A/N - I wrote this short fic about a year ago but never got around to posting it. I hope you all enjoy it.
It had been a bad day from the start, Don mused as he squatted behind his now bullet riddled SUV. He glanced over again to where Megan and Colby were pinned by heavy fire. David's car looked worse than his. All its windows were shattered and the doors were starting to look like they were more holes than bodywork. He hoped the remains would keep his colleagues safe as they crouched behind it.
This should have been a simple Q&A session; just a few witnesses to interview, but they had obviously approached the warehouse at the wrong time. The doorman had taken one look at them and scarpered. Within seconds the first shot had rung out and the three agents had rapidly running for cover. Don could hear Colby shouting down his phone and knew he would be updating his partner who was safely tucked up in the bullpen right now.
Taking a deep breath Don sprung up and fired four aimed shots at the perps. A satisfying grunt told him one of his bullets had hit it's mark. He ducked down again as he was rewarded with a hail of automatic fire and he smiled as a double volley of controlled shots burst from his left. His team would have taken full advantage of the perps focus on him and from the yells and curses, their aim had been good.
He counted to five and then jumped up and fired again, pleased to see the other side's numbers greatly reduced. Even better, the distinctive wail of multiple sirens could be heard echoing from the nearby freeway. It wouldn't just be the three of them for long.
As he ducked back down, he glanced back at Megan and she gave him a quick thumbs up, letting him know they were both still in one piece before taking her turn to get off a few aimed shots.
Don allowed himself a moments pride at his team. They had reacted instantly to the threat and held their own against at least eight gunman, all of who were armed with automatic weapons and what seemed to be a staggering amount of ammunition.
He didn't think he would have made it through this last month without them. Robin's sudden departure had knocked him sideways, coming as it had with no warning or obvious reason. Megan had been the one to talk him though it and had literally chewed him out when he had made a play for Liz.
He smiled as he remembered her marching him into one of the interrogation rooms and closing all the blinds. She had been ruthless but her words had gotten through.
'You're in love with Robin. It doesn't matter that she's gone, or how angry you are right now. Starting a new relationship is just going to hurt you and Liz. Take some time to grieve for what you've lost Don.'
He pushed the memories away as he saw Colby throw himself back to the floor and pop the clip from his glock. He needed to reload which meant he needed cover. Thankfully the sirens were closer now. Don was pretty sure he only had five rounds left himself. He nodded at his colleague and positioned himself back in the firing line, quickly taking down the nearest perp. He had fired off three rounds when the impact hit him squarely in the chest, throwing him back onto the hot concrete.
For a second, it didn't compute what had happened, but then the pain came like liquid fire along his breastbone and underneath. He thought he heard a yell from Colby but the sound of the approaching squad cars were drowning everything else now.
I've been shot, he thought with mounting horror.
Then the fear kicked in. Fear because he knew this wasn't like any gunshot he'd taken before. This was a chest shot, with no vest...and it had put him down. Don tried to take a deep breath and then realised he had another reason to be fearful. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't get air into his lungs.
The gunshots around him seemed to increase in tempo and there were multiple people shouting now, but he tried to drown that out in the constant battle for air. As quickly as it had began, the noise ended and then there were pounding footsteps and hands grabbing at his arms. He opened his eyes to find Megan and Colby crouched over him and a uniformed officer rattling off instructions into his radio.
'Jesus Don!' Colby exclaimed, the horror on his face communicating more than Don really wanted to know.
Megan placed her hands over the left side of his chest and with a muttered apology, pressed down,...hard.
Despite his best efforts Don couldn't suppress the cry of agony that burst from him and he saw his partners eyes flood with tears.
'I'm so sorry,' she whispered and he nodded briefly to say it's ok the best way he could. He felt Colby's hand gripping his right shoulder tightly and tried to focus on the other man but everything was starting to go hazy. He was panting now; short painful breaths that didn't seem to be doing the job and he knew from the urgent tone of the officer on the radio that he didn't look good.
Oh God, Dad! he thought desperately. Charlie! They didn't need this; they didn't need another funeral. He thought of Robin and wondered briefly if she'd care? If she'd have any tears for him?
The world greyed out for a few moments and Don came around to multiple voices shouting at him.
'Don! No, you have to stay awake.'
'Don't do this dammit!'
He forced his eyes open and groaned at the wave of agony that flooded through him.
'That's it Don. Stay with us buddy.' Colby's hand was now resting on his forehead and Don was reminded of his father's touch when he was ill. He looked up at his partner and was floored by the look on her face. Face streaked with tears, she looked devastated. He tried to take a deep breath and set off a round of coughing. Except it didn't sound like coughing, it sounded more like gurgling.
