In the end, it was a toss up for Alex which drove her crazier – the silence or the blackness. From the moment she woke up, there had been absolute and utter silence. She was blindfolded, bound to a chair, and gagged. She couldn't make a sound, and there were no other noises around her to suggest anyone else was nearby.

She had vague memories of what had happened. She recalled waiting anxiously with Carolyn in the hotel room, feeling frustrated and angry at being left behind. They were both of the same opinion that Deakins was going to kill them when he found out what Bobby and Mike had agreed to do. As Carolyn had pointed out earlier, when Deakins ordered them to do what Horatio Caine told them, he had probably not intended for them to offer themselves up as bait.

And then, as things were wont to do, everything went south very quickly.

They had been waiting together when the gunmen burst into their suite. Neither she nor Carolyn had heard a sound from outside. Not a shout, nor a gunshot, and they'd been caught completely off guard as a result. The men had burst in – five of them altogether – and grabbed them. Alex remembered something damp being jammed over her mouth and nose, and she'd had just enough time to register the smell of chloroform, before darkness took her.

And now, here she was. Bound and gagged, and waiting for... Actually, she didn't know what she was waiting for, or who. None of this was making any sense, not with her mind still fuzzy from the effects of the chloroform. She figured it had to have something to do with Richie Goren, but for the life of her, she couldn't figure out what. It didn't make any sense at all, not right then.

The sudden, unexpected sound of someone moving close by caught her by surprise, and she found herself tensing against the ropes that bound her. She assumed it was an enemy, and she braced herself for the unimaginable when a hand descended briefly onto her shoulder, and then fingered her hair with a gross intimacy.

A moment later, a soft, throaty chuckle sounded in her ear.

“Don't you worry, sweetheart. You and your friend will be perfectly safe, as long as your boyfriends do as they're told. As long as they keep playing by our rules, you two ladies will walk away from this.” The unfamiliar voice hesitated, and then added with grim humour, “Of course, can't say the same for them, but that's just the chance you take... isn't it, sweetheart?”

She felt his lips brush lightly over her cheek, and she wanted to spit in his face in response, but the gag made for no allowances. She was helpless, and her captor knew it.

“I bet you'd kick my ass, given half a chance, wouldn't you?” he rasped. “Tough ass cop like you... Yeah, you'd kick my ass, all right. Well, forgive me for not wanting to give you that chance. You just sit tight there, beautiful, and behave yourself, and you'll be free again before you know it.”

And then he was gone again.

Alex let her breath out in a hissing rush through her nose as she heard a door being slammed shut and locked only a short distance away. God, she hoped it didn't mean that Bobby and Mike were actually cooperating with the scum that had her and Carolyn. If they were... if they even contemplated handing themselves over as a trade, then she'd kill them herself.

Either way, she thought bitterly, someone was going to bleed for this. Someone was going to bleed badly.

Horatio had returned to the Crime Lab, and was going over evidence from the hotel with Calleigh and Ryan when Tripp arrived, with a mixture of anger and panic on his craggy features.

“Frank?” Horatio asked, feeling his stomach muscles tighten unpleasantly in reaction to the vibes that Tripp was giving out. “What's wrong?”

“They're gone,” Tripp answered. “Goren and Logan! They're gone from the hospital!”

“They were snatched from inside the hospital?” Ryan asked incredulously, but Tripp snorted loudly.

“Snatched my ass! Pair of jokers got up and walked out of there together! We've got them on the goddamn security cameras! They left the hospital together a good twenty to thirty minutes ago, and now we have no idea where they are.”

“They're going to attempt to make contact with the Mal Noche,” Ryan guessed. “They want their partners back.”

“That is correct, Mr Wolfe,” Horatio confirmed, the suddenly-strained tone of his voice belying the calm expression on his face.

“But if they go ahead and hand themselves over,” Calleigh said anxiously, “all they'll be doing is signing all their death warrants. The Mal Noche isn't going to just let their partners go free.”

“I expect they already know that,” Horatio said as he began to walk back towards the main exit. “They wouldn't go into a situation like this without having some sort of a plan.”

“If we don't find them before they try to make this exchange, it won't matter what sort of plan they have. They'll be good as dead,” Tripp said. “All four of them. What do we do, Horatio?”

“We find them, that's what.” He paused, reluctantly withdrawing his cell phone from his pocket. “And, I think it's time to call their captain, and fill him in on what's happening.”

By the time his home phone rang just before three-thirty in the morning, Jimmy Deakins was on the verge booking himself onto the next available flight to Miami. His instructions to his detectives about calling him every evening had been non-negotiable, and so when the time for that call came and went and he hadn't heard from them, his blood pressure steadily began to rise. It continued to rise as the hours ticked by, and he still hadn't heard anything.

