“Shit,” Alex muttered sourly after Barone had disappeared back inside. “What now?”

Deakins indicated the SUV.

“We head back to One Police Plaza. I’ll call an old contact of mine who’s in fairly tight with the street kids in this area. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get some information that will help us locate the mutts that have Goren and Logan.”

“So we just sit on our asses and wait?” Carolyn asked tensely. “You heard Barone, Captain. Mike and Bobby were beaten up, and they were both shot! God only knows what sort of condition they’re in!”

Deakins favoured her with a sympathetic look.

“I know you’re frustrated, Barek. So am I. I’d love to be able to go in somewhere, guns blazing, and get Goren and Logan back, but that’s a little hard to do when we have no idea where they are. Now, I’ll put the word around that we want to talk to Benny Matera, and hopefully we’ll be able to get a description of the clowns who grabbed them but now, I think our best bet is the street kid angle.”

“It’s a hell of a long shot,” Alex pointed out bleakly. Deakins nodded in agreement.

“Maybe, but ultimately, what other choices do we have? We’re at a dead end, here. Unless, Barek, you think Barone was lying to us? In which case, we’ll go back in there right now and arrest the son of a bitch on the spot.”

Carolyn’s shoulders slumped a little in defeat.

“No. He wasn’t lying.”

Deakins nodded grimly.

“All right, then. Let’s get back to Manhattan.”

Mike awoke to a throbbing pain in his skull, and a burning pain in his leg. He groaned softly and tried to shift into a more comfortable position, only to discover just how much of an impossibility that really was.

Everything was hurting, now. His head, his gut, his chest…

He coughed painfully, and wipes awkwardly at his mouth, using his good hand. His right hand was next to useless now. He’d lost sensation in it maybe an hour or so back, but he’d opted against telling Bobby. The guy had enough to worry about with his own injuries, without stressