A/N: Again, just a short chapter, but I guess I’d rather get a short something up on a regular basis, than go for prolonged periods with nothing at all. Please be patient with me, though. I’m hoping the excitement level is about to get cranked up big time.

Also, thanks so much to everyone reading and reviewing this story. It does help to know there are people reading it and enjoying it.

New York

Deakins emerged into the family room of his home to find Adkins on his cell phone, his brow creased in worry. Dropping his bag, Deakins approached slowly, his stomach knotting painfully. Surely something else hadn’t gone wrong…?

“What is it?” he asked.

“There’s a storm coming in fast upstate,” Adkins told him. “We may not be able to fly up there tonight. Hang on… Yes, what’s the news? …Goddamn it. There’s no other way to get there quickly? …All right, Kate. Book that for us, but if anything changes, you let me know immediately.”

He ended the call, then looked around at Deakins, his expression grim.

“All flights to Saratoga tonight have been cancelled. We’re not going to be able to get up there before tomorrow morning, at the earliest.”

Deakins stood stiffly, his stressed mind contemplating all that could happen in one night. He recalled another night that didn’t seem all that long ago, when all he had been able to do was sit around on his ass reading maps and case files, all the while knowing two of his friends and colleagues were out there in the dark, and in the cold, fighting for their very lives. He honestly did not know whether he could cope with another night like that one.

“We have to get up there somehow,” he said in a soft, tense voice. “We have to get up there tonight, Commissioner.”

“I know you’re worried, Jim. So am I, but short of driving there, I don’t know what we can do. Look… try calling your people again.”

Deakins nodded and pulled out his cell phone, hitting speed dial for Alex’s phone.

Wolf River

Alex frowned at the sound of her cell phone ringing as she and Bobby made their way wearily into their new room.

They, along with Olivia and Elliot, had opted to return to the motel to freshen up a little before meeting the others at the local bar for dinner. Logan and Bishop had stayed behind to interrogate Page with Lieutenant Brenner, while Munch and Fin helped supervise the collection of evidence at the Page property.

Bobby had been visibly disappointed at not having the opportunity to interrogate Page himself but, as Brenner had pointed out back at the station, Page was ready to spill his guts anyway.

As Logan had said, it was the fastest solve they’d ever done and, despite his reassurances to Alex, Bobby was half-bracing himself for that as yet unseen curve ball.

“Who is it?” Bobby asked tiredly as he dropped onto the bed. Alex looked at the caller ID, and then shot Bobby an amused smile.

“It’s Deakins. I forgot to call him back. He’s probably completely freaked out that we didn’t answer him when he called earlier.”

“We were in the middle of a shootout,” Bobby pointed out.

“Oh yeah,” Alex retorted. “I’ll be sure to tell him that. I’m sure it’ll make him feel a whole lot better. …Hello, sir.”

On the other end, she heard an audible sigh of relief, and had to struggle not to laugh as she walked over and sat down beside Bobby, switching to loudspeaker so that he could listen in as well.

Where in God’s name have you two been?” Deakins’ voice demanded. The connection crackled badly, and they both had to struggle to understand.

“We were…”

“Busy with a suspect,” Bobby put in, and Alex threw him a grateful look before agreeing.

“Yes, busy with a suspect.”

Great,” Deakins growled. “Knowing you two, that could mean any number of things.”

Alex rolled her eyes comically, and Bobby had to look away in an effort not to laugh. He strongly suspected that, right at that moment, laughter would not have gone down very well at all.

“Sorry, Captain,” Alex apologised. “We didn’t mean to worry you. Things just got a little hectic here.”

It’s all right, I’m not mad at either of you. I’m just glad to hear that you’re all right. You are all right, aren’t you?”

Again, Bobby and Alex exchanged glances.

“Well, we’re fine…” Alex said carefully.

“Elliot Stabler needed a dozen stitches in his hand and leg, though,” Bobby added. There was momentary silence on the other end of the phone.

What happened?”

“Our suspect didn’t want to play nice,” Alex answered. “He decided to start shooting at us, and Elliot decided to play hero. He tore up his hand and leg jumping a wire gate down the side of the house we were at.”

Another silence.

Is Stabler going to be all right?”

Bobby and Alex exchanged startled looks at the new voice.

“Commissioner Adkins?” Bobby asked tentatively.

Yes, Detective Goren,” Adkins confirmed. “I’m back early, and yes, I promise you both that I’m going to hang Salinger out to dry for this latest stunt.”

The two detectives exchanged grins, and then Bobby spoke confidently.

“Elliot’s going to be fine, sir. He’s more upset about ruining a good pair of pants than needing twelve stitches and a tetanus shot.”

There was muffled laughter through the phone, and then Deakins spoke again.

Listen up, both of you. There could be trouble heading your way. We think Salinger is on his way to Wolf River.”

Both Bobby and Alex froze, the smiles wiped right off their faces.

