Chapter 18: Gotta Knock a little Harder

"Thirty Two cases in the couple of weeks! It's almost as if someone declared it hunting season on witches!" Karasuma snapped as she none so gently placed a file folder on top of an already large stack. The usually calm and composed scryer softly mumbled a string of swears as the stack toppled over into a haphazard pile.

Dojima sighed also mildly exasperated as she too put aside another file. "Well at least we know it's not SOLOMON behind all of this as we first believed."

Sakaki pulled his attention away from a case file he currently was scanning at the young blonde. "Hey what about your connections?" he asked in a light yet serious tone.

"They're at a loss as well," Dojima replied a little dismayed. "The only information they were able to give me was a money trail leading strangely to Eva."

All motion stopped as they turned and looked directly at Dojima. "Eva as in Eva Granger, the ex captain of team five?" Sakaki asked surprised earning a nod from Dojima.

"This case just keeps getting weirder by the moment," Michael murmured from his workstation not turning to face the others. "Ballistics Finally came back on bullet fragments used at all the homicides as well as autopsy results."

As she usually did every weekday morning, Robin woke up early, showered, dressed and then got Kei ready for daycare. Usually after she has left the room, Amon would be in the bathroom showering, however on this particular morning, Amon chose not to dress. Pulling on his black bathrobe, he headed to the kitchen where Robin was making breakfast considering it was her turn to make breakfast.

Silently he crept up behind Robin gesturing for Kei to keep quiet earning a silent giggle from the toddler. "You should be more aware of your surroundings," he whispered in Robin's ear startling the young woman.

A startled gasp escaped her lips as she skillfully caught the cup she nearly dropped. "Amon! That's not funny" The young fire witch turned around and raised a questioning eyebrow noticing her husband still in his robe. "Shouldn't you be dressed for work?"

The smirk Amon called a smile quickly disappeared from his face as his usual dour expression reappeared. "I'm not going in today, and you're not going to class today either," he added before she could say anything.

The smile quickly disappeared from Robin's face as well replaced with a mask of annoyance. "Why not!" she demanded to know.

"It's too dangerous," Amon simply replied.

"If you're worried about Touko, I can most assuredly take care of myself…"

Amon took Robin by her hand and led her to his office. Before Robin could protest, he picked up couple of pages Michael faxed him the night before. "Those bullets were coated with a new form of Orbo more potent than the stuff Zaizen fabricated. By all means all the people who were murdered should have survived the gunshots."

Robin read over what Amon handed her a couple of times just to make sure she hadn't misread anything. She then turned her glance up to Amon. "I can still…"

"Robin Don't You Get It! It only takes One Bullet! It doesn't have to hit a vital spot! Damnit it, it doesn't even have to go in…Just graze you!" Amon snapped at his wife causing her to jump. Startled, Robin took a step back away from Amon but he pulled her close into a tight embrace. His fingers slid through her loosely bound hair knocking loose her silver hair clip. "I've waited too long to have a real family of my own again and I'll be damned if I loose it."

Fully understanding Amon's unease, Robin wrapped her arms around his torso pulling herself closer to his body tightening their embrace.

Slightly startled by Karasuma, Michael tore his attention away from his computer monitor and rubbed his eyes. "Have you even been home?" Karasuma asked as she set a cup of coffee of Michael's desk.

The young hacker took the cup of freshly brewed coffee with a grateful nod and sipped. "Not really. I really didn't want to."

"Well have you been to visit Mari?" she asked.

Michael took another sip of coffee and then turned his attention back to his computer. "Amon called, He said until Touko and this quasi hunting group has been apprehended, he will be working from his home office so he can better protect Robin and Kei.'

Karasuma scowled slightly at the young hacker. "That's good to know, but don't change the subject. Have you gone to see Mari?"

"What business is it of yours?" Michael snapped obviously agitated. Karasuma placed a hand on his shoulder to soothe him but unintentionally picked up on source of his hostility.

Miho Karasuma pulled her hand back slowly and sighed. "They don't know if she'll awaken…that's why you've been so hostile whenever we ask about her?"

Michael nodded his head and kept his eyes on the monitor. "I figure if I keep working then I won't think about her…like when Robin left."

