Deakins stood in the doorway of his office, waiting impatiently for Bobby and Alex to return from examining the latest crime scene left by Alan Scott. They knew now without a doubt that it was Scott – the psychopath had left a dirty big fingerprint on Tommy Oliver’s watch, which had just been matched by CSU to Scott’s fingerprints that were in the system. He had no doubt a matching print would be found somewhere on Trini Kwan’s body, as well.

Scott didn’t seem to care whether he was caught, as long as he avoided capture long enough to do what he wanted to do.

Deakins grimaced. Specifically, that meant killing both Jason Scott and Bobby Goren.

The two detectives rounded the corner, deep in discussion. Deakins waited until they’d gotten their coats off, then called them over.

“I don’t suppose there’s any chance it was a totally random, unrelated attack?” he asked. Alex shook her head.

“No. The MO’s the same, and CSU found fingerprints that they just finished analysing. It was Alan Scott.”

Deakins sighed heavily.

“Okay. We have a lunatic on the rampage here, and no starting point for where to find him.” He looked across at Bobby with a mixture of sympathy and apology on his face. Bobby caught the look, and quickly interpreted its meaning.

“No! I’m not going into protective custody! Captain, I’m not going into hiding!”

“I warned you already, Goren,” Deakins argued. “We’ve had two deaths too many, and I’m not placing you at risk when I don’t have to.”

“I don’t need to be in protection,” Bobby protested. “Look, so far, Scott has only targeted Jason’s friends. He hasn’t come anywhere near me…”

“That you know of,” Deakins cut in sharply. “Don’t fight me on this, Goren. I promise you that I will win.”

“I won’t go into hiding,” Bobby persisted stubbornly, sounding remarkably like a schoolboy who’d just been asked to do something that he didn’t want to do. Deakins half-expected to hear him mutter ‘You can’t make me’, but it didn’t come.

“Bobby,” Deakins pleaded, resorting to using the detective’s first name, “don’t make me do something that I really don’t want to do! This is for your own protection, after all.”

“What would you do, suspend me?” Bobby demanded defiantly. Deakins stared right back at him grimly, and Bobby almost literally deflated right in front of both him and Alex.

“You’re… You’re not serious?” he stammered. It was all Deakins could do not to fold under the intensity of the stares from both Bobby and Alex.

“I will if you leave me no other choice, Goren.”

“You can’t do that, Captain!” Alex burst out, jumping to her partner’s defence. “You know that goes on his record!”

“I don’t want to do it,” Deakins growled. “If you’ll just swallow your damn pride, Goren, and do what I’m asking, then I won’t have to!”

Bobby sat frozen to his seat, barely able to comprehend the threat that had just been levelled against him by a man that he was just coming to respect and admire.

“I’m sorry to have to do this to you,” Deakins apologised in a calmer tone, “but I just don’t want anything to happen to you. Can’t you understand that?”

Bobby continued to sit stiffly, neither speaking or moving. Deakins watched him with more than a touch of fear. He’d hated having to threaten the suspension, and in truth he would never actually go through with it officially, but the effect the mere threat had had on Bobby was profound.

Suddenly, without warning, Bobby launched himself to his feet and stormed out of Deakins’ office.

“Goren…” Alex called after him, but he gave no indication of stopping, or even slowing down. She looked back at Deakins, openly angry.

“Why did you do that? Why did you have to threaten to suspend him? After all the crap the brass put him through over the Scott case to begin with, that was just plain stupid!”

Deakins sighed.

“I know, I should never have suggested it. I just don’t want to see him get hurt, Alex.”

“Neither do I,” she growled, “but wrapping him in cotton wool isn’t going to help anyone.”

“Would you go after him, Alex?” Deakins pleaded with her. “Look, I’m not going to put him on suspension, but could you please try and talk some sense into him?”

Alex grimaced, but conceded and hurried after her wayward partner.

“Goren! Damn it, will you wait for me?”

He heard her calling after him, but kept walking and didn’t so much as glance back. His long legs allowed him to keep ahead of her, despite the fact that she was running.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk to her, but he was angry. He was damned angry, and the last thing he wanted was to take it out on his feisty partner. A small, dark part of him was terrified that if he let her see the full force of his anger, then she would turn tail and run away from him as fast as she could. The logical side of his brain laughed such a notion off, but he still couldn’t rid himself of that deep, dark fear.

And so he kept walking, pretending to be oblivious to her shouts. He’d passed through the outer doors of One Police Plaza and had made it almost all the way to the street when Alex bellowed after him once more.

“Goddamn it, Goren, stop walking or I swear to God I will shoot you!”