“We must be tired,” Alex said finally. “I could have sworn you just said Salinger is on his way here.”

I did say that, Alex. The problem is that we don’t know why.”

Bobby sat fully upright.

“Are you trying to say he might have completely lost it?”

It’s seriously beginning to look that way, Detective,” Adkins answered grimly. “Now, Captain Deakins and I are coming up there. We’ll be there as soon as possible, but until we arrive, for God’s sake, be careful. If he does turn up, whatever happens, don’t allow yourself to be caught alone with him. We have no way of knowing what he might be intending to do, and I would hope he wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and harm either of you...

“But you can’t rule it out,” Alex concluded.

I’m afraid not,” Adkins agreed grimly. “We are coming as fast as we can, but there’s a storm coming in up there, and all flights have been cancelled. We aren’t likely to get there until some time tomorrow morning, at the earliest.”

“Any suggestions on what we should do if he turns up?” Bobby asked grimly.

Try not to say or do anything that might let him know that we’re on to him,” Deakins answered. “Just act like you normally would around him.”

Bobby and Alex exchanged amused smiles.

“You mean, act generally insubordinate,” Alex put in, and both she and Bobby grinned widely at the sound of choked laughter coming from the phone.

Just don’t get caught alone with him,” Adkins repeated. “Whatever else happens, don’t let that happen.”

And tell Stabler and Benson what’s going on,” Deakins added. “Please, both of you, be careful. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

The call ended, and the two detectives looked at each other, sickened by what they’d just been told.

“You really think he’d try to hurt us…?”Alex asked softly. Bobby didn’t answer, staring back at her grimly. He didn’t need to, the look on his face spoke in volumes. She looked away, shaken. “Son of a bitch…”

Bobby slipped an arm around her shoulders, hugging her gently.

“We’re together. We’ll be fine. C’mon, let’s go and tell Elliot and Olivia.”

They emerged just as the two lead SVU detectives rounded the corner, each looking grim. Elliot was limping heavily, but otherwise seemed intact and no worse for wear.

“You two aren’t going to believe this,” Alex said tersely.

“Someone else is missing,” Olivia said abruptly.

That brought Bobby and Alex up short.

“Someone else?” Bobby echoed. “Who? When?”

“Thirteen year old Jane McManus,” Elliot answered. “No one’s seen her since last night. C’mon, we have to get to the station. Looks like you might get a shot at Page after all, Bobby.”

Bobby and Alex followed their colleagues back to the car, the disturbing new twist effectively erasing all thoughts of the phone call from Deakins from their minds.

“He won’t talk,” Brenner said in frustration when Elliot, Olivia, Bobby and Alex rejoined them at the station. “Son of a bitch says he never took her, but cheers to the bastard who did.”

“Let us in there,” Alex said tightly. Logan shook his head.

“It won’t do any good, Eames. Page doesn’t give a damn whether he’s facing life in prison, or the death penalty. We asked him about the McManus girl about ten times, in ten different ways. Every time, he either clammed up, or he just started laughing. I don’t think even your psycho-babble would get through to him, Goren.”

Bobby smiled grimly.

“Well, I won’t know until I try, will I?”

“You were at my house,” Page said tonelessly as Bobby came into the room, and manoeuvred himself carefully into the nearest chair. Damn, his leg was starting to give him hell, he thought distantly. Then, that thought was gone, and all that mattered was the sullen face staring back at him across the table.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Bobby confirmed. Page grunted.

“I need target practise. Should’ve been able to hit you, at least.”

“Is that a confession to attempted murder of a police officer?” Bobby asked calmly as he flipped through his notes. Page laughed softly. The sound left Bobby feeling mildly disturbed, but he was careful to keep his expression neutral.

“You told Detective Logan and Detective Bishop that you didn’t touch Jane McManus.”

“I didn’t. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have eventually. But she’s a bit too young. Girls don’t become total bitches until they turn sixteen.”

Bobby smiled at him. To those watching on the other side of the mirror, he looked distinctly like a shark circling in toward his prey.

“Sweet sixteen. That’s how old you were at your Prom, wasn’t it?”

Page didn’t move, simply stared back at Bobby.

“Yeah. So?”

“And Claire… She was sixteen, too.”

It wasn’t a question, and Page made no attempt to answer. Bobby went on after a moment’s hesitation, his attention back on his notes.

“Aren’t you gonna give me the line about avoiding the death penalty?” Page asked when, after nearly five minutes, Bobby’s silent flipping through notes finally began to unsettle him. Bobby looked up at him slowly.

“No. You’re looking at that no matter what.”

“Then how are you going to convince me to tell you where to find little Jane?”

“You said you didn’t take her,” Bobby pointed out. Page sneered at him.

“Yeah, I did. But I didn’t say that I didn’t know where she was.”

For an instant, the two men locked stares. Then, to Page’s infuriation, Bobby went calmly back to his notes.

