Disclaimer: I own nothing regarding CSI: Miami. I'd like to say that I own the original characters, but they went on strike shortly after I finished writing the story. Apparently, they wanted a union and minimum wage.
There should only be spoilers through season five (meaning the cast line-up). Nothing large, other than Nailed stands out. Also, beware of the device that measures Out-Of-Character-ness broken in the corner. Horatio decided he wanted to act differently and the others followed suit. They wanted minimum wage and a union, too. And dental insurance.
Lieutenant Horatio Caine jams the gear stick into park and hits his steering wheel for good measure before climbing out of his department-issue Hummer.
His cell phone finally rings, but he is already on the scene, cursing anything and anyone that made him take today of all days off. It doesn't help that the call is from Rick Stetler, Internal Affairs Bureau officer and asshole specialist.
The person makes him cringe; the information makes him swear—internally of course. "How long ago did the bomb detonate?"
"Half an hour. Emergency response says everyone but a few got out. No details yet, you'll have to ask Tripp."
Detective Frank Tripp, quite possibly Horatio's best friend inside and outside of the Crime Lab, always has the information Horatio needs. Of course he would be the person to talk to. Now, he just needs to know who the trapped people are, why there was a bomb in the Crime Lab, and why he's only just been notified.
When he gets past all the response vehicles, a man—bomb squad leader—attaches himself to his arm, explaining that they never got the call, at least three or four people are stuck on the third floor—third is where his team had been processing evidence—although someone with an animal name—male—has been taken by helicopter to Miami General, and the Sergeant is being uncooperative. Horatio nods to send away this annoying man, who is insinuating that Frank had something to do with the explosion with his squiggly eyebrows and curling mouth full of crooked teeth spilling excuses of why Frank didn't call the bomb squad.
He finds Frank giving a paramedic hell for trying to patch him up. There's blood running from a gash above the detective's right eyebrow and he's growling about Ryan Wolfe—"Goddamn it, kid"—buried somewhere in the rubble. "Why the hell did you pull me out? Wolfe was with me. Where's Wolfe?"
"Frank," Horatio grinds out—Ryan has already been airlifted to a nearby hospital—"what about the rest of the people?"
"They're fine," the bald man grunts, knocking another paramedic's hand away from his—barely—butterfly-bandaged forehead. "We got the threat about eight this morning, everyone 'cept Wolfe and I were out."
"Why wasn't the bomb squad alerted?"
"They were," Frank stares at his colleague. "They responded, evacuated the building, and deactivated the bomb." He leans closer, lowering his voice, "Wolfe thought it was an internal job from the bomb squad and that was what we were looking for. Evidence. We weren't close to the bomb when it went off, but Wolfe got pretty banged up."
Horatio sighs, ripping his sunglasses from his face. "I just spoke with the leader and he told me someone was already taken to Miami General."
"No, not that I'm aware of," Frank shakes his head, eyes narrowing. Horatio knows that look: Frank is trying to put clues together. "The leader, Ronch, entered the building about fifteen minutes ago, looking for Wolfe. I gave him the general area, but his clothes don't look dirty enough to have been digging through debris."
"So we know Ronch lied," Horatio clenches his teeth. "Go get taken care of, Frank." Voice tight, don't let him know. Damn it. "I think if Mr. Wolfe isn't dead yet, he might die soon. I'm going in."
"Okay, try the locker room first, that's where Wolfe and I were searching." Horatio nods, already making his way towards the twisted, blackened shell of the Crime Lab. He ducks under a fallen door, breathing gently as the stench of horribly burned wood and drywall enters his nostrils.
There are supposed to be three steps that mark the entrance of the locker room, but instead, a charred pile lies at the bottom of the old stairwell.
He yells down in his most authoritative voice. No one answers his increasingly desperate calls for one of the people he mentors.
"Mr. Wolfe? Mr. Wolfe, if you can hear me, respond."
