THE LONG ROAD HOME
A/N: For those who have been looking forward to detailed accounts of Bobby's suffering in the Centre, I promise you that I haven't decided against elaborating. There will be plenty of that later on, but it will be told more in flash-back sequence rather than as something that is happening in the present.
Six months later
Alex paused for a moment to compose herself before heading around into the Major Case bullpen. Every day, it was the same. She’d arrive at work, and then have to wait a couple of minutes by the elevator to compose herself. It was the only way she could keep from just breaking down each time she walked into the bullpen and laid eyes on his empty desk.
Eight and a half months. That’s how long it had been since Bobby had been abducted by the Centre. At the beginning of the ordeal, she’d kept herself going by telling herself that Jarod would be back any day, with a plan to get Bobby out. As the months pass, though, and all they got was intermittent phone calls giving them vague progress reports, Alex stopped telling herself that. Instead, she began telling herself that it would get easier with every day that passed. She told herself it would hurt less each day to walk into the bullpen and see his desk. To see his empty chair, and the unused space that had been his on the coat rack.
She kept telling herself that, but deep down she knew she was lying to herself. So far, time hadn’t done anything to dim the hurt. Instead, if anything, the pain was worse than ever.
She’d stayed true to her promise, and had refused to take on another partner, even on a temporary basis. As a result, she had been restricted to assisting Mike and Carolyn with their cases over the eight months that Bobby had been missing, and her own solve rate had fallen severely.
She didn’t care.
Deakins had raised the possibility of a temporary partner once, early on, and she had flatly refused. Bobby was her partner. No one else would be acceptable to her. She knew without question that the captain’s own guilt would not allow him to either force her into accepting a new partner, putting her on indefinite desk duty or, worse, transferring her out of the squad altogether. His conscience wouldn’t allow it, and she shamelessly took full advantage of that.
And so he’d conceded to her without argument, and the next day he’d assigned her to work with Mike and Carolyn indefinitely. The Chief of Detectives had squawked once, very briefly over it. Deakins had gone up to his office, his face blacker than a thundercloud. He’d come back down again looking almost smug, and Harris had not had another word to say about the situation.
The Commissioner was another matter entirely, but so far Deakins had successfully run interference between him and the rest of the squad, keeping them well-shielded from any backlash.
Now, eight months down the track, a tiny part of Alex was finally beginning to wonder whether it was time to accept that Bobby was gone, and that he wasn’t coming back.
Alex sucked in a long breath, and furiously blinked back the threat of tears. No, she wasn’t going to accept that. Bobby was not dead, and he was coming back. Squaring her jaw, and her shoulders, Alex marched around the corner and into the bullpen.
The first thing she noticed was the unnatural quiet. There was barely a sound to be heard in the bullpen and, to add to the mystery, the door of Deakins’ office was closed and the shades were all pulled.
“Who died?” Alex asked dryly as she came to a halt alongside Mike and Carolyn’s adjoined desks. Mike grimaced.
“Commissioner Adkins is in there. And he brought Chief Harris with him.”
Alex’s face darkened considerably at the mention of the Chief of Detectives.
“I think the Commissioner’s finally lost patience with the squad,” Carolyn murmured. “The last thing we heard before Deakins shut the door was Adkins saying it was going end here and now, one way or another.”
“Good luck to him,” Alex snorted as she headed to her own desk.
“He wasn’t kidding, Alex,” Mike warned her. “He really was pissed off.”
Alex looked back at Mike, her eyes glinting.
“Harris won’t want to drop Deakins and the rest of us in it too quickly, because if he does, then he might find himself in a very uncomfortable position. Especially if Deakins decides to tell Adkins the real reason for this stand-off. If I was Harris, I’d be trying to get my ass out of there as fast as possible, before the truth comes out.”
Inside Deakins’ office, the tension was palpable as Commissioner Gerald Adkins tried to broker a truce between Deakins and Harris. So far, neither man was giving an inch toward the other. What was really curious to Adkins, though, was that of the two of them, Deakins was very clearly in the dominant position. Harris had hardly spoken a word since walking into Deakins’ office; indeed, he seemed almost frightened of the Major Case captain.
