Some hours later
Bobby awoke slowly to a sore head, a rolling stomach and the remnants of an absolutely terrifying nightmare. Like so many of its kind before it, he had dreamt he was back in that little room in Erik Mathers’ cabin, tied up, gagged and blindfolded, and completely helpless.
As had happened so many times before in those pre-waking moments, as he came slowly back to awareness he could actually feel the ropes around his wrists and ankles. He could feel the gag jammed into his mouth, and he could feel the rough material of the blindfold that covered his eyes. A soft moan escaped his lips. Before long, reality would kick in, and he would wake up to find himself in a nice, warm bed, hugging his partner and best friend to him. Any moment now…
It took a good two or three minutes for Bobby to come to the frightening realisation that he was already awake, and that the nightmare was, in fact, very real. Bobby snapped back to awareness, sudden panic causing the adrenalin to pump through his body. He tried desperately to remember what had happened, but his memory was sketchy, at best. He recalled that Salinger had turned up… at the motel? And that he had somehow taken Alex out, and then him. Beyond that, his memories were a hopeless blur.
Fresh, agonising pain flared through his leg, drawing a muffled sob of pain from him. He tried to move, desperate to alleviate the pain, only to find that he was indeed tied up in exactly the same way that he had been when Erik Mathers had abducted him and Alex so many months ago…
His heart rate sky-rocketed as his panicked thoughts turned to his partner. Was she beside him?
He gave another muffled cry, but there was no response. So, she was either still unconscious, or she wasn’t there. God, he hoped it was just that she was still unconscious. The thought that they might have been separated was just about more than he could stomach.
He tried to shift, in the hope of making contact, but the pain that screamed through his leg brought him up short. Even the slightest movement was agony, and he dared not do anything to intentionally aggravate his damaged leg. He was still contemplating what to do, when he sensed movement next to him, on his left.
Bobby cried out Alex’s name, even though it came out as garbled nonsense through the gag. He was rewarded with a weak moan. Alex was just waking up. How long before she, too, realised just where they were? For he was sure, now, that they were in that god-awful little room in Erik Mathers’ cabin.
It didn’t take long. Bobby estimated that it took less than a minute for the weary moans to turn into muffled screams of panic. He wanted so desperately to be able to hug her, and tell her it was going to be okay, but he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t even touch his forehead to hers, the gesture that had given them both much-needed comfort back during the first days of their original abduction by Mathers.
Gradually, Alex’s cries faded into miserable sobs which, in turn, eventually faded away altogether. They lay in silence for a while, and then Bobby heard the sound of Alex grunting softly with effort. He wondered dimly what she was doing, and felt a bizarre sense of dejavu when, a couple of minutes later, he felt her body come to rest against his.
In a curious role reversal, Alex had managed to shuffle her body just far enough over that she could lean in against him, reassuring both of them of the other’s presence. Bobby turned his face inwards, bringing his cheek to rest against the top of her head.
It gave neither of them much comfort. The paralysing fear they were both experiencing was far too great to disregard, even for a short while.
Alex moaned again softly, and Bobby nuzzled her gently with his cheek. She pushed against him just a little, needing to be as close as possible, as though by keeping pressed tightly together, Salinger would not be able to separate them.
Bobby shuddered, the tremor passing through his body and, consequently, through hers as well. This was a fear that he had hoped and prayed they would never experience again. And yet, here they were, trapped and helpless. Helpless… Victimised…
The rage that settled deep in his gut was matched right then only by his fear, and the instant he had the opportunity, be it even for just a split second, he was going to kill Salinger. Right then, he didn’t give a damn if he went to prison for it. He was going to kill him.
“Don’t you two look nice and cosy.”
Alex stiffened against him, and Bobby stiffened as well at the sound of Salinger’s voice behind them.
“Actually,” Salinger said with a cruel smile as he walked around the helpless pair, “you look pretty pathetic. The NYPD’s best. What a joke that is.”
Bobby growled deeply in his throat, wishing miserably that he could tell Salinger to go fuck himself. Salinger paused, and then crouched down carefully in front of Bobby. After a moment’s consideration, he reached down, grabbed a fistful of Bobby’s hair and yanked his head up, drawing a pained grunt from the detective.
“You ought to be grateful, Detective Goren. I’m doing you a favour here. I’m making you do what you should have done all along, I’m getting you to face your fears. You’re a coward, Goren. Both of you are cowards. You’re pathetic.”
