The first thing Alex became aware of as she came back to awareness was the pain. She groaned softly, wanting nothing more than to sink back into the painless nothingness of sleep. It wasn’t going to happen, though. Reluctantly accepting that she was, indeed, awake, Alex slowly forced her eyes open.

At first, nothing made sense. Everything was a fuzzy blur. Then, gradually, everything came back into focus, and she found herself staring up into the face of her captain.

“Captain…” she mumbled, trying to sit up. He pressed down gently on her shoulders, keep her from moving.

“Don’t get up just yet, Alex. Just keep still. An ambulance is on the way.”

“Don’t need one,” she protested, making a second attempt to get up, which Deakins foiled yet again.

“Don’t argue with me, Alex. You at least need that knock on your head looked at.”

Alex groaned again, and gave up trying to move. Deakins watched her for a long moment, then spoke carefully.

“Alex, what happened?”

She thought it over for a long minute before finally answering him.

“I was talking to Bobby… after you left…” She groaned again. “I’d left Jason in the living room to go and talk to him. I’m sorry, Captain…”

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he told her firmly, keeping his amusement under wraps that, all of a sudden, she was calling him ‘Bobby’, rather than ‘Goren’. “I didn’t expect you to be able to keep them both in eyesight every second.”

She sighed softly.

“While I was talking to Bobby, we heard a crash, and someone cried out in pain. I told Bobby to stay in his bedroom, and I went out to see what had happened. I hardly got out of the door when someone hit me over the head. Next thing I know, I’m waking up to your face.” Panic flashed in her eyes. “Where’s Bobby and Jason?”

“They’re both gone,” Deakins told her grimly. “I found Goren’s crutch in the underground car park…”

“And?” Alex asked, frowning a little.

“And blood on the ground,” he added reluctantly.

“What about Carson?” she asked, referring to the officer who had been standing guard at the door. Deakins didn’t answer, and Alex quickly understood the truth from his silence.

“He’s dead?”

“Yes, shot once in the head.”

“Had to have been a silencer,” Alex muttered. “We never heard anything until that crash…”

Deakins looked around, and his gaze went to the other side of the room, where one of the shelf units had collapsed, scattering books across the floor. He guessed that Scott had attacked Jason, and probably slammed him in the wall, causing the shelving to collapse. That would have been the loud crash that Bobby and Alex had heard, and probably the cause of the cry of pain they’d heard as well.

“All right,” he murmured. “Just try and relax, Alex. The ambulance will here soon…”

“No,” Alex muttered and she pushed herself up, ignoring her captain’s protests. “Damn it… I’m okay. It’s just a knock on the head, I’ll be fine.”

Deakins moved back, watching with disapproval as Alex sat up, and then got to her feet. She swayed unsteadily, and Deakins caught her arm to keep her from falling.

“I’m okay,” she murmured, wincing at the pain in her skull. “We have to find them, Captain.”

“We will,” Deakins promised her, leading her over to sit in one of the armchairs. “We’ll find them, Alex.”

In the following minutes, the paramedics arrived, and were soon followed by a team from the NYPD CSU. While the paramedics tended to the knock on Alex’s head, the CSU officers began processing, looking for vital evidence.

“You’ll find blood in the car park under the building,” Deakins told the lead CSI. “If you can determine what vehicle they were taken in, it’d be a help.”

The CSI nodded her compliance.

“We’ll do what we can, Captain Deakins.”

Deakins then turned back to Alex.

“Is she all right?” he asked the paramedic. The young man nodded as he gently cleaned the wound.

“She’ll be fine, Captain. It’s not as bad as it looks. Head wounds often tend to look worse than they really are. We can take her to the hospital for x-rays though, to be certain…”

“I’m not going to the hospital,” Alex snapped. “I’m fine.”

Deakins raised an eyebrow quizzically at the paramedic, waiting for the final verdict. If the young man said Alex needed to go for further treatment, he’d see her go even if it was strapped to a gurney. The paramedic smiled just a little.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said finally. “It’d just be a precaution. If she feels that she’s all right…”

The captain nodded, partly disappointed and partly relieved.

“Okay, then. Thankyou.”

Minutes later, Deakins was leading Alex to the lift, away from Bobby’s apartment.

“We need to get all the surveillance footage,” Alex muttered. “And the security footage of the building itself…”

“It’s all in hand, Alex. Let’s just get back to One Police Plaza. We can plan our next steps from there.”

“I’m sorry, Captain,” Alex said with a soft sigh. “I’ve let you down… And I’ve let Bobby down, too.”

Deakins wheeled around so abruptly that Alex nearly walked into him.

“Listen to me, Alex,” he told her fiercely. “You listen to me, and listen hard. You haven’t let anyone down. Not me, and especially not Goren. We had some of our most experience people working the surveillance on this building, and none of them picked Scott getting in here. I think we all made a mistake in that we forgot he used be a cop himself, and a damned good one. He knows all the tricks of the trade, and probably then some. Of course he wouldn’t have forgotten any of that, and we were all idiots not to take it into consideration. If anyone should be shouldering the blame here, it should be me. But I’m not laying blame at anyone’s feet, not yours, not mine, not anyone’s. It isn’t the time. We can all have a nice big attack of the guilts once this is resolved, but until then we all have to focus. Don’t falter on me, Alex. I need you to have a clear head.”

She pulled a face.

“You mean, aside from the budding migraine?”

He smiled grimly, and guided her into the lift.

“Yes, aside from the budding migraine. I’ll get you a valium when we get back to the office.”

“We are going to find them, right?” she asked softly, her voice taking on a tentative edge that she loathed.

“We’re going to do our best,” Deakins promised.

Alex fell silent, wishing miserably that she could find even some small comfort in her captain’s words, but right then there was no comfort to be had. There was only fear, and uncertainty.


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