A SMALL WORLD
A/N: It seems I have two chapters left in me of this story. Unless my muse does something freakish, I anticipate this being the penultimate chapter. There will be one chapter following after this.
And, apparently the issue of handcuffs is an ongoing torment for the poor boys. That's the way it goes.
“So, are you clowns ever going to tell us what you found out?” Carolyn asked some time later, when Bobby and Mike had both been moved to a ward for overnight observation. The two men exchanged looks. They hadn’t intended on keeping it to themselves, of course, but at the same time, neither man was altogether certain that they were ready to share.
“It’s up to you, Bobby,” Mike said softly, in a subdued tone. Bobby grimaced.
“What happened to deciding together?”
“I defer authority.”
Bobby snorted, but didn’t argue further. The truth was, he wanted to tell them. He didn’t want to keep it from them, primarily because he knew they would only offer complete support. Finally, because he really didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, he simply blurted it out.
“It wasn’t my dad who slept with Mike’s mom. It was his dad who slept with my mom.”
Alex blinked in astonishment, and walked slowly over to her partner’s bedside.
“So… What you’re saying is…”
“I… My father wasn’t Richard Goren Snr,” Bobby whispered shakily. Mike spoke up in a soft, but steady voice.
“It was Jack Logan. Our father was Jack Logan.”
Bobby looked away, his throat starting to physically hurt him as he struggled to contain his emotions.
“I’m not a Goren. I… I don’t know who I am.”
“That’s bullshit, Bobby,” Carolyn growled. “Who you are hasn’t changed, not unless you allow it to happen. And how negatively is it really going to affect you, to know that the son of a bitch who treated you like a bit of dirt when you were a kid wasn’t your dad after all?”
Bobby drew in an unsteady breath. He had to concede to that. Her words certainly made sense... but it just wasn't as simple as that for him. He couldn't just shrug off what they'd learned, and pretend it meant nothing to him. Nothing was ever that simple.
“It makes sense, you know,” Alex murmured. “Did Richie say whether your father knew?”
“According to Richie, he did,” Bobby answered. “He said he knew all along... That it was why he treated me like that. Because I wasn't his... and he knew it.”
“Well, did he tell you anything else?” Carolyn wondered. Bobby shook his head wordlessly, looking away.
“He told us just enough to leave us with more questions,” Mike said, “and nothing more. The spiteful son of a bitch...”
“So, what now?” Alex asked, looking back to her partner, and gently touching his cheek to draw his attention back to her. “Do you have any idea what you're going to do now?”
“I don't know,” Bobby admitted. “I don't know what to do. Mom is the only one left now who could tell us what happened, but there's no guarantee she'd even remember. I just don't know.”
Alex grasped his hand in silent comfort, and looked over at Carolyn, searching for some help. She gave a slight nod, and promptly changed the topic of conversation.
“You know,” she said teasingly, “we're starting to wonder whether you two bozos even want to come back to work. You seem to be doing everything you can to avoid it.”
Mike and Bobby exchanged glances, each one silently grateful for the not so subtle change in subject matter.
“Hey,” Mike protested, “if you two hadn't let yourselves be grabbed by those Mal Noche goons, then we wouldn't have had to exchange ourselves like that.”
“Oh, so it's our fault now?” Alex retorted, walking around to Mike's bedside. He took one look at the expression on her face, and visibly cringed.
“I didn't say that... C'mon, Bobby, help me out here!”
Bobby smiled faintly. Once, he would have cheerfully let Mike sink in the quagmire of his own thoughtlessness, but now...
“Hey,” he said, knowing full well that what he was about to say was going to get him into serious trouble. “Can we help it that we were under the impression you ladies could look after yourselves?”
Alex and Carolyn looked at each other, outwardly annoyed at the remark, but inwardly grateful that he was willing to at least attempt to join in their banter. Carolyn raised an eyebrow quizically at Alex, who smirked, and made a sweeping gesture towards Bobby.
“He's all yours.”
Carolyn grinned, and motioned towards Mike.
Alex returned Carolyn's grin with a sharklike one of her own.
“Uh... what...?” Mike stammered as Alex pulled the curtain around his bed, and Carolyn did the same with Bobby. Alex leaned in lightly against him, though she took care not to bump Mike where it would hurt him. “Alex, what are you doing...?” he asked uneasily.
“Showing you that I know how to take care of myself... and you... if you'll let me.”
She reached up to cup his cheek gently.
“Do I need my handcuffs, Mike?”
