Title: "Regrets” Author: ducainefan Rating: PG-13 (mostly for language) Subject: H/C relationship Summary: What if Horatio Caine was faced with an impossible choice … Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters on CSI:MIAMI, nor am I making any money off this - as a matter of fact I don't make much, so please don't sue! NOTE: This is a one-shot – it’s been running in my mind for a while now, and I just had to get it written out before I moved on with my “Mixed Feelings” series. I'm posting it in four parts. Hope you guys enjoy it. There’s a lot of great fanfic out here, and on the Yahoo! board– and thanks to all you guys for serving as an inspiration for DuCaine love. By the way, feedback is much appreciated!! Now, on with the story. “Regrets” Part I The waves crashed along the Miami shores, creating low, rumbling sounds as they hit. Lieutenant Horatio Caine sat on the sand, legs pulled up to his chest. His arms rested on his knees as he stared at the object in his hand. Horatio’s thumb gently stroked the gold metal, following the outline of letters etched on the badge. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he said in a low voice. He felt tears stinging his blue eyes and looked up to the sky. This was his fault. This was his choice. “Forgive me,” he whispered, swallowing the lump in his throat and looking back at the badge, remembering the person it belonged to. 8 HOURS EARLIER “Horatio?” A familiar voice perked the lieutenant up from his paperwork, somewhat surprised. “Got a minute?” she asked. “Sure,” Horatio said hesitantly. “Something wrong, Yelina?” “No, no Ray Jr.’s fine, we’re fine,” she reassured him. “I just thought you might want to see this.” “This is about the case my team’s working on…” he said, standing up and moving toward her. “The pyro, yea,” she said, handing him the file. “Seems that one of my customers may have had a run-in with him a few months ago, asked me to shadow him for awhile. My guy claimed this man — Johnny Fernandez — set fire to his restaurant in Coral Gables back in January. He couldn’t prove it, but Fernandez was an employee there, and then, after the fire, suddenly didn’t show up for work again.” “Well, if the place burned down …” “The fire happened about five minutes before the workers normally arrived to open the place. None of the employees could’ve known about the blaze that quickly,” Yelina asserted. “So, Mr. Fernandez was the only suspect. Did you locate him?” “I had a hard time tracking him down, and eventually the owner decided he’d rather just collect the insurance and cut his losses,” she explained. “But,” Horatio said, looking up. “But, I happened to be pursuing another case — unrelated — when I spotted him this morning.” “I would say your case just became related,” Horatio replied. “Who was Mr. Fernandez meeting with?” “You’re not gonna like it Horatio,” she said. “It was that bookie Ryan was caught with a few months back.” Horatio shifted, opening the file and seeing a photograph of the bookie — Michael Lipton — with a Caucasian man with dark hair, about 5’9 and somewhere between 25 and 30 years of age. “What does he have to do with my suspect?” “I’m not sure, but what I’m more concerned about is what the bookie gave Fernandez.” “Which was?” “Pictures.” “Of what?” Horatio asked intently. “More along the lines of who, actually,” she said, somewhat uncomfortably. “I think you might have a stalker on your hands, on top of a pyromaniac.” Horatio turned to the side, placing his hands on his hips. “What kind of pictures?” “It was hard to tell, but I was able to zoom in on a few shots … mostly of you at the office, some jogging, some of your apartment.” “Let’s bring Mr. Lipton in and see what we can find out about this Johnny Fernandez.” “I would love to, but I don’t work for the MDPD anymore, remember Horatio?” He looked down, somewhat embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I … Seems like old times, that’s all.” “Yea,” she said, looking up at him and smiling. “Just be careful, Horatio,” she added, her tone more serious. “I always am,” he replied. “Please do likewise. We suspect this man has set fire to at least six buildings in the past two weeks — killing a six-year-old girl in the process.” Yelina nodded. “Always looking out for me,” she said with a small smile. “Go get this guy.” Horatio nodded and watched Yelina walk toward the elevator. As the doors