He'd tried several times to reach their individual cell phones, only to get an irritating female voice telling him each of the phones was switched off. He tried the hotel, only to be told the detectives were out, and would he like to leave a message for them. He declined, knowing that whatever message he left would probably only result in the concierge hanging up on him.

And, when his phone rang in the early hours of the morning, waking his wife up (he'd been lying in bed awake for hours, unable to sleep), he was just about ready to blow a gasket, well and truly.

“Deakins,” he growled, anticipating either Bobby or Mike with some lame-ass apology.

Captain Deakins? This is Lieutenant Horatio Caine, from the Miami Dade Crime Lab.”

Deakins felt his stomach drop. To be called by Lieutenant Caine, at this hour, could only be a bad thing.

“What's happened to my detectives?” he asked in a strained voice. There was a split second of silence on the other end, before Horatio continued on.

Captain Deakins, I'm afraid we've run into some serious difficulties. Your detectives are in a great deal of danger.

That wasn't what Deakins cared to hear at three-thirty in the morning.

“What's happened, Lieutenant? Please don't string me along. I do not have the patience for it.”

Detective Goren and Detective Logan were cooperating with us to bring in Richard Goren and another known member of the Mal Noche. It turned out to be set-up, and while we were distracted with trying to assist Goren and Logan, Detectives Eames and Barek were abducted from their hotel.

Deakins thought for a long moment that he was going to be sick. Before he could react verbally, though, Horatio went on.

Despite my instructions, Goren and Logan left the hospital where we left them, and disappeared on us...”

“I could have warned you about leaving those two together, and unattended, Lieutenant,” Deakins said ruefully.

So I guessed,” Horatio conceded. “We believe that they will attempt to make contact with the Mal Noche, and negotiate for the release of their partners.”

“Negotiate?” Deakins asked, not liking what he was hearing at all. Horatio answered with audible reluctance.

We believe they plan to exchange themselves for their partners,” Horatio answered. Deakins shut his eyes as he struggled to control his anger. He was going to kill Mike and Bobby...

“I'll be on the first flight to Miami that I can get,” he said firmly, and ended the call before Horatio had the opportunity to reply.

“Jimmy?” Angie asked, watching as he got up and began to get dressed. “What's happened?”

“Bobby and Mike are causing trouble again,” Deakins answered grimly. “I'm sorry, honey. I have to get to Miami.”

“Causing trouble?” Angie asked. “Or in trouble?”

Deakins looked grim as he grabbed his gun and badge from the sideboard.


“You know, we don't have a clue where to look for these people,” Mike said softly, though not disparagingly, as they entered a small bar and found a corner table that was right out of the way. Bobby nodded in agreement.

“Maybe. Personally, I'm kind of relying on them to find us. Not the other way around.”

“I'll tell you one thing, though,” Mike went on heatedly, “if either Alex or Carolyn have been hurt, in any way, I'll fucking kill them myself.”

Though Bobby said nothing to validate Mike's vehement words, the expression on his face spoke in volumes. He felt the same way as Mike, but what surprised him considerably was the deep-set rage he felt at the thought of Carolyn being hurt in any way. As much as he wanted his partner back safely, he found his focus turning to Carolyn more and more.

“You thinking about Carolyn?” Mike asked softly. Bobby glanced up at him, and then nodded.

“Yes,” he answered simply. A crooked smile touched Mike's lips.

“She's gotten to you, hasn't she?”

“I like her,” Bobby admitted, his cheeks reddening noticeably. “I... I like her a lot. She's smart... sweet... beautiful...”

Mike chuckled softly.

“Yeah, she got to you. Don't get me wrong, Bobby. I think it's great. Just, take a word of advice from your big brother?”

Bobby's eyebrows went up in bemusement.

“And what's that?”

“Don't try to screw with her head, baby brother. Because I guarantee you, she'll screw you right back, and I don't mean that in a good way.”

Bobby had to laugh. He knew what Mike meant, even though it hadn't come out quite right.

“I got it, Mike. I promise you, I'll try not to do that.”

Mike grunted.

“Good. Because believe me, she knows how to do that whole mindfuck thing just as well as you do.”

Bobby smirked, but before he had a chance to respond, a shadow fell across them. They looked up to find Marco Vega standing there, watching them both with a decidedly unfriendly stare.

“Gentlemen,” Vega said tonelessly in greeting. “I trust you're both ready to cooperate fully with us, now?”

“We're here, aren't we?” Mike snapped. “Do you see any MDPD around?”

“No, you gave them the slip quite impressively, if I do say so myself,” Vega agreed. “Very well, gentlemen. If you'll come with me?”

