To Serve and Protect
Horatio Caine was a man who generally hated paperwork, but as he signed off the two files he had been looking through, he smiled. His team had once again closed two major cases – and after the trial next week, two more drug dealers would be spending time at Rikers.
Leaning back in his chair, he sighed, the information about these two had come about because of leads that had been produced from an old case. A case that he didn't really want to think about… A case where the team had purposely suppressed evidence.
Looking up, he could just see Ryan working in Trace, and Calleigh was talking to Dan about something. To his right, he could make out Natalia, now settled into the team, and working well – especially with Ryan. He began to wonder if they would ever sort their relationship out… Though fortunately it did not affect their work.
A smile crossed his face when he spotted Eric – arguing some point or other with Frank. Chuckling, he knew that Eric was feeling the pressure of having a baby at home, little Enrique was now 3 months old, and still woke up twice a night. He wondered how Kate was coping.
A knock on the door disturbed his thoughts; he looked up in surprise to see a familiar face. "Paul Clarkson… Long time no see, how was Washington?"
The FBI agent smiled and sat down on the offered seat. "Cold and boring as hell, I hate politics."
H laughed, he knew exactly how Paul felt, "So what brings you to Miami?"
Paul grinned. "Larry Wheeler is retiring. They wanted someone to take his place, and after our extremely cordial working relationship a few years ago, they decided to give me the job."
"So you just had to say yes, and I bet the wage that comes with the promotion is welcome too."
Paul laughed, "Well it'll certainly help, my kids are coming up to university age." He looked at H slyly. "So how's Mich. You decided to make an honest woman of her yet?"
Horatio blushed, Paul must have heard something. Nearly everyone in the department had started to needle him about it. Eric had joked that he was too old to get married – and now everyone was putting their opinions in.
"To be honest, we've never discussed it; I guess we're both happy with what we have."
Paul shook his head, "Come on H. All girls like to get married, sooner or later." Seeing H's expression, he changed the subject, "and little Amber."
The expression on Horatio's face changed immediately. Passing over a photo of his little girl, he smiled, "She's not so little any more, four going on forty, and as mad about horses as her mother, I have my heart in my mouth every time I see her ride. She has absolutely no fear."
Paul grinned, "Well that certainly sounds like her mother. How is Mich?"
H smiled, and the look in his eyes became a little distant. "She's fine. Working her ass off as usual, trying to get the horses ready for the season. At least Kate is back riding again. It takes some of the pressure off her."
"I hear rumours that she's been short listed for the British Olympic team."
H nodded and smiled, showing his pride in his partner's achievement. "Yeah, our selectors wanted her, but she still carries her British passport, so when the Brits declared an interest, our guys had to back off."
Paul got up to leave, "Oh well, I have to get back, great to touch bases again though H, I guess we'll be seeing a little of each other."
H nodded, "Good to see you back Paul." As the FBI agent left, H felt a cold shiver run down his spine.
Mich Bailey was laughing, Kate Delko was grumbling – she had just finished a full hours training session, and was feeling stiff all over. "I told you to take it easy, you were off nearly two months with the pregnancy, you cannot go straight back into training."
Kate flashed her an amused look, "Didn't see you taking it easy after Amber was born."
Mich pulled a face at her friend and business partner, "Yeah well if I jump off the causeway bridge, does that mean you have to follow me?"
"But I'm younger than you… I should be able to take this."
Mich chuckled, "Horses are no respecters of age Kate – you should know that by now and before you forget… I'm more stubborn than you are, I don't give in."
Kate winked, "So I've heard…"
Mich couldn't help but rise to the bait. "Oh… So what's Eric been saying now?"
Kate smiled, "Only that H told him that you and Kyra have been having disagreements again – and that you won't back down." Mich sighed, Kate and Eric were family – and it was no secret that she and 14 year old Kyra were going through a 'difficult' patch.
"Horatio has more patience with her than I do. Thank god. I think I'd go insane if he weren't here. She drives me up the wall with her smart-ass comments."
Kate smiled sympathetically, "She'll turn out all right Mich, you'll see."
A car turning into the driveway made them both turn – and smile. Nicky was back, their friend and his partner Mike had just been away for a holiday – after they had both insisted that they could cope with the barn for a week without him.
As the two stepped out of the car, smiles all round, Mich made a decision, "Kate – you and Eric got anything organised for tonight?"
Kate shook her head, "No why?"
"How about you finish up – and I'll go and prepare something for all of us. I feel like having friends for dinner."
