Matters of the Heart: Book 2, Chapter 1

Part II, Chapter 9: Prodigal Son
by Elizabeth Johnston

Lieutenant Castillo, strolled over to the door of his office, opened it
and signaled Tubbs to come in. The look on Marty’s face, emotionless as usual, gave no clue as to what Crockett’s response had been. But when Rico saw the look of resolution on Sonny’s face and the hint of wetness still clinging to the corners of his eyes, no words were needed – he knew the answer. He just smiled and nodded to his friend before taking a seat on the small black leather couch against the wall.

“What happened at the hospital, Marty?” Crockett asked, composing himself. It was time to get on with the business at hand. Castillo
told them about Dr. Michaels refusal to transfer Jessica at this time. The
decision didn’t sit well with Crockett. He tried hard to hide his anxiety, but
didn’t handle it very well.

They said she was doing fine, that everything was going well. What’s
wrong? Marty, What going on that I don’t I know? Who is this Dr. Michaels
anyway?”

“Jeff is an excellent doctor and a good friend, Sonny. I trust him on
this. If he says it’s too risky to move her now, then it is.

He assured Sonny that Jessica was indeed recovering nicely. It had seemed
like a straightforward plan to the three of them that morning but he relayed what Michaels had told him about the seriousness of her injuries, the possibility of further complications, and the dangers of moving her too soon. Michaels wasn’t about to let her go anywhere until he was certain it could be done safely, and on top of that, he wouldn’t go along with the plan without permission from her family or a legal document from the courts requiring it.

“Gina called her sister yesterday,” Castillo went on. “She’s picking her
up at the airport and is on her way here with her now. Do you know anything about her Crockett? Will there be any problems?”

The lieutenant’s last point hit a chord. In all the planning to keep Jessica safe they had forgotten the effect this would have on family and friends. Sonny told him that, as far as he knew, Jessica’s sister was her only living relative and that they were close, but he had never met the woman, and
he had no idea how or what her reaction would be.

As if on cue, there was a knock on the door and Gina poked her head
inside. Castillo looked up and waved her in. The tall dark-haired lady with her didn’t look at all like Jessica, but her carriage and look of conviction were very much the same. Gina introduced her as Anna, Jess’ older sister. Anna shook hands with the three men, leaving Sonny for last, her handshake with him lasting a bit longer and her hazel-coloured eyes gazing into his as though she was sizing him up.

“So you’re Sonny Crockett,” she said with an unreadable look on her face.
“I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Sonny was usually pretty good at judging people at first site – it was a
natural ability that he had honed over the years of working with undercover. But she had him stumped. He couldn’t tell whether her comment was a put-down or compliment.

Castillo invited them all into the briefing room where he repeated the plan to hide Jessica from Sanchez and Dr. Michaels’ concerns about moving
Jessica for Anna and Gina. Then, looking as Anna with his trademark emotionless stare, he asked her if she would give her permission for the transfer.

She looked from one to the other. She knew these people were her sister’s
friends, and she knew who Sanchez was and what had happened in Colombia. But she wasn’t about to make any decisions until she met this Dr. Michaels and saw Jess. Castillo understood and accepted her response – he wouldn’t have given carte blanche to total strangers without knowing more about the situation had it been his sister whose life hung in the balance.

After Gina left with Anna, Castillo firmed up the rest of the technicalities with Sonny and Rico. On Monday he would confirm with New York that Tubbs could stay in Miami and work on the Sanchez case, and he would arrange for the official paperwork to sign Crockett on to the Miami-Dade Police Force again.

“You can’t go back to the marina Crockett,” Castillo stated in a matter-of-fact voice.

Crockett had been thinking along the same lines – it was an obvious conclusion. Sanchez could still be watching the marina where Sonny was
registered under the name of Crockett. If he got any hint at all about Sonny’s true identity or that he was a friend of Jessica, it would kill any chances for Sonny and Rico to make a deal as Burnett and Cooper. Castillo suggested that Sonny stay at the apartment in South Beach. It was a
residence befitting a drug dealer with money to throw around – after all, it
had been confiscated from one. He suggested that Rico get a room at the
Alexander, on the city of course, as that would be the hotel of choice for any self-respecting high-flying drug dealer in town from Fun City.

As for the rest of the incidentals needed to complete their cover, that could be arranged on Monday morning when property opened up. They would both need clothing and vehicles, and Burnett would need a boat suitable for carrying out the types of drug trading he was known for. In the meantime, Castillo offered to pick up some things for Sonny from the sailboat and drop them off at the apartment. His advice to them for the rest of week-end was to lay low and get some rest.

Sonny used the rest of the afternoon to reflect on his decision to rejoin
the unit and his feelings for Jessica. Usually when he felt like this, he would
take the Vitus II out for a sail. The total freedom of the open seas and the
challenge of harnessing nature’s power had way of helping him work through his thoughts. But the Vitus II was off limits for now. So he cleared his mind by walking the beach.

