A/N: This is officially the last chapter of this story. I kind of surprised myself with the abrupt way I've ended it, but I intend for it to leapfrog immediately into the next story. For anyone who hasn't worked out the mystery news by the end of this chapter - sorry. You'll have to wait for the first chapter of the new story, which I hope to have posted middle of next week.

A few weeks later

“The Sheraton?” Mike queried as the SUV pulled up in front of the luxury hotel. Deakins smiled wryly where he sat in the driver’s seat.

“No expense spared.”

“You seriously expect us to believe the brass are footing the bill for this?” Mike asked. Beside him in the backseat, Bobby smiled faintly, but said nothing.

After three weeks of driving both the doctors and the nurses literally up the wall, Bobby and Mike had finally been given the thumbs up to leave the hospital. Or, more to the point, Mike had been given the thumbs up. Bobby’s doctor would have much preferred to keep him there for at least another week, but Mike had threatened to stay as well unless they were allowed to go home together.

After weighing the pros of keeping Bobby Goren under medical supervision for another week against the cons of having Mike Logan creating havoc with the hospital staff, it had been emphatically decided to let them both go home. And, given their antics over the past couple of weeks, Deakins hadn’t been the least bit surprised by the decision.

In retrospect, it was actually pretty damned funny, although the hospital staff were divided in their opinions as to the level of hilarity that was warranted by the stunts pulled by the two detectives. Though Deakins himself would never have shown any hint of approval or amusement to their faces, he had to confess to privately being highly amused by what had gone on.

Within days of Bobby’s transfer from St Barnabas in the Bronx to Mt Sinai in Manhattan, the doctors and nursing staff had begun to encourage both men to get up and start moving around, something they were each able to do with the aid of a simple cane. It was encouragement that the staff would sorely regret giving.

From the moment that both Mike and Bobby had been able to walk to the lifts at the far end of their ward, they had caused no end of trouble for the ward staff. Several times over the last two weeks, Deakins, Alex and Carolyn had arrived to visit them, only to find them gone from their beds and the ward staff without a clue as to their whereabouts.

Three times, the errant detectives had been found goofing around with the kids in the children’s ward. Once, they’d found Bobby tucked away in a corner of the rooftop garden with a book that Alex had brought in for him, while Mike snuck into the Oncology wing and was caught chatting up a young woman who was in the middle of chemotherapy.

Twice they’d been discovered in one of the two hospital rehab gyms, throwing palm sized beanbags and medicine balls at each other from across the floor, much to the amusement of the staff who discovered them there. And once, in an incident that very nearly saw them both restrained to their beds, they nearly took out two nurses and another patient while staging a wheelchair race down the long corridor of their ward. As it was, Bobby’s plastered wrist and slowly-healing dislocated shoulder caused him to lose control of the wheelchair, sending it over and tipping him very unceremoniously onto the cold floor.

Deakins later discovered that one of their fellow Major Case detectives had thoughtfully sent them a copy of the movie Days of Thunder to watch, and they’d gotten the idea from that. It had been extremely difficult to keep a straight face while lecturing the detective in question about appropriate choices in entertainment for two hospitalized men who were developing an increasingly notorious reputation for trouble-making.

Needless to say, their respective doctors had been furious and angry threats of restraints and forced sedation had ensured placid behaviour from them both… for all of two days.

Then, in what was considered the worst infraction by the hospital staff, and possibly the funniest by their fellow detectives, just four days ago Mike and Bobby had vanished from the hospital altogether. Their disappearance sparked a panicked search, first of the hospital and then of the surrounding city blocks. Over a dozen uniforms from two nearby precincts were pulled in to look for the wayward detectives.

When they still hadn’t been found after more than two hours, and Deakins was just starting to seriously consider putting out an APB on the two of them, they were finally located half a block away from the hospital at Starbucks. A young probationary officer collecting coffee for himself and his senior partner stumbled across the two of them tucked away in a dark corner of the café, enjoyingmocha lattes and cake, compliments of the very amused Starbucks staff.

They’d had to suffer through several lectures upon arrival back at their room in the hospital, not the least of which had been from their captain, who had given them both a dressing-down that had left their ears well and truly smarting. The sting of his lecture had been dulled considerably, though, by the sound of Deakins exploding with laughter halfway down the corridor on his way out.

Their doctors had been less amused by their antics, and it had taken much pleading and many promises on Bobby and Mike’s part to avoid being physically restrained and locked in their room.