A shuffling noise catches his attention as he lowers himself onto the edge of the doorway. He draws his gun, holding it at chest level and aiming into the darkened room. "Mr. Wolfe?"
A bloodied hand reaches around a corner, and suddenly Ryan Wolfe is falling, bleeding all over the pile of debris. Horatio lowers his gun, jumping down the slight drop, running to the side of his CSI.
Ryan does not look good; he is covered in so much blood that it is hard to tell exactly where he is bleeding from, and Horatio can see several pieces of bone sticking out of the young man's right arm. Supporting his badly injured CSI is harder than it should be since he can't carry him—too many ways he could hurt him more—and Ryan can barely walk—broken leg that looks like his arm. Ryan's face is streaked with blood, dirt, and tears. Horatio has never seen Ryan cry, not even when he had a nail in his eye. Oh, Eric told him how Ryan screamed his head off, but somehow this seems worse—Ryan's in too much pain, probably broken ribs, to even breathe.
Hang on, Mr. Wolfe, hang on.
How many times has he uttered that same phrase in the last five minutes that it took to get Ryan over to the empty stairwell? How many times has he had to satisfy himself with the wheezing of Ryan's breath to assure him there's a chance the blood loss won't kill his CSI just yet?
Suddenly, Frank is there with a couple of paramedics and a gurney. Ryan is lifted as gently as possible, but he still opens his mouth to scream. Only, he has no air to scream with. Tears fall faster and he seems to be choking. The paramedics yell things to one another, but Horatio can't understand them. All he can focus on is Ryan's wet face and broken body.
"He'll be all right, he'll be all right, he'll be all right," he chants over and over to himself, unaware of Frank placing a hand on his shoulder. He is startled when Frank speaks, a slight tremor in his voice.
"I had a couple of officers arrest Victor Ronch after you went in. We might not have enough to charge him, but we've got twenty-four hours to find something."
It could be worse, Ryan could be dead, and he's not. This is no consolation for Horatio. He should not have taken today off. Suddenly he is aware of someone screaming and a fierce pain radiating from his knuckles. Frank wraps his arms around him and tells him to calm down; they'll go check on Ryan now.
"We need to process," Horatio finds himself shaking his head, avoiding the eyes of his long-time friend. "Go get Eric and Calleigh."
Horatio pats his pockets, searching desperately for the one thing that will help restore his calm façade. He finds his sunglasses and suddenly he feels broken inside, as if the bones of his chest have decided to attack his heart and lungs. He is certain that Ryan Wolfe has never made him feel this way before. He feels as if the sunglasses clenched tightly in his fist are the epitome of his youngest colleague—something he cares about but pretends not to.
A second blast, much smaller than the first, rocks the already destroyed crime lab, knocking Horatio to the ground. Above him, falling debris makes dull thuds as it hits the floor. Outside, people are screaming, but Horatio focuses on the pain in his right hand. He straightens, turning his hand palm up to see his trademark smashed beyond recognition.
Cracked, broken, and twisted, his sunglasses lie on his palm, blood running from where the shards of the polyurethane lenses have burrowed into his skin. The pain is nothing compared to what Ryan went through, and Horatio knows he should feel grateful that Ryan was not in the building for the second bomb. Suddenly, Frank is back, yelling information at him. Ronch is still in custody, the bomb was remotely triggered, Ryan is stable and on his way to Dade General. Horatio holds out his hand to his old friend, silencing him.
"We should get you looked at," Frank whispers, seemingly afraid of Horatio Caine without his sunglasses. Horatio shakes his head, certain that neither he nor Frank will go to a hospital without the sole intention of making sure Ryan is safe.
"How the hell did this happen?" Frank looks at him, unsure whether to answer, if he even has an answer. He settles for shrugging.
Horatio leans against the doorway, watching as Ryan thrashes in the midst of a terrifying nightmare. He wants to go to him, comfort him, and he would…if Ryan were Eric or Calleigh or even Natalia. Ryan cries out, something about the bomb, his voice shaking and suddenly Horatio finds himself leaning down, brushing hair off the young man's forehead.