Don arched off the floor in panic as fluid flooded his mouth and throat and the last of his air was snatched away.
'Oh God,' Megan whispered as blood began to pour out of the side of Don's mouth and nose.
'Don,' Colby cried brokenly as his bosses eyes drifted shut and his body became lax beneath his hands.
Don's last conscious thought was of his brother. Please stay out of the garage buddy. Dad needs you.
Then the world faded away.
It had taken two uniformed officers to pull Megan off her partners still form as the EMT's had taken her place. She stood trembling in Colby's arms as the two men had intubated their friend and placed an emergency chest drain. The puddle of blood had grown outwards and Colby shuddered as a suction device in Dons airway tube dragged out more of the vital fluid.
'Agent Reeves?' A quiet voice to her side caused Megan and Colby to turn. Sergeant Walker stood a few feet away, his expression grave as he glanced at the fallen agent before them.
'I thought you should know, we just took Carlito Mendez into custody.'
It took a moment for the words to sink in and then Colby burst out, 'Mendez! Bloody hell! No wonder they were armed to the teeth.'
Gary smiled wryly. 'Yeah well, you guys just nabbed number three on Americas most wanted; and a good portion of his inner circle. None of us had Intel he was in LA so I guess it was right place, right time?'
'Or wrong place, wrong time,' Colby added soberly as he turned back to watch the medics working on his boss.
Something in the tone of the EMT's voices grabbed the attention of everyone standing around and Megan stiffened, unconsciously grabbing Colby's arm. The two medics sat back away from Don for a moment and the officers looked at each other in confusion. What were they waiting for?
A moment later they got their answer as Don's body jerked from the floor briefly.
'Oh God,' Colby whispered. They were shocking him, they were trying to restart his heart. He looked in confusion for the paddles he had seen used on TV but then saw the two large orange stickers placed strategically on their colleagues chest. Wires led from the pads, back to the machine.
One of the EMT's adjusted something on one of the dials and they both sat back again. There was a moment's pause and then Don jerked again. Everyone gathered around held their breaths as the medics checked the screen and then one of them nodded.
'Ok, that's as good as we're gonna get. Let's go.'
Within seconds they had Don bundled on a gurney and loaded onto the ambulance. Megan and Colby stood shell shocked as the ambulance screeched away.
'I should have...I should...he shouldn't have been alone..'
'Agent Reeves, I think they probably needed the room to work. They are taking him to UCLA.' Gary said softly.
Colby mentally shook himself.
You're at a crime scene dammit; get it together.
He started cataloguing what was happening and noted with relief that a second FBI team was already on scene and snapping pictures of what was left of both David and Don's cars. He gave Megan's arm a squeeze.
'I'm going to hand over to Agent Davis and then we can go get Alan.'
Megan winced as she thought of Don's father and Charlie! Charlie wasn't going to cope well with this. She needed to get her head back in the game.
'Thank you for your assistance Sergeant Walker. You and your guys arrived at just the right moment.'
Gary smiled softly and squeezed her arm. 'Happy to help, let me know when you are ready for a ride and I will have one of my officers play driver. I suspect neither of these are going anywhere soon.' He indicated the two SUV's.
Megan nodded and moved away, striding swiftly to where Colby was briefing the new team.
Agent Angela Davis looked up and smiled sympathetically as she approached.
'Hell of a job you guys did here,' she said proudly. 'There were seven of them out here and another three up in the top level. They were all carrying semi's and you took down six. We've got all the live ones in custody and the DA's already singing for joy. They've been after some of this group for years. We just didn't know they were back in town. What brought you out here?'
Colby snorted. 'Picked up a new case this morning about an aggravated assault on the dock last night. One of the witnesses on the scene is meant to be working at a factory here. We didn't have a number so knocked on the security window here for directions. We'd have been none the wiser if the guy had just directed us but he saw the badge and panicked.'
The other agent shook her head in amazement and then glanced back worriedly at Reeves who was frankly looking shell shocked.
'How's Agent Eppes?' she asked quietly and Megan shook her head.
'He's...It's not good. We need to go get his family.'
Davis nodded and shoed them away. 'Go; we've got the scene. LAPD have the bad guys so there's nothing urgent here.'
She handed Colby a set of keys. 'Mine's the bus on the left. One of my crew can give me a lift back. I'm bay 12C in the garage.'
Colby muttered his thanks and led Megan to where their colleague had parked her SVU. She slid wordlessly into the passenger seat and stared at her hands silently. They were stained red with Don's blood and the sleeves of her blue shirt were now a dirty brown. She could tell by the wetness on her knees that her jeans were saturated too.