Kate grinned, she knew Eric would not say no – Mich was a great cook – and it might actually drag him out of the lab at a decent hour. "Deal… Has H been working late too?" The look she received answered that question.
Nicky and Mike offered to help Kate finish up, so Mich could go and start cooking. "Spare ribs and salad, or pasta guys… What do you think?"
Nicky and Mike looked at each other and grinned – "Eight for dinner – why not both?" Mich laughed and shook her head, she could indeed do both.
As she walked across the yard, a cold wind seemed to come out of nowhere, causing Mich to pause. Her senses immediately went on the alert… However, the feeling went away, so Mich ignored it and moved on.
Horatio was walking to grab a coffee when his cell started ringing, smiling, he recognised the ring tone he used only for Mich. She had insisted… If he was busy – in court or on a case, he would cut the line, and she would know that he would call when he had a chance.
"Hi sweetheart, what can I do for you?" H laughed at Mich's cheeky answer. His imagination certainly could think of something. He nearly missed the next part of the conversation…. "Yeah, ok, I'll tell Eric, what's the occasion? Oh, ok… Do you need me to bring anything?" H sighed, grabbing a pen, he quickly wrote down the couple of items Mich needed.
Smiling, he knew that he had been conned – One of the items she had asked for would mean him finishing work at around 5.30pm – not later, or risk the store being closed. The message was clear… Don't stay late at work.
Looking for Eric, H found him in trace with Ryan, "Did Kate call you?"
Eric nodded "Yeah – and I'm under strict instructions to pick Enrique up from her mum by 5.30. Seems I'm under orders not to be late again for dinner."
H grinned, "makes two of us." Ryan tried to hide a chuckle, and failed. "Something to say?"
Giving his boss and colleague an amused look, he shook his head. "No, just wondering who's in charge."
Eric immediately rose to the bait. "When it comes to Enrique and the house – Kate is… for everything else… Me." Ryan started to chuckle and glanced at H.
"Oh Horatio's got everything under control." Calleigh's voice came from the door – she had overheard the comment. H gave Ryan a smug look. "Well that's what Mich tells him."
Laughter echoed around the lab. "I'll get you for that CSI Duquesne."
Calleigh winked at her boss. "Well isn't it the truth, we girls have to keep your male ego's well supported otherwise you get very upset. That's why we let you think you're in charge."
With a chuckle, she made her way to Natalia to see if her DNA results were ready, Ryan pulled a face, "I hate it when the girls get smart."
Eric grinned "Why, 'cause they're usually right? Wait till you get married."
Ryan shook his head, "Not me, I'm happy with the status quo my friend."
H backed out of the room quickly, before the boys could start picking on him. Ryan and Eric chuckled at his speedy exit. It was the one thing they could tease their boss about – as long as they didn't push it.
Sitting back in his chair, H took a slow sip of his coffee. Had Mich mentioned something to Kate – who had told Eric – who was now nudging him? The truth was, he and Mich were very happy together – but neither had discussed getting married. H put the thought to the back of his mind. One day, they might talk about it, he didn't think it would be any time soon.
Everyone was laughing... Mike was very quick witted – and was telling them stories about his and Nicky's holiday – with the usual embellishments, of course. The result was a relaxing atmosphere which Horatio loved. It helped him to forget the stresses of work – and judging by Eric's face, it was having a welcome effect there too.
He was sitting in the corner of the sofa, with Mich curled up next to him as usual, Nicky always joked that one day that end of the sofa would give way, and suggested they used the other side – to even out the wear and tear.
Dinner had been excellent – something that never failed to amaze him was how Mich could produce a five-star meal (in his opinion) in such a short space of time – especially after a days work in the barn.
Mich was happy, not only because she had her 'family' around her, but also because she saw Horatio relaxing. Several cases had failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion in court recently, and H was feeling the pressure. Thankfully an important case had gone through, though not without difficulties.
A 14 year-old girl had been abducted from outside her home in Coral Gables, and assaulted by a 40 year old man. The team had put the case together really well, but the evidence was minimal. Horatio had taken it personally that the man was going to walk due to lack of evidence, but the young girl had bravely stepped up to give evidence at the trial – against H's wishes.
Her testimony had sealed the victory for the state, and the man was safely behind bars, the girl was recovering well from her ordeal and receiving counselling, but it didn't help that H was still upset over the whole episode. He still wouldn't let Kyra go out alone, insisting on driving her to her friend's houses when they were meeting on the weekend.