"Wake up," Horatio whispers, using his thumb to gently pry open one of Ryan's hazel eyes. "Wake up."
It doesn't work.
Ryan continues to toss and turn violently, tears leaking from his eyes as he whimpers and hisses as if in pain. And then Horatio thinks, 'He is in pain.' A gentle hand placed on a bruised shoulder startles Ryan enough to scream for his uncle.
Suddenly Ryan is no longer Mr. Wolfe, the outsider, the odd man out. He is Horatio's prodigy, his legacy and he wants him to awaken so as to inform him of his status change, but Ryan remains steadfastly curled in his nightmare. From the doorway, Horatio hears Ryan's uncle—Ron something—ask what's going on. Horatio can't answer him, he's too busy leaning down, trying to get Ryan to wake up.
A hand on his arm stops him from touching Ryan's forehead again. Horatio stares at Ron Something, willing him to explain. "Ryan's never woken from a nightmare without hurting the person waking him." It's a lie, Horatio knows. Ryan must have requested to never have his colleagues near him if he is incapacitated or not in control of himself. A precaution taken after the nail gun incident, Horatio is sure.
"I'm a friend," Horatio murmurs, hoping that Ron believes him. A stiff nod lets him know he's trusted. Using his recently bandaged hand, Horatio manages to shake his charge awake. There is no recognition in Ryan's eyes. Horatio notices his chest seize a little, like it did when he realized that his brother Ray was still alive.
Beside him, Ron huffs slightly, drawing Ryan's attention from the strange man to something familiar. Ryan gives him the same blank stare, and Horatio can't help feeling better about Ryan's memory loss. Ron doesn't share the same sentiments, mashing the call button repeatedly until a nurse appears.
"He doesn't remember me," the elderly man glares at the poor lady as if she's to blame for this new development. She doesn't back down, stepping up to the bed and adjusting the IV which has somehow come loose. Ryan whimpers when the nurse touches him, blinking sleepily at her. Deciding that he is not in imminent danger, he soon sleeps peacefully while the nurse ushers Horatio and Ron from the room.
Frank calls Horatio when he is two blocks from the hospital. Victor Ronch is seemingly ready to confess to his involvement in the bombing of the crime lab. Horatio doesn't speed and he doesn't use the sirens, but he still arrives at the police station—where the Crime Lab is back in its old, tiny room—within ten minutes of hanging up.
Frank waits for him, actually checking his watch as Horatio halts in front of him. "They've loaned us an interrogation room. It's a little darker than what we're used to, but it should work."
They aren't in the room five minutes before Ronch breaks down, saying it wasn't his idea and that he was only instructed to let the bombs explode.
"Mr. Ronch," Horatio interrupts him. "It might be better to start at the beginning. Don't you think?"
"I was called this morning at about seven," Ronch scrunches down in his seat until only his head and shoulders are visible above the table. "I was given direct instructions to allow two other men than my team to follow me into the Crime Lab when we would respond to a bomb threat.
"When I got the call to go into the Crime Lab at eight, everyone else for my disarming team was missing. I was threatened with their deaths if I failed to get you back to the lab to blow up. Yes, Lieutenant, you were the original target."
Frank hits the table, and Ronch pauses, turning watery eyes onto him, before returning his attention to Horatio.
"They found out that you had today off, and they flipped. They set a separate bomb that was supposed to go off before the one in your office as a lure. In this new scenario two people would die instead of just you. The bomb would be in the trace lab and it would be under the table that Ryan Wolfe would work at. He was supposed to be killed in the immediate explosion. And when you would return to the lab to investigate his murder, you were supposed to be killed by the explosion in your office."
