A HUNTING WE WILL GO
A/N: Apparently, we are doing shorter chapters, more frequently.
Jimmy Deakins was in the middle of a romantic at-home dinner with his wife when the phone rang. He briefly considered ignoring it, but for Angie’s wry smile and gentle urging of him to take the call.
“Go on,” she told him with a soft laugh. “You know you’ll be too busy wondering who it was to focus on me if you don’t answer it.”
Kissing her lightly, Jimmy walked over to the sideboard and picked up the phone.
Instantly, Jimmy felt his stomach begin to knot up. He recognised that voice, as well as the tone.
“Carolyn?” he asked, trying his best to keep his own voice neutral. Maybe he was just jumping the gun… although he doubted she’d called at nearly five-thirty on a Saturday evening just to say hello. “What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering… Could I get the location of your cabin? The one that Bobby and Mike went to this weekend?”
Jimmy couldn’t quite suppress the frown that rose on his face.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
There was just a split second’s hesitation. That was all, but it was more than enough, and Carolyn knew she couldn’t lie to him.
“Actually, Sir, there is. Elliot Stabler from SVU went with them. The problem is that we’ve just found out that Darius Blake escaped from a prison transport yesterday morning, and he’s gone after Elliot.”
Jimmy felt his stomach drop away entirely, and he suddenly found he had to suppress a power desire to tell Carolyn he’d meet her in at the squad room. In a numb voice, he gave her the location of the cabin.
“Thankyou, Sir,” Carolyn murmured gratefully.
“Let me know that they’re okay?”
He heard her breath coming out in a rush, and he wondered what she had thought he was going to ask.
“I’ll do that. Thankyou, Captain.”
And then the line was cut as Carolyn ended the call at her end. Jimmy stood staring at the phone for nearly a minute after she’d hung up, until he was startled back to reality by his wife’s arms around his waist.
“Let me guess,” Angie murmured. “Bobby and Mike are giving their captain a headache?”
“Something like that,” he answered, suddenly reluctant to tell her the truth. He should have known better. His wife was the one person he had never been able to lie to. After a moment of staring into her eyes, he found himself repeating what Carolyn had told him. Angie listened, pale and frightened.
“Oh god… And there’s no way to warn them…”
“They’ll be okay,” Jimmy murmured, hugging her to him. “Bobby and Mike are resourceful, and so is Elliot Stabler, from all I’ve heard. Blake won’t be any match for the three of them. They’ll probably have taken him down already, and be getting themselves drunk on Scotch by the time back-up arrives.”
“Do you really believe that?” Angie asked, and Jimmy hugged her even more tightly still.
“I have to, Angie. I have to believe it.”
Danny Ross was busy doing nothing, and enjoying every minute of it. So few and far between now were his moments of peace and solitude, that he positively cherished them when they did come. He lay sprawled on his sofa, head propped up on a pillow and a cold beer in one hand, while letting the thumping bass from his stereo wash over him. The noise sometimes pissed off the neighbours, but none of them had complained since the night four years ago when he’d single-handedly taken down a serial home-invader who for weeks had been stalking elderly women in his neighbourhood.
He had the volume up so loud that it was only by pure chance that he caught the sound of his cell phone ringing in between riffs. Scowling at the unwanted interruption, he sat up and snatched up the tiny piece of technology that had so much power to impact on his personal time.
“Ross,” he growled into the phone, half hoping that whoever was on the other end would think twice, say never mind and hang up. No such luck.
“Captain, it’s Eames.”
Ross felt irritation, followed rapidly by concern. He knew there was no way she’d be calling him on the weekend unless something was wrong. Taking a moment to allow his temper to settle, he tried again.
“What is it, Eames?”
“Captain, we’ve got a problem. A very big problem. It’s Mike and Bobby…”
Though he couldn’t be sure, Ross thought his blood pressure might have shot up just at the mention of their names.
“What about them, Eames?”
“You probably aren’t aware of this, Sir, but Elliot Stabler from SVU went with them.”