Amber was trying to do a puzzle on the floor – aided by Nicky – but it was time for her to go to bed. Giving Mich a quick kiss on the cheek to ask her to move, he picked up his daughter, "Come on kitten… Time for bed." Amber pulled a face, but did as she was told, wishing everyone a good night.
Kate and Eric also made their excuses as H disappeared upstairs – as did Nicky and Mike. Mich escorted them all to the door, waving goodbye as they went their separate ways, returning to the living room, she saw the paperwork growing on her desk and grumbled to herself. She really needed to get it sorted.
When H came downstairs, he found her reading through various letters and invoices. "I thought you were going to get someone to help you with this."
Mich sighed, "Well, Kate usually does it – but while she was off, I got a bit lazy." H chuckled – Mich hated paperwork just as much as he did.
As he went to sit down, he was passed by Kyra. Mich's eldest daughter spent most of her time in her room – only eating with her 'family' – something Mich insisted on, just coming down for a snack or when she needed something. "Everything ok sweetie?" Kyra nodded. H sighed, well at least there were no arguments today. He had found himself in the middle all too often recently – trying to understand both sides of the argument.
The last one had been particularly bad. Kyra and Mich had been shouting at each other when he had arrived home from work – trying to sort things out, Kyra had told him to back off. "You're not my father." Mich had flipped – taking out her anger and frustration on the fourteen year old.
As Kyra walked out of the kitchen, there was a knock on the door, Mich turned in surprise – H also wondered who would come to the barn at this time of the evening. Kyra opened the door with a cry of delight. "Granddad! What are you doing here?"
Derek Foster smiled; he hadn't seen his granddaughter for over six years – though they spoke often through the Internet. H had been told that the Scotland Yard superintendent was Mich's father just before Amber was born. He was also Mich's contact officer when she had worked for MI5.
Horatio glanced across the room at the woman he loved and became concerned, Mich had turned pale, her face betraying her emotions. She was looking very upset.
Mich smiled as she walked across the living room to her father. She loved him a lot, but his presence here worried her. When she had left the UK, they had both been upset – Mich was never to return, for her own safety – and her father's, just in case they had been identified as MI5 agents.
The fact that he was here, in Miami, in her house, told her that there was something very serious going on, and she didn't like it. It meant that her name had been mentioned in some very high places. Giving her dad a hug, she felt the tension in his own body, which confirmed her deepest fears.
As she turned around, Horatio saw the haunted look in her eyes that he thought he had chased away for ever. His concern changed to worry, seeing the tension in Mich's shoulders, H had a feeling that he was about to hear some very bad news.
"I hoped I would catch you before you turned in for the night, my flight got in just over an hour ago and I wanted to see you before starting the rest of my holiday." Kyra had become a limpet on her grandfather's arm. Looking from her to Mich, he gave a half smile. "So, I hope you're being good for your mum." Kyra's smile faded a little.
"Do you have school tomorrow?" Checking what time she finished and if it was ok to take Kyra out for a couple of hours, Derek Foster hinted to his grand-daughter that maybe she should go to bed, "See you tomorrow Princess."
Mich was sitting next to H, alert for trouble. At first, her father kept the talk general, wanting to make sure that Kyra had, in fact, gone to bed, "I'll go and check on Kyra… While you two can catch up on a few things." H had the feeling that Derek Foster needed to tell Mich something, and may not do it while he was around.
"Actually Horatio, I need to speak to both of you. But it is for your ears only." Mich turned white and dropped her head. Her hand searching for Horatio's, H was startled – what the hell was going on? For Mich to need comfort from him this urgently… He was about to ask the question when he was interrupted.
Derek Foster took a deep breath. "Mich, we need you back on the line."
Mich was furious. "No dad… I resigned remember, I was promised. I won't go back. Forget it. The last job was hell for me, I barely managed to get through it."
Horatio's mind was in turmoil, he had not known the full history of Mich's MI5 life – and didn't really want to know – but her last job had been in Miami – and it was a secret he and his team shared. For the moment he said nothing, but waited to find out what was going on.
Derek sighed – he had known that this would be Mich's first answer – but was hoping she would come back voluntarily. Her reaction however was much stronger than he had expected. In many ways he was happy for her – she now truly had the life she wanted – and in no small part that was due to Horatio.