He sucked in a sharp breath.
“No,” he whispered. “You don't.”
Her smile softened as she drew his head down gently to hers.
Bobby was in a similar state of trepidation as he watched Carolyn pulled the curtain closed around his bed.
“You... You're not going to handcuff me to the bed again, are you?” he asked nervously. Carolyn smiled reassuringly at him.
“I don't need to do that, do I?”
Bobby swallowed hard.
“No. I'm not going anywhere.”
Carolyn's smile widened a little. She laid her hand gently in his, and was encouraged when he closed his hand around hers and squeezed lightly.
“I'm glad to hear that,” she murmured.
Bobby stared at her wordlessly for a long moment before leaning across and brushing his lips over hers.
“Thankyou,” he whispered, his warm breath caressing her cheek.
Carolyn didn't quite understand what he was thanking her for, and she suspected he didn't really know either, so she didn't ask. Instead, as she turned back towards him and their lips met again, she murmured a sincere “You're welcome.”
In the end, Deakins made an executive decision that they would all fly back, and that he would make other arrangements for the SUV to be driven back to New York. Neither Bobby nor Mike argued, much to their partners' relief. Ultimately, all any of them wanted now was to be home again, so that they could begin to put the entire episode behind them.
So, two days later found them at the airport, awaiting a boarding call for their flight. As a condition of early release from the hospital, Mike and Bobby had both been forced to concede to be transported in wheelchairs – a situation that neither one of them was happy about, but amused Deakins and their partners no end. And that was how Horatio found them when he arrived at the departure gate to farewell them; Bobby and Mike in wheelchairs and looking less than thrilled about it, while Deakins, Alex and Carolyn all looked on in amusement at their griping.
“It's your own damn fault,” Alex pointed out, making no effort to hide her own amusement at Mike's grousing. “If you'd just done what Lieutenant Caine asked, you wouldn't have both been nearly killed.”
“Maybe not,” Bobby replied in defense of his brother. “But we might also have gone home to New York each needing a new partner.”
Alex winced a little, and decided against arguing further.
“Your partner's right, Detective Eames.”
They all looked up to find Horatio standing there, watching them with a small smile. Deakins rose up and walked over to shake his hand in greeting.
“Lieutenant. Come to make sure they do actually leave?”
Horatio laughed softly at that,
“I don't think I need to be concerned about that, Captain Deakins. Do I?”
“Hell, no,” Mike muttered. “Don't get me wrong, Lieutenant. You've got a nice city here, but...”
“There's no place like home?” Carolyn suggested when he hesitated. Mike grunted.
“For want of a better phrase? Yes.”
“Actually,” Horatio said, “I came to let you know that I caught up with Marco Vega and a couple of his bosses. The Mal Noche has apparently decided not to pursue you over what happened with Richie or Rico. The word is that Rico had been manipulating Richie, and was operating separate to the orders he'd been given by his superiors.”
“Orders that were what...?” Deakins asked. Horatio nodded towards Mike and Bobby.
“To stay well clear of your detectives, Captain. As soon as the Mal Noche learned they were in Miami, Richie was apparently warned not to make any contact. It appears that night in the bar was a deliberate act after all. Deliberate on Richie's part, though. Not yours.”
Bobby looked bitter.
“Son of a bitch never could resist taking any opportunity to try and cut me down.”
“But he made a serious mistake this time,” Horatio said. “He failed to take into account that this time, you had back-up. That was what brought him down in the end.”
Bobby nodded wordlessly. He was still coming to grips in his own mind with Richie's death, and he wasn't quite ready to face it.
“The other reason I came by,” Horatio said, sensing that a change of topic was needed, “was to thank you.”
“Thank us for what?” Mike asked sceptically. Horatio couldn't resist a chuckle.
“For helping us to bring in Rico Peres. We've been after him for a long time. Now, we have him, thanks to you.”
Mike grunted in reply.
“Sure. No problem.”
Horatio grinned, and then turned his attention to Alex and Carolyn.
“Take care of your partners, ladies. They're good men.” He then nodded in acknowledgement to Deakins. “Captain. It was good to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Deakins confirmed. “I can see now why Mack Taylor speaks so highly of you.”
With another nod, Horatio turned and headed off.
“Take care of our partners,” Carolyn snorted derisively, once he'd gone. “That's rich. They wouldn't follow orders before. What makes him think that's going to be any different now?”
Deakins grinned as he sat back down to wait for the boarding call.
“You always have your handcuffs.”
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