“Go on,” Ross told her, not in the mood for an extended tale.
“Sir, are you aware that Darius Blake escaped from prison yesterday morning?”
At that, Ross went very quiet. He knew the Riverside Rapist case by default – at the time, he had been a lieutenant with the homicide squad that had originally caught the case before it was turned over to the Special Victims Unit. He’d continued to keep track of the case as SVU hunted for the killer, and subsequently he’d been aware of Olivia Benson’s abduction by Blake, and the violent assault that had nearly killed Elliot Stabler.
“No,” he said finally, quietly, as all the pieces rapidly came together in his mind. “I wasn’t aware of that. Where are you right now, Detective?”
“Carolyn Barek and I are on our way to SVU. We’re with Olivia Benson and Fin Tutuola.”
“I’ll be there in fifteen,” he said abruptly, and ended the call before Alex had a chance to say anything more. Getting up quickly, he took just enough time to switch off the stereo and grab his coat before bolting out the door.
Cragen was already there with Munch when the four detectives arrived, and he looked as eager to get moving as they were.
“We know where he is,” Olivia burst out. “We need to get up there now!”
“I know,” Cragen assured her. “We’ll get there as fast as we can, I promise you.” He looked around as the door banged open, and Ross strode in. “Hey, Danny.”
Ross nodded in grim greeting.
“Don. Eames gave me the basics on the phone. What’s the plan?”
“We got the exact location of the cabin from Jim Deakins,” Fin said firmly. “We’re assuming that Blake’s been up there since last night, or this morning at the latest.”
“There’s no way to contact them remotely,” Alex said, her firm tone of voice belying the fear that Ross knew she had to be experiencing. “There’s no phone line up there, and it’s a dead zone for cells. We have to get up there, and we have to go now.”
Ross looked back to Cragen, deferring to the other captain in an unspoken acknowledgement that they were on SVU turf.
“Your show, Captain, but I want in. Two of my detectives are in danger, as well as Stabler.”
Cragen conceded without argument. He knew it would have pointless to try and lock the Major Case Squad out. Pointless, and unnecessary.
“I’ve already made arrangements for a chopper to get us all up there. We need to be at the helipad on top of One Police Plaza in twenty minutes.”
“Okay, then. Let’s move out.”
He dreamt he was with Alex. It was the kind of dream that was bittersweet, a reminder of a good thing that was just beyond his grasp. He couldn’t quite reach her in his dream, and her pleas for him to try harder just about broke his heart.
I am trying, he insisted.
I know you are, baby, but you have to try harder. You can do it, but you have to have to believe you can do it.
He stretched further, and their fingertips brushed.
It hurts, he gasped as pain flared along his arms and down his side.
I know it does, but you can’t stop. C’mon, Mikey, you can do it. Please, just try…
“Please… wake up… C’mon, Mikey, don’t do this to me. Not now…”
Slowly, Mike dragged himself out of the oblivion of sleep as a familiar voice cut into his consciousness. He forced his eyes open, wondering dimly at the monumental effort he had to make just to achieve that simple thing.
“That’s it, Mikey. Wake up. You can do it.”
Groaning softly, Mike managed to open his eyes all the way, and in the rapidly fading light, he nearly wept at the face that hovered above his own.
“Bobby? You’re okay!”
Mike sat up, a little too quickly, and groaned again as pain seared through his side.
“Easy,” Bobby mumbled. “Just take it slow. You got shot, remember?”
“Just buckshot,” Mike said wearily. “I’m okay. Not so sure about you, though.”
“That… That’s makes two of us,” Bobby admitted and, as his wits returned to him, Mike could hear the slight shakiness in his brother’s voice, and he could see the way that Bobby was struggling to stay lucid. “I… Mikey… I think I might have a… a fractured skull.”
Mike wanted to argue, to tell Bobby he was wrong, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t stop thinking about that unnatural indentation where Bobby had been hit twice now.