Ronch stops, cocks his head, and laughs. "I'm sorry, I can't keep pretending I wasn't such a big part of it. It was my team that planned this assassination of you and your lackey." He straightens in his chair, a cold smile twisting his lips grotesquely. "Instead, the idiot who set the bombs blew himself up while arranging the one for your office. It was fortunate that Wolfe was in the locker room, directly below the explosion when it went off. He was badly injured which is something I will look forward to in prison."
Horatio sighs heavily, staring at Ronch. The man's eyebrows keep moving up and down. He hasn't stopped smiling since he stopped talking. Horatio's silence catches Ronch's notice, and his lips stop curving upwards.
"Take him," Horatio finally says, straightening and exiting the room, Frank following closely behind him. "Frank, I need to know what happened to you and Mr. Wolfe this morning," Horatio turns away from where the officers have begun Ronch's processing.
Frank motions towards a set of uncomfortable-looking chairs. They settle carefully, as if the edges of the seats are knives and they must balance precariously on them. "I don't know why, but Wolfe insisted on searching for a bomb. I went along with him to keep him from getting in too much trouble. Fat lot of good that did."
"We have to go now," Frank grabs Ryan's arm, yanking the CSI towards the entrance of the locker room.
"Let me go," Ryan pulls free, running back into the middle of the narrow hallway. "I have to find the bomb. It's our only evidence of the—"
An explosion rocks the building, cutting Ryan off and knocking both men down. Dust obscures Frank's vision and clogs his throat. It takes several minutes of screaming silence for him to be able to see and breathe again. When he stands up, wincing at a sharp pain that settles into a deep throb somewhere above his right eye, he can't find Ryan anywhere.
Next to him, a small fire burns. If the locker room is on fire, the whole building could burn. He needs to find Ryan quickly and get them both out of here. Part of the ceiling falls onto some of the lockers and knocks them into a loose pile. At first Frank misses the bloodied hand sticking out from under what used to be Calleigh's locker.
When he finally does see it, he starts digging around it frantically. The smoke from the fire gets worse, and his throat closes again. In the throes of a coughing fit, Frank dislodges a larger piece of ceiling material, crushing the hand.
"Frank!" Ryan's voice is thin, evidence of how much pain he is in. "Frank! Get out before it's too late!"
"Goddamn it, Wolfe! Hang on, I'll get you out!" Frank grabs at a larger piece of drywall, grunting with the effort of lifting it off Ryan. Behind him, men in masks and fire retardant material file in.
While one of the men begins dousing the flames in water with hose leading from outside, the others drag Frank away from the rubble where Ryan is slowly bleeding to death. Frank fights hard to stay with Ryan, and it is the noise from his protests, coupled with the crackling of burning drywall and the spray of the hose, that covers any sound Ryan makes.
"You caught up with me fairly quickly after that," Frank concludes. "The bomb that was in the trace lab was triggered remotely, but only after you were in the Crime Lab. We're looking at another perpetrator for this mess."
"There should be some kind of record of who responded for the bomb squad this morning. Find out who and we find our suspect."
As they stand up, one of the displaced lab techs runs by, coffee and a stack of files in his hands. He just so happens to be their Audio/Visual tech, Dan Cooper. Horatio clears his throat and Dan returns. "Do you need my assistance?"
"Yes, we need to find the records for the bomb squad's response teams."
"No problem. I can find anything if I have enough time."
Internally, Horatio fidgets the entire time Dan runs through files and cracks passwords. Outwardly, he stands stoically behind Frank. Finally the computer beeps and the search stops.
"Okay," Dan moves a few files around, showing pictures of Victor Ronch and the other members of his team. "You've got the leader, Victor Ronch, already with a record. Cops move fast when you're in their territory. You've also got wires specialist, Carl Tylers—ooh, listed as deceased. Seriously, cops move fast when it's in their building. And the last person is George Tanner, currently residing listed at 739 Biscayne Boulevard."
"Frank, let's go pick him up."