For his part, Adkins would have rather brought both men to his office for this show-down. He had actually tried to, but somehow word had gotten to Deakins that Harris would be there, and the captain had flatly refused to turn up. In the end, Adkins had folded and had opted to take a sullen and recalcitrant Harris to the eleventh floor to confront Deakins on his own turf.
He was starting to think that had been a very big mistake.
“This is ridiculous,” he fumed, glaring from Deakins to Harris. “I feel like I’m negotiating a schoolyard fight! What is it going to take to get you two clowns to put an end to this… whatever the hell it is!”
“This isn’t just between Chief Harris and myself,” Deakins said coolly. “This is an issue between him and my entire squad.”
“And what issue is that, Jim? Would you care to enlighten me?”
Deakins turned his steely gaze on Harris.
“How about it, Chief?” he asked, his tone bordering on contemptuous. “Would you like to enlighten Commissioner Adkins?”
Harris shifted uncomfortably, and would not meet either of their stares.
“It’s a private matter, Commissioner.”
“The hell it is!” Adkins exploded. “When it affects the solve rate of one of the most effective squads in the NYPD, then it stops being personal and starts being my business! Now, I want to know what the hell this is about, and I want to know now!”
Silence met his demand. Deakins regarded him almost placidly before looking to Harris.
“Would you like to, or should I?”
Harris shot Deakins a dangerous look, but said nothing. Deakins nodded.
“Fine. I will, then. Commissioner, this dispute is to do with one of my detectives, Robert Goren.”
“What about him? You submitted paperwork for him to take a sabbatical.”
“I lied. He’s not on sabbatical.”
Adkins blinked, not sure which admission to be more stunned by – that Deakins had lied, or that Goren wasn’t on sabbatical after all.
“Okay,” he said finally, frowning deeply. “I’ll deal with why you lied about it later. If Goren isn’t on sabbatical, then where the hell is he?”
Deakins looked back at Harris.
“That, Commissioner, is the million dollar question.”
Adkins was taken aback for a second time.
“Let me get this straight… You lied for one of your detectives… but you don’t even know where he is? Tell me that hasn’t been the case for the last eight months, please!”
“That’s been exactly the case, Commissioner.”
“Jim… this goes way past insubordination!”
“Goren’s in trouble, Commissioner.”
“Yes, he is!” Adkins burst out. “And so are you! How dare you cover up for someone like this!”
Deakins sat forward, and spoke in a deliberately slow voice.
“Goren didn’t just take off, Commissioner. He was abducted.”
“Yes. From right inside this very building. He was abducted, and has been missing ever since.”
“And… what, you thought you’d keep it a squad secret? Jesus, Jim! You should have notified the proper channels! You should have come to me! Why the hell didn’t you?”
“Because I didn’t know who I could trust,” Deakins snapped. “It’s not as cut and dried as it sounds, Commissioner. We know who has Goren, but we don’t know where. And we didn’t dare do anything in case it got him killed.”
Adkins sat in silence, trying to digest what he’d just been told. It seemed ludicrous, but the look on Deakins’ face was deadly serious.
“All right,” he said finally. “Let’s say I believe you. Why the ongoing feud with Harris? You should have turned to him for help as soon as this happened!”
Deakins paused in answering. He regarded Harris thoughtfully who, in turn, was staring at him with an expression on his face akin to pure panic. Finally, Deakins leaned across and pulled a video tape from the top drawer of his desk, and handed it to Adkins.
“What is this?” Adkins asked with a frown.
“That is security tape footage, from the camera in Chief Harris’ office. It’s from the day that Goren was abducted. I think you’ll find it very eye-opening.”
“Deakins, you didn’t…” Harris choked out, his face going red, and then purple. Deakins glared at him.
“Don’t talk to me, you son of a bitch. Don’t you dare.”
Adkins was still staring at the tape in his hands, acutely aware of Harris’ panicked reaction to it, when Deakins’ cell phone rang. The captain answered the call, unsure whether or not to be grateful for the interruption.