He let Bobby’s head drop again, and then stood up.
“I’ll let you both in on a little secret. I’m not planning on repeating Erik Mathers’ stunt with you both. Firstly, we don’t have the time and secondly, I’m not all that great with the crossbow. Also, going by how long you two have been unconscious and anticipating that they’ll be in a pretty damn big hurry, I’m guessing we’ve got maybe an hour at the most before your colleagues get up here. And they will be coming, because I took the liberty of sending pictures of you both to Detective Logan’s phone. So, I’ve got something else in mind. I’m not going to kill you both. Oh, don’t get me wrong, one of you, at least, is going to end up dead by the time this is over, but the real question is, which one?”
Alex made an incoherent sound that Bobby suspected was somewhere in the vicinity of ‘fuck you’. Salinger laughed softly.
“I bet I know what you were trying to say there, Detective Eames. Well, excuse me, but I’m going to leave those gags on. These walls aren’t soundproof, and I don’t want you warning off your friends, and spoiling the surprise.” He stood up. “They say anticipation of death is worse than death itself. I don’t know how true that is, but one of you, at least, is going to find out. You see, I’ve rigged up a shotgun behind you both. I’ll be leaving here shortly, and I’ll be rigging the trigger to the door of this room. When it’s opened, the shotgun will go off, killing one of you and leaving the other alive. Only catch is, I’m not telling you which of you the shotgun is aimed at. So you won’t know who the unlucky soul is until the actual event. Now, I won’t be going far, so if you do somehow manage to get yourselves loose, I’ll be waiting close by and then I promise you’ll both die, without fail. But you both stay here, and one of you will survive to mourn the other. I think that’s a pretty generous offer.”
Bobby growled again, hating that it was the most he could manage around the gag. There were distinct footsteps as Salinger walked around beside him.
“Detective… You do like pissing me off, don’t you? Considering our positions, do you really think that’s such a wise idea?”
Bobby growled once again, hoping that Salinger might remove the gag out of sheer curiosity. For nearly a minute, there was no response from Salinger, and Bobby was just starting to wonder what was going on when he felt a hand pulling the gag from his mouth.
“You fucking bastard,” Bobby gasped, his voice hoarse, and full of rage. “I’m going to kill you. I swear to God, I’m going to fucking kill you if you don’t let us go right now.”
“Go ahead and rant all you like, Detective. But I didn’t take your gag off for that purpose. I just want to hear you scream.”
Bobby had only a couple of seconds to wonder what he meant before Salinger stamped down on his right leg with brutal force.
The scream that tore from his lips reverberated around the cabin, and into the area beyond. Salinger laughed with cruel delight, and then delivered a vicious kick to Bobby’s damaged leg. Alex gave a muffled, distressed cry in an instinctive response to Bobby’s screams of pain.
“You got lucky in Denton, Detective,” Salinger told him as he crouched down to force the gag back into Bobby’s mouth. “But not this time. There won’t be any recovering from this. I guarantee it…”
An instant later, it was Salinger’s turn to scream as Bobby took a fleeting chance, managed somehow to get his teeth around the other man’s finger, and bit down as hard as he could. Salinger howled in pain as he tried to pull free, but Bobby had locked his jaw on the digit, and was not letting go. Blood was starting to fill his mouth when Salinger, in a last, desperate effort to free himself, slammed his fist into the side of Bobby’s head.
The detective’s jaw went slack and he slumped against the floor, stunned, while Salinger finally managed to take back his bloodied finger.
“You goddamn son of a bitch,” Salinger hissed as he examined the damage. “You fucking bastard, Goren…”
Bobby had made a good go of it. The flesh was torn right to the bone, and the bone itself was visible. Snarling angrily, Salinger wrapped a large handkerchief tightly around the digit, then turned his attention back to Bobby. Making no effort to be in any way gentle, he shoved the gag very firmly back into place, and tightened the knot at the back of Bobby’s head until the material cut cruelly into the corners of his mouth.
Salinger straightened up, paused as he looked the detective over thoughtfully, and then delivered one last kick that broke the femur bone with an ugly and distinct crack.
Bobby gave a muffled howl of pain as the brutal blow rocked his body violently, causing him to crash hard against Alex. As Salinger stepped away from them, Bobby moaned in distress, his blindfold now wet with his own tears.
“I’ll leave you alone now,” Salinger said softly. “Enjoy the next hour or so. It’ll be the last time you ever spend together.”