Looking at the two of them together, he became aware of the strength of the bond they shared, and knew that he was going to be fighting a tough battle. Instead of trying gentle persuasion, he knew he had to lay his cards on the table; Mich had to be aware that she had no choice in the matter – only options. It would mean that a rift would come between them – but hopefully it would heal in time.
"It's not a request Mich."
If H hadn't been holding her, she would have been up off the sofa, her voice turned cold, "You were supposed to remove my file dad. You promised."
Derek sighed, "I did, but I cannot erase you from people's memories."
Horatio looked closely from father to daughter, "What's this about? At least give us an idea."
Derek shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't, not until Mich is back on line." Looking at Mich's angry face, he continued, "You remember Stuart Cook?"
Mich's eyes narrowed. Of course she did – and her father knew darn well that she did, and how intimately. Horatio noticed Mich's reaction to the name and was intrigued, a slight expression had crossed Mich's face that he saw on certain occasions, but now was not the time to ask.
"He's now Director of Operations. He's prepared to throw 'Extreme measures' at you Mich."
She turned white, "Extreme measures, but dad, that's only quoted…" Mich paused, dropping her head and closing her eyes, she could not stop the tears from falling. Getting up from the chair, she turned and went outside.
Horatio was confused. What the hell had just happened? At Derek's mention of 'extreme measures', he had seen fear flash across Mich's face before the tears started, "What does it mean Derek?" Mich's father sighed.
"Extreme measures is generally used when the country's security is under high risk – for example in a wartime situation. It is very rarely used… The fact that the DO is wishing to use it to get Mich back shows you how critical the situation is."
"It means that Mich has no choice – she has to come back. If she does so voluntarily, she could do this job and leave."
"And if she's brought back under these 'Extreme Measures'?"
Derek looked at the floor, "She can be returned to active duty for another ten years."
Horatio was silent.
His whole world was being turned upside down. He knew Mich didn't want to go back to her old job, but he realised that she was not being given a choice, only options. "Is there no way out?" Derek Foster looked up at H's soft query.
"I'm afraid not Horatio – even if the two of you were married and Mich was pregnant, she would still be called back."
H was stunned, "But how?"
Derek sighed, "Being pregnant is the best cover a female agent can have." The statement chilled H's blood.
"Why did you want me here – this is clearly between you and Mich."
Foster had been waiting for the question. He was counting on H to get Mich back on line, "Normally you would not be involved – but this is not a normal situation – and though my superiors disagreed with me – I still want you to know what is going on."
"Mich was always a volatile agent, trying to track her down while she was on a job was almost impossible – but it also made her one of the best – because she could never be linked to anyone."
"I want the two of you to work together as a team, for various reasons. All I can tell you now is that I know Mich will be more focused if she has you to lean on." Standing up, Derek began to leave "I cannot tell you anything until Mich agrees to come back to work. Please try to speak to her; I cannot help if she is brought back under the extreme measures clause."
Closing the door behind Derek, H returned to the living room for a few minutes to think. Not knowing anything about the job Mich had to do made it difficult to decide, however, after only a few minutes, he gave in. Mich had to go back – like it or not. If that was how it was going to be, then they would take the lesser of two evils.
Walking up the small hill, H winced – A couple of years before a drug dealer had managed to put a bullet through his knee, and he was now feeling the result. Looking up, he noticed that Mich was looking out over the ocean, pausing to catch his breath, he thought about how to approach the situation.
"Horatio?" he smiled, her senses very rarely let her down….
She gave a half-hearted chuckle, "I knew you'd come."
Walking over to sit behind her on the log, he slid his hands around her waist and pulled her close, "Did you think I would let you work this out on your own?"
Mich smiled, "If you did, you're not the man I fell in love with." Leaning back against him, drawing strength from his presence, Mich sighed, "God Horatio, what am I going to do?"
H took a deep breath, "We…. Are going to do as we've been asked."
Mich was startled, turning around, she saw a strange expression on Horatio's face.
"What do you mean? WE?"
Horatio pulled her close. "For some reason, your dad wants me involved, he can't say why at the moment, but I get the idea that he's going against his superiors, and that it will help us if you go back voluntarily."
"Did he explain the extreme measures to you?"
H nodded, "I can't lose you for ten years Mich… If there was a way to get you out of this now, I would do it, but I don't think that's possible – so we go with the lesser of the two evils, and you pin them down to a deal. You managed to get a pretty good one last time."
Mich chuckled softly, "Yes I did… Though I nearly lost you because of it." H smiled, the haunted look had disappeared from her eyes, replaced with resolve and something a little more interesting.