"Ah Ha, now I get down to the bare root of the problem. You're in love with Robin."

"I was…but…"

"You were starting to fall in love with Mari. And it took how many years?" she teased lightly

Michael said nothing in response to Karasuma's words as his fingers froze in position on the keyboard.

Karasuma smiled slightly and lightly tapped his shoulder as she stepped away from the young hacker. She returned a moment later with a carrying case and set it next to Michael. "Get the hell out of here, Mari needs you."

Shocked, Michael looked down at the company issued notebook computer then at Karasuma. "Are you sure about this?"

"I'm sure. The Chief has All of Division Thirteen working on this case and you can sync that notebook to your terminal here so you can work from anywhere. So get out of here."

Without another word from the older woman, Michael did what he needed to sync the computers and was out of the office.

Touko paced back and fourth in the penthouse office casting a cursory glance at the digital time display flashing on her computer. Nearly three weeks in the city and no sign of Robin or Amon. She already knew that they were there due to the fact that Eva told her, but she couldn't get any information other than the address of a Rosaline Dewitt whom she exterminated already.

"Regrets about having killed that older woman?" Malcolm queried as he entered Touko's office.

"I have no regrets," she replied in a cavalier tone. "No regrets what so ever. She spoke in a cool manner taking a seat in the plush armchair behind her desk.

Malcolm watched with morbid curiosity as Touko picked up her cell phone and placed a call.

Michael sat next to Mari's hospital bed, his fingers idly brushing the deathly pale skin of her forearm. The young hacker rested his elbows on the mattress and held her hand in his. "Mari, when you get better and all of this is over, let's go on a nice vacation. Just the two of us traveling the world, going places we talked about." He brought her slender fingers to his lips and lightly kissed them. "Perhaps Japan. It's really beautiful there in the springtime with the blossoming sakura trees…"

As Michael talked to Mari about the different places they would go to, an African-American woman dressed in nurses scrubs entered the room carrying a chart. She smiled a warm sisterly smile at Michael when she saw him there. "I was wondering if you were going to come back. You know she only responds to your voice?"

Interrupted from his conversation with Mari, Michael looked at the woman in the green and blue print scrubs curious as to what she meant. The nurse gestured for Michel to join her on the other side of Mari's hospital bed where the vital monitors were. She showed him Mari's EEG, how it spiked while he was talking to her.

"Keep talking to her, I hear others say that when they hear a familiar voice it helps them pull out of their comas," the nurse replied before returning to her job of checking her patient.

Just as Michael sat down again, he noticed the tips of Mari's fingers were twitching as well as her eyes as if struggling to open. He quickly seized her hand in a firm yet gentle grip and softly pleaded for her to open her eyes.

Slowly, Mari opened her eyes, blurred vision turned towards Michael's voice. She tried to speak but the plastic respirator tube prevented her from speaking.

Michael smiled brightly as the doctor entered the room and removed the tube from Mari's throat causing the young lady to cough. "Where am I?" she asked, her voice raspy.

Tears of relief escaped Michael's eyes as he leaned in and kissed Mari on the forehead. "I'm so relieved," he whispered softly. "I thought I was going to loose you too."

A shimmer of recollection shined in Mari's eyes as she looked directly at Michael and a small smile touched her lips. She opened her mouth slightly to speak but was stopped when he gently touched her cheek.

"Don't speak, get your strength back," Michael smiled. "Do you want me to go get your computer for you?"

Mari's smile brightened a little more as she nodded.

Robin drummed her fingers on the immaculate table top rather Impatient at being forced to pretty much become a prisoner in her own home. She understood fully Amon's reasons, but felt he was taking things a little too extremely.

Pretending to color in his coloring book, Kei watched his mother fully aware of why she was agitated. The toddler put down his crayon and timidly approached gently tugging her sleeve. "Mama? Are you going to stay mad for a while?"

Distracted from her thoughts, Robin glanced at Kei and smiled at him. "No…why don't you go get your jacket, I'll go get your stubborn father and we'll go to the park." Kei beamed happily and scampered off to get his jacket. Robin walked to the room Amon claimed for his home office and leaned against the doorframe.

