselves over to the Mal Noche? That's not going to happen, Detective. I need you to trust me, now. We will get your partners back, but you must trust me. Can you do that?”
Bobby was silent for nearly a minute before speaking softly.
“Do I have a choice?”
“You have a choice,” Horatio answered. “It's up to you whether you make the right one.”
Again, silence reigned while the two men stared at each other. Then, finally, Bobby gave a slight nod, and Horatio visibly relaxed.
“Okay, here's what I want you to do, Detective. I want you to stay here, and leave this to us. I promise I'll keep you informed.”
Then he was gone, leaving Bobby alone. He was still sitting there minutes later, staring at the floor, when movement drew his attention and he looked up to see Mike standing there, looking equally pale and equally determined.
“You know?” Mike asked softly.
“Yes,” Bobby replied tonelessly. “Caine just told me.”
“So what are we going to do?”
Bobby looked at him expressionlessly.
“Yes, do!” Mike burst out. “Don't tell me we're going to just hang around here and do nothing! I swear to God, Bobby, if you tell me that...”
“Calm down, Mike,” Bobby told him quietly. “I'm not going to say that.”
Mike visibly calmed at Bobby's words.
“Okay, then. So, what do we do?”
“First, we get out of here.”
“Uh huh. Any suggestions how? This place is crawling with cops.”
A small, grim smile curled Bobby's lips.
“We did it once before. We can do it again.”
The grin on Mike's face was a match for his brother's as he quickly guessed what Bobby was referring to. If they could sneak out of a hospital, right under the noses of the nurses and their own captain, then this should prove to be easy.
“Okay,” he said with renewed enthusiasm. “Let's blow this pop stand, and go get our partners back.”
“You do realise they're going to kick our collective asses for this?”
Bobby grunted as he peered around the corner to make sure it was clear before venturing out.
“Forget Eames and Barek. Deakins is the one we should be afraid of.”
“Hey, technically we were following his orders,” Mike pointed out, and Bobby eyed him curiously.
“How do you figure that?”
“We were just doing what Caine asked us to do,” Mike answered. Bobby couldn't suppress a smirk. That was a point. “Besides,” Mike went on in a softer, more serious voice, “if we'd had any clue what those bastards were planning, we would never have left Alex and Carolyn alone.”
Again, another truth.
“C'mon,” Bobby muttered, and he slipped around the corner and across the hallway to a door marked with an emergency exit sign halfway along. Mike followed and, as they were slipping out through the door, Mike couldn't resist one last word.
“On the other hand, Deakins probably will kill us for this stunt.”
Bobby glanced back at him grimly.
“You mean, if Richie and the Mal Noche don't get to us first?”
Mike's smirk faded fast as the reality of Bobby's words hit home. Seeing that Mike's eyes were finally wide open to the reality ahead of them, Bobby turned and led the way quickly and silently out of the hospital.
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