“No!” Bobby yelled. “Elliot!”

But it was too late, and all he could do was to watch him fall. With bile rising in his throat, Bobby watched as Elliot tumbled, his body bouncing sickeningly off the rocks on the way down, before finally hitting the ground far below. And there he lay, still and, for all Bobby knew, dead.

He started to push himself up just as the sound of flesh striking flesh met his ears, followed by a pained groan. He rolled over just in time to see Blake pushing Mike’s limp form off him, and snatching up his knife as he got to his feet. He swung the weapon around and brandished it threateningly at Bobby.

“Get up, pig.”

Bobby hesitated for just a moment before getting slowly to his feet. The other man was glaring at him with a raw hatred and a clear instability that was terrifying to see.

“I ought to kill you for that. Then again… Maybe I oughtta let you live, so you can have pleasure of telling his girlfriend what happened to him. Tell me, Bobby, how are you going to explain this to his girlfriend?”

Though Bobby was careful not to move, or let his eyes shift away from Blake, in his peripheral vision he caught a very welcoming sight – Mike was starting to stir.

“I’ll tell her the truth,” Bobby answered softly. “We were ambushed by a psychopath…”

He barely got the words out before Blake charged him, screaming with uncontrollable rage.

“You fucking pig, I wanted his eyes!” Blake roared. “I’ll never get them now! Maybe I oughtta just take yours instead!”

Bobby barely had the opportunity to brace himself before Blake collided with him, and the two men crashed to the ground in a painful tangle of arms and legs. There was a glint of metal as Blake made to stab the detective, but Bobby saw it coming at the last possible moment and caught hold of Blake’s wrist, stopping the downward arc of the knife. For a second that felt more like an eternity, the two men stayed frozen like that – one fighting to take life, and the other fighting to preserve it.

Then, suddenly, Blake grunted in pain, his grip on the knife loosened and then relaxed completely, and he collapsed on top of Bobby, unconscious. When Bobby’s vision finally cleared, he looked up to see Mike standing there over the top of them, holding the shotgun with the butt down, after cracking Blake over the head with it.

“You okay?” Mike asked hoarsely as he helped Bobby to roll Blake’s deadweight off him.

“I think so,” Bobby confirmed. “You?”

“Just a bump or two,” Mike answered dismissively. “We’ve gotta secure this whack-job, so we can go help Elliot.”

“We’ll have to get him back to the cabin,” Bobby mumbled. His head was starting to pound ferociously from the earlier knock he’d taken. “There’s rope back there… And handcuffs.”

Mike’s eyebrows shot up.


“Not mine. They’re Deakins’. He brought them with him by mistake when he and his family came up here the last time, and he forgot to bring them back with him. He asked me to bring them back for him. Apparently he had a hell of a time explaining why he didn’t have them to hand in along with his gun and his shield, when he retired.”

Mike grunted as they struggled to lift Blake between them.

“Well, that explains the bondage jokes in the men’s bathroom on the thirteenth floor.”

Even Bobby had to smile, then. As widely respected as Deakins was, that was one thing that he would never live down.

“C’mon,” he mumbled as they lifted Blake’s unconscious form between them. “Let’s get him back to the cabin, and then we can help Elliot.”

“What do we need?” Mike asked once they’d secured Blake with both ropes and handcuffs, and locked him up inside one of the bathrooms.

“Ah… There’s an industrial first aid kit and climbing gear in the closet next to the laundry. Go grab it.”

“Don’t tell me,” Mike called back over his shoulder as he went. “Deakins was a boy scout in another life.”

“No,” Bobby called back, in little mood for banter by then. “Three years ago he came up here with his family, and his youngest daughter took a fall down an embankment. They had to wait five hours for help to reach them. He stocked up on the first aid kit and invested in the climbing equipment after that, in case anything like it ever happened again. He and his family learnt how to use it, too.”

“Just tell me that you know how to use this stuff,” Mike said as he came back carrying two large bags. Bobby paused, eyeing the bags grimly.

“I’ve taken the courses,” he confirmed. “I just hope it’ll be enough.”

“What are you doing?” Mike wondered as he watched Bobby filling every water bottle they had.

“We’re going to need the water, Mike. It won’t be easy, climbing down to where Elliot is. And then, when we get to him, we’re going to need to keep all three of us hydrated.”

“Until what?” Mike asked tensely. “Until help arrives? You know that’s not going to happen, Bobby. We’re on our own here. There is no help coming.”

Bobby rubbed his hand hard over his face.

“Elliot left a note for Olivia. That’s how Blake knew where to find him. Maybe he left a message for someone else in SVU as well. Fin, maybe…”

“So what if he did?” Mike asked. “What would it matter if they know where he is, when we’ve got no way of letting them know we need help?”

“They must know Blake is on the loose, though,” Bobby pointed out. “Cragen would have been notified. They… They’d have to know he’d go after Elliot…”

“Look how long it’s been, Bobby,” Mike told him softly. “Blake obviously got here some time through the night. If someone else in SVU knew where Elliot had gone, they would have been here by now, with all the bells and whistles. They’re not coming, baby brother. They don’t know he came with us.”

Bobby shut his eyes for a long moment. He knew Mike was right. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew his brother was right.