He stopped, brought to a halt more by the vehemence in her voice than the actual words.

“Now turn around and look at me!”

Again, he was compelled to move more by her tone of voice than the actual verbal demand. As their eyes met, he thought he saw her flinch a little, but she recovered herself quickly enough that he just couldn’t be certain. She stood several metres away from him, making no effort to move closer, but the look in her eyes demanded he stop running from her. He found himself obeying that demand, unable to deny her.

“That’s better,” Alex growled. “Now, will you please talk to me?”

“What’s to talk about?” Bobby said bitterly. “He said he’ll suspend me. If he does that, I’m finished. I won’t get another chance.”

“He’s not going to suspend you,” Alex told him, walking closer slowly, as if any sudden movement on her part would cause him to bolt like a frightened rabbit. “He’s just worried and, frankly, so am I. We don’t doubt you can take care of yourself, but you can’t be blind to the danger, either!”

Bobby stood silently, staring at Alex with an inscrutable expression. He was just on the verge of conceding when someone shouted a panicked warning to him to watch out. Even before he had a chance to react to the shout, he saw Alex’s eyes widen in shock, and her mouth open as though to shout a warning of her own, but no sound emerged from her lips.

He turned fully towards the sound of the first voice, just in time to see the mini-van coming straight at him.

Bobby’s reflexes were good, but not that good. Later on, he would testify that he remembered very little of the incident itself – just that instant of panic at seeing the vehicle bearing down on him, followed by a blinding pain through his entire body at the actual Moment of impact. Then, he was lifted into the air, only to land with an excruciating thud back on the concrete pavement. His head struck the hard surface, and his world faded to black.

Alex heard the shout, and looked around just as a van mounted the pavement, heading straight for her partner. She opened her mouth to yell, for whatever good it would have done, but no sound came out.

She stood, paralysed, as the van hit Bobby head on, the impact sending him flying several metres through the air. She could only watch in numb horror as her partner’s body hit the pavement with a truly sickening thud, his head bouncing off the concrete like a semi-deflated basketball.

The van sped off without so much as slowing down, but Alex had no eyes for the vehicle, or its number plates. Breaking her paralysis, she flew across the pavement to where Bobby lay, his body a broken and twisted mess.

“Bobby? Can you hear me? Oh god…”

She reached for him, but a new voice spoke loudly, startling her into pulling her hands back.

“No, don’t touch him! Wait for the paramedics to get here. If there’s an injury to his spine, you could just make it worse.”

She looked around dazedly to find one of her fellow Major Case detectives, David McCall, was suddenly at her side. He had his radio out, and was calling for help almost before he’d finished speaking to her.

“Dispatch, I need an ambulance sent to One Police Plaza, stat. We have an officer down. He’s been hit by a car…”

Alex tuned out McCall’s voice, and turned her attention back to her partner.

“Goren, can you hear me?”

She held little hope, but tried anyway. Her heart skipped a beat when a faint moan escaped his lips, and his eyes fluttered open.

“Oh, thank God,” she whispered. She reached out to touch him again, but managed to stop herself just short of doing so, remembering McCall’s warning.

“Captain Deakins…? Yes, it’s McCall. You’d better get out here now. Goren’s just been hit by a van. …Yes, he’s alive, but it looks like he’s pretty badly hurt. …Okay.”

McCall slipped his cell phone back into his pocket, then looked at Alex.

“Captain’s on his way down. He’s gonna be okay, Eames. An ambulance is on its way.”

Alex nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Instead, she turned her focus onto Bobby, and away from the gathering crowd of cops who had seen the frightening incident.

His eyes managed to focus on her, but though his lips moved, nothing came out.

“Don’t try to talk,” she told him softly. “Just save your strength, okay? And hang on, help’s coming.”

A shudder passed through him, and his eyes flickered shut as he lost consciousness again. Alex looked up, then, at the multitude of cops milling around, watching the scene before them with genuine concern.

“Please,” Alex said in a strained voice, “tell me someone got the plate number.”

“Plates were painted over,” someone said. “The van left tread marks on the concrete, though. CSU might be able to do something with that.”

Abruptly, the crowd parted, and a Moment later Deakins literally skidded to his knees beside Alex.

“Christ Almighty… What the hell happened?”

“It was a deliberate hit,” McCall told him grimly. “The son of a bitch, whoever he was, mounted the pavement and hit Goren pretty much head on. The guy never had a chance to get out of the way.”

Deakins let his breath out in a rush as he looked over the battered form of his detective. At a glance, it appeared he had at least two broken limbs – his left leg and his right arm. He probably had broken ribs… as well as one hell of a shocking concussion. And God only knew what sort internal damage there might be…

“Has anyone called an ambulance?” he demanded to know.