Even as Adkins and Harris watched, Deakins’ demeanour changed dramatically. He stiffened visibly in his chair, and then leant forward, snatching a sticky note from the pad and scribbling frantically on it.
“Yes… Yes, I got it. Yes… All right, we’ll be there in half an hour.” Ending the call, Deakins all but launched himself out of his chair and snatched his jacket off its hook. “Look at the tape, Commissioner. Use our video room. Then you’ll understand why my squad will no longer work with Harris.”
“Jim…” Adkins started to say, but Deakins cut him off.
“Just look at the tape, Commissioner. You’ll understand once you’ve seen it.”
“Well, where the hell are you going?” he demanded to know. Deakins didn’t look back as he strode out into the bullpen.
“To meet with someone. Eames! Logan, Barek! With me!”
The three detectives sprang to action, grabbing their respective jackets and falling into step behind their captain.
“Captain?” Mike asked as they headed around to the elevators. “What’s going on?”
Deakins glanced around, and none of them missed the renewed spark in his eyes as he uttered the words that they had been waiting to hear for eight and a half long months.
Not another word was spoken by any of them until they were in Deakins’ car. Then, and only then, did the captain explain.
“Jarod phoned me. Told me that we’re to meet him at The Blue Dog Tavern in Queens.”
“And that’s all he said?” Carolyn asked.
“No. He said one other thing. He said it’s time.”
“So, where the hell has he been?” Alex asked in a strained voice. “He said it might take three or four months. It’s been eight and a half!”
“He didn’t say, and I didn’t take the time to ask,” Deakins told her. “He came back, Alex. Right now, that’s all I’m focusing on.”
Alex didn’t say anymore, but the look on her face told them all she wasn’t done with the subject, not by a long shot.
On arrival at the tavern, they were promptly escorted through to a private room, where Jarod was waiting with two men, one of whom looked very familiar to Deakins. Jarod greeted them soberly, profusely apologising for the amount of time it had taken him to get back to them.
“That’s not Jarod’s fault, though,” one of the other two men jumped in to explain. “It took him nearly five months to track down me and my boys.”
“This is Commander Dan Ellis,” Jarod introduced. “He’s a Navy SEAL. He’s put together a team of SEALs that specialise in high risk rescues.”
Ellis nodded in confirmation of Jarod’s words.
“Jarod’s apprised us fully of the situation. I promise you, if anyone can get your boy out of that place, it’s us.”
Mike opened his mouth to speak, but Ellis cut him off.
“We’ll get him out, alive.”
Placated, Mike nodded and fell back. Deakins glanced wryly at the detective, and then turned his attention to the other man, frowning a little as he tried to place the man’s face.
“I know you,” he said. The man nodded, coming forward to shake hands with Deakins.
“I dare say you do, Captain Deakins. My name is Charles, and it was me that you brought Bobby to all those years ago after Catherine Parker got him out of the Centre.” He paused throwing an affectionate and proud look at Jarod. “And I’m his father.”
Recognition dawned in Deakins’ eyes, and he nodded in acknowledgement.
“Back for round two?” he asked, and Charles smiled grimly, determination written all over his craggy features.
“Something like that. We’re going to get Bobby out of there, I guarantee it. And the Centre is going to be taught a lesson that it will never forget.”
“Okay, here’s the situation as it currently stands,” Jarod said quietly a short while later. “Dan has put together a team of twenty men, but we’re short the number we need. We’re short by six to ten men.”
“I recruited everyone that I knew I could personally trust,” Ellis explained. “But we’re short of the mark. I’d prefer to go into this with at least ten more guys; six more at the absolute minimum. If you know where we could find that number, Captain Deakins, then I for one would be immensely grateful.”
Deakins looked around at his detectives, and then back to Ellis.
“You’ve got four more right here, Commander Ellis.”
“Yeah,” Mike agreed heatedly. “Don’t even think of leaving us behind.”
Rather than protesting, as they’d expected him to, Ellis chuckled and nodded.
“Relax. Jarod had already warned me that none of you would be willing to sit it out. So, that’s four more. Any idea where we might find another five or six men?”