She didn't want to show up at the Craftsman like this but knew that there really wasn't time to change. Don had looked bad and might not have much time. She pushed that thought away with a fierce shove and reached for her seatbelt as Colby put the bus in gear.
'How do you want to play this?' Colby asked quietly and she knew he was thinking of her role as profiler now. How to give bad news in the best possible way? She grimaced.
'I'm most worried about Charlie. I'm not sure how to handle that one.'
'Will he be at Cal Sci?' Colby asked and she nodded.
'I assume so, I wonder if...,' she trailed off and reached for her phone, snapping it open and hitting one of her speed dials.
'Larry, hi...' There was a moment's pause as he greeted her and then she began one of the most difficult conversations she'd ever had.
'Larry, is Charlie with you?'
'He's teaching a class at the moment. He should be finished in about ten minutes if you want him to call you back?'
'No Larry, I need...,' she paused and took a deep breath.
'Megan? Are you all right?'
Her boyfriends gentle tone nearly broke her and she pressed her hand to her mouth for a moment, aware of Colby's concerned glance.
'Larry, I need you to do something for me.'
'Anything,' Larry said earnestly, hearing the break in her voice.
'Don's been hurt Larry and it's bad.'
'My goodness! What can I do?'
Megan almost sagged in relief at his steady tone. 'I need you to clear any other commitments that Charlie has this afternoon and drive him to UCLA Emergency. It's best if he doesn't know any details yet. I think that will help him to stay together until he's at the hospital. I'm sorry to leave this with you but...'
'No, no that's fine,' he reassured. 'I'm glad I can help. Are you going to get Alan?'
'Yes, we are on our way now. We'll meet you there.'
There was a pause and then Larry's voice came through, speaking softly and sounding upset for the first time. 'Megan? Are you hurt?'
She laughed brokenly. 'No I'm fine...it's just...Don...'
'I know,' he said with compassion. 'I know how much you care for each other. I'll see you soon.'
Megan rang off, unable to continue the conversation and knowing Larry would understand. She closed her eyes and rested her head back against the headrest with a sigh. They all knew this was part of the job, that this was a risk they took every day but she had never thought that it would be Don who...
...who would what? She berated herself. Die? Get badly hurt? The image of blood pouring out of Dons mouth and nose invaded her thoughts and she drew in a shaky breath. The truth was, she was pretty sure he was already gone. She couldn't imagine surviving an injury like that and the bullet hole had been just above his heart.
It just wasn't fair. Don was the nicest man she knew and he deserved more. He deserved to have a family of his own. He deserved to not have Robin walk out on him when he was just beginning to let his guard down. He deserved some reward for the bad guys he had taken off the streets; all the innocents he had saved.
She bit her lip and turned to face Colby.
'Do you think I should call Robin?'
Colby frowned. 'I don't know Megan. She's in DC and I thought that was over?'
'I don't think it was for Don,' she answered quietly and Colby let out a breath.
'Man, I don't know if I want to let her near him just now. I'm as pissed at her as you are.'
'I'm not..,' Megan started to protest and then turned away with a huff. 'Yeah, I'm pretty pissed. He loved her you know. She broke his heart.'
Colby paused and then said softly. 'You're gonna have to watch that around Alan you know.'
'What? Railing on the prosecutor bitch?'
Colby smiled sadly. 'No Megan. I don't know if you realise it, but you're using the past tense when you talk of Don.'
She hissed in a breath in shock. 'God Colby, I'm sorry! I didn't mean too...'
Colby reached out and squeezed her knee. 'It's OK. I was there too. I'm not sure if..., well the odds are against him but Alan's gonna go to pieces on us if he thinks...'
She nodded fiercely and wiped at her face as they pulled into the quiet street where the Eppes spent most of their time.
'Did you speak to David?' She asked, putting off the moment she would have to step out of the SVC.
Colby frowned at the thought of his colleague. He hadn't trusted himself to call his partner now. He feared he would break down once he saw him.
'Not yet. I heard his voice on the radio when LAPD were giving a sit rep so I know he's up to speed. I wouldn't be surprised if he's already on his way to UCLA.'
'He'll be blaming himself that he wasn't there,' Megan warned and Colby sighed.
'Yeah, I already thought of that. I might give him some stuff to do to make him feel useful. Might counteract it a bit.'
They both looked at each other briefly, taking strength for what they had to do and then climbed out of the SUV. Before they had even reached the bottom steps, the door opened and Alan emerged, wearing his coat and carrying a small rucksack.
