Back at the cottage, they did another sweep of the rooms. Sonny had retrieved a device from one of their contacts back at Miami VICE that still worked and helped them make absolutely sure that Hill had not used this occasion either to place a bug or two in their home.
Then Rico called the precinct in New York. Naturally, their boss was not in, but Rico asked a colleague to take out Barnes' file and look for a partner killed on duty. Half an hour later, they had their answer: nearly four years ago, when Tom Barnes had been part a patrol officer, his partner Jennifer Melton had been killed. It had happened off-duty, and the exact events were fuzzy, but apparently Barnes and Melton had arranged to have dinner together, to which Barnes had been late. He arrived to find Melton bleeding heavily of three bullets to her chest and she had died before the paramedics had arrived. Her murder had never been solved so they couldn't tell how Barnes had come to the conclusion that David Hill had murdered her.
Simon went to bed soon after, and Rico and Sonny, by mutual, silent agreement, went outside to sit on the porch for a bit longer.
"Think there was something between Barnes and Melton?" Sonny asked after a while.
"Probably," Rico replied, knowing they agreed on that assessment.
He also knew that Sonny wouldn't have started this conversation just to settle that. He waited patiently. Finally, Sonny leant forward in his chair to rest his elbows on his legs.
"You know, some stuff from when I thought I was Burnett is still fuzzy. I've racked my brain, trying to remember where I could have met Hill. Sometimes I see flashes, but I'm not sure whether they're actual memories."
"It would be good if you remembered. But if you don't, well, you don't. We did okay so far without knowing."
"It's risky," Sonny argued.
Rico didn't reply. "When I thought you were dead, I did everything I could to find out what happened and who did it."
"Would you have killed them?" Belatedly, Sonny realized that that was not a question he should have asked.
"Yes," the other man replied, completely serious.
Sonny believed him, too. It wouldn't be the first time Rico took his revenge personally, and that probably said something about them and their time in Miami.
"We've got to keep in mind that Barnes will do anything to avenge Melton," the New Yorker continued, perhaps trying to leave the dangerous territory of their own past or simply getting back on topic. "Even if it costs him his life."
"I agree." The blond nodded.
"Be prepared for anything then," Rico concluded needlessly.
The next day was hot. It reminded Rico of a heat wave they had gone through more than once in Miami. At sea, there was a breeze at least, and the New Yorker would have found it refreshing if he hadn't been in the situation he was in. When they had gone aboard and taken stock of the people with them, he had muttered to Sonny:
"This has got to be either a joke or a trap; there are nearly more cops on this boat than drug dealers. Usually that only happens in court."
Sonny had nodded and given a bland smile when Hill came towards them. Rico had watched him since then, trying not to let him out of sight and still be surreptitious about it. Their host gave no sign of either knowing who his guests really were nor of feeling uncomfortable in any way. Quite the opposite in fact.
He introduced Nick to them again, mentioning that they were about to do business soon, Barnes was there, and some of Hill's bodyguards.
"Why don't you leave Hill to me and watch Barnes?" Sonny suggested, leaning against the railing next to his partner.
Rico gave a nod. "Alright."
And they parted again. At lunch time, they were offered a generous meal, and they sat around the table together, Hill joking and telling harmless stories, not even mentioning drugs, weapons or any other business. The only one disinclined to humor him was Barnes, which made Sonny wonder whether the man had a death wish after all – not that planning to kill a drug kingpin was a way to ensure a long life. His whole behavior pointed to him planning to do something today, no matter the cost.
Rico hated the waiting. It was weighed him down more than any other part of an operation. Sonny looked cool and collected. Once, when he passed Nick, the southerner had whispered to him to be careful. The agent hadn't given even a nod to show he understood, but Sonny knew anyway that he had.
The yacht was to return to its port around late afternoon, but not long after lunch Sonny realized that they were unlikely to make it. Instead of slowly turning around and going back to Andros, the ship continued onwards. Sonny, Rico, Nick, Barnes and Hill were still seated at the table and making conversation. Sonny made a casual remark about their course to their host and the older man frowned a bit, but laughed it off.
"My captain must have forgotten our route. Don't worry, Sonny, I'll go remind him right now."