He didn’t keep track of time or distance – he just walked and walked,
enjoying the gentle ocean breeze brushing past his skin and the ever present symphony of the waves lapping the shoreline. The calmness and solitary beauty of the ocean beach was the perfect setting for his mind to ponder the questions he had been asking himself.

It had been a warm comfortable day, but as the sun set, the temperature
fell sharply and the light cotton T-shirt he had slipped back on over his head was not enough to completely fend off the cool night air blowing in from the ocean. By the time he reached the apartment building he was chilled and exhausted, but feeling relaxed and at peace with his thoughts. The long walk had given him the solitude he needed to meditate on the decisions he had made and to confirm in his heart that they were the right ones. In the elevator on the way to the penthouse that would be home for the next little while, he was thinking about the hot shower and a warm bed that was waiting for him. When he entered the apartment, he saw that Marty, true to his word, had left his things for him – toiletries, clothes, and more importantly, his weapons that he hoped he wouldn’t need to fire.

When Crockett arrived at police headquarters on Monday morning, he found that Marty had everything set up for him. All he had to do at HR was sign the papers that were ready and waiting, and he was once again, Detective James Sonny Crockett, a member of the Metro-Dade Police Department posted to the Organized Crime Bureau. After all the thinking and agonizing that had gone into this decision, he figured the formalities would be nothing more than a simple step, but when he handed the papers over to the clerk and she reached out to shake his hand, welcoming him back to the force, he noticed that it was quivering and sweaty. It brought back to mind that day so many years ago when as an eager young recruit, a clerk, not much different than this young lady, had shook his hand and welcomed him to police department for the first time.

As he turned around to leave, he felt a pat on his shoulder and heard a
vaguely familiar voice. “Glad to have you back Sonny,” Commissioner Tyler said with a warm smile on his face.

Mark Tyler had been Sonny’s first sergeant and mentor. He and Tyler had had some tough times seeing eye to eye back in those early days. Tyler figured that Crockett would either end up a dead hero or booted off the force for insubordination before he had made his first anniversary. He had never told Crockett this, but it had taken a few markers to keep the young recruit from being shown the door in those first few years until Crockett had made a solid enough reputation for himself that his slight irregularities would be overlooked by Internal Affairs.

“Thanks Mark,” he replied. “You think I’d have learned by now, wouldn’t ya.”

“You and me both, Crockett.”

Tyler continued on his way down the hall, and Crockett headed over to
property to pick out what he would need for his cover as Burnett. Much to his delight, Rico was already there. Together, they felt like kids in a candy
store, and in a way they were – most of the items had been confiscated from ‘candy’ dealers after all.

In an effort to streamline services and cut costs, the different agencies had pooled many of their large ticket IGG-confiscated items. Together he and
Rico sat down at the computer station and read through the list of available
vehicles. The look on Sonny’s face beamed – there at the top of the list was
the Barchetta the DEA had provided him while he was working contract for them. He looked at Rico and smiled – why not? It was his type of car. Rico scanned the list, and to his amazement near the bottom of the list was a completely restored Cadillac Deville convertible. This time it was Rico’s turn to smile at Sonny. This was just too much – Miami in his favourite car.

Next it was time to choose a speed boat, suitable for outrunning anything
the coast guard could throw at a dealer transporting illegal drugs. Most of
them were in hard shape by the time they were pulled over it seemed, but there three-quarters of the way down the list was the beauty he’d been looking for – a Donzi 45 ZX Daytona customized with a supercharged chief engines, 705 cubic inches of pure muscle, 1400 horsepower to play with!

They filled out the forms, joking about how they were practically signing
their lives away, and at last they had transportation and were ready to roll.
The final step was to outfit themselves with a suitable wardrobe. Way back when he first started working undercover, it had amazed Sonny that anyone could spend more on a shirt than he made in a week. Sure he had loved the luxurious feel of the fabrics and sleek fashionable tailoring, but even when he had money himself to spend on a wardrobe like that, he had never been able to justify the expense of these types of outfits. He had never become comfortable living the life of the idle rich.

They finally finished their ‘shopping’ and headed off to the OCB. It was
after noon by the time they arrived and most of the shift was just coming back from lunch. Walking through the locker room on their way into the unit, the smell of fresh paint filled the air. Sonny glanced down the rows of familiar gray lockers, wondering which one he’d be hanging his coat in.

He didn’t have to wonder for very long. There on the top right, where his
locker always used to be, the name Crockett was stenciled in fresh black paint. A smile came over his face as he remembered that day so many years ago when he first saw his name there. And slowly running his fingers over the freshly-painted letters, he recalled another day – the day he had come back here as Crockett after being lost in the world of Burnett, not remembering who he had been or what he had done. He had come home from hell that day and today, in a way, he was doing the same thing.

But the reception he got this time when he walked through those glass
doors into the unit was very different one. Word that Sonny Crockett was
officially back on the force had made it’s way swiftly through the office gossip grapevine. When he walked through the doors, Trudy was the first to come over and greet him. The beaming smile on her beautiful aquiline face said more than the few words she spoke in greeting.