He paused and his eyes took in both of their appearances, stopping to stare at Colby's trousers. Megan winced as she noticed the large stains on her colleagues knees from where he had knelt at their friends side.
Alan's eyes met hers and she saw the fear there.
'Alan...,' she began but he interrupted before she could get any further.
'David called,' he said brokenly, but his eyes held hers steadily. 'He told me what happened and that you were coming.' A sad smile graced his features. 'I think he thought you had both had enough to deal with today without having to break bad news.'
A flood of affection for their colleague swept though her and she exchanged a brief glance with Colby before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around the elder Eppes.
'Do you have everything?' Colby asked gently and Alan pulled back slightly and handed over the small rucksack.
'I think so. The house is locked and I have my keys and cell phone. I brought some sweat pants and tees for Don...you know, in case he needs them.'
Megan led him gently to the car and slipped into the back seat with him. The drive was completely silent and Alan held her hand the whole way, his fingers trembling slightly under hers. Megan wasn't sure she could speak, even if she wanted to.
Robin took an appreciative sip of her hot coffee and smiled as she looked out of the window onto downtown DC. She had just submitted the final documents for the case and was enjoying that extremely rare moment when there were no outstanding cases or prep for the next one. She knew it would only be a matter of hours before that was rectified but for now she could just gloat about the latest win.
Her first month in DC had been manic and she had been relieved to have the busyness. It stopped her thinking about what she had done; about the cowardliness she had shown. Working alongside her father hadn't helped either. He had an unsettling ability to see right through her and had grilled her mercilessly about her sudden move.
She remembered the conversation with a small sigh.
'It's not that I'm not delighted to have you here for a bit, but why the sudden departure? I thought you were settled in LA?'
'I am Dad, this isn't permanent. I'm on loan for a few cases that's all and I wanted to see you.'
The older lawyer frowned disbelievingly. 'I would be flattered to believe that was true but I don't.'
Robin had ignored the comment and reached for a case file to study.
'Your mother thinks it's boyfriend trouble,' he probed with a smile in his voice.
'Yes well. Mother is a gossip and thinks too much.'
Malcolm Brookes laughed and dropped into the chair opposite her.
'Both those points are true but don't explain how it is that you are here minus said boyfriend, who I believe has lasted for a staggering eight months!'
Robin frowned at her father. 'I've had longer relationships than that before.'
Malcolm snorted. 'Not recently you haven't and your mother thought this one might be serious. She bought a new hat,' he added cheekily and Robin had smiled despite her attempt to be annoyed at his intrusive questioning.
He sighed quietly and reached across the table to take her hand.
'Seriously sweetheart, are you OK?'
Robin grimaced and rubbed the bridge of her nose. 'It just got a bit intense and I didn't know what to do.'
'What do mean intense? Creepy intense or volatile...?'
'God! No Dad! I didn't mean...,' Robin squeezed her father's hand reassuringly. The trouble with constantly prosecuting scumbags was that you started to expect them to turn up everywhere.
'He's a really sweet, romantic guy. It's just I was starting to think that he was going to try and move in with me, or propose or something and I guess I panicked.'
Malcolm sighed and gently caressed his daughters wrist with his thumb. 'Well it's probably for the best if you are not sure how you feel about him. It's best not to lead the poor guy on if you're not sure he's the one.'
Robin had bitten her lip then and fought the flood of tears that threatened to come, but her father had seen it anyway.
'Oh sweetheart,' he said softly. 'If it's your own feelings you're scared of then you are going to miss out on some of the best bits of life.' He paused and asked gently. 'What was his name again? I think I've forgotten?'
Robin smiled tearfully. 'That would be because I never told you father. The whole background checking my boyfriends got old when I seventeen.'
He chuckled. 'Can't blame a guy a trying to find out who his daughter's in love with.'
He had smiled sadly and given her a hug when she didn't correct his statement and hoped she would find the courage to salvage what she had so fearfully thrown away.
They had sat and talked for a while that day and her father had been careful to not commit her to any more than one case at a time, so she could return to LA if she wanted. She wondered now if she should take the chance and head back. If Don had followed his usual pattern, he would have a new girlfriend by now and she would only have herself to blame.
A hand on her shoulder interrupted her thoughts and her father appeared holding two cups of coffee.
'I thought you might want a cup of the good stuff, but I see you have beaten me to it.' He indicated the identical cup she already held.
She smiled at him and leant back against the full sized window.
'I was just thinking about you?' she said with a smile and he threw up a hand in mock surrender.
'Ut oh! Whatever you're pissed at, I didn't do it.'
