A/n: Well, here it is. The last chapter. This has been my longest story to date, and I hope it turned out well. Thank you to all the dedicated reviewers and faithful followers, your feedback meant so much. And thank you to BrokenSky49, who Beta read my earlier chapters.
Common Law: Laws that develop through case decisions by judges. Not enacted by legislative bodies.
It had been a week since the explosion of the warehouse in Miami, Florida, a city that either detective lost the desire to ever visit again. A week was as long a time as Detectives Mitchell and Marks needed.
The explosion had not gone without repercussions. The three men were immediately hospitalized, taken to the same hospital where, coincidentally, Samuel Wanda and Alex MacFarland Mitchell were being cared for.
Days later, when the men were finally awake and responding to treatment, they were allowed to attend the widely visited funeral for the late Lieutenant Nick Stein.
The case was closed, booked, done. Ramon Caballo had died in the explosion, as he had predicted and intended. It almost seemed too good to be true, but the detectives did not want to jinx themselves. They would take what was given to them.
And now, with the finalization of the disappearance of Wanda Caballo, Detectives Mitchell and Marks were allowed to return home.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles had never looked sweeter to Wes. He had never been the sentimental type, to his now ex-wife's dismay, but he almost felt a little emotional as he neared his car again in the airport parking lot. If he had to profess his love to anything, it would be his car.
To the average passerby, the group might have looked a little worse-for-wear. Wes, with cuts along his face and an incessant, pounding, headache, tried to mask his obvious limp as he fished for his keys. Alex, a pale woman with scratches along her arms and marks on her legs, clung to the arm of her ex as if afraid some overpowering wind might knock her over. Travis, who was nursing a few broken fingers and a ghastly cut near his ear, carried the frail Samuel Wanda atop his shoulders.
"First stop," Wes informed the group as he slid into the driver's seat. Travis took his regular spot in the passenger side. Alex and Samuel clambered into the back. "The police station. It's time Samuel was reunited with his family."
Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles, California
"You're sure they're on their way?" Pablo Wanda asked once again, squeezing his wife's hand.
"Sure, Travis called me." Captain Sutton assured them for the third time. "He told me that they're nearly here."
"It's normal for you to have questions and concerns," Dr. Ryan said soothingly. She had been called down per request of the captain; he wanted her to speak with the anxious parents. "Just know, when your son comes back, he might be a little scared. Perhaps a little different. None of this is your fault, I assure you."
"I've gone through that night so many times in my head." Mr. Wanda sighed. "The night he was taken."
"You want to blame someone," Dr. Ryan nodded. "And, since you're here, you blame yourself. You can put a face to your blame. With Mr. Caballo, you could not."
"Is it true?" Mrs. Wanda looked up, finally. "Is he dead?"
"Yeah." Captain Sutton said gruffly. "He died in an explosion, after he attacked two innocent people, not including your son."
"Two innocent people?" Dr. Ryan looked up. "Is there a reason you looked so stressed?"
The door flung open. In stumbled Wes, Travis, a woman Dr. Ryan did not recognize, and a small child.
"Sammy," Pablo stood up shakily, leaning against the desk in front of him for support.
"Momma! Daddy!" Samuel exclaimed, rushing into his parent's open arms.
Travis watched as, slowly, the small family broke down in tears of joy and relief. Even Samuel began to shake under his father's strong grasp and mother's fervent kisses. Transfixed, the three adults did not look away from Samuel. They didn't notice how everyone else in the office was staring at them.
"Daddy, I was saved! Mister Travis and Mister Wes and Mister Benjie saved me! A-and I met an angel, really, Momma! She sang to me and everything! I want to be just like Mister Wes and Travis when I grow up."
"No you don't." Wes laughed.
"Yeah, you stay the same, kid, and you'll go far." Travis assured him with a smile.
"Boys," Captain Sutton stepped forward.
Raising his eyebrows, Travis looked over. His eyes fell on his captain, and, instantly, a smile began to form on his somber face.