Even then, though, nothing compared to the ferocity of the anger from their partners, both of whom had been just about out of their minds with fear that something had happened to the two of them. The barbs delivered by Alex and Carolyn left Bobby and Mike feeling sheepish, to say the least, but neither detective understood just how deeply upset their partners were until they awoke the next morning to find themselves handcuffed to their beds. After twenty-four hours of being spoon-fed like babies, sponged down by the male nurses and having to pee into a cup in lieu of using the bathroom, and Bobby and Mike effectively lost the will to play truant again.

The day after that, though, their remorse was dimmed somewhat when two of their Major Case colleagues snuck in a lavish dinner of steak and potato for each of them, in appreciation of the entertainment Mike and Bobby had been providing everyone with back at the squad. They’d told them that a chart had been posted in the bullpen to keep track of each and every stunt they pulled and, when they disappeared the previous day, bets had actually been laid on how long it would take to track them down. Carl Hallon had won with the estimated time of one hour and fifty minutes, and had suggested the money go towards doing something nice for Mike and Bobby. Hence, the steak dinners.

Petersen and King left with a parting hint that they were all eagerly awaiting the next instalment in Mike and Bobby’s extra-curricular adventures. Unfortunately for all, it was at that point that the decision was made to expedite their discharge from the hospital.

And so, now they were finally going home. Admittedly, it was to mandatory bed rest, and Alex and Carolyn had both volunteered to ensure their respective partners did exactly as they were supposed to. But it was still home, and both men were more relieved by the prospect than they were able to fully express. Considering there had been a point where neither had thought they would ever see home again, any conditions set on their homecoming seemed negligible in their eyes.

First thing was first, though, and now it was time for a visit that Deakins had promised them in return for solemn promises from both not to pull anymore ‘dumb ass stunts’.

“When the Chief of Detectives got the full story… and I do mean the full story, he was willing to put Jeremy up pretty much anywhere I suggested,” Deakins explained in answer to Mike’s query about the choice of hotel.

“Full story?” Bobby queried, and Deakins nodded.

“Yes. The full story in that you two were followed from One Police Plaza that night. And that it was a fully pre-meditated attack and that you both would have died if Jeremy hadn’t had the courage to come forward.”

“Hey, have you had any luck find the kid’s aunt?” Mike wondered, swiftly changing the subject as they made their way into the hotel. Deakins nodded, glancing curiously at Mike. He’d suspected that Mike, at least, and probably Bobby as well, were finding it difficult to confront their brush with death. Mike’s most unsubtle change of topic only confirmed his theory.

“Jackson finally tracked her down yesterday. She’s married again, but apparently she and her husband are both willing to welcome Jeremy with open arms… especially after Jackson explained everything to them. They’re flying here tomorrow to get him.”

Mike sighed faintly, recalling the last time he had tried to help Jeremy to escape a nowhere life on the streets.

“I hope it works out for the kid this time.”

“We all do, Mike,” Deakins agreed softly.

Deakins took them up to the fourth floor of the hotel, and ushered them into a suite at the end of the hallway.

“So he’s been shut up in here for nearly three weeks?” Mike asked incredulously.

“Yes,” Deakins conceded, “but not on his own. It didn’t take long for the story to get out, and since then there’s been no shortage of cops offering to take a shift to keep him company. That little boy is a hero in the eyes of the NYPD, and he’s being treated accordingly.”

The sound of their entry had not gone unnoticed, and a small head appeared, poking out from the sanctuary of the bedroom. A moment later, the young face lit up, and Jeremy bounded out to them.

The physical change in the child was astonishing. He was clean, wearing new clothes that actually fitted him properly, and his unruly hair had been cut and brought under control. He no longer looked emaciated, after three weeks of three healthy meals a day, as well as the many treats that various officers brought in for him as thanks for so bravely helping two of their own.

“Mike!” Jeremy shouted, charging across the spacious floor to the three men. “You’re outta the hospital!”

Mike couldn’t hope to hide the grin on his face, and he didn’t even want to try. Ignoring the way his healing body protested, he crouched down and caught the child up in a huge hug.

“Yeah, buddy, we are. We’re gonna be fine, thanks to you.”

“Jeremy,” Deakins told him quietly, “this is Bobby. He’s the other police officer that you helped to save.”

Still clinging fiercely to Mike, Jeremy looked up at Bobby with a shy smile.

“Hi, Bobby.”

Bobby smiled warmly as he crouched down awkwardly to be at eye level with the child.