“Well?” Page demanded, his voice rising noticeably.

“Well what?” Bobby asked. Page leaned forward against the edge of the desk, enraged by the perceived brush-off he was getting from this out of town upstart cop.

“Aren’t you gonna offer me a deal? So I’ll talk?”

“You’re already talking,” Bobby answered, finally closing his notebook and returning his attention to the suspect. “You’re just not saying the right things. But you want us to offer you a deal? How about this. You tell us where to find Jane McManus… before it’s too late to save her life… and we’ll put you in a nice, cosy cell in solitary, while you’re waiting to be executed, and then you don’t have to get ass-fucked every day until you die.”

On the other side of the glass, Brenner looked at the other detectives incredulously.

“Did he just say what I think he said?”

Even Elliot and Olivia were staring at Alex, stunned. Alex just shrugged. She, too, had been poleaxed by her partner’s blunt statement. He usually tended to be more subtle than that, but she also trusted his judgement implicitly. She only hoped that he wouldn’t infuriate Page to the point of attacking him.

In the interrogation room, Page had gone very still and very quiet all of a sudden. He stared at Bobby, eyes wide with a mixture of hatred and panic. Bobby returned his stare with a calm gaze.

“Well?” he asked when Page still hadn’t moved or spoken minutes later. “What do you think of that deal? Tell us where she is, or we’ll find a nice, friendly inmate to share a cell with you, and play daddy for you right up until the day you’re executed. And just so you know, with appeals and red tape, you could be waiting for years until they finally getting around to putting that hot shot in your arm.”

“He’s crazy,” Brenner muttered, one hand going to his gun. “Detective Eames, no offence, but your partner’s fucking crazy. Eliza Page moved here with Toby to get him away from his father, because the son of a bitch was sexually abusing him! If he doesn’t shut his mouth in there, Toby’ll attack him for sure!”

“It’s okay,” Alex murmured, feeling amazingly calm in the face of the near hysterics from Brenner. “Bobby knows what he’s doing. And he knows about the abuse. It’s why he used it in the first place. Just trust him, okay?”

Brenner looked unconvinced, but conceded reluctantly.

“I hope you’re right, Ma’am. For his sake…”

Inside the close room, Bobby continued to stare intently at Page, acutely aware of the other man’s growing rage, but showing no hint of nervousness.

“Well?” Bobby pressed.

Page’s sallow features twisted into an ugly glare and he leaned forward across the table, speaking in a whisper that could not be heard through the speaker system into the observation room.

“You stupid, arrogant fuck. I could break your fucking neck before any of them could get in here to stop me. Sure, they’d probably shoot me dead, but then they’d never find poor little Janey, either. All they’d have left would be a dead suspect, a dead cop, and dead kid… except they’d only have two bodies.”

To his credit, Bobby didn’t flinch in the face of Page’s snarled threat.

“What do you want, Toby?” he asked quietly. Page stared at him for a long moment before dropping back into his seat.

“What do I want? You really want an answer to that?”

“Sure,” Bobby answered calmly. “What do you want?”

Page laughed coarsely.

“Well, I’m not stupid enough to say I want to be let go. I know that’s not going to happen. What I want, though… I’ll write out a list of names, and I want a written apology from every single fucking one of them.”

“For what they put you through in school?” Bobby wondered, and Page nodded. His harsh sneer faded and softened.

“Yeah. For everything. And I want it to be sincere. Not some shit that’s been dictated to them by you cops.”

“And then you’ll tell us where to find Jane McManus.”

Page looked at Bobby thoughtfully, and then smiled faintly and, for an instant, Bobby caught a glimpse of the innocent boy that this bitter man had once been.

“You know something, Detective, I’m gonna show a bit of faith here. I’m gonna tell you where to find her, and I’ll trust that you’ll do what I’ve asked. Can I trust you?”

Bobby nodded.

“You can trust me, Toby. Can I trust you?”

Page smiled again, and this time there was innocent or pleasant about it.

“Oh, for sure. I don’t need to lie about this. The truth is beautiful enough. You see… I know who you are, Detective Goren. My friend, Erik? He sent me a picture of you and your partner about a week before he grabbed you both. I know all about what he did to you, Detective.”

Bobby felt the blood suddenly run ice cold in his veins. He was not liking the sudden turn this conversation had taken. Page laughed softly.

“What’s the matter, Detective? Not quite gotten over it yet? Ever thought that all you need to do is face those fears head on? Maybe all you need to do is go back up the mountain again. And guess what? I’m going to help you out there. You and your partner both.”

Bobby didn’t speak, his breath almost freezing in his throat as he stared at Page. The other man grinned widely.

“That’s right, Detective. She’s up on the mountain. I left her in Erik’s cabin, in that cosy little room where you and your partner spent two whole days tied up.”

Bobby pushed himself to his feet and left the room as quickly as he could, leaving Page alone and laughing cruelly to himself.

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