"Hey, Cap!" Travis and Wes bounded over to their boss—well, Travis bounded and Wes limped—and greeted him.
"You…you did a good job, boys. You found Wanda." Captain Sutton patted their shoulders. He was at a loss for words. He could not describe the fear he felt when he got a phone call from a Miami police officer, calling about the whereabouts of his two star detectives. Hospitalized. Bad condition. Explosion. One stable. One has breathing troubles. The words still rang in his ears.
"Thanks, Captain." Wes nodded. "It's…it's good to be back."
Captain Sutton peered past Travis's slightly hunched shoulder, watching as Dr. Ryan approached Alex MacFarland, gently touching her shoulder. Alex jumped, letting out a small cry.
"Hey," Wes was at her side in an instant. "Alex."
"Sorry. I'm sorry." Alex muttered, apologizing to Dr. Ryan.
"It's not a problem." Dr. Ryan assured her. "I assume you are the former Mrs. Mitchell?"
"I think you were very valiant to accompany Wes in his case."
"T-thank you." Alex nodded.
"Dr. Ryan." Wes greeted her.
"Wes," she nodded. "Welcome back. We've missed you in our sessions."
"I'm sure." Travis rolled his eyes, walking up to the group. "I'm sure they've forgotten us already."
"I think you'll be surprised to find out that you are mistaken." Dr. Ryan answered. "I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip. Perhaps you and Wes have made a real breakthrough."
Travis and Wes glanced at each other, slightly ill at the thought.
"No." Travis shook his head.
"Yeah, don't think so." Wes answered.
"So, I guess this is goodbye." Benjamin Dias rubbed the back of his head.
"Hey, man." Travis put a reassuring hand on Ben's shoulder. "We're just a phone call away, got it?"
"Who you gonna call..." Wes muttered. Ben laughed. A good, hearty laugh. It was good to hear the young man laugh again.
"Understood." Ben grinned. "Thank you, for coming to the funeral. That meant a lot."
"Of course." Wes answered. "We wouldn't have missed it."
"Thanks." Ben said again. "For everything, I mean." He looked down. "I'm better, now."
"No more cigarettes, you punk." Travis pretended to look scolding.
"They're gone." Ben held up his hands in surrender. "Promise."
"You take care of your family, now." Wes pointed at Ben.
"Of course." Ben said. "They're my life."
"Yeah," Wes whispered. "I know what you mean."
Birds chirped early the next morning, waking up Wes from his slumber. The memories of days before faded into nothing, and Wes was alone, sleeping on a familiar couch.
Throwing a soft blanket out of his way, Wes flung his legs off the couch and put his head in his hands. Every time he shut his eyes the memories of Florida flooded his subconscious. Most were memories, but other were contorted nightmares, flickering images of Ramon in the warehouse, Ben screaming over Nick's dead body, Alex being attacked, and Travis, stuffed in a box.
He knew, for a fact, that he was not the only Miami survivor with such trauma. Travis was slowly staring to remember his drugging and kidnapping in painful jolts, and Alex, his Alex, was beside herself.
Dr. Ryan had thrown words at the two of them in therapy, words Wes didn't want to try to connect with himself. Paranoia, trauma, flashbacks, anger, anxiety, Acute Stress Disorder. Captain Sutton was making the two partners do double the therapy—group sessions and private sessions consisting of just the two of them. Each session seemed to set Wes back further.
Wes peered towards the window again. It was still dark. What time was it? He reached for his phone, but it wasn't there. Frowning, Wes grabbed his charger. His phone was gone.
"Travis," Wes hissed. "Travis."
"Hmm?" Travis looked up from the screen he was glued to. "Oh."
"How did you break into my phone? It's passcode locked." Wes grabbed his phone back, glancing at what Travis had been doing.
"In my defense, my phone died." Travis held up his hands in surrender.
"You're texting?" Wes exclaimed. "Who would want to talk to you at five in the morning?"
"Don't hurt my feelings." Travis snatched Wes's phone back. "Here, I'll delete the conversation."