"You do that."
He excused himself and made his way towards the cockpit. Sonny and his partner exchanged looks. A slow blink on Rico's part assured him that the other man was ready.
Unexpectedly, Barnes, who sat across from them and was fiddling with his fingers, spoke up. "Sorry, boys. I'd have loved to spare you this but I'm not letting a perfect opportunity escape."
He made to rise but with a quick move, Nick withdrew a gun from under his suit jacked and pointed it at the New Yorker cop.
"Why don't you stay a bit longer then?" It wasn't actually a question.
Sonny and Rico sat up. That was unexpected. The blond opened his mouth to say something, perhaps to try and calm the situation, but just then a shot rang out. The two former VICE detectives jumped off their chairs. Nick glanced back at where the shot had come from, somewhere behind them, and it was long enough: Barnes jumped for his arm and attempted to wrestle the gun from the agent's grip, but with a jerk of his hand, Nick threw it to the side onto the deck instead. The weapon nearly skidded into the water. Another two, successive shots rang out.
By now, Rico and Sonny had retrieved their backup weapons from identical ankle holsters. Barnes pushed past them, grabbed the gun off the floor and ran towards the cabin. Rico and Sonny raised theirs at Barnes' back, but the New Yorker cop wasn't even paying any attention to them, and they didn't want to actually shoot.
"Bloody hell," Nick cursed.
Sirens starting wailing. One of Hill's guards turned around the corner, carrying an M9 and Sonny fired.
Just then, Hill stumbled out of the door he had disappeared through before. He was bleeding from the shoulder or chest area, it wasn't quite clear which. He halted when he saw Barnes. Later, Rico would find it weird that none of them spoke before they started shooting at each other. He and Sonny couldn't risk shooting, as Barnes and Hill were standing too close to each other. It was over quickly, too. They dropped to the floor, having given off something like five shoots in total. Due to their proximity, it was unlikely either one had missed.
The sirens, Rico realized only now, stemmed from three police boats.
"I put them on alert," Nick explained. "They've been keeping an eye on us since we left port. Come on, why don't you and your partner gather up everyone else still on board."
Sonny nodded. He checked Barnes' pulse while Sonny checked Hill over, and came to the conclusion that the two men were dead. They moved on to round up the rest of Hill's men.
Simon was waiting for them impatiently when they finally reached port. Rico and Sonny shook hands with Nick to see him off, the Interpol agent probably thinking that if they never saw each other again it would still be too soon.
"It's done," Rico told his partner.
The other man looked at the ship. "Where's Barnes?"
He breathed a sigh. "Damn." Shaking his head, he added: "Couldn't have been smarter, could he?"
Rico merely shrugged, refraining from commenting. He wasn't the best person to remark on such things.
"Let's go home," Sonny said.
Simon nodded. "Good idea."
Under any other circumstances, Simon would have loved to spend a vacation here. Now, he just wanted to go back home.
They couldn't leave Andros immediately, of course. They had to arrange for Barnes' body to be transported to New York, phone their supervisors and give a report, then type it up ready to be filed. Simon arranged plane tickets and while Rico declined for himself, he also told his partner to go ahead. He wanted to take the boat with Sonny back to Miami. Simon couldn't say that he was surprised.
The trip to Miami was their way of relaxing. But it felt like a drawn-out goodbye, and Rico hated that. They spent the time fishing, tanning or drinking a couple of beers – nothing to get drunk of because falling into the ocean while drunk was not the smartest thing to do.
"Ever thought of taking a break?" Sonny asked him one night after lunch. The sun was burning down on the deck and the two men had stripped down to swim shorts. The southerner was watching his former partner speculatively from behind his shades.
Rico shrugged. "Sometimes."
"Maybe somewhere south? Where the water is warm and the drinks are cold?"
The other man chuckled. "Maybe," he replied. He knew what Sonny had said back then word for word and this wasn't it. But it was close enough. "Maybe." After another pause he asked: "Where's your phone? I think I have to call it in if I'm planning to extend my absence."
This story was written for the case story big bang on livejournal. If you go to my livejournal (username: trollmela) you will find a link to my artist NickyGabriel, who created some truely amazing art for the story.
Thank you for reading.