With the matter of their partners' safety settled, Bobby and Mike were hustled quickly out of the bar and into a waiting vehicle. They were blindfolded, and their hands bound in front of them. Then, they were on the move.

Bobby and Mike both tried to follow the direction they travelled in, but in the end there were simply too many turns to keep track of. They travelled for over half an hour, turning left, then right, then left. There seemed to be no pattern to the turns that Bobby was able to decipher and, by the time the vehicle came to a stop, neither man had the slightest idea where they were.

They were bundled out of the car and into a room, pushed into chairs and quickly tied up. They heard the door slam shut, and then there was silence.

“Bobby...?” Mike asked tentatively.

“I'm here,” Bobby whispered.

“What the fuck is going on?” Mike wondered, but Bobby had no answer to give him. All he knew was that he was very, very afraid.

They sat there, apparently alone, for at least ten minutes. Bobby estimated that it was probably longer. Then, just as the tension was starting to become unbearable, the blindfolds were finally yanked roughly from their faces – first Mike's, and then Bobby's.

The first thing Bobby became aware of was the bland décor and peeling paint of the third rate motel room in which they were sitting. The second was Richie, standing over him and grinning cruelly with eager anticipation. As soon as Bobby's attention was on him, Richie swung his fist around to strike Bobby hard in the face. The force of the blow rocked Bobby's head back hard and very nearly sent him over backwards in the chair.

“Hey!” Mike burst out, straining helplessly against his bindings. “Leave him alone, you son of a bitch!”

Richie looked around and favoured Mike with a scathing look.

“Isn't that sweet? Big brother Mikey wants to protect his little brother.”

Bobby grimaced as he spat out blood.

“You did know, then.”

Richie laughed as he grabbed a towel and rubbed the blood from his knuckles.

“Yeah, I know,” he said with a derisive snort. “I've known all along about this other piece of shit. As soon as he said his name in the bar, I knew.” He paused, looking from one to the other with a sneer. “Two brothers, utterly loyal to each other. You make me want to vomit.”

“Hey, just because you suck as a brother, don't blame us,” Mike snapped. An instant later, it was his turn to suffer a fist to the head that left him seeing stars.

“You don't know the first thing about being a brother,” Richie snarled. “Especially to the runt over there. Maybe I ought to clue you in, huh, Mikey?”

Mike glared up at Richie.

“The name is Mike. Detective Logan to you, shithead. No one gets to call me Mikey except Bobby.”

Rather than looking annoyed, Richie appeared amused. He looked back over at Bobby.

“This one's a real tough guy, Bobby. You could learn a thing or two from him... if I was going to let you both live. Which, for the record, I'm not.” Turning, Richie walked over and sat down with a thud, eyeing the two of them with mild interest. “Look at this,” he mused with a grin. “Just like old times, huh, Bobby? See, Mikey... sorry, Mike... Bobby and I played a lot of games like this when we were kids.”

“Games my ass,” Mike snapped, at the same time noting the shade of grey that Bobby had gone. Richie chuckled.

“Yeah, well, they were games to me. Maybe not so much to Bobby. Like... the time that I watched that documentary with Dad about torture techniques, and I decided to test a few of them out on Bobby here. Damn, Dad had a hell of a time convincing the doctor at the hospital that Bobby did all of that to himself. Even after it was all done, I think he still didn't want to believe that Bobby burned his own back.”

“You sick fuck,” Mike spat. Richie nodded, looking almost pleasant.

“Yeah, maybe I am. But I'm also the one with the power here, aren't I? I've got the power, and you two fucks can't do a fucking thing about it. But, enough of that for the moment. I might be a bastard, but I try to be a relatively honest bastard. You've got questions to ask? So go ahead, ask.”

Again, Mike and Bobby exchanged glances. This wasn't exactly happening the way they'd planned it out. Right then, though, it seemed like the best way to buy time was to do as Richie said, and ask their questions. Because if there was one thing that was abundantly clear to them both – even Mike, who had no grounding in psychology – it was that Richie was purely and simply out of his mind.

“We need to know about our dad, and Mike's mom,” Bobby said tersely. A mildly puzzled look flashed across Richie's face.

“What do you mean, our dad, and his mom...?”

“We want to know how our old man got together with my mom.” Mike growled. “It's not that hard to understand, even for a moron like you.”

For nearly a minute, Richie didn't respond. For nearly a minute he stared at them both inscrutably, as though they'd suddenly started speaking in Chinese. Then, without warning, Richie began to laugh. It wasn't just an amused chuckle; it was a side-splitting roar of laughter that left Richie almost incapable of replying.

“Correct me if I'm wrong,” Mike said to Bobby in a low voice that was heavily laden with sarcasm, “but we weren't actually trying to be funny, were we?”