The door slammed hard, and then they were alone once more.
Toby Page looked up with vague interest as Deakins made his way into the interview room, followed closely by Fin. He eyed the cane Deakins was leaning heavily, and smirked openly.
“Two crippled cops in two days. Wow. Must be a record.”
Deakins didn’t crack a smile as he sat down carefully opposite Page.
“I’m Captain Deakins, Mr Page. This is Detective Tutuola.”
“A captain. I’m flattered. But what happened to the big ape from yesterday? Going up the mountain too much for him?”
Deakins had to make a conscious effort to ignore the derisive comment, and focus on the reason they were there.
“We’re here to talk to you about the deal that you made yesterday with Detective Goren, Mr Page.”
Page raised an eyebrow slightly.
“What of it?”
“Your end of the deal was to give the location of the little girl, before it was too late to save her.”
“Yeah,” Page grumbled. “So? What’s your point?”
Fin reached into a folder, and tossed a photo of the dead child onto the table in front of Page.
“The point, asshole, is that the deal’s off,” Fin said harshly. “The little girl’s dead.”
Page stared at the photo for a long moment before looking back up at Fin and Deakins placidly.
“How is it my problem that you idiots were too slow?”
“Detective Goren made it very clear to you,” Deakins said quietly. “He made it very clear that the terms of the deal he made with you rested on finding that little girl alive.”
Agitation flickered in Page’s eyes as it suddenly sunk in that he might not get what he had asked for.
“I want those apologies. That detective promised me!”
“Then give us a reason to keep our end of the deal,” Fin told him. Page scowled up at him.
“What the fuck are you talking about? I told you where the little bitch was. What more can I tell you?”
Deakins leaned forward a little across the table.
“You can tell us how you knew she was there.”
Page sat frozen, staring at Deakins tensely. Deakins stared back at him, not flinching.
“Well, Mr Page?”
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do,” Fin countered. “You knew exactly where she was. You gloated about it to Detective Goren. If no one told you where she was, then that means you killed her.”
“No, I did not!” Page exploded. “I didn’t touch that kid! I told them that yesterday, and I’m telling you now. I didn’t kill her! I didn’t take her, and I never touched her. I swear I didn’t!”
“Then tell us how you knew where she was!” Deakins roared, causing Page to jerk backwards in shock.
For nearly half a minute, the two men stared at each other. Then, finally, a smirk broke out across Page’s face once more, and he began to laugh.
“What’s so funny, dumb ass?” Fin growled.
“They’re gone, aren’t they? Your two star detectives, Goren and Eames. They’re both gone, and you poor bastards are running around in a panic after your own tails.”
Fin and Deakins exchanged looks. Then, Deakins slowly rose out of his chair.
“You just invited us to charge you with complicity in their abduction, Mr Page. Thankyou very much. We’ll leave you alone now.”
“Hey!” Page burst out, the amused smirk fading quickly from his face. “Wait just a fucking minute! I never said I wasn’t going to give you anything.”
Deakins looked back at him with a disinterested gaze.
“What are you going to tell us? That they’re being held in Erik Mathers’ cabin? We already know that. That they were taken by Gary Salinger? We know that too. So what could you possibly have to tell us now that would be of any interest to us?”
He turned away towards the door without waiting for an answer, and was on his way out when Page spoke in a chillingly calm voice.
“You have a traitor in the ranks.”
Deakins froze, then looked slowly back at Page.
Page smiled coldly.
“A traitor, Captain. You’ve got a traitor in the ranks.”
“Who?” Deakins asked, feeling that sick, sinking feeling in his gut. At that, Page’s smile widened.
“You really think I’d just give up that sort of information? I may be looking at the death penalty, but like Detective Goren said, it can take years with appeals. I give up this information now, and I won’t last a week. Hell, I probably won’t even make it to arraignment. So no, I’m not giving up a name to you. But if you think about it carefully, I think you can probably figure it out for yourself. Only question is, are you going to figure it out in time? You see, what I do know is that your Chief Salinger is only planning to kill one of your detectives. But if those other cops get up there in time to stop it from happening, then they’re both going to die. This traitor is going to help make sure of it. One or both? And I don’t think you can get up there in time to stop it, Captain. I hope you were nice to your precious detectives the last time you saw them. Because the next time you see them, it might just be on a slab in the morgue.”
Deakins stumbled from the room, needing to get out of there before he lost control and tried to hit Page.