"Amon, Kei and I are going to the park," Robin declared in a straightforward tone.

"No, your not," Amon replied. "It's too dangerous."

"Then come with us."

Amon was about to refuse when Robin swiftly approached and turned off his computer monitor. He was about to protest her actions when he looked directly in her eyes and saw she was giving him the "don't-make-any-excuses-just-do-it" look he had seen many men receive from their wives.

"Do I have to light a fire under you to get you to move?" Robin asked still giving the evil eye to Amon.

Knowing when to fight, and in the case of his wife relent, Amon rose from his chair. "Okay, you win. We'll go to the park."

Robin smiled her usual gentle smile then pressed a kiss to his cheek before going to get her coat. After she left his office, Amon reached for his sidearm but hesitated. "how dangerous could a little walk in the park be?" he asked himself withdrawing his hand from the lockbox.

True to his word, Michael returned quickly to the hospital with Mari's computer. "So feeling a little better?" he asked as he took a seat next to her bed.

Slightly dulled brown eyes turned and focused on Michael while deep rose hued lips curved in a small smile. "I am now," Mari spoke softly considering her throat was still a little raw from the respirator tube.

"Happy to see me or the computer?" Michael teased smiling at Mari while holding up the modified pink and black brocade courier bag she used for her computer.

"The computer" she teased with a soft giggle at Michael's mock hurt expression. "I'm just kidding, I'm happy to see both…but you mostly." Gently Michael placed the large bag on her lap and smiled watching as she pulled out the brand new notebook computer. "Michael, this isn't my computer." She commented looking at the brand new sleek metallic pink and black case

Michael bashfully scratched his head and smiled at Mari. "Well yes and no. You see, I had this one special made for you and I was going to give it to you for your birthday but you were still sleeping. Oh by the way… Happy belated birthday."

A warm smile as well as a bashful blush touched Mari's cheeks as she took Michael's hand and pulled him close. Surprised by her action, Michael stumbled forward closer to the girl. Nearly loosing his balance, he caught himself, his face a few centimeters away from her face. Silently Mari thanked the nurse for bringing her a toothbrush while Michael was away so she felt no awkwardness with the bold move she took. Before Michael could pull back, Mari closed the short distance between the two and gave Michael a kiss on the lips.

After what seemed like several hours, Michael broke the kiss and backed away. Mari bashfully turned her gaze towards the brand new notebook computer in her lap, her unbound hair acting as a curtain hiding the deep blush on her cheeks. "While I was sleeping I realized something Michael…I um I love you," Mari softly confessed.

'I don't like this,' Amon thought to himself as he sat on a park bench watching Robin and Kei at the playground. Despite the unseasonably mild early November weather, he felt a bone-rattling chill. "I don't like this at all," he murmured to himself.

"Still talking to yourself?" a female voice spoke up behind him. "A person passing by would think you were crazy by now." Amon seethed visibly at the sound of that voice and quickly sprang to his feet. Just as he turned to face her, he found himself staring down the barrel of her gun. "I wouldn't make any sudden moves after all I do have an itchy trigger finger."

"When did you find us Eva?" Amon asked in a calm manner. He was about to react when he realized he left his sidearm at the house and mentally cursed. He was left with no other option but to call his craft, but just before he could react, the frightened scream of Kei reached his ears.

"I Said Don't Move Amon!" Eva snapped. Maintaining perfect aim with her left hand, she retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and quickly dialed a number.

She felt her patience finally about to snap when the phone rang. "Where in the hell are you Eva?" she demanded.

Malcolm watched as Touko's expression quickly changed from one of anger to, curiosity, then shock, finally settling on a pleased expression. "I'll be there in a moment. Don't let them get away. "

It seemed as if they had been sitting there forever when the sound of another car appeared. Robin stood her ground next to Amon not letting her fear of the dire situation shine through.

"Well it took a while to find you, but here you are."

Chills ran down Robin's spine as she instantly recognized the voice. "Touko."

Okay Okay please don't kill me, but this is the end of this chapter. But I promise the next chapter will be worth the wait and cliffhanger. Four more left