Bobby shook his head and, not for the first time, wondered about his oldest brother's sanity. Richie, for his part, was trying desperately to speak in between hysterical, hiccupping laughs.

“Oh, this... this is beautiful... Just beautiful! You don't know... Neither of you idiots know... Not a fucking clue!”

“We don't know what?” Bobby asked, rapidly losing his patience with Richie. “Damn it, Richie, will you quit acting like a fucking hyena, and just tell us what's so damned funny?”

“Oh, no, I gotta drag this out,” Richie laughed. “An opportunity like this to fuck with my little brother's head only comes along once in a lifetime. I'm gonna make this last as long as fucking possible.”

Mike snorted derisively.

“You're a pain in the fucking ass, Richie. I can't believe we're actually related.”

Richie launched himself out of his seat, and into Mike's face so fast that Mike nearly toppled over backwards in the chair, in an instinctive attempt to try and put some space between them.

“We're not, you fucking pig.”

Mike froze, looking first at Richie, and then at Bobby.

“What do you mean... We're not?”

“I mean, I am not your brother, shithead. Thank God for small favours.”

For a long moment, Mike did a reasonably good impression of a guppy, with his mouth opening and closing several times, but with no sound coming out. He finally put it down to the blow to the head that he'd taken, that Richie's words simply weren't making any sense to him.

“You've got a screw loose, Richie,” Bobby said quietly. “There was a DNA comparison done on mine and Mike's DNA. It proved conclusively that we're brothers.”

Richie snickered as he sauntered back over to Bobby, and patted him condescendingly on the cheek.

“I never said he wasn't your brother, Bobby. I just said, he isn't mine.”

By then, Bobby was as confused as Mike.

“It's a genetic impossibility, Richie. If Mike is my brother...”

“For a detective, you're pretty fucking dumb, runt,” Richie said. “Bobby, think about it carefully. Didn't you ever wonder why I was Dad's golden boy, and he treated you like dirt? Didn't you ever wonder why nothing you ever did was good enough? Hell, didn't you ever wonder why he acted like he only had one son?”

By that time, Bobby's mouth was almost too dry to get a word out in response. He really didn't want to know where Richie was going with this.

“The... I mean... Mom's schizophrenia... Dad thought...”

“He thought what? He thought that you might develop it, too? I had the same chance of developing it that you did, runt, but he never treated me badly because of it. So what other explanation can you pull out of your ass? Huh, Bobby boy?”

Bobby fell silent, confused and suddenly more than a little frightened. All of a sudden, more than ever, he didn't want to hear this. He didn't want to hear any of it. Richie leaned in close and suddenly it was as though they were the only two in the room.

“Don't you get it, Bobby? Even with all the facts right in front of you, don't you understand? Mike over there isn't the illegitimate one. You are. It wasn't our dad that fucked around with his mom. It was his dad that fucked around with our mom. That's why Dad hated the sight of you, you fucking runt. You weren't his kid, and he goddamn knew it.”

Bobby sat frozen, wave after wave of icy cold panic washing over him as he struggled to deal with Richie's revelation. Still laughing softly, Richie turned away and unzipped a sports bag that had been sitting unobtrusively near by.

“Bobby,” Mike whispered. He had heard Richie's words but, stunned as he was by it, it hadn't left him almost paralysed as it had done with Bobby. “Bobby, snap out of it! C'mon, man...”

Richie turned around, and Mike blanched at the sight of the butcher knife in his hand.

“This is exactly how I plan on remembering you, Bobby,” Richie said with a cruel sneer as he stared down at his little brother. “Looking just like a lost little puppy.” He lifted up the knife. “And you ought to know better than anyone what I did with puppies and kittens.”

Bobby came out of his daze, and his eyes locked onto the knife, widening a little as he realised what was about to happen. Before he had a chance to do anything, though, there was an explosion of movement on his left, and Mike launched himself out of his chair, the ropes that had previously bound him falling to the floor in a heap. Mike tackled Richie, and the knife flew from Richie's hand and skittered across the floor, coming to rest just behind the chair where Bobby was still tied up.

Bobby looked on, helpless to act as Mike and Richie struggled. To begin with, it seemed that Richie had the upper hand, and punch after punch was delivered to Mike's face and gut. A second blow to the head sent Mike collapsing to the floor, blood trickling from his mouth onto the dirty white carpet.

Just as it seemed that Richie was gearing up to deliver a knock-out blow, though, Mike kicked upwards, catching Richie right in the groin and sending him flying backwards. Richie collapsed with a pained groan, and Mike was on him an instant later in a flurry of fists and feet.

Richie had the benefit of size and strength, but Mike was operating on pure rage, and it wasn't long before he had the older man pinned to the floor.

“You son of a bitch,” Mike hissed. One eye was closed over, and where he wasn't bleeding, it seemed there was multiple bruising coming up already. “You goddamn son of a bitch...”