"Oh, no, I want to read this." Wes grabbed his phone back from where Travis was lying down. He had moved an air mattress into the family room. The two detectives had been, more or less, camping with Alex ever since they returned from Florida.
"It's just…it's someone from Miami."
"And here I thought you had retreated to celibacy."
"Jealous." Travis fake-coughed, reaching for the phone.
"No, man!" Wes held the phone up, and, exhausted, Travis did not move from his bed.
"Fine, man. Whatever. Read it. Get some tips on how to address women."
"Yes." Wes threw up his hands. "Thank goodness you're here." He scrolled up through the texts. Lydia. Lydia. Lydia. Wes didn't know anyone by the name of Lydia.
"She was Sammy's nurse." Travis whispered. "She was the angel."
Wes opened his mouth to respond.
"Don't say that she's too good for me." Travis interjected quickly. "Just don't."
"Whatever." Wes plugged his phone back into it's charger. "You want to break her heart? Go ahead."
"No, I want to go to sleep."
"Why didn't you before?"
"If you haven't noticed, sleeping hasn't really been an easy thing for me lately."
Wes didn't say anything. He had noticed, all right. Just like he was sure Travis noticed Wes's unorthodox sleeping patterns. Which were, in essence, hardly sleeping.
Upon hearing rustling from the kitchen, Wes got up, leaving Travis to sleep. He didn't know who was in the kitchen, but he definitely heard a noise, and he was going to investigate it.
"Hello?" Wes whispered, holding onto the kitchen door slightly. No answer. He pushed the door open.
Alex yelped, dropping a spoon that was in her hand. It fell to the ground with a clatter. She didn't move, she didn't reach for the silverware; she merely put her head in her hands.
"Alex." Wes edged towards her. Alex took in a deep breath, letting her hands fall to her side. When she saw it was Wes, her dull eyes lit up. Seconds later, she was in his arms.
"I didn't mean to scare you." He whispered into her hair, rocking her gently back and forth.
"I'm sorry." She spoke into his chest. "I'm sorry I'm so edgy."
"Ssh," he gently pulled back, looking into her wet eyes. "Don't apologize. You don't have to apologize for anything."
"Why are you so nice to me?" Alex asked wondrously. She shook her head in disbelief. "I kicked you out, I…I demanded a divorce, I wanted no part in you or your job or-"
Wes pressed her to him again. He didn't want to relive that time again. He just wanted to hold her. He wanted to stroke her hair and kiss her hair and-
And kiss her lips.
His hands slowly came up to cup her face. With gentle, soft movements, his thumb brushed against her soft skin. Her shaking stopped, and, slowly, she stood still.
His head dipped towards her, and she edged forward, ever so slightly. Ever so cautiously. He pressed his lips to hers.
The butterflies left his stomach immediately. Kissing her felt so familiar, so right. The soft cry that escaped her lips only motivated him even more.
Wes pulled her close, deepening their embrace. Alex wove her arms around his neck. His hands dropped to her waist. Alex was the only person who could make him feel this way. She was the only girl he had ever loved and she had gone halfway across the country to be with him.
This time, he wouldn't let her out of his sight. He needed to make sure she was safe.
"Mmm, Wes." Alex pulled back, her heart pounding against her chest. "Travis will hear."
"Yeah." Wes agreed, pressing his lips to hers once more. His hands trailed up her back.
"Wes." Alex pulled back again. "We can't do this here."
Wes sighed, placing his hands on his hips. "It's just…" he shrugged. "Travis met this girl in Miami. I don't know, I never saw her, but he kept calling her an angel."
"It got me thinking. About you. About my angel."
"That was a good one." Alex rolled her eyes. "Would you-"
Wes kissed her once more, silencing her quip. For now, all he wanted to do was hold her. All he wanted was to know that his family would be safe. His family consisting of Travis and Alex. That was something Nick Stein had taught him. Ben was his family, even though they weren't related. And that was good enough for him. So this, this small, unorthodox, arguing family Wes had pieced together, was good enough for him, and that's all that mattered.