For just a moment, Mike had a powerful longing to just go back to sleep. But then, remnants of his dream filtered back to him, and he could hear Alex’s voice as clearly as if she was standing right there beside him.
Try harder. You have to…
He drew in a steadying breath, and made his decision.
“Bobby, do you think you can walk?”
Bobby stared at him, dazed.
“Yeah, baby brother. Walk, as in walk back to the cabin.”
“I… I think so…”
Mike nodded decisively.
“Good. That’s all I needed to know.”
“What are you doing?” Bobby asked as Mike got awkwardly to his feet.
“I’m going to find a way to secure Elliot to that stretcher, so that I can use it as one of those travois things. Then you can walk, and I’ll drag Elliot.”
“That’s a… a good idea,” Bobby praised him, and Mike regarded him soberly.
“I’m just not leaving either of you behind. I won’t do that. I can’t do that.”
Bobby gazed up at Mike with an odd look on his face, causing the other man to shift uncomfortably.
“What is it?” Mike asked finally. A small, tired smile flickered across Bobby’s face.
“Was just thinking how lucky I am… to have you for a big brother.”
A powerful feeling of warmth spread through Mike, from the inside out, and right at that moment it didn’t seem quite so cold. Favouring Bobby with a grateful smile, he set about his task.
It took Mike half an hour to rig the stretcher so that Elliot wouldn’t slide off when Mike tried to drag him. By then it was cold, dark and Mike had to admit that he didn’t know which way to go to get back to the cabin.
“Bobby, I hope you know where to go,” he said grimly as he rummaged through the kits they’d brought with them earlier that day. “Because I don’t.”
“Torch,” Bobby told him breathlessly. “In the side pocket. And yeah, I know where we’re going. Don’t… Don’t worry about that.”
Mike pulled out the torch and handed to it Bobby, who switched it on. It was powerful, illuminating their surroundings in a flood of light.
“Well, at least we’ve got light,” Mike sighed. Bobby smiled weakly.
“Yeah. It… It’d be a bitch if one of us tripped in the… the dark… and broke a leg.”
Mike chuckled, quietly grateful that Bobby was at least still capable of making jokes. He turned his attention to Elliot, who was watching them through half-closed eyes from where he lay on the makeshift travois.
“How’re you doing there, Elliot?”
“Great,” Elliot mumbled.
“We’re just about ready to move,” Mike told him. “I think it’s probably gonna hurt you a lot, and I’m really sorry, but I can’t help that. There’s no other way, and I’m not leaving you behind.”
Elliot reached up with his left hand, and caught Mike’s hand briefly in his own.
“S’okay, Mike. Don’t… apologise. It… should be me apologising… to both of you.”
Bobby came over, frowning slightly.
“How do you figure that?”
“This,” Elliot answered, answered, struggling even then to maintain some semblance of reason. “This… my fault…”
Bobby and Mike exchanged glances. That was a road they had been down before, and neither cared to travel it again.
“Not your fault, pal,” Mike told him. “Blake’s fault. Not yours.”
“But… if I hadn’t g… gatecrashed your weekend…”
‘Then you would have been home alone,” Mike cut him off. “A sitting duck. You probably would have been dead by now, so don’t apologise to us, either, Elliot. Friends don’t have to say sorry for saving each other’s asses.”
Whether the silence that followed from Elliot was acceptance on his part, or whether he was simply too incoherent to carry on the conversation, Mike didn’t know. He checked the straps once more that secured Elliot to the stretcher, and then looked over at Bobby. His brother carried the torch, as well as four of the several bottles of water they’d brought with them. He’d found a long, sturdy stick, and was leaning on it for support.
Bobby nodded, and then winced at the pain that the movement caused him.
“Yeah,” he mumbled. “As ready as I can be.”
Stepping around, Mike took hold of the handles of the stretcher, and lifted. Elliot couldn’t suppress a sob as pain swept through his body at the movement, but Mike didn’t stop, or even hesitate. Once he was assured of his grip, he spoke with grim determination.
“Okay. Let’s get the hell off of this mountain.”
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