Richie sneered up at him.

“Not bad, Mikey. You're a better fighter than Bobby ever was. Still not too bright, though.”

Mike's confusion lasted as long as it took for Richie to twist one hand free and, with a snap of his wrist, eject a long blade that he'd had strapped to his arm, carefully concealed by his sleeve. He drove the knife deep into Mike's gut, and Mike went rigid from the pain and shock.

“Too bad, buddy boy,” Richie hissed into his ear as Mike's body went limp on top of his.

Where he sat, still tied to the chair, Bobby watched in numb horror as Mike was stabbed. Then, as Richie struggled to push the dead weight off him, Bobby looked around frantically for something that could help him. He spotted the butcher knife a short distance away from where he sat, and he estimated that if he could tip himself over, then the brittle chair that he was tied to would collapse, freeing him from his bindings and allowing him to grab the knife. But, he had to do it now...

Without pausing to think twice, Bobby threw his weight to the side, easily tipping himself over in the chair. A howl of pain tore from his lips as he felt his right arm break from landing on it badly. Then, as the haze of pain cleared, he scrambled to free himself from the now loosened ropes.

With a snarl of anger, Richie pushed Mike's body off his with a burst of strength, scrambled around and launched himself at Bobby, intent on ending it once and for all.

Bobby grabbed the knife and twisted himself around just as Richie landed on him. He screamed in pain as Richie drove his switchblade into Bobby's side. Richie was the worse off, though. Bobby had brought the knife around with him as he twisted his body, holding it blade upwards. Richie's momentum impaled him fully, the blade sinking into his body right up to the handle.

There the two brothers lay, staring at each other in a last moment of stillness. Richie's mouth opened, as though he intended on saying something, but all that came out was a stream of blood. As Bobby watched, the light went out of Richie's eyes, and death claimed him.

Choking back a sob, Bobby pushed Richie's now lifeless body off his own, and crawled across the floor to where Mike lay. He anticipated finding Mike dead, or close to death, so the joy he felt upon seeing that Mike's eyes were open and he was moderately alert was indescribable.

“Mike?” he whispered, at the same time covering his brother's wound with his hand to apply pressure and ease the bleeding. “Is... Is it bad?”

“Compared to having a building drop on us?” Mike rasped. “Fuck, no. Your idiot brother has shit aim. I... I don't think he hit anything vital.”

Bobby glanced over to where Richie lay.

Had,” he corrected. “He had shit aim.”

Mike looked past him to Richie, and then sighed softly.

“Not gonna say I'm sorry.”

Bobby didn't respond to that. Right then, he couldn't. Mike seemed to understand, and changed the subject.

“Can you reach the phone, Bobby?”

“I don't know. I'll try.”

“You'd better, baby brother. Because if Richie's Mal Noche buddies get here before Lieutenant Caine, we're both fucked.”

Grimacing, Bobby abandoned Mike and crawled over to the side table. With some effort, he caught the phone cord and pulled it off the table. Then, hoping to God that the phone wasn't bugged, he dialled a memorised number.

“I hate this,” Carolyn said bitterly as she and Alex waited in the hospital for news. “I'm telling you, the Starbucks thing had nothing on this.”

Calleigh, who had been instructed by Horatio to stay with the detectives, looked at them in curiosity.

“You all keep talking about Starbucks. Did something happen?”

“It's a long story,” Alex said wryly. “Basically comes down to Bobby and Mike acting like four year olds while they were still in the hospital.” She shut her eyes, and lifted one hand to pinch at the bridge of her nose. “God, I'm going to kill them both.”

“We'll find them,” Calleigh tried to assure her. “We will.”

“But will it be in time?” Alex asked softly. Calleigh didn't answer that. She couldn't answer it positively, not with any certainty. Carolyn regarded her tiredly.

“How long has it been since that phone call from Bobby?”

Calleigh didn't even need to look at her watch to be able to answer that.

“One hour and forty-five minutes.”

“That's more than long enough,” Carolyn muttered. “Damn them, why did they have to be heroes?”

“Because they care about you,” Calleigh said simply.

“If they cared, they wouldn't have offered themselves up like this!” Alex snapped and, in a fit of temper, slid off the gurney she'd been sitting on, and stormed out of the ER.

Alex strode out of the ER, around the corner, and was barely able to avoid slamming into Horatio Caine.

“Detective Eames,” Horatio said, looking at her in quiet concern. “Are you all right?”

She stared at him, incredulous that he could ask what seemed to her to be such a moronic question.

“My idiot partner and his idiot brother gave themselves up to a vicious organised crime syndicate to save me and Carolyn. They've been missing long enough to have been sliced and diced half a dozen times over, and you're standing there asking me if I'm all right?”