“I did,” McCall confirmed. He looked up as the sound of sirens reached their ears. “Here it comes now.”

The ambulance pulled up close by, and Alex and Deakins were both forced back while the paramedics saw to the injured detective.

“Alex, go with him in the ambulance,” Deakins told her quietly. “Wait there, and let me know as soon as you hear how he is.”

She nodded, watching as the paramedics slid a backboard beneath her partner’s body, and lifted him carefully onto the gurney.

“What are you going to…?”

“I’m going to organise a guard rotation for Goren. Then I’m going to arrange to put Jason into protective custody, and get the rest of his friends onto planes and send them home,” Deakins explained.

“You think it was Scott?” she asked. He nodded.

“I don’t doubt it was Scott. This is just too much of a coincidence. McCall…?”

“Yes, sir?”

“You say it wasn’t an accident?”

McCall gave a short, barking laugh.

“No way was that an accident, sir. That van mounted the sidewalk and just drove straight at him. It wasn’t an accident. I’d say that whoever was driving that van was trying damned hard to kill Goren.”

Deakins nodded grimly.

“I’m going to organise a guard rotation to protect Goren. Scott’s tried once now, and made a damned good fist of it by all appearances. I’m not taking anymore chances. Goren’s going into protective custody, whether he likes it or not.”

“He won’t like it,” Alex muttered.

“I don’t care,” Deakins growled. “Goren is clearly a viable target for this lunatic. I won’t take unnecessary risks. He’s going into protective custody, and that’s final. Go with the ambulance, Alex, and call me with an update as soon as you can.”

Alex nodded wearily and followed her partner to the ambulance.


Deakins looked around as McCall joined him, and the two men began to walk back to One Police Plaza.

“What is it?”

“This attack on Goren… You don’t seem surprised by it.”

“Honestly, McCall? I’m not. Do you remember the Scott case thirteen years back?”

McCall raised an eyebrow slightly.

“You mean the one Goren was involved in? That detective from Homicide who was killing those women?”

“That’s the one. He’s out of prison.”

“I thought he was supposed to be in for life?”

“He was,” Deakins answered. “Friends in high places. Very high places.”

“Son of a bitch… Let me guess. Now he’s out, and he’s after Goren for a bit of old fashioned revenge.”

“Not only Goren. He’s after his son, too. We need to find this bastard, McCall. There are two young people dead, and he just took a damned good shot at Goren. I don’t want anymore casualties, or anymore deaths.”

“Do you want me to organise the guard rotation for at the hospital, sir?”

“No, I’ll take care of that. I want you to work with CSU, and see what they come up with. Can you do that, McCall? I know you have a pretty heavy caseload…”

“No, it’s okay,” McCall murmured. “I can do that. If you need me to do anything else, sir, just let me know.”

“I can’t believe Trini’s gone,” Kim whispered, her voice muffled by Zack’s shoulder.

“I know,” Zack murmured. “It’s just totally unbelievable.”

Jason glanced back at his two friends, then looked away again, out the window. When Bobby and his partner, Detective Eames, had arrived earlier to break the news, they had all been devastated, but Jason had suffered the added burden of guilt on top of his grief. Bobby had told him quietly that it wasn’t his fault, and that he wasn’t to blame himself, but Jason was having none of it.

It was his father, and his father was killing his friends, with the specific intention of hurting him. How did Bobby possibly think that he wasn’t supposed to feel guilty?

“It’s not your fault, Jason.”

Jason stiffened a little at Billy’s gentle admonishment.

“Then whose fault is it, Billy?”

“Trini should never have snuck out the way she did,” Billy said quietly. Kim looked up, anger flashing across her face.

“Don’t you blame Trini,” Kim said vehemently. “That’s just cruel, Billy.”

“It’s the truth,” Billy snapped. “She did the wrong thing, and she paid for it with her life. We were all told to stay in the hotel, but Trini decided that rule didn’t apply to her. She took a stupid chance, and it cost her. If you want to blame anyone else, you blame Jason’s biological father, and not Jason. He’s not responsible for what his father does, anymore than we’re responsible for our parents’ actions.”

“He’s right,” Zack murmured softly. “We don’t have to like it, but Billy’s right. Trini made the wrong decision. Jase…?”

Jason turned away from the window, and dropped heavily into the nearest chair.

“I keep waiting for the next bit of bad news. Who’s he going to hit out at next?”

“They’ll catch him,” Billy said firmly. “He won’t get the chance to hurt anyone else, Jason. They’re going to catch him, and this time he really will go away for life.”