“Jackson and Oliver would be good guys to have on board,” Deakins mused. “I’ll speak to them when we get back. And… I think I know where to find at least two other men.”
“Twenty-nine. Good enough. We’ll go into the finer details of the operation when we have everyone together.”
Alex spoke up, then, her voice audibly strained.
“How is Bobby? Do you know?”
Jarod looked over at her, and the pain in his expression was brutally obvious.
“It’s not good. A contact got some information out to me, along with a few sim discs. Apparently, Bobby was placed completely in Raines’ control a month or so ago. The experiments he’s been conducting on Bobby have been unspeakable. It’s one of the reasons we’re moving now. If we don’t get him out of there soon, it may end up being too late.”
“Please, tell us someone’s going to put a bullet in that son of a bitch’s head?” Alex asked hoarsely.
“Because if you don’t, then we will,” Mike added. Charles nodded soothingly.
“Believe me, if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll cheerfully pull the trigger myself. But that is not what this operation is about. We are going in there to get Bobby out. That is our singular objective. Not retribution.”
“Oh?” Carolyn wondered. “Then what’s the lesson that you said the Centre is going to be taught?”
“We’re going to level the whole damn place,” Ellis told them bluntly. “Our priority is getting Bobby out, but a team of my men will be going in prior to when we actually execute the rescue, and planting explosives at strategic points. Once we get Bobby out, we’ll give them due warning, let them evacuate, and then blow the place into the next millennium.”
“Why should we give them warning?” Alex asked bitterly. Jarod threw a warning frown in her direction.
“There are innocent people in that building, Detective Eames. Children, in particular. They don’t deserve to die, and if it means giving the likes of Raines and Lyle the opportunity to escape, then so be it.”
Deakins nodded in agreement.
“Fine. You do what you need to do. That side of it isn’t our concern, anyway.”
Mike, however, grunted in objection.
“The hell it’s not! We get Bobby out? Great. But then, what’s to stop them from coming after him again? And we all know damned well that they will. I say we find everyone who had a hand in putting Bobby back in that place, and kill every last one of them. If that doesn’t send a message, then I don’t know what will.”
“Mike, just settle down,” Deakins warned him. “We are not carrying out a vendetta here. Our priority is rescuing Bobby, and then making sure that he stays safe. When he’s recovered, then we can focus on the long-term situation. But we are not summarily executing anyone. That is not how we operate!”
Mike fell silent, a distinctly sullen look on his face. Deakins continued to watch him for a moment longer before returning his attention to Jarod and Ellis.
“All right. What’s our next step?”
“Get us those extra men,” Ellis told him. “Then, we’ll bring everyone together, and plan it out fully. I want us to be ready to move within a week.”
“What about afterwards?” Alex asked suddenly, drawing puzzled looks from all around her.
“Afterwards?” Ellis echoed questioningly. She nodded, and looked over at Jarod.
“After we get Bobby out, what’s going to happen? We can’t bring him back here. They’ll just come for him again. And even if they didn’t… he’s probably not going to be in a completely sound state of mind, is he?”
“You are right,” Charles conceded quietly. “On all counts. To answer your first question, no. We can’t bring him back to New York. Not straight away. There’s a place in Canada, where my wife and daughter are currently living. Bobby will be safe there. It’s well-protected, and he’ll have all the time he needs to recover.”
“So… basically, you’re going to take him away from us again,” Alex said in a trembling voice.
“That’s not the plan, Detective Eames,” Jarod told her quietly. He looked at her, and then at Mike, Carolyn and Deakins. “Once we get Bobby out of the Centre, you aren’t just going to be able to come back to your own jobs… your regular lives.”
“What are you saying?” Mike asked, frowning.
“I’m saying,” Jarod answered grimly, “that whether or not you assist directly in this rescue, when we take Bobby to the place in Canada, the four of you are going to have to come, as well.”
Startled silence met the statement. Charles glanced at his son, and then spoke quietly.
“The Centre knows all of you. They know you’re the closest ones to Bobby. They will be searching for him, and you four will be prime targets for them to try and lure him back.”
