Steve didn't want to be a burden. He figured he would be well enough to either return home to his own apartment or to his sister's when Jeannie went back to college that weekend. That would leave him another three weeks for recovery.

Mike was hesitant for him to leave, but thought that going to Tahoe, especially, would be a nice mental break for him. He could find a doctor and physical therapist there.

ooooooo

A few days later, Jeannie returned to Arizona. The next day, Steve was ready to head over to his sister's.

"It will be great to meet her," Mike said. "She's been worried about you. She called me several times to check on you. I didn't want to worry her too much when you got back, so I am glad you called her. I'm sure she still wasn't happy to hear about your shoulder and ribs."

"No, and I'm sure I'll hear about it the whole time I am there," Steve said dryly.

"I know you are leaving in an hour. I hope it is okay, but I did invite someone over here to see you before she picks you up."

"Oh?"

"I see the woman I invited pulling up. Just wait a minute until she gets up here."

Steve sat down on the sofa and was curious to find out who the visitor was. It was a 'woman' which was generally a good sign.

Mike unlocked to door. Steve heard a friendly voice, but couldn't quite place it.

"Oh, young man - there you are. Look at your shoulder all wrapped up. I am so sorry you were injured, but I do want to thank you for what you did."

It was Margaret Temple.

"Miss Temple, ma'am, it is so good to see you."

"I brought cookies."

"Those really good ones you made the first time I saw you?" said a voice that sounded like it came from a young child.

"Yes, dear - the very same recipe."

Mike deadpanned, "I guess I could get some milk."

For the next hour, Miss Temple visited with Steve and Mike - talking about the case, her church and how grateful she was that Steve was okay. "Artie wasn't such a bad boy. He just got in with a bad crowd. I know he regretted the very day he met with that Caleb Sanders."

As she bid her farewell, she said, "When you are recovered and you are settled back at work, I'd like for you and the Lieutenant here to come over to my house for dinner. I would so appreciate that."

"Ma'am, we would too. Thank you very much and I'll call you when I get back."

She kissed him on the cheek and said good-bye.

Mike paused for a moment as he closed the door behind him. "You are coming back, then?"

Now what is this about? Steve thought.

"What do you mean? Of course I'm coming back."

"I wasn't sure. I mean I know that Chuck Johnson wants you with him at the DEA."

"Oh," Steve said quietly. "Yeah. He came to see me a couple of times while you were at work."

"It's a great opportunity for you. I mean, you'd be at the Federal level. The whole country would be your territory. Really, the whole world. You are good. You are very good. I could understand why that would appeal to a young man such as yourself. I would never want to hold you back," Mike said all at once.

Steve was puzzled. "Do you want me to go?"

"No, of course not. I'd be very happy if you were to stay. But, Buddy boy…Steve…I just want what's best for you."

"Do you think the DEA is best for me?"

"I can't answer that. It's up for you to decide."

"Well, good. Because I did. Decide."

Mike tried not to look sad, but failed. "So you are going then?"

"I am going…to stay." He paused for a second to find the right words. "Mike, you need to understand something. The reason I do what I do here is because of people like Miss Temple. She's an innocent victim.

You know, on the one hand I meet way too many innocent victims. But on the other hand, she's what it's all about. Doing what we did gave her some justice.

I'm sure at some point the DEA will be a good option for me, but working as I did, it was an operation. It was all about becoming someone else and working through something that was situational. In Homicide, I get to try to figure out the case, but more than that, I talk to the victims. I'm just much more connected and that's so important to me.

And besides, I'm not through learning from you. You're the one that taught me all of this. You taught me how to be compassionate and to understand that everyone deserves justice. I'm not ready to quit being your student."

Mike could feel the lump in his throat. He was silent. Steve wasn't sure if he'd said something wrong,

"Didn't mean to leave you speechless with what I said," Steve cracked. "You are okay with this, right?"

"Absolutely. I…I couldn't be prouder. Thank you."

Just at that moment, there was a knock on the door.

"Ah," Steve said. "My ride. Probably just as well. Getting a bit too emotional here," he grinned as he spoke.

Mike could do nothing more than nod his head.

Steve opened the door.

"Ting!" Mike exclaimed.

"Well, that got you to speak. Yes, it's Ting," Steve smirked.

"Hello, Mike," she said as she gave Steve a kiss.

"I was expecting your sister," Mike said to Steve.

"Ting is my ride to Tahoe. She had some days coming, and we decided to spend some time together."

"I thought…I thought she was…," Mike looked at Ting. "Aren't you married?"

"Ha!" Steve responded. "That's part of her cover. Her cover is that she's a married woman who is undercover, but in real life she's single."

"I do that to discourage relationships while I'm on the job. Now that I'm off the job and Steve and I aren't technically coworkers anymore, we thought we'd go have a little fun."

Mike was over the shock of Steve's words earlier and excited that he would be coming back. "Well, Buddy boy, you are something. Okay, you two have fun. And I'll see you in three weeks. You'd better be working that shoulder after you get the okay from your doctor. I don't need you being stiff and sore. And no lollygagging when you get back."

Ting grabbed Steve's bag and they walked out the door. Steve turned around and smiled. "Bye, Mike. See you at the end of the month! Take care."

"You too, Buddy boy, you too."

finis