“Okay. So… we’ll be able to get down to Elliot, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to bring him back up. And, there’s no way of knowing how badly he’s hurt. He might have gotten lucky, or there could be spinal damage…”

“Or he could be dead,” Mike added softly. Bobby shook his head ferociously.

“No. I won’t accept that. He’s not dead.”

“Bobby, he fell at least forty feet…”

“No!” Bobby burst out, the strain of the situation starting to come out in his voice. He focused a hard look on his brother. “If we can survive a building coming down on top of us, then Elliot can survive this. He’s going to be all right, Mikey.”

Mike nodded slowly, understanding Bobby’s need to stay positive.

“You’re right,” he murmured. “Yeah… You’re right. Okay. What else do we need?”

Five minutes later, they were on their way back to where their friend had fallen. Neither man spoke, each intent on moving as fast as possible.

For his part, Bobby regretted snapping at Mike, but he didn’t want to even consider the possibility that Elliot might be dead. It was bad enough that they couldn’t just go straight down to where Elliot was, but rather that they had to climb down carefully to avoid the same fate. It was bad enough that they didn’t know what they would find when they got down there, or how critically Elliot might be injured. He was not contemplating the likelihood of getting down there to find they were too late.

“Tell me what to do, Bobby,” Mike said quietly, seriously, as Bobby began to pull out various pieces of equipment.

“Tie this rope around a tree,” Bobby instructed him, handing him a large coil of rope. “No, not one close to the edge. Tie it around the trunk of one of those trees over there. If the ground gives way any more, we don’t need a tree coming down on top of all of us.”

“Yeah,” Mike muttered, “because that would really suck.”

Bobby smiled faintly.

“Yeah. It would. Okay… We’re going to have to lower ourselves down. I’ll go first. Watch carefully, Mike, because that’s all the training you’re going to get. Then, once I’m at the bottom, you come down after me.”

Mike paused. He was aching to make a sarcastic comment to lighten the mood, but now was not the time or the place for it. Instead, he nodded in compliance.

“Okay, Bobby. Lead the way.”


“You think Mike’s got poison ivy yet?” Alex wondered with a smirk as she and Carolyn sat outside a café with large mugs of fresh coffee. Carolyn groaned.

“God, I hope not. He’ll kill Bobby if he ends up with poison ivy.”

Alex couldn’t help but snicker.

“I know. And I know I shouldn’t laugh, but just the thought… God, I wonder if Stabler really knew what he was letting himself in for when he went with them?”

“I doubt it,” Carolyn retorted. “But he will by the time they get back.”

“You don’t have any sympathy for him do you?” Alex asked with a grin, and Carolyn had to smile.

“Actually, I do. I really do like Elliot. He’s been a good friend. But if he was dumb enough to accept an invitation, from Mike Logan, of all people, to go up to the mountains… Well, let’s just call it self-inflicted punishment.”

Alex couldn’t help it. She snorted, and then burst in laughter as an image presented once more in her mind’s eye of Bobby Goren, Mike Logan and Elliot Stabler trying to survive a weekend together in the wilderness.

“I bet they end up in the lake, at least once,” she said in between fits of laughter. Carolyn smirked.

“Only once? My bet’s on at least twice.”

“What’s so funny, ladies?”

Both Alex and Carolyn looked around to see Fin Tutuola and John Munch standing there, eyeing them bemusedly.

“Nothing important,” Carolyn answered with a grin. “How’s it going, fellas? You want to join us for coffee?”

“We’d love to,” Fin answered, “but we’re working.”

“On a Saturday?” Alex wondered. “That stinks. What on?”

At that, Fin and Munch exchanged glances, and a mutual understanding passed unspoken between them not to burden the women with their worries.

“Just the usual,” Munch answered placidly. “Trying to track down some whack job. You having a ladies’ day out?”

“Something like that,” Alex replied, still grinning. “You sure we can’t tempt you to stay? Just for a little while?”

“Thanks, but no,” Munch said. “We really need to get moving. You know what it’s like.”

“Yeah, we do,” Carolyn confirmed ruefully. Fin and Munch headed inside to get their coffee, and emerged just a few minutes later laden with coffee and bagels.

“And I thought Twinkies had all the cop’s standard dietary requirements,” Carolyn retorted cheekily. Munch grinned sardonically at her as they passed.

“Not after ten in the morning. Twinkies are strictly a breakfast food. Didn’t you know that, Barek?”

Alex and Carolyn exchanged amused grins, and returned their attention to their own coffees. Fin and Munch were just starting to walk away when Fin hesitated

“We oughtta ask them, man.”

Munch frowned.

“Why? Why would they know?”

“Barek. She’s friends with Elliot and Olivia. Maybe he called her before he took off.”

“If he didn’t tell his kids, why would he have told her?” Munch argued. “C’mon, Fin. We’re wasting time, here. Let’s go.”

Fin hesitated for just a moment later before sighing and conceding.

“Okay. Let’s move.”

“What was that all about?” Alex wondered softly as she watched Fin and Munch walking away. “Tutuola looked seriously like he wanted to come back.”

Carolyn shrugged.

“Who knows? Who cares?” She finished off her coffee, and urged Alex to do the same. “C’mon, hurry up with that. We’ve got some serious shopping to do!”

Grinning, Alex downed the rest of her coffee, and hurried off with Carolyn, not a care on either of their minds.

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