The tears were flowing almost before she realised it as the shock wore off and reality began to sink in.

“They're dead... aren't they?” she choked out as she finally broke down. Horatio stepped forward, slipping his arms around her in a comforting gesture. Instinct told him that she wasn't normally the kind to break down and show emotion like this, but he knew as well as anyone that the human psyche could only take so much before it reached breaking point. Alex Eames seemed to have finally reached that point.

He was still trying to decide what to say that would neither raise false hopes nor completely destroy her hopes, when his cell phone rang. Smiling reassuringly at her, Horatio pulled out his cell phone and answered the call.


Silence. Horatio frowned, wondering if it was a prank call.

“This is Lieutenant Horatio Caine,” he said in a louder, firmer voice. For a couple of seconds, there was still just silence. Then, suddenly, he caught the sound of rasping breathing – barely audible, but there all the same. Before he had a chance to speak again, a voice came over the phone.


Even as weak as it sounded, Horatio couldn't mistake that voice, and his heart skipped a beat.

“Detective Goren?”

Alex's eyes went wide but, unlike earlier, she made no attempt to snatch the phone off him.

“Detective Goren, where are you?” Horatio asked.

M... Motel...

“Which motel?” Horatio asked. “Detective, which motel is it?”

There was brief silence, followed by a muffled crash. Then, he heard Bobby's voice again.

P... Palms Motel... We're hurt... R... Richie's d... dead...”

“Okay, Detective. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to stay on the line, and we will be there very, very soon.” He held the phone out to Alex. “Keep him talking, Detective Eames. Don't let him stop.”

As Alex took the phone in trembling fingers, Horatio ducked around into the ER.

“Calleigh, let's move! We have a location. Call Tripp, and tell him to meet us at the Palms Motel on Gale Street.” He paused, his gaze flickering to Carolyn before adding quietly, “Tell him, officers down.”

Carolyn emerged from the ER after Horatio and Calleigh had gone, to find Alex still standing in the corridor, talking anxiously into the phone.

“Talk to me, Bobby. Tell me, where are you hurt?”

Side... Stabbed... in the side...

Alex sucked in a sharp breath.

“Okay, Bobby. You've got to stay with us now. Lieutenant Caine is on his way. Just hang on for a little longer, okay?”

“What about Mike?” Carolyn asked hoarsely. “Is he okay?”

“I don't know,” Alex said softly, fear in her eyes. “I really don't know.”

When the door of the motel room swung open, Bobby's first feeling was one of utter relief. That feeling didn't last as Rico Peres came in. He stood frozen in the doorway, taking in the scene before him before he snarled in anger and strode over to where Bobby lay slumped on the floor, the handpiece of the phone clutched loosely in his hand.

“You son of a bitch,” he snarled, yanking the phone from Bobby's hand and ripping the entire device away from its connection in the wall. Pulling out his gun, he pressed the barrel to Bobby's head. “You killed him, didn't you? You killed Richie.”

It wasn't a question, and Bobby made no effort to deny it.

“He k... killed himself,” Bobby whispered. Well, he thought numbly, technically it was true.

“I put a lot of time and effort into Richie,” Rico hissed. “He was a big investment for me.”

“Bad investment,” Bobby mumbled. He was losing strength as rapidly as he was losing blood. He wasn't going to be able to stay conscious for much longer.

“Be that as it may,” Rico said, “he was still my investment, and you've ruined that.” He released the safety catch on the gun. “Lights out, Detective Goren.”

Horatio arrived at the motel just ahead of Tripp.

“What's the situation, Horatio?” Tripp asked tensely.

“Rico Peres is in there,” Horatio told him. “We sighted him going into the room just as we got here. As near as we know, Richard Goren is dead, but Detective Goren and Detective Logan are both still alive. I'd like to make sure they stay that way, Frank.”

Tripp nodded.

“Okay. Let's move in.”

Bobby shut his eyes, anticipating the shot to the head that would take his life from him. Seconds passed, and nothing happened. Then, Bobby risked opening his eyes a little, and was confused to discover Rico had disappeared from crouching over the top of him. For a few seconds, he stared up at the cracked ceiling of the motel room. Then, a familiar face appeared over his.

“Detective Goren?” Horatio asked anxiously. “Are you with me?”

Bobby coughed painfully, aware of the metallic taste of blood in his mouth.

“Didn't... Didn't hear you c... come in...”

Horatio smiled faintly, and then glanced over to where a paramedic had come in and was seeing to Mike. He caught the man's eye, and the paramedic nodded in answer to the unspoken question.

“He's going to be okay, Lieutenant. But we have to get them to the hospital now.”

Horatio nodded in visible relief, and moved out of the way as a second team of paramedics entered, and moved to tend to Bobby.

“Okay. Let's get them out of here.”

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