Deakins grimaced, recalling with reluctance what had happened in Harris’ office eight months ago. Bobby had effectively surrendered to Raines and Lyle to keep him from being killed. Charles was right. They could not risk that same situation happening again.
“What about the people we recruit to help?” he asked finally.
“It’s just the four of you that the Centre is likely to go after,” Charles answered. “Anyone you bring to this operation won’t be known by them. It’s you four that the Centre will try to use to get Bobby back.”
“And what about our families?” Deakins asked, thinking about his wife and daughters. “Won’t they be at risk, too?”
“If there’s somewhere you can send them,” Jarod said, “then do it. At least for the next two or three months. I don’t believe the Centre would try to use them if you’re not in contact with them, but we can’t take any chances. That friend of Bobby’s…”
“Lewis?” Alex said, and Jarod nodded.
“Yes. We need to send him out of the city, too. They tried to use him before. They possibly will try again.”
“And what about us?” Carolyn asked. “How long are we supposed to stay in hiding?”
“As long as it takes to find a way to stop the Centre from going after Bobby again,” Jarod said simply. “But the other side of it is that he is going to need a lot of help. Wherever we take him, there needs to be familiar faces. He’s going to need your support like never before.”
Alex met his gaze with a determined one of her own. She had already made up her mind, before Jarod presented his final argument.
“Count me in.”
Deakins nodded his agreement. It would hurt to be separated from his family, but he owed it to Bobby to do all he could to help him.
“I’m in, too.”
“Same,” Mike agreed, without hesitation. Carolyn, however, did hesitate.
“Carolyn?” Alex asked softly, and the distress on the other woman’s face was all too obvious.
“I… I don’t know if I can… I mean… I want to help Bobby, I really do. But I don’t know…”
She gasped a little as Mike stepped into her line of sight, taking hold her shoulders in a firm grip.
“It’s okay,” he told her gently once her gaze settled on him. “If it’s too much for you, we’ll understand that. We won’t push you into doing anything you don’t believe you can do. None of us are going to think less of you for it. Okay?”
Carolyn stared up at him for a long moment before her eyes slid across to Alex. Rather than the anger and condemnation she expected to see, there was instead a sad understanding.
“Mike’s right,” Alex said softly. “If you can’t do it, then it’s okay.” She paused, and a weak smile touched her lips. “No emotional blackmail, I promise.”
Carolyn shuddered and fell against Mike, crying softly into his jacket.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice muffled. Mike hugged her fiercely, deciding he didn’t care if Deakins read anything more into it than what it was.
“It’s okay, honey,” he murmured. “It’s okay.”
Slowly gaining control over herself once more, Carolyn pulled back, rubbing at her eyes.
“Do you want out?” Ellis asked, watching her piercingly. Carolyn was silent for a long moment before shaking her head and speaking with forced calm.
“No. I don’t. I’m in.”
Alex walked over, and hugged her tightly.
“Thankyou. Thankyou so much, Carolyn.”
“Okay,” Ellis said, satisfied. “I suggest you go back to work, finish off the day, and then tonight start making whatever preparations you need to make, for yourselves and your families. Captain Deakins, the sooner you can find that extra manpower, the better.”
Deakins nodded as they all stood up.
“Three of them I can pretty much guarantee. The other two may take a little more effort to secure.” He looked around at Jarod. “I may need your help to convince their CO that I’m not out of my mind.”
Jarod nodded in acquiescence.
“I’ll come with you back to One Police Plaza.”
“No, not there,” Deakins murmured. “I’ll come with you… Mike, you too. Alex and Carolyn, you two head back to 1PP, and talk to Jackson, Oliver and King. Make sure you fill them in completely.”
“What about us?” Mike wondered. “Where are we going?” But even as he asked, realisation dawned and was confirmed by the familiar glint in Deakins’ eyes.
“We’re going to see an old friend of yours, Mike. We’re going to SVU.”