George Tanner tries to run for it when he hears the sirens approaching his residency. Unfortunately for him, his path is blocked by Horatio's Hummer. Fortunately for Horatio, he resists arrest and needs persuasion to wear the handcuffs.
Horatio's hand is bleeding again by the time Frank leads him away from where the officers are putting Tanner into a squad car.
"He doesn't need an excuse to get off free," Frank reasons as he and Horatio climb into the Hummer again. The ride back to the police station is silent; Frank possibly contemplates how best to get a solid confession out of Tanner while Horatio thinks about a young man confined to a hospital bed.
Entering the interrogation room, Frank sets a couple bottles of water on the table. Horatio waits quietly by the one-way window, a new bandage wrapped around his hand. Tanner, sitting on the only chair, appears more at ease than Ronch did at first, but as the silence stretches on, Tanner begins fidgeting nervously.
"So, Mr. Tanner," Horatio finally speaks, "you conspired to blow up the Crime Lab and kill at least two people."
"Yeah, okay, so I helped set the bombs," Tanner smiles suddenly as he reaches for one of the waters. He draws back quickly when Frank slams his hand down in front of him. "The kid was asking for it. And so were you."
"What gives you the right to decide who gets to live?" at a glance from Horatio, Frank backs away from the table.
"You detonated the bomb in the trace lab to destabilize the structure of the Crime Lab in order to kill me."
"I said I helped set the bombs. I didn't detonate any of them."
"That, Mr. Tanner, is a lie. Carl Tylers was already dead by the time that bomb detonated, and Victor Ronch was in custody. You are the only one who was unaccounted for at the time of the second explosion."
Tanner looks from Horatio to Frank and back again. Both are leaning on the table, staring at him. He notices the set line of Frank's mouth and Horatio's hard eyes. "The kid wasn't killed," he slides his chair away from the table, stopping in his attempt to stand up when the officer in the room tenses behind him. "You were barely injured." Horatio clenches his right hand, feeling the pull of the stitches and tendons. "You'll go easier on us, right?"
"You'll have a lifetime to think about it," Horatio straightens, turning his back on Tanner. "Gentlemen, take him."
Horatio stands in the doorway of Ryan's hospital room, a card signed by the CSIs and Alexx clutched tightly in his uninjured hand. He cannot make up his mind whether he should or should not interrupt the little scene unfolding in front of him.
In the room, Ryan, sitting up for the first time since he has been admitted, embraces his uncle. Tears are running down Ryan's cheeks, and he keeps whispering, "I remember."
Horatio's heart stutters with an emotion he hasn't felt in quite some time, and he raises his hand to look at the bandage wrapped around it. Unlike his sunglasses, Ryan is expected to make a full recovery, and already his memories are returning.
"Come in, please come in," Ron suddenly calls out to the lieutenant. "He remembers me!"
Horatio smiles softly, dropping his gaze to the card sitting on his palm. "Here," he offers it to Ryan. The young man takes it, tilting his head as he examines it. He opens it, staring blankly at the names messily scrawled around a neatly typed message.
Suddenly, recognition floods his face, and he shows the card to his uncle. "They're my colleagues." Ron smiles patiently, patting Ryan's arm. A thin box on the mobile tray shoved to the side of the bed catches Horatio's eye. Ryan notices his attention shift and offers it to him. "I thought you needed these earlier."
"I helped him pick them out," Ron wraps an arm around his nephew. Inside the plain white box, nestled on soft, green cloth is a pair of sunglasses subtly different from the pair that broke earlier.
"The road to recovery is long," Horatio murmurs, lifting the glasses out and weighing them in his injured palm. "We'll be there, every step of the way." He puts them on and they fit perfectly on his face.
~ The End ~
Horatio Caine led a successful revolution in out-of-character-ness that somehow relegated Eric Delko, Calleigh Duquesne, Alexx Woods, and Natalia Boa Vista to mere mentions. I apologize on his behalf.
If there are any mistakes that absolutely grab your attention, please let me know.
Thanks for reading!