“I want to believe that,” Jason said miserably. “I really do.”

“But you can’t,” Zack said softly.

“Two people are dead because of me,” Jason insisted. “No matter how you look at it, that’s still the bottom line. I’m responsible for Tommy and Trini’s deaths. No matter how you look at it…”

The door to their suite opened suddenly, and all four looked around just as a tall, silver-haired man walked in.

“You a cop?” Zack asked dully. Deakins nodded.

“I’m James Deakins. I’m captain of the Major Case Squad.” His gaze flickered over the four, and finally came to rest on Jason. “Mr Scott, I’m here to place you officially in protective custody. The rest of you will be escorted to La Guardia, and placed on flights home.”

Jason stood up slowly, his already pale face turning the colour of ash.

“He’s killed someone else, hasn’t he?”

“No, not killed,” Deakins said grimly. “Detective Goren was run down by a vana couple of hours ago when he left One Police Plaza.”

“Oh no,” Jason moaned.

“Please,” Deakins said, “get your things together.”

“We’re going now?” Zack asked incredulously. Deakins focused a hard look on him.

“Yes, Mr Taylor, now. The sooner the three of you are out of New York, the happier I’ll be.”

“And what about me?” Jason asked hoarsely.

“Arrangements are being made as we speak,” Deakins told him. “You’ll have around the clock police protection until your father is apprehended.”

“He’s not my father,” Jason said bitterly as he headed to his room to pack his bags.

“Is he badly hurt?” Jason asked softly once he and his friends had been ushered into individual police SUVs and were headed away from the hotel, to their various destinations. “Bobby, I mean…”

“He was fairly badly hurt,” Deakins confirmed. “I heard from Detective Eames at the hospital just before I got to the hotel. His left leg was broken… and so was his right arm, and he has several cracked ribs… and one hell of a vicious concussion. He banged his head pretty damn hard on the pavement, apparently.”

“Captain Deakins,” Jason asked, “I’d like to see him, if I could.”

Deakins looked across at him thoughtfully.

“I think we can manage that. Mackenzie, head for St Clare’s.”

“Yes, sir.”

Alex was sitting in Bobby’s hospital room when Deakins arrived with Jason. She’d pulled a chair over close to the bed, and was watching her partner worriedly. Bobby was awake, though clearly none-too-receptive. In addition to the broken limbs he’d suffered, his face was covered in small cuts and bruises, but beneath the discolouration of those marks, his face was almost ivory white from shock and loss of blood.

“How are you feeling, Goren?” Deakins asked as he and Jason came into the room, past the cops standing guard at the door. Goren looked over at them wearily, and the pain he was suffering was reflected all too clearly in his face.

“Do I have to answer that?” he asked, his voice barely more than a mumble. “And don’t say ‘I told you so’, please…”

“I won’t say it,” Deakins answered, “but you can be damned sure that I’m thinking it. Damn it, Goren, why did you have be so pig-headed? You could have been killed!”

Bobby sighed faintly.

“Well, don’t worry. Consider me cured.”

“I should hope so,” Deakins growled, and then looked across at Alex.

“Have you spoken to the doctor?”

She nodded.

“Yes, just a little while ago, actually. He said it’s not as bad as it looks, and the doctor said he can probably go home tomorrow. He didn’t need surgery, luckily. No internal injuries. He won’t be moving anywhere very quickly for a while, though.”

Deakins’ gaze went to Bobby’s plastered left leg, and his plastered right arm, and it was all he could to not to cringe. Alex wasn’t wrong – Bobby wouldn’t be going anywhere fast for quite some time. Jason came forward, then, his expression filled with guilt.

“I’m sorry, Bobby…”

Bobby looked over at him, frowning a little.

“For what?”

“Well… for this,” Jason stammered, indicating Bobby’s injuries with a general sweep of his hand. “You… You could have been killed!”

Bobby dismissed Jason’s worries with a disinterested grunt.

“Wasn’t your fault.”


“I said, it wasn’t your fault.”

“No,” Deakins retorted. “It was his fault for being a stubborn ass.”

Bobby shot the captain a death glare, then sighed in resignation and shut his eyes tiredly.

“So what happens now?” Jason asked nervously.

“As soon as Goren is discharged, he’ll go into protective custody, the same as you,” Deakins explained.

“In other words,” Bobby said without opening his eyes, “we get put under lock and key while the rank and file brigade searches for Alan.”

“Thin ice, Goren,” Deakins growled warningly. Then, to Jason, “I expect you’ll both be put up in a hotel somewhere out of the way.”

“Out of the way,” Bobby grumbled. “That’s sounds just great.”