“No,” Bobby growled. Vega raised an eyebrow at him.


“No,” Bobby repeated. “Before we go anywhere at all with you, you're going to call whatever scum has our partners, and tell them to let them go.”

“Detective Goren, this is not negotiable...”

“Yes, it is,” Bobby said, his voice taking on a low, threatening rumble that gave even Mike pause. “This is how it's going to happen, and if you'll give us this much, then we all get what we want. And what we want is for Detective Eames and Detective Barek to be released, unharmed, back into MDPD custody. You play this part by our rules, and then we'll go with you. But we aren't going anywhere until we know that our partners are safe.”

Vega regarded Bobby thoughtfully before nodding.

“Very well. We shall concede to your request, given your willingness to cooperate with us now. I shall make the call immediately.”

Bobby and Mike watched in silence as Vega made a call, and spoke in rapid Spanish to the faceless individual on the other end of the line. When he finally hung up, he looked back to Bobby, a glint of amusement in his eyes.

“And now we wait.”

“How will we know?” Mike asked suspiciously.

Vega tossed his cell phone onto the table between them.

“We wait for ten minutes. Then, you call Lieutenant Caine, and confirm that your partners are safe. But don't try to stall to enable them to trace the call, Detectives. You call, get confirmation, and hang up. Understand?”

Bobby nodded.

“We understand.”

Alex thought the worst when someone stomped into the room where she was being held, yanked her roughly to her feet and guided her out of the room. They never removed her blindfold, and she dared not do anything to try and see what was happening, or where she was being taken.

Not a word was spoken by anyone as she was taken outside, into the hot Miami night, and then pushed into a van. She sat, heart in her throat, as the vehicle carried her to an unknown destination where she fully anticipated a bullet in the head.

It didn't happen. After what seemed an age, the vehicle came to a halt. She heard the door sliding open, and a moment later she was pushed out roughly. She stumbled, and fell, landing on hard asphalt, and she felt the rough surface graze her skin.

She heard a pained grunt as someone else hit the ground next to her. Then, the vehicle door slammed shut behind them and the vehicle took off with a loud roar of the engine.

Alex was still struggling to get the blindfold off when she heard shouts, and a pair of hands suddenly alighted on her and the blindfold and gag were both removed. She gasped, and found herself staring up into the welcome face of Horatio Caine.

“Detective Eames,” he said as he helped her to sit up, and untied her wrists. “Are you hurt?”

Alex hesitated in answering, instead looking around anxiously. Relief flooded her at the sight of Carolyn being seen to by another officer just a few feet away.

“Are you hurt?” Horatio repeated. Alex drew in a long, if somewhat shaky breath.

“No,” she answered softly. “We're not hurt. Just... bruised.” She looked up at him suddenly. “Please tell us that Bobby and Mike are safe.”

Horatio winced, and her heart sank.

“You don't know where they are, do you?”

Deciding that at that point, honesty was definitely the best policy, Horatio told her the truth.

“We left them at the hospital while we tried to locate you ladies...”

That was a big mistake,” Carolyn put in ruefully. Horatio nodded.

“So I gathered. They walked out of there together over an hour ago, and disappeared. We have to assume they're now being held by the Mal Noche.”

Horatio's phone suddenly rang. Frowning, he checked the caller ID and, not recognising the number, answered the call with some reservation.


Are they safe?”

Horatio started a little in surprise.

“Detective Goren?”

“Give me that,” Alex growled, and snatched the phone out of Horatio's hand before he could argue. “Bobby?”


She could hear the tension in his voice, so palpable that it turned her stomach. He was not just afraid, she realised numbly. He was terrified.

“I'm here. Where are you?”

Are you safe? Please, tell me you and Carolyn are both safe.

“Yes, we're safe. We were just dumped off at the Crime Scene Lab.”

And you're not hurt? Neither of you are hurt?

“No! We're not hurt! Goddamn you, Bobby, tell me where you are!”

The line went dead. Alex stared at the phone in numb shock for several seconds before handing it back to Horatio.

“He hung up...”

Horatio twisted around and tossed the phone to a man standing close by.

“Eric, get this to trace. I want to know where that call came from, immediately!”

The young man took off at a run. Horatio watched him go, and then turned back to face Alex and Carolyn.

“Don't worry. We'll find them, I promise you.”

Alex nodded in response for both Carolyn and herself, but nothing could mask the fear in their eyes at what was in store for their partners.

“Satisfied?” Vega asked as he snatched the phone back and ended the call. Bobby and Mike looked at each other grimly before Bobby nodded.

“Yes,” he said simply.

“Good,” Vega murmured. He motioned for them to get up. “Now, let's go see Richie.”

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