Rico looked down at the man lying in the hospital bed. His distress over the wounded man caused the toddler in his arms to fuss.
The ICU nurse gave him a look that let him know his time was up. Still having no words to give the man who wouldn’t hear them, he left the room.
He exchanged a confused look with the man standing in the shadows before continuing toward the elevators. When he looked back he saw the taciturn man gently brush the shaggy sun streaked hair off the pale forehead.
Sonny and Rico had been partners in every way. Rico would have sworn they would always be together until that fateful explosion that turned James ‘Sonny’ Crockett into Sonny Burnett.
That case derailed their relationship. Rico was always waiting for Burnett to re-emerge like some bad sci-fi movie. The guilt he felt for not being able to completely trust Sonny finally caused Tubbs to ask Castillo for a new partner. The shattered expression on Crockett’s face was quickly hidden, and Rico never again saw the real Sonny Crockett.
Sonny had finally let go his guilt over the acts committed while he’d had amnesia. Many on the force still regarded him with scorn and distrust. That distrust caused him to withdraw from all save Castillo. As the squad’s senior detective, Sonny still rode ramrod on its investigations, but he worked alone, and answered only to his lieutenant.
Knowing Martin Castillo would never shirk his duty though his senior detective and friend lay grievously wounded Rico charged into his office early the next day ready for battle.
Before he got a word out, Castillo handed him a file.
“This is everything Sonny’s been working on since Calderone blew up the car with Angel and your son. He’d found evidence that they weren’t in the car, but before he could substantiate anything, Calderone was killed.” Martin raised his eyes from his blotter to meet Rico’s.
“The only time he stopped was when he had amnesia. Even then he was unknowingly working the case. Calderone’s uncle took over after his nephew was killed. Six months ago Sonny found Angel and her son on an island owned by the uncle. He almost had them in the boat when her uncle caught them. Sonny stepped between them…shooting the uncle and taking the bullet meant for Angel.”
Castillo’s expression was fierce as he paused to collect himself.
“He called me from the boat. Told me everyone was fine and to meet them at the St. Vitas Dance. He was nearly dead when we arrived.” He finished through gritted teeth.
“I don’t understand.” Rico’s voice was plaintive.
“I didn’t either at first. He thought if he gave you what you said you loved most…that would make things better between you.” Martin sounded worn.
“Why didn’t he tell me?” Rico stumbled back to fall on the couch.
“Initially he was afraid he was wrong. Then after the Burnett debacle, he knew you didn’t trust him anymore.” Brown eyes clashed with green.
Tubbs looked away first.
“If he lives, I’ll try and convince him that you’ve forgiven him.” Martin added softly.
Rico looked up sharply. “What do you mean if? I thought he was stable!”
“He is…” Castillo stared intently at the younger man. “You have to want to live. I’m not sure Sonny has that anymore.”
Green eyes widened. “Wha…I mean…Sonny!?” Rico stuttered, not sure what he was trying to say.
“After Catie died, you were all he had left.” Martin said softly. “When you found him in Ft. Lauderdale…we left him out in the cold. We knew something was wrong…that he wasn’t acting like Sonny, but we treated him like we would any criminal. Then…when he fought his way back, we still left him to face IAB, the DA, the doctors, the crime families that wanted him dead. He faced that alone…he still feels alone.” Castillo finished guiltily.
“But you…Sonny…you…Damn.” Rico rubbed his face to try and clear his thoughts.
In all the years he’d been Rico’s superior this was the most words the man had strung together at one time. Sonny was the one who was practically telepathic with the intense man--Sonny was the one who talked--who was the buffer between the squad and the stoic Martin Castillo.
“It’s better, but he never expected to finish this job alive. The best he was hoping for was to get Angel and the boy to Miami. He told her how to find you if anything happened to him.”
“So what happens now?”
“You need to go. You have a family to think of now.”
“But Sonny…” Rico stood.
“Not your concern anymore.” The soft tone was vehement. “He’s my concern. He loved you enough to give you what you wanted most…Not him…but her. Go…don’t look back. Let him find some peace without you constantly reminding him you no longer love him.”
“Can I see him?”
Castillo’s expression didn’t soften. “No. For his safety, I’ve posted guards and barred visitors.”
Shoulders bent, Ricardo Tubbs left to start the biggest undercover operation of his life. The only way he could give Sonny peace was to live the life he’d told the man he loved he wanted.
~ Fini ~