“Hi, Jeremy.” He paused, and finally said the first thing to come to mind. “Thankyou… for helping us. You took a big chance… put yourself at risk… and you saved our lives.”

Jeremy blushed furiously at the gentle praise and gratitude.

“Why don’t we go and sit down?” Deakins suggested. He didn’t add ‘before you both fall down, and can’t get up again’, but neither Bobby nor Mike missed the underlying meaning in his words. Exchanging rueful smiles, the detectives pushed themselves up with some difficulty, and the four of them retreated to the sofa and armchairs.

“You looking forward to meeting your aunt tomorrow?” Mike asked, quietly touched at the way Jeremy climbed onto the sofa beside him and effectively snuggled in against him.

“Sort of,” Jeremy answered. “I’m kinda nervous. She got married, you know.”

“We heard,” Mike confirmed. “But I bet you’ll get along fine if you just give them a chance.”

Jeremy nodded.

“I know. And behave myself, and follow all the rules.”

The three men chuckled at the child’s affectation.

“It might not be an easy transition,” Bobby mused, “but if you ever feel frustrated, like there are too many rules, just remind yourself of what life was like on the streets.”

Again, Jeremy nodded.

“Yeah. It could be cool sometimes, but mostly it was just lonely, and scary. I don’t want to go back to that again. I want a home, a proper home. I’ll follow all the rules, even if some of them are dumb.”

Mike smiled affectionately at the child, ruffling his hair lightly and giving him a quick hug.


After a moment, Jeremy drew back a little from Mike and spoke tentatively, looking from Mike to Bobby with an nervous gaze.

“What was it like?”

Mike and Bobby exchanged uneasy glances. Although they both hoped they were mistaken, they were fairly sure that they knew what he meant. Deakins was no help. He sat there in silence, watching the two of them intently to see how they would respond to the innocent question.

“What was what like?” Bobby asked, struggling to keep his voice even, and quietly hoping Jeremy didn’t mean what they thought he did.

“Being in that cage… In that building. Were you scared?”

Again, the two detectives exchanged looks. Then, Mike let out in a rush a breath that he hadn’t even been aware that he’d been holding.

“Yeah, kid,” he answered softly. “We were scared.”

“Did you know what was gonna happen? Did you know the building was gonna be blown up?”

The questions were meant innocently enough, but that didn’t make it any less painful for either man. And still Deakins stayed silent, waiting for them to answer the child.

“We knew,” Bobby confirmed, and Deakins detected the slightest tremor to his voice. “We saw an explosives pack… We knew.”

“Did you try to get out?”

Mike looked down at his right hand, which was still thickly bandaged. It hurt badly, and constantly, but he took some comfort in the pain. As his doctor at Mt Sinai had assured him, if it was hurting, then it was healing. He still didn’t know whether he would regain full use of it, but the specialist seemed certain that any impairment would be minor, and wouldn’t affect him returning to his job in Major Case.

“Yeah,” he said finally, hoarsely. “We tried to get out. We tried hard, but we were locked in good.”

“I would’a been scared,” Jeremy admitted. “But at least you weren’t alone.”

Bobby and Mike looked at each other once more, and this time there was an expression on their faces that Deakins couldn’t quite pinpoint. Mutual respect? Definitely. Friendship and understanding? Beyond any doubt. But there was something more, something deeper, and he just wasn’t sure what it was.

“I had a friend once,” Jeremy went on, oblivious to the looks exchanged between the men. “We got stuck in the back of this truck together, and it was really cold. It was a big refrigerator truck. We thought we were gonna die, you know? We got let out after a while, but we’d been so scared. My friend… he said when two people go through something like that together, when they’re really scared and they think they’re gonna die, that they become blood brothers. That’s what you two guys are. You’re blood brothers!”

At that moment, Deakins had been taking a mouthful of water, and when Jeremy made that exclamation, he choked. His eyes watered painfully as water shot up into his sinuses, and caught in his throat, and he gagged for a long moment, unable to breathe, until a strong hand thumped him solidly on the back, releasing the breath that had been fighting to get out.


It was Bobby, sounding both concerned and suspicious.

“I’m okay,” he gasped, taking another sip of water to try and stem the painful coughs that forced their way out of his body.

“Something wrong, Captain?” Mike asked, and Deakins thought he could hear the same suspicious note in his voice that was in Bobby’s. He had no cause to be surprised. His reaction had been just a little too abrupt and, dare he add, violent.