Elliot saw them coming first, and his initial instinct was purely territorial. SVU had caught a case, potentially high profile, and Major Case was coming to take it over. Before he had a chance to feel any anger, though, a memory hit from six months ago. He remembered standing with Fin in the Major Case squad room, and listening to Deakins and Logan tell a disturbing tale about the betrayal of one of their own…
One returning to SVU that day, Elliot and Fin had told their colleagues what they’d learnt. Olivia had listened, but the scepticism had been all too clear on her face. She hadn’t really believed that anyone could get away with abducting a high-profile detective right out from within the walls of the most secure police facility in New York City.
Munch, on the other hand, had been acting even more oddly than usual on their return, and had started asking questions about the place where Bobby was supposedly being held, questions that he and Fin had no answers for. Finally, he’d excused himself from their company, made a quick phone call and then announced he was going out for lunch, and literally bolted from the bullpen.
When he returned, none of them had an ounce of luck getting him to talk, but the look of worry and trepidation on his face for the rest of that day could not be ignored. And then, every so often afterwards, he would approach Elliot or Fin on the quiet and ask them whether they’d heard anything more from Deakins.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, Elliot leaned over and hissed at his colleague.
“Fin! Look who’s here.”
Fin looked, and his eyes widened a little at the sight of Jim Deakins and Mike Logan striding into the bullpen.
“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Elliot asked, but Olivia spoke derisively before Fin had a chance to.
“Please, Elliot, we probably just caught a case that they think should be theirs. Get back to work, will you? I, for one, would really like to get this paperwork done before midnight.”
Elliot frowned, but a shadow falling across his desk caught his attention before he could respond. Looking up, he was mildly startled to find Deakins standing there.
“Detective Stabler,” Deakins greeted him. “Would you and Detective Tutuola please accompany me to your captain’s office?”
Elliot sucked in a sharp breath.
He wasn’t talking about going in to see Cragen, and Deakins knew it.
“Yes,” the captain confirmed. “It’s now, Detective, and we need your help.”
Ignoring the glare he was getting from Olivia, Elliot launched himself to his feet.
But Fin was already up, a hardened look on his face.
“What the hell is all that about?” Olivia growled. Mike, who had remained behind by pre-arrangement to keep a look-out, glanced at her in surprise.
“You mean they didn’t tell you what was going on after they came to see Deakins six months ago about Bobby Goren?”
“That whole kidnapped scenario?” Olivia retorted. “Don’t tell me you believe that nonsense, Logan?”
Mike stared at her hard.
“As a matter of fact, I do. Obviously, you don’t.”
“You have to admit, it’s a little hard to swallow,” she argued. “How do you know he didn’t just have a breakdown, and take off?”
Mike leaned over her desk, and spoke slowly and deliberately.
“The day Bobby disappeared, he’d gone to the Chief of Detectives’ office with Deakins. Apparently the Chief wanted to speak to Bobby personally about the way he’d dealt with a witness. Twenty minutes later, Deakins came back to the eleventh floor, bleeding from the head and with a severe concussion from being king-hit. Bobby was gone.”
“Goren attacked him?” Olivia asked incredulously. Disgust flashed across Mike’s features.
“C’mon, Benson, I know for a fact that you’re not stupid. Don’t sit there trying to prove me wrong. Bobby did not attack Deakins. Later on, we went back to the Chief’s office and we retrieved Bobby’s gun, his ID and his gold shield. They’d all been dumped. And, we retrieved security footage that showed the entire abduction. Bobby was abducted, and now we’re finally going to get him back.”
Olivia stared up at him, her incredulity finally melting away.
“You… really aren’t kidding… are you?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?”
Olivia looked past him, to where Munch was sitting, watching her intently.
He was on his feet in an instant, clearly just waiting for her to finally concede to the facts.
“C’mon, ’Liv. Let’s go join the party.”
To say Cragen was surprised to have the captain of the Major Case Squad march into his office, flanked by two of his own detectives and a man that he didn’t recognise would have been an understatement. He sat there, blinking, and trying to decide whether or not he was being ambushed.
“Jim,” he greeted the other captain finally. “What’s all this about?”
“Don, I need to ask for your help,” Deakins told him. “Specifically, your detectives’ help. We have an operation planned, and we need extra manpower.”
“A Major Case operation?” Cragen wondered. “You want to create a joint taskforce?”