“Welcome back Sonny,” she whispered as she grabbed his shoulders and
pulled him down to kiss his cheek. There was the faintest hint of wetness
welling in the corners of her dark brown eyes. “We missed you.”

Stan sauntered over next. He just smiled and took Sonny’s hand in both of
his. “Sonny,” was all he could say, and then he grabbed him in a bear hug that was full of the sentiment he couldn’t find the words to say.

One other person waited patiently to say a special hello. Crockett hadn’t
noticed Gina standing in the corner until she made her way over to where he was standing. They had been lovers once. The physical relationship had ended a long time before he had left the unit, but their friendship had continued to grow and mature over the years they had worked together, and the understanding and feelings they shared ran deep. When he left, the squad had been left with a void, but Gina had felt the loss more deeply than anyone else. At the time she had been overcome with a feeling of emptiness, not only because she would miss his presence, but more so because she knew she hadn’t been able to help a friend from following the downward spiral of frustration and despair that finally overcame him. It was one of the reasons she had gone into victim counseling. Maybe, she reasoned at the time, if she couldn’t stop the crime, she could help others from falling down that same slippery slope.

In the intervening years, they had lost contact, but she had always hoped
– more than hoped – she always felt in her heart that one day Sonny would find his way out of the disillusionment. As much as she wanted to reach out to help him over the years, she never did – she knew that if he was going to come back, he would have to do it himself. Today was the realization of that hope. Looking at him standing there as she slowly walked over to greet him, she, perhaps more than anyone, understood what this return meant, and her face radiated happiness that she felt in her heart.

“Welcome back Sonny,” she said quietly as she reached her arms out to
his.

“Thanks Gina,” he replied taking her hands in his. His face was beaming
too. “It’s been a long time comin’.”

“Yes it has Sonny – too long.”

There was no need for any more words between them. The look and the warm hug they exchanged expressed the feelings that they both knew lay deep inside.

A steady stream of handshakes and well-wishing ensued, broken finally by
the appearance of Martin Castillo. A pathway to the man at the center of
attention was cleared for the lieutenant. Marty’s lips were shut tightly in an
effort to hide his own emotion of the moment.

“If everyone is quite finished now, you all have work to do,” he said,
not taking his gaze off Crockett. “Sonny, Rico, Trudy, Stan, Gina” he said
turning around and heading towards the briefing room. The four of them looked at each other with grins on their faces, shrugged their shoulders and followed the lieutenant into the meeting room. They had all known him long enough to know that the stern demeanor and gruff voice was a practiced mask, his way of controlling his feelings and focussing on the issues at hand.

Castillo had decided that he would involve only his most senior people in
the Jessica cover-up. He had brought Trudy and Stan up to speed that morning, and now there was finally had something to go forward with. Anna had agreed to the transfer and Dr. Michaels had just called to say that Jessica could be moved that evening. Castillo would be heading to the hospital shortly with Gina to finalize the arrangements for the transfer to Carson memorial with the doctor. In a voice that left no room for interpretation, he made it clear that no one other than those already involved were to know about the scheme. Jessica’s life and their plans to take Sanchez down depended on the secrecy.

Next point of business was the Fuente case, and he looked directly at
Crockett when he delivered the update. The autopsy report had confirmed what they had expected – Mario Fuente had been murdered. The man had died from a slow acting poison, most likely ingested with his evening meal. As could be expected, there were no witnesses and no one knew anyhting. The warden would run an investigation, but there was little chance of his finding out how it happened or who was behind it.

“Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” Sonny said sarcastically,
leaning back in his chair. “So where does that leave his organization?”

Marty replied that, word on the street was that, with Fuente out of the
picture, Dominguez was in charge. If Sanchez was behind Fuentes’ murder, and was indeed trying to move in on the Fuente operation, there could be a blood bath, and that nobody wanted or needed. On the other hand, if Dominguez was responsible, there could be a power struggle inside the Fuentes organization and that mightn’t be much better. Castillo’s aim was to find out who was responsible and deal with it before anything got out of hand.

“It’s your baby, Crockett. I don’t want this situation to blow up – pull in whomever you need. I told the unit this morning that it’s your case. In the
meantime, the files are all here.”

Turning to Rico, he told him that he had arranged with his Chief for him
to stay in Miami on special assignment to work with Sonny on the Sanchez case and to help out on the Fuente investigation. The Chief had also asked Castillo to pass on that Rico’s son, Ricardo, was out of protective custody and back at home.

Finally he turned his gaze to Trudy and Stan . “You two have your work.”

Castillo stacked the papers on the table into a neat pile and rising from
his chair, announced that he was on his way with Gina to finalize arrangements with Dr. Michaels, but before they left, he had one last instruction for the newest member of team.

“Oh, and Crockett, when you’ve got some time, get yourself familiar with
the rest of the cases in the unit. As senior detective, you need to know what’s going on.”

Well, Sonny figured shaking his head and smiling as he watched everyone
else but Rico go out the door – this really was getting back into the swing of things. He liked it – he liked it a lot. But there was one thing he knew he
knew he was going to miss – he would miss having Gina around.