Damn, he thought as he came back to himself, and got an eyeful of the looks that both detectives were giving him. They were both going to want to know what was going on now. Damn

“You okay, Jim?” Jeremy asked, the sound of his innocent query bringing them all back to reality. Making a deliberate effort at ignoring the detectives, Deakins favoured Jeremy with a reassuring smile.

“I’m fine. It just went down the wrong way.” He stood up, and forced himself to look directly at Bobby, and then at Mike. “I have a few phone calls to make. I’ll come back for the two of you in an hour or so.”

Then, he strode out of the hotel suite without looking back.

Mike and Bobby stood in the middle of the floor, similar looks on each of their faces in the wake of Deakins’ abrupt departure.

What the

“You guys wanna order room service?” Jeremy asked enthusiastically. “We don’t have to pay for it.”

Blinking and coming back to reality, Mike swatted Jeremy lightly across the head, drawing a giggle out of the child.

“What have you been ordering, you little monkey?”

“Just ice cream,” Jeremy insisted. When both men fixed sceptical looks on him, he smiled sheepishly. “I get hungry in the middle of the night.”

Mike snorted. “That’s one bill I’m glad we’re not responsible for.”

Bobby smirked. “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Deakins hands the account in.”

“You’re on your own there, pal. I don’t want to be anywhere near the place when that volcano erupts.”

Jeremy tried to look repentant, but didn’t quite succeed.

“I guess I shouldn’t have done that, huh?”

“Don’t worry about it, kid,” Mike reassured him. “No one’s going to complain about it.”

Jeremy nodded, appeased, and flopped back onto the sofa. After a moment, Mike and Bobby sat down again as well.

“You know, Jeremy,” Bobby said quietly after a long moment of quiet, “you weren’t wrong.”

“About what?” Jeremy asked.

“About me and Mike. The… the bit about us being…”

“Blood brothers,” Mike finished off when Bobby faltered, struggling to put his thoughts into words. Bobby nodded.

“Yes. We… We went through a lot… and we didn’t really know each other very well before it happened…”

“But you’re friends now, right?” Jeremy asked eagerly.

Mike grinned, first at Jeremy, and then at Bobby.

“Yeah, kid. We are. And thanks to you, we’re both alive to be able to enjoy it.”

“I’m glad,” Jeremy declared.

“Jeremy,” Bobby asked tentatively, “can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, Bobby,” he answered cheerfully. Mike, however, shot Bobby a concerned look. He knew that tone of voice. It was the same tone Bobby had used when he asked Gina to tell them in the prison what the wardens had done to the prisoners. He made no effort to stop his friend, but he kept a close watch to see where Bobby was headed.

“You saw what happened to us on the Friday night?”

Jeremy nodded.

“Yeah. I saw Big Joe and his guys beat you up.”

“But you didn’t talk to the police until Sunday afternoon… when it was nearly too late.”

“Bobby…” Mike growled in warning, but Jeremy only smiled.

“I know, it looks strange. But Jim asked me the same thing ages ago. I guess he was wondering, too. You see, I followed when they drove off with you, but I couldn’t keep up, and the car got away from me.”

Mike raised an eyebrow.

“I thought you told the captain that you saw them put us in there.”

Again, Jeremy looked sheepish.

“I fibbed. There wasn’t enough time to tell the whole story, so I kinda just told him the real important bits.” The sheepish look became an anxious one. “I wanted him to believe me! He had to believe me. It was the only way I could think of, so I lied about seeing them take you into the building.”

“It’s okay,” Bobby reassured him quietly. “Go on.”

“Well… I wanted to go to the police straight away, but some of the police in that part of town aren’t real nice, you know? And most of ’em tell me to get lost if I try to talk to ’em. So I knew I couldn’t just go up to one and say what I saw. They probably wouldn’t believe me. And if it got back to Big Joe that I talked to the cops, then I’d be in trouble, and it wouldn’t have helped you guys at all. So I had to wait, and listen. The next night I was hanging around near Fitzroy Avenue, and a couple of the guys in Big Joe’s gang met up. One of ’em was telling about what they’d done to you guys the night before. The guy he was talking to hadn’t been there. And that’s when I heard about how they’d locked you in the cage in the basement of that apartment building. I knew the one they were talking about. One of the bigger street kids told me he’d lock me up in there if I didn’t stay off his patch. I thought he was making it up, so I went to look for myself. So, when I heard that guy talking about the cage, I knew where he meant. So then, I had to find a cop I could talk to, who’d believe me, and wouldn’t rat me out to Big Joe.”