“No,” Deakins admitted grimly. “This is… unofficial. Off the records… Under the radar. However you want to think of it.”
Again, Cragen blinked. He looked to Elliot and Fin, took in their expressions, and knew immediately that they knew exactly what it was all about.
“Are you going to enlighten me, then, Jim?” he asked in a subdued tone that had Elliot and Fin wanting to cringe. They knew that tone all too well. It was a tone that said that whatever he was told, he knew he wasn’t going to like it. Glancing at Jarod, Deakins launched into a much-condensed explanation of what was going on, from Bobby’s abduction eight and a half months ago, up to that moment. Cragen listened stony-faced, giving away nothing until Deakins finished speaking.
“And what about you two?” he asked, looking over at Elliot and Fin. “Do you two subscribe to this story?”
“It’s true, Captain,” Fin said quietly. “I know Bobby Goren… I’ve known him for a long time. He wouldn’t just vanish. Not like this.”
“It’s crazy, that’s what it is!” Cragen burst out. “More like something Munch would throw at me, not you, Jim. And you want to drag my detectives into this lunacy? Jesus…”
Deakins shook his head.
“We don’t have time to argue about this. Jarod, show him the sim disc.”
Without saying a word, Jarod lifted his sim viewer onto Cragen’s desk, and was just setting it up to show the SVU captain when the door of the office was thrown open, and Olivia and Munch strode in. Mike came in behind them, closing the door carefully to keep others from listening in.
“We want in,” Olivia stated flatly, and Cragen’s expression darkened visibly.
“Cool it, Olivia. I don’t even know just what it is that’s going on here. So far, all I’ve heard is some way-out tale that I’m having a lot of trouble believing.” His gaze went past her, to Mike. “Mikey? Don’t tell me you’re in on this too?”
“Captain Deakins wasn’t lying to you, Donnie,” Mike said quietly. “We’ve got a brother who needs saving from a really bad situation, and we need all the help we can recruit.”
“Jarod, show him,” Deakins growled impatiently. Jarod nodded, and slid the sim disc into the player.
Elliot, Fin, Olivia and Munch all moved around so they could see what was on the screen. Deakins and Mike stood back with Jarod. They already knew what was on the disc. Jarod had showed it to them in the car, before they came into SVU.
On the screen, Raines appeared and spoke, his voice sounding raspier than ever.
“Simulation experiment number One-Two-Nine. The subject has been restrained for the duration of this experiment, due to his uncooperative nature. We have been provided with a new metal, designed for the purposes of torture, and have been employed to test the effectiveness of the material.”
Raines then stepped aside to reveal Bobby lying on a high table, cruelly restrained. He was shirtless and, even though the image was black and white and a little grainy, it was still all-too-easy to make out the welts, sores and bruising that peppered his upper body.
“Bobby…” Fin whispered in horrified dismay at the sight of his friend in such a horrible situation.
They watched in silence as Raines walked over and lifted a large syringe off a side table, and proceeded to inject the contents into Bobby’s neck. All of them cringed at the strangled sob of pain that escaped Bobby as the needle went in.
“This drug is to slow the subject’s heart rate, and reduce the risk of a heart attack during the simulation,” Raines announced to the camera. He then lifted a second needle-like instrument off the side table, and pressed the sharpened tip against Bobby’s temple. The detective had his eyes tightly shut in clear anticipation of extreme pain, and distinct sounds of whimpering could be heard.
“This metal was designed with the specific purpose of easily penetrating flesh and bone without needing to be heated first,” Raines intoned. “The trick will be penetrating the skull far enough to cause maximum pain, but avoid causing death.”
Jarod, Mike and Deakins all shut their eyes in anticipation of the scream of pain that ripped through the silence when Raines penetrated Bobby’s skull with that piece of metal. Olivia cried out reflexively, and turned away from the sight, while Elliot groaned aloud and had to cover his mouth. Fin and Munch stood there in silence, taking in the images before them in sickened silence.
“Turn it off,” Cragen said hoarsely, and Jarod immediately complied. The SVU captain spoke again, in a distinctly shaky voice.