opened, Calleigh Duquesne emerged from the elevator, stopping to exchange a few words with Yelina as they passed each other. “Calleigh,” Horatio called. “Now that sounds like we just a break in our case,” Calleigh replied, walking up to him. “Could be,” he said quietly. “Take a look at these,” he said, handing her the files. “Oh no, that’s Michael Lipton, right?,” Calleigh muttered, recognizing the bookie. “You think he’s our guy?” “No, but I think he might know who is. Take a look at the man to his right. His name’s Johnny Fernandez. Wanted for a possible arson in Coral Gables about eight months ago.” “What’s Lipton giving him?” Calleigh said, taking a closer look at the photograph. “It looks like … oh … Horatio…” “He’s getting personal,” Horatio said. “I’ll say – It seems like he’s got a real fixation on you … I wonder if he hired Lipton to take those pictures.” “It looks that way, doesn’t it?” “Have you seen anyone, been aware of anything —” “No,” Horatio said in a frustrated tone. “Which is what bothers me …” “Are you in danger?” she asked, staring at him, trying to balance the proper amount of professional concern with the personal terror she was feeling in her gut. “Let’s just get this guy,” he said quickly, handing her the files and walking away. ------------------------------------------- “Mr. Fernandez, Miami-Dade PD, open up!” Horatio shouted. They had had a little chat with Michael Lipton, making sure Ryan was as far away from him as possible. Apparently Fernandez was paying Lipton some pretty hefty cash to follow the lieutenant around — “conspicuously,” of course — even providing him with a camera that allowed him to keep a 150-foot distance. When presented with the ultimatum of going to jail for stalking a police officer or coughing up the address of Fernandez, Lipton happily chose the latter. “Should we go in?” Calleigh asked, pointing to the door of the run-down structure. “Back-up’s on the way, let’s wait on that,” Horatio cautioned. “We’ll check around, see what we can find.” Calleigh nodded, drawing her gun, and Horatio did the same. They moved toward the side of the house, Horatio on the right, and Calleigh on the left. “Doesn’t seem very lived-in, does it?” Horatio commented, gesturing toward the boarded up windows and run-down state of the residence. “I’ll say … Hey Horatio, I think we better get in there now!” Calleigh shouted as Horatio jogged over. “What is it?” “Smoke,” she said, pointing to an upstairs window that was broken. The plank of wood that had covered it was resting on the grass. “Do you see anyone?” “Hard to tell, but we better let Tripp know to bring fire rescue along with him.” Horatio nodded as Calleigh called it in. “All right, let’s go,” Horatio said as he busted down the door. “Miami-Dade Police! Is anyone in here?” Calleigh scanned the room, noting the lack of furniture and construction materials inside the house. It looked as if it was abandoned and being rebuilt. They were searching the first floor, which was just beginning to fill with smoke, when they heard a scream. “Ma’am?!” Horatio called. “Ma’am, we’re coming!” Horatio dashed up the stairs, with Calleigh close behind. He stopped suddenly, the smoke and heat becoming more intense. “Ma’am!” he shouted. “She’s over here, lieutenant,” a muffled, male voice called from behind the smoke. “She’s waiting for you.” “Johnny Fernandez?!” Horatio called, trying to see through the smoke. He walked further the down the hall, while Calleigh stayed close to the stairs, watching his back. “Ah, and I see you have your top detective with you, very good,” he said, laughing. “Identify yourself!” Calleigh shouted. “I’m about to, Detective Duquesne,” the man replied. “Believe me, I’m about to.” The man, wearing a breathing apparatus, emerged from the smoke, a baseball bat in his hand. Calleigh was suddenly hit from behind, and sent flying down the stairs. The perpetrator darted back into the smoke before Horatio had a chance to react. “Calleigh!” Horatio called, and was about to go after her, when he heard a familiar voice coming from the second floor. There was no response from his CSI, but another familiar voice cried his name. “Horatio!” Coughing on the smoke, Horatio looked back. “Yelina?!” he shouted. Suddenly, two figures emerged, standing on top of the stairs. The man – who was indeed Johnny Fernandez – held a knife to his sister-in-law’s throat. “Let her