“Why didn’t you call 911?” Bobby asked.

“I did. I got told I’d get persecuted for making phoney calls.”

Mike and Bobby exchanged grim looks over Jeremy’s head. If Jeremy had gotten a sympathetic operator, they might just have been rescued from that hellhole long before their injuries became truly life-threatening. As it was, Jeremy had clearly gotten an operator who had, perhaps, been guilty of believing one too many crank calls, and was now less inclined to accept the word of a child without adult authentication.

“And then I tried talking to a cop coming out of the police station on 89th, but he tried to take a swing at me, so I beat it from there. I was trying to figure out what to do next when I saw Jim and those two lady cops come out of the bar outside where you guys got beat up. I listened to what they said, and I knew they were the cops I had to talk to, but they drove off before I get their attention. So I went into the bar to talk to Zach. He was pretty mad, he was muttering something about lousy cops…”

“Great,” Mike muttered sourly. “I can kiss that haunt goodbye.”

“Like you would ever go back there again anyway,” Bobby retorted, his attention still on the child. “Go on Jeremy.”

“I asked Zach who the cops were, and he told me it was none of my business, and to get lost. But I told him I had to know, because I seen what happened to you guys, and I had to tell ’em. Zach was kinda surprised. He asked me what I knew, and when I told him, he told me to wait. I was scared, I nearly ran off. I thought for sure he’d gone to call Big Joe, but he didn’t. He came back and told me I had to get to One Police Plaza, and look for the Major Case Squad. He put me in a taxi and paid for it, and told the driver to take me straight to One Police Plaza. So I went there, I found out where the Major Case Squad was, and then I waited for someone to come. And eventually, Jim came.”

Bobby looked across at Mike, marvelling at the story that Jeremy had just told them.

“You’re a brave kid, Jeremy,” Mike said softly. Jeremy looked up at him, suddenly tearful.

“You helped me once. You stopped those other kids from kicking my butt, and you tried to get me off the streets. It wouldn’t have been right, not helping you.”

“Well,” Mike told him softly, “we’re grateful that you did.”

Deakins didn’t dare stop, or even slow down, until he got to the end of the hallway and walked into a waiting lift. Once the doors slid closed, he slumped back against the wall of the lift, and groaned softly. Any hope he’d had of keeping the news secret had just been blown straight to hell. He might be able to deflect Mike and Bobby’s queries for a little while, but not indefinitely. The two men made a formidable and intimidating pair, and Deakins doubted he would last long under their scrutiny.

Emerging into the hotel foyer, Deakins quickly located a secluded corner, sank into a chair and made a call.


“Detective Taylor, this is Captain Deakins.”

Captain, I was expecting to hear from you long before now.

“It’s been busy, and to be honest, I’d forgotten all about it.”

Dare I ask what refreshed your memory?

“Detectives Goren and Logan were discharged from Mt Sinai today.”


“You’ve done those tests, I assume?”

Yes, sir. There was no mistake. The results are exactly the same as the first time. It’s conclusive.

It was with some effort that Deakins withheld a sigh.

“All right, Detective. Could you have those results sent upstairs to Detectives Eames and Barek?”

Right away, sir.


Deakins ended the call, and immediately made a second call. It was picked up on the fourth ring.


“Eames, it’s Deakins. There’s going to be an envelope coming up from CSU soon for me. I’ve asked for it to given to you and Barek.”

Something you want us to look at, sir?

“No, Detective. It’s something I don’t want you to look at. Do you understand me? Do not open that envelope.”

There was momentary startled silence, and then she answered.

Yes, sir, understood. What do you want us to do with it?

“As soon as you’ve received it, I want you and Barek to get to my house and wait there. I’ll be there with Mike and Bobby in a bit over an hour.”

Your house?” Alex echoed incredulously. “Why?

“Because I’m hoping it’ll be neutral territory. Please, don’t ask questions. Just do as I say. I need you and Carolyn to be there, Alex, because you two are the only ones I completely trust to keep your partners in check.”

There was another long silence, and then Alex responded tentatively.

All right, Captain. We’ll get going as soon as the envelope’s delivered.”

Deakins let out a sigh of gratitude, then.

“Good. Thankyou.”

He ended that call, paused to collect himself, and then began to dial his home phone number, to warn Angie of the storm that was about to hit their house.


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