“That was all for real… wasn’t it? He really was being tortured…”
“What you just saw,” Jarod said grimly, “was a mere fraction of what Bobby’s suffered over the last eight months.” He locked stares with the ashen-faced captain. “Please, let your people help us to get him out of there, before it’s too late.”
Cragen rubbed a hand over his face. Their story had left him seriously wondering about Deakins’ sanity, but that footage had convinced him where no amount of verbal pleading would have.
“All right,” he said finally. “I can let you have these four. Anymore than that, and the Chief of D’s will start asking questions.”
“No,” Deakins said, recalling the looks on both Harris’ and Adkins’ faces when he’d left them in his office. “He won’t. Trust me on that, Don.”
Cragen decided he was better off not querying that.
“Okay. When is this… rescue going to happen?”
“Within the next seven days,” Jarod answered. “We’ll contact you when it’s time, and provide further instructions.” He looked to each of the four detectives. “Go on with your business as usual, but be ready to move when that call comes.”
“Is it just us?” Elliot wondered, and Jarod shook his head.
“No. We have a taskforce prepared, make up primarily of Navy SEALs. You’ll be joining that taskforce.”
“Thankyou,” Deakins told them sincerely as Jarod closed the viewer case and lifted it off Cragen’s desk. “We really are grateful that you’re willing to help.”
“Tell me one thing,” Cragen asked softly. “What are your chances of getting him out alive?”
Jarod glanced uneasily at Deakins before answering.
“We have perhaps a fifty percent chance of rescuing him alive. If we can go in without alerting them too soon, then we’ll have a better chance at getting him out. But if they’re tipped off somehow… if they get any hint that we’re coming, then they’ll either move Bobby out of the Centre to an entirely new location, or they’ll kill him. Either way, this is the once chance we’re going to have.”
Deakins and Mike arrived back at One Police Plaza to find Alex and Carolyn waiting for them in the captain’s office with Oliver, King and Jackson.
“We’re in, Captain,” Jackson confirmed as soon as the two men walked in. Deakins nodded in gratitude.
“Thankyou, all three of you.”
“Don’t thank us, Captain,” Oliver said dismissively. “We want Goren back, too. We would have been pissed if you’d left us out of it.”
“Did you get anyone at SVU?” Alex asked quietly.
“We got Stabler, Benson, Fin and Munch,” he confirmed, and Carolyn raised an eyebrow curiously.
“So you managed to convince Captain Cragen?”
“Only after showing him one of the sim discs,” Deakins answered. The women glanced at each other.
“It was bad?” Alex asked softly, and Mike nodded.
“Yeah, it was.”
“So what happened with Adkins and Harris?” Deakins asked, abruptly changing the subject. He didn’t particularly want Alex asking about the contents of the disc, and he had no intention of telling her if she did ask.
“Oh, that was beautiful, Captain,” Jackson said with a wide grin. “After you four left, Adkins went straight to the video room. Harris went with him, sputtering all over the place in a total panic, and trying to convince him not to look at the tape. He did, of course, and we were all waiting to see how he’d react.”
“And…?” Deakins asked.
“I don’t think there’s been an explosion like it since Krakatoa,” Oliver declared with a short laugh. “Harris was out there in the bullpen, trying to look like he was in control, when Adkins bellowed his name… and I mean bellowed it. You could have heard him anywhere on this floor, I’m sure of it. Next moment, Adkins comes charging around the corner with the tape. He gave it to King here, and told him he wanted two copies of it made, both to be sent directly to his office. Then, he tells Harris that they’re taking a little trip upstairs to IAB! Harris is still sputtering, and Adkins tells him as they go out that, quote, no one is going to get away with betraying a cop in his Department, unquote.”
“So, maybe we’ll have a new Chief of D’s by the end of the week.”
“No,” Deakins murmured. “Adkins won’t sack Harris, and he’s got enough friends in IAB that the most he’ll get is a reprimand for not reporting the incident. He’ll come up with some excuse to cover his ass. The point, though, is that the heat is off us now, at least for the time being. Hopefully for long enough for us to bring Bobby home… however long it might take.”
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