go,” Horatio said angrily. “That’s up to you, lieutenant,” Fernandez said in a half-crazed voice. “You put my father away, you put him away because he was forced to make a choice — now you make one!” Fernandez swiftly disappeared, dragging Yelina into an adjoining room. Running into the smoke, Horatio began to go after him, but a groan reminded him of his CSI’s dilemma. “Calleigh,” he shouted. “Are you alright?” “Fine,” she called. “But my leg ... I can’t move it.” “OK, hang in there, I’m gonna get you,” he said as he felt the heat from the fire, which had intensified. He heard Yelina scream again, and looked back. He was torn. “Don’t worry about me, Horatio – the door’s not too far!” Calleigh shouted. “Go get that bastard!” He couldn’t see her through the smoke, which concerned him, but he nodded just the same, darting up the stairs. Flames were shooting out of one of the bedrooms. “Yelina!” he cried. “So, you made your choice,” Fernandez said, standing about 10 feet away. “You’d better get her quick, before the fire does.” Horatio raised his gun and aimed it, but Fernandez ducked, disappearing in the smoke. “Horatio!” Yelina coughed. He searched the hall until he found her, lying against a wall and bleeding from her abdomen. “C’mon,” Horatio said, covering her wound and helping her stand. “We’ve gotta get out of here.” The flames exploded behind them as they rushed down the hallway. Yelina tripped, and they both were sent flying down the stairs. “Horatio!” Yelina shouted, reaching over to him. His head was bleeding, but he was conscious. “I’m fine,” he coughed, touching a hand to his wound. “I’m fine. C’mon.” As they made their way to the door, a portion of the ceiling collapsed behind them. Horatio looked back, his heart stopping. “Calleigh,” he whispered. “Lieutenant,” a voice called, pulling on his shoulder. “Get out of there!” The medical workers had already taken Yelina, who was being placed on a stretcher. The large man, a firefighter, was tugging on Horatio’s arm, pulling him from the blaze. “My CSI,” he coughed, watching as firemen rushed into the building. “Is she … did she make it?” “We just got here sir, it’s just the two of you,” he said, leading Horatio to the ambulance. “I’ve got to go back in there,” he said, trying to pull from the firemen’s grasp. “Sir, those flames are too intense—” “My CSI’s in there!” he shouted, starting back toward the house. “Woa, Horatio,” Frank Tripp said, stepping in front of him and placing both hands on his shoulders. “Frank, Calleigh’s in there, I have to —” “You have to see the doc, Horatio. If she’s still in there, they’ll find her,” he said, nodding toward the firemen. “Frank —” “I know H, listen to me, why don’t you go with Yelina, OK? You know Calleigh, she always finds a way to surprise us, right? If she can survive gettin’ run off the road, I think she can find her way out of a house fire.” Frank wasn’t so sure he fully believed what he was saying, but he hoped it was enough to get Horatio into that ambulance. The two men looked up, watching as the firefighters battled the blaze. Frank could see the mix of pain and fear in Horatio’s eyes. He knew Horatio felt responsible for whatever happened to Calleigh. “Horatio, Yelina needs you,” Frank said softly, hoping that would be enough. “OK Frank, OK…” he whispered, his voice hoarse. “Just find this bastard,” Horatio said, reaching into his breast pocket and handing him a photograph. Frank nodded and gestured for the medics to escort Horatio to the ambulance. “Johnny Fernandez,” Horatio called as the medics led him to the vehicle. “His name’s Johnny Fernandez, Frank, and he can’t have gotten far.” “You got it H,” Frank shouted, looking at the picture again. “Damn,” he whispered. Frank had noticed the tears in Horatio’s eyes as he was being brought to the ambulance – he wasn’t sure if they were from the smoke or the fact that another one of his CSIs was down. ‘If I was a betting man,’ Frank thought, ‘I’d choose the latter.’ ---------------------------------- “Yelina,” Horatio rasped, grasping her hand in the ambulance. “Can you hear me?” The EMTs had covered her wound, and she had an oxygen mask on. He looked up at one of the medics. “What do you think, Harry?” “Looks like the wound on her abdomen is superficial – like she was sliced – but we won’t be able to tell the severity until we get to the hospital,” the EMT explained. “I think I’d be more worried about the smoke inhalation. Here,” he said, handing Horatio an oxygen mask. “You need to take care of yourself, too, lieutenant.” Horatio nodded, closing his eyes as the medic covered his head wound. “Any word over the radio about my CSI?” Horatio asked. “No … no word yet.” Horatio shook his head, slamming his hand against the side of the vehicle. “Lieutenant?” “I’m sorry, Harry,” he said, shaking his head. He looked back at Yelina as the ambulance pulled up to the hospital. They wheeled her into the ER, with Horatio close behind. Doctors surrounded them both immediately. “Harry,” Horatio called as the EMT turned to leave. “You’ll let me know if you hear anything, right?” “Absolutely, lieutenant,” he replied, heading back outside. Horatio nodded, all his thoughts turning to how he was going to put Johnny Fernandez behind bars for life. -------------------------------- “H? You OK?” Eric Delko asked, getting up from his crouch and walking toward his boss. “I didn’t think you’d be back to the crime scene so soon. Tripp said you—” “Where’s Calleigh,” he asked, looking around. “H …” Eric started, and Horatio looked down, realizing his young CSI had been crying. “She’s uh …” Horatio shook his head, clenching his jaw. “No,” he said in a low, angry growl, walking past Eric toward the burnt structure. “No.” A firefighter saw Horatio making a beeline for the house and moved to stop him. “Lieutenant, the fire’s still smoldering, you can’t—” “Oh yes I can,” Horatio said, brushing past the fireman and heading into the house. He stepped over the debris, moving to the spot where he thought Calleigh had landed. Frank was close behind. “Horatio,” he started. “He comes out of nowhere, hits her from behind, and she tumbles down,” Horatio muttered, walking across the debris. “And she lands …” “Horatio, you could contaminate the evidence,” Frank started. “This isn’t gonna bring her back.” Horatio stiffened and stopped abruptly, turning toward him. “Did they find her in here?” he asked angrily, placing his hands on his hips. “Is that what you’re telling me?” Horatio searched Frank’s gaze, bracing himself for the answer. “Well, no,” Frank started. “Then we keep looking,” Horatio said, turning his gaze back to the ground. A number of blackened beams blocked his path, and he began to move between them, searching through the rubble. “Horatio, be careful, those things aren’t secure!” “I have to know Frank,” he said, trying to shift one of the beams. “I have to know if —” Horatio stopped in mid-sentence and Frank looked down. “What is it, H?” Frank asked, his voice wavering. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear the answer. Horatio reached down between two beams and brought an object up from the debris. He took out his handkerchief and began to clean it. “Horatio?” Frank asked, walking toward him. “It’s her badge,” he rasped. “Could be evidence on that,” Frank said, trying to remind Horatio that, despite what happened, they still had a job to do. “I want everyone in here right now — I want to see what’s under these beams,” he said angrily. “H, we gotta wait until —” “I am not gonna wait,” Horatio retorted, heading back outside. He placed the badge in his breast pocket. “Eric!” he called. “H, did you find anything?” “Just her badge,” he said sadly. “Listen, I need you to get these guys in there, we gotta dig through that rubble …” “I’m on it,” Eric said, blinking back the tears in his eyes. “Horatio,” Frank called, exasperated. He felt like he was chasing a greased pig. “I assume Fernandez is still in the wind.” “Actually, we picked him up a few miles from here,” Frank said. Horatio looked up in surprise. “He was hidin’ out in an old warehouse off Pine Street — real secluded area.” “How original,” Horatio said flatly. “I think it’s time he and I had a little chat.” “I don’t think that’s such—” Frank started, but Horatio was already in his Hummer. “a good idea,” Frank finished, shaking his head. --------------------------- “So, Mr. Fernandez,” Horatio started, circling him. Rick Stetler was there with him, serving as more of a babysitter than a partner in the interrogation room. “I hear you’ve taken quite an interest in me.” Fernandez remained silent, shifting slightly and picking at the burn on his arm. “Maybe these will ring a bell,” Horatio said through clenched teeth, tossing the pictures Yelina had given him onto the table. “The photographer said