Summary: You should read "HDTH", the original, before you read this. Our story continues, as assorted women come out of the woodwork…
Disclaimer: Plese refer to this disclaimer for the duration of this experience: CBS et al, in their infinite wisdom, may claim all profits made by this little story located on a free fan fiction website. (Krumholtz & Morrow are due for big raises, anyway.)
Chapter 1: Miss Me, Much?
Don had woken up with a headache, and it wasn't getting any better. He had also woken up with the strangest feeling. It was sort of like his cop's "hinky" instinct, but there was something different about it. For one thing, all their open cases were progressing nicely, right now. Of course, that might be enough to indicate "hinky", right there. In addition, however, it didn't really feel work-related. Now, that was definitely hinky in and of itself, because damn near everything in his life was work-related.
Still, when they caught the homicide case that appeared to linked to a smuggling operation, he studied it carefully. LAPD had ID'd the vic as a ring-leader in a well-known – but so far impossible to bust – cartel, and kicked it to the FBI. Now, Don had his team gathered in a conference room, waiting for their assignments.
He knew they were taking turns exchanging looks with each other and staring at him – Don was not usually a hesitant team leader. Frankly, he couldn't really see anything out of the ordinary here yet, either…but that feeling had to come from somewhere. It always did.
He finally sighed quietly and walked around the end of the conference table. The new position enabled him to see out into the bullpen, and he looked out toward it so that he could avoid making eye contact with anybody. "Okay," he finally started. "Megan, David, I want you two…"
Don abruptly stopped speaking and the color drained from his face while his jaw threatened to dislodge itself and hit the floor. His eyes first widened, then seemed to glaze over for a moment. Megan started toward him anxiously. "Don? What's wrong?" She barked a command into the general airspace behind her. "Colby, go get some water!"
As Colby turned to open the door of the conference room, he narrowly avoided being hit by it as it swung inwards. He was surprised to see Director Merrick there, along with two people who had to be official, but it didn't render him speechless, as it apparently had Don. "Director."
Merrick ushered the others in the room and took in Don's gray face – as well as the direction of his eyes. He cleared his throat. "Special Agent Don Eppes," he said, indicating Don with a tilt of his head. "The Team Leader of the unit that has been assigned to this case. Next to him is Special Agent Megan Reeves. This is Special Agent Colby Granger, and seated at the table is Special Agent David Sinclair." He focused again on Don, and spoke succinctly. "These are Agents Andy Carter and Colleen Martinez, DEA. They'll be working closely with you on the smuggling homicide."
After a nondescript choking sound, Don finally managed one word. "Martinez?"
The female DEA Agent smiled brilliantly. "No relation, trust me," she laughed. "But that is my real name. Just a coincidence." She broke off her laugh nervously and thrust a hand at Colby, who was closest to her. "Happy to meet you, Agent. I believe you were on vacation when I was here a few months ago in my NSA capacity." After nearly breaking his hand, she glanced at Megan. "Nice to see you again."
Colby may have been on vacation when Charlie was kidnapped and nearly killed by the terrorist he was trying to help the NSA apprehend, but he had heard all about it, since. Not from Don. The Team Leader didn't have much to say about Charlie's sudden false marriage, divorce, and NSA affiliation. But things had still been so messy when he had returned from Idaho – and David from his few days in Vegas – that Megan had taken them out to lunch and provided a synopsis. She even told them that the female agent and Charlie had both severed their ties with the NSA. Then she told them that if they knew what was good for them, they would never mention it. To anyone. Especially an Eppes.
Now, Colby understood the look on Don's face, and he dropped heavily but silently into a chair at the table. She'd joined the DEA? And now they were supposed to work with her? And why didn't anybody mention how hot she was? He and David locked shocked eyes.
Megan was the first to recover. "Agents Carter and…and…Martinez, excuse us, but we had not been informed the DEA would be joining us on this. We're just a little…unprepared."
Merrick crossed his arms over his chest. "This is your notice," he said. "I just found out myself. The DEA has covered a lot of ground on this cartel already, and there is no sense in duplicating our efforts." He spoke gruffly, and didn't really look at anyone.
Don managed to take his eyes off Colleen long enough to look at his boss. "I can't work with her," he stated flatly, and all eyes turned to him.
Colby, for one, was stunned. Don Eppes was the consummate G-man. He worked when he was sick. He worked when he was injured. He worked when he didn't get along with or like anyone else who was working with him. He hadn't had a real vacation since Colby had known him. And now he was standing two feet in front of him, staring at the Director, adamantly refusing to do his job. Colby thought he finally saw Don's breaking point: Come close to getting his little brother killed, and there was no redemption for you.
As if that revelation weren't enough, Merrick's response would have knocked Colby over if he had still been attempting to stand. "I anticipated that," he said. "As you know, we're extremely short-handed right now. However, you do have almost six weeks of vacation and personal time backlogged. I suggest you take some now. Strongly."
Don swallowed, and couldn't seem to look away from the Director. It was almost as if he was trying not to look at Colleen, again. Merrick waited a moment and then continued speaking, still looking at Don. "Agent Reeves, do you have similar objections? The remainder of this unit will work with Agents Carter and Martinez to close this case."
Megan found herself in an unenviable position. Her loyalty to Don and the entire Eppes family pushed her to say "yes, I object". Yet her concern for her remaining team members, David and Colby, left her reluctant to leave them short two people. Reluctantly, she also knew that she actually kind-of liked Colleen – and the guilt of that realization almost sent her over the edge. In the end, she looked at Don, who wasn't looking back, and spoke quietly. "I feel that I need to stay," she said apologetically.
Don finally broke his eye contact with Merrick and looked over at Megan; then at Colby and David, silent and wide-eyed; then back to Megan. He nodded. "It's all right," he assured her. "I know you'll keep the team safe from whatever the hell she really is this time."
Without another word, Don went around the far end of the table, brushed past Director Merrick, and passed through the door. Six pair of eyes tracked him as he stopped long enough at his desk to pick up his jacket, and then strode through the bullpen toward the elevators.