“A traitor?” Munch asked as Deakins and Fin joined him in the observation room. “What the fuck is he going on about?”
Fin shrugged. “Beats me.”
“Just a minute,” Deakins said tensely. “We need to think this over. It’s right in front of our faces. Page couldn’t have gotten all the information he has from Salinger. The son of a bitch might have lost it, but he wouldn’t have been stupid enough to show himself to anyone, not even Page. There’s someone else involved.”
“Someone who’s gone up the mountain,” Fin said softly. Deakins nodded.
“Right. Think, Detectives. You’re the ones with the answer.”
“The room,” Fin said suddenly. “Bobby and Alex’s room! Salinger found them in their motel room. The son of a bitch was there. CSU found his fingerprints on the doorknob.”
Munch caught on quickly.
“Salinger was the one who organised the motel rooms for us to begin with. As far as he should have known, they should have been in one of those rooms. And yet he knew what room to find them in. The owner wouldn’t have been able to tell him, either. It had to be someone who knew that extra room was for us… and, specifically for Goren and Eames.”
“And not only that,” Fin added tensely, “it was the middle of the afternoon. How did he even know they’d be at the motel? No one knew that except us…”
“And Lieutenant Brenner,” Munch finished off softly.
Deakins felt an icy chill race through him.
“Brenner had access to Page to feed him the information to give to Bobby.”
“And it was Brenner who organised that extra motel room for Bobby and Alex,” Fin said. “He knew it was for them, too. Elliot and Olivia told him it was.”
“Christ,” Deakins whispered. “Fin, Munch, get a hold of Search and Rescue. We need one of their choppers, now, to get us up to Mathers’ cabin.”
“What are you going to do?” Fin asked, as Munch made the urgent call.
“I’m going to call Adkins,” Deakins answered grimly as he pulled out his own cell phone and began to plug in a memorised number, “and try to warn him. If Brenner isn’t dealt with, we might have more casualties on our hands than just Bobby and Alex.”
Alex lay in silence, hardly daring to breathe long after Salinger had gone. She knew Bobby had done something to incur Salinger’s wrath, judging from the asshole’s howl of pain. When Salinger shrieked, Alex had silently cheered her partner, feeling a bitter satisfaction that the psychotic bastard had been made to suffer even just a little.
Whatever it was that he’d done, though, it had only enraged Salinger further. She felt sick to her stomach. There was no mistaking the awful sound of breaking bones, and she didn’t doubt for an instant that Salinger had deliberately broken Bobby’s right leg over again.
She knew the implications of that. Should they get out of this alive, he was probably never going to fully recover from the damage done. Not after having had his leg broken a third time. Whether that would put an end to his career with the NYPD, she didn’t know… but that was a bridge to cross further down the track. Now, they had to focus on simply surviving.
It was abundantly clear to Alex that Bobby was incapable of action, so any efforts to prevent the fate that Salinger had presented to them fell to her. The first step was to get her blindfold off, and find out just where that shotgun was, and who it was aimed at. The last time they had been in this situation, Bobby had taken the lead, doing what he could to provide whatever relief was possible. Now, it was her turn to take control.
Shifting awkwardly, Alex twisted her head around, and dragged her face across the concrete floor in an effort to get the blindfold off her face. The rough surface of the floor grazed her skin badly, and she sobbed in pain, but tried again, and again.
She could feel the blood on her face, and the burning pain that accompanied her efforts. Beside her, Bobby had suddenly gone very still and quiet, aware that Alex was doing something. What, he didn’t know, but she was definitely doing something.
Crying silent tears of pain, Alex dragged her face along the concrete one more time, and the blindfold finally came loose, pulling free from her head and falling to the floor.
Shuddering, and blinking at the sudden flood of light, Alex took just a moment to recover before she twisted herself around as much as she was able, trying to get a look at the gun that Salinger had claimed was aimed at one of them.
She could see nothing, unable to get her head around far enough to see behind them. Bracing herself for a jarring shock, Alex did the only thing she could think of. She rolled over onto her left side, crying out through the gag at the searing pain as she landed badly, jarring her left arm where it was bound and twisted painfully behind her back.
It wasn’t broken, she was fairly sure of that, but she doubted whether she would be able to move any further.
Shaking herself out of the stupor of pain and shock that she was in, Alex looked around, and her heart skipped a beat in fright. There it was. Set on a high stand, and rigged carefully to the outward opening door with a long, fine chain, was a shotgun. And it was aimed directly at Bobby.
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