you paid him a pretty penny to get those pictures.” “You’re an interesting man,” Fernandez began. “So you’re admitting that you paid Michael Lipton to obtain those photos of Lieutenant Caine?” Stetler piped in. “I’m not sayin’ anything until I get a lawyer in here,” Fernandez replied, crossing his arms. “You know what, Johnny,” Horatio started, “you won’t have to tell me anything. The evidence is going to speak for itself, and you know what it’s going to tell me? That you’re a pyromaniac, and possibly a cop killer.” Fernandez looked up at him, and started laughing. “You don’t get it do you, Caine?” Horatio slammed a hand on the table and leaned in close. “I saw you in that house.” “I heard that was a pretty intense fire, lots of smoke … hard to see anything at all, I bet.” “You were there, and I’m gonna prove it,” Horatio snarled as Stetler moved toward them. “Horatio, don’t cross that line,” Stetler said. Backing away, Horatio placed his hands on his hips, never breaking eye contact with Fernandez. “You mentioned your father to me, Johnny. Now who would that be?” “You don’t remember him, lieutenant?” Fernandez said with disgust. Horatio gave him a small smile, and Fernandez realized he had just given himself up. Huffing, he leaned forward, eyes blazing. “You don’t remember how you dragged my father away from my family because he was doing his job?” “And what job was that?” “He ran a small convenience store … in New York City. “New York City …” “Yea. Course you don’t remember, lieutenant. He was just small potatoes for you. Maybe the name Paglisi will ring a bell” “Wait … you’re Dominic Paglisi’s son?” Horatio asked, somewhat perplexed. “Yea, that’s right, my mother remarried, made us all take on our stepdad’s name …” he said, leaning forward, “after you took my real father away.” “I arrested your father for drug smuggling,” Horatio said matter-of-factly. “Along with a lot of other men.” “He had to make a choice lieutenant,” Fernandez said, slamming his fist on the table, his calm demeanor gone. “It was either take in a few boxes of coke a week or get run outta town by the mob, and have your family marked.” “We busted a lot of guys in that raid, Johnny…” “But my father never got out,” he snarled, standing up. “He never got outta Rikers because that gangster Petrillo had him killed there!” Stetler motioned for one of the guards to step in and restrain Fernandez, who struggled a bit before being pushed back down into his seat. Horatio just stared at the man, somewhat shocked. “Why now, Johnny?” “Well, lieutenant, I was up in Boston recently, and couldn’t help but read the headlines about an acclaimed Miami CSI who brought down a serial killer — and his sister to boot! Still breakin’ up families after all these years, huh, Caine?” Horatio just shook his head. “Get him out of my sight,” he said with disgust. The guard began to take him out, but he stopped, turning back toward Horatio, this time with tears in his eyes. “I just wanted you to feel what my family felt — helpless, with no good choices in front of us! You may have forgotten my father, but I hope you never forget this day, Caine.” “Get him out of here!” Horatio shouted, waving a hand. The guard jumped slightly, surprised to hear Horatio yell. “Just … get him the hell out of here.” Fernandez was led out, leaving Horatio alone in the interrogation room with Stetler — the last person he wanted to be with right now. “So, the Big Apple comes back to bite you again, heh?” Stetler remarked. It took all Horatio’s strength not to slug him. “It seems that way, Rick,” he said through clenched teeth. Horatio stared out the window while Stetler gathered the paperwork off the table. There was a long, awkward pause between the two. “How’s Yelina?” Stetler asked, breaking the silence. “She’s conscious, the doctor thinks she’ll be OK,” Horatio said in a low voice. “She doesn’t remember much. I think Fernandez knocked her out, maybe drugged her, then dragged her to the house.” “And Detective Duquesne?” “Still no word.” “I’m sorry—” “Thank you, Rick, but I’m not ready to give up on my CSI just yet.” “Horatio, she was in the house when the ceiling collapsed.” “I didn’t see her.” “Well neither did anybody else on the scene. If she wasn’t in the house, and she wasn’t outside, then where was she?” Horatio turned around, hands on hips, glaring at Stetler. “I don’t know … yet,” he said, walking out of the room.