“Goren, don’t start,” Deakins snapped. “You’re in no position to argue with me.”

Bobby looked across at the captain in increasing aggravation.

“I don’t care to be cooped up in a dingy little hotel room, Captain.”

“Bobby, listen to me,” Deakins said in a forcibly calm tone. “This is no minor issue. This is a serious threat to both you and Jason. You can’t deny that.”

“I’m not denying anything,” Bobby argued, but Deakins silenced him with a stern look.

“Let me finish, Detective. This is a serious, credible threat, and I am not going to risk you being injured again… or killed, for that matter. And if that means locking you up in – as you put it – a dingy little hotel room, then so be it. Do you understand me?”

Bobby looked away sulkily, still in too much pain and shock to be able to argue any further. Alex was watching her partner thoughtfully through the whole exchange. Her gaze flickered briefly to Jason, and she realised he was no more happy with the situation than Bobby was.

“Can I suggest something?” she asked quietly. All three men looked at her expectantly, and it was with considerable effort that she swallowed an urge to respond to their apparent expectations with sarcasm.

“Anything to stop World War III,” Deakins said dryly, and Alex found herself having to fight back a smirk.

“Instead of a hotel, what about Goren’s apartment?”

She could read the incredulity on their faces as clearly as if it were flashing neon on a billboard above their heads. Somehow keeping the urge to laugh under control, Alex elaborated.

“Goren has a big enough apartment to cater for Jason as well, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. We can keep the building under surveillance, have a couple of cops posted at his front door round the clock, and I can stay with them in the apartment to keep and eye on things and be close at hand if there is any trouble.”

Deakins frowned a little.

“I suppose that could work,” he conceded with reluctance.

“So instead of being locked up in a hotel room, I get to be locked up in my own apartment,” Bobby grouched. He yelped a moment later when Alex smacked him on the shoulder. “That hurt, damn it!”

“Good,” Alex snapped back. “I’m trying to help your sorry ass out here. You could try being a little more appreciative.”

Bobby scowled.

“I have an excuse,” he said, sounding for all the world like a petulant child. “I’m in pain.”

“Bullshit,” she retorted. “You’re a stubborn ass, just like the captain said. Now shut up, and let me handle this.”

“Great,” Bobby muttered, though by that time he was having a hard time hiding the grin that wanted to fight its way onto his face. “Henpecked, and I’m not even married.”

“Don’t make me hit you again, Goren,” Alex warned him, and he promptly shut his mouth.

“All right,” Deakins agreed suddenly, quietly impressed with the way Alex brought the stubborn detective back into line with a few sharp, well-aimed words. “Okay, I’ll go along with it. We’ll put Jason up in a hotel for tonight, and tomorrow we’ll move the two of you into your apartment, Goren. That will give me time to organise full surveillance. Eames will stay inside the apartment to…”

“Chaperone?” Bobby suggested, only to yelp again as he won himself yet another smack across the shoulder. He shut his mouth again meekly, effectively silenced without Alex having to speak a single word. Deakins threw her a look of admiration before continuing on.

“Eames will stay in the apartment as well to monitor everything at close quarters. Bottom line is, I don’t want Alan Scott getting anywhere near either of you. Once you’re in that apartment, you’re both to stay put. No exceptions, not for any reason. Now, we will catch Alan, but I need your cooperation, and that is going to come in the form of not putting yourselves in harm’s way. Am I making myself clear?”

Jason nodded quickly, quietly relieved not only to have avoided being sequestered in some dingy little hotel room, as Bobby had so eloquently put it, but also to have company.

“Crystal,” Bobby mumbled wearily, exhaustion finally starting to overtake him. Deakins watched as the younger man slipped into a light sleep, his hard expression softening noticeably. Alex watched him with just a hint of a smile before speaking quietly.

“Don’t worry, Captain. I’ll look after him, I promise.” Her gaze went to Jason. “That goes for both of you.”

Jason grimaced. “Haven’t been told that since I was in Junior High, and my parents still thought I needed a babysitter.”

“I’m no babysitter,” Alex warned him lightly. “And I’ll cheerfully give you a swift kick up the ass if you give me any trouble. Got it, kid?”

“Loud and clear,” Jason said with a chuckle.

“All right,” Deakins murmured, a wry smile tugging at his lips as he ushered Jason back out into the hospital corridor. “Let’s get moving. We have to get you safely to your temporary accommodation for tonight, Jason. And you’d better enjoy the peace while it lasts, because you won’t get much of it once you’re holed up with those two.”

“I heard that,” Alex’s voice floated out to them. Deakins grinned, and guided Jason back along the corridor, graciously deciding to let the feisty detective have the last word.


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