She laughed. 'Sooo defensive Mr Brookes. Is that a guilty conscience?'
He laughed and sat on the edge of her desk.
'So the LA office just called.'
She smiled wryly. 'Did they now? And what might that be about?'
'It seems they might be trying to tempt their favourite Prosecutor back with a juicy case. The illustrious Mr Mendez no less.'
Robins eyebrows rose. 'Carlito, really? They got him?'
'Mmm hmm, arrested a few hours ago in downtown LA so California gets first dibs.'
Robin sighed and leant her head back against the glass.
'I don't know what to do Dad. It's not like I can just go back, say sorry for the 'Dear John' letter and have everything back the way it was.'
Malcolm sighed and took a deep swig of his coffee before answering.
'Please tell me you didn't break up with this guy by letter?'
Robin grimaced. 'It was a post-it.'
Malcolm turned an incredulous face to hers and she cringed.
'I left it on the fridge...along with his door key.'
'Oh God Robin. Dare I ask what it said?'
She closed her eyes again before answering.
"It's not working out."
Malcolm dropped his head with a sigh, processing what she had said gravely.
'Well you really screwed the pooch on this one, didn't you princess?'
She groaned and came to sit next to him on the desk. 'I just...,I couldn't deal with it Dad. I found myself worrying if he didn't call me for a few days, wondering what it meant. I couldn't sleep if he wasn't next to me. If he had a head ache I'd spend all day worrying and he'd look at me like...well as if...,' she trailed off.
'As if what?' He asked gently, putting an arm around her shoulders.
'...as if I was everything.'
Malcolm sighed softly and dropped his chin on his daughters head. They sat like that quietly for a few minutes, enjoying the closeness and wondering where to go from here. He had spent years hoping his little girl would meet someone worthy of her and it seemed like that might actually have happened. If only he knew how to help her hang onto it?
They were interrupted as one of the legal's stepped into the room. Mary was one of the perks of working here. She had been assigned to Robin and had made her laugh everyday with her quick wit and quiet efficiency.
'Sorry to interrupt Counsellor but the LA office has called a few times. I think they are trying to poach you away from us again.'
Robin smiled and tightened her arm around her father.
'So I hear. Thanks Mary, I will call them straight back. If it's the Mendez case then they're not going to be ready for trial for months.'
Mary grinned. 'It's great isn't it. The Chicago office were convinced he'd fled over the border. That's going to be one hell of a trial. They've got six murders on him before you even look at the organized activity.' She frowned. 'Hell of a price though. Always sucks to lose one of our own.'
Robin frowned and took a sip of her coffee as she skipped through the phone messages Mary had handed her.
'Did they lose an officer?' Malcolm asked soberly and Mary nodded.
'Yeah. The official notification hasn't come through on the network yet. I expect they're still tracing next of kin.'
Robin looked up sadly.
'LAPD?' She asked, thinking of the gang task force that worked the downtown.
Mary shook her head. 'No, FBI. The SAC of their Violent Crimes Unit apparently. Word is, he died at the scene.'
Malcolm opened his mouth to offer his sadness when the sudden alarm on Mary's face stopped him.
He turned in time to see Robins coffee slowly empty onto the floor and the colour drain from her face.
Robin's hand flew to her chest as she felt all of the air rush out of her lungs. Her father's arm anchored around her waist and Mary grabbed a chair and before she knew it, she was sitting with her head between her knees and a cold towel pressed on the back of her neck.
She rocked slightly, trying to get her thoughts to clear. It couldn't be Don. It just couldn't be.
'Dad,' she whispered and the hand on her back rubbed softly.
'I'm here love. What just happened?'
She glanced up at Mary who was knelt in front of her and gasped out.
'Mary; I need a name?' At the women's frown she added. 'The FBI agent. I need a name.'
Mary's face cleared and a look of horror spread across her face.
'My God, Robin! I'm so sorry...I didn't think...I'll go now. I'll find out.'
The legal aid ran from the room and was replaced by Malcolm, who knelt down before his daughter and lifted her chin.
'Sweetheart? Your mystery man who clearly loves you so much?'
Robin swallowed tightly. 'His name's Don,' she whispered with a break in her voice'...and he's the SAC of LA's Violent Crime Unit.'
Malcolm closed his eyes briefly and gripped his daughters arms. 'Oh sweetheart.'
The quiet was broken as Mary swept swiftly back into the room, a pink post-it gripped in her hands. She glanced nervously at the two turned faces who were both clearly holding their breaths and swallowed.
'It's Special Agent Don Eppes.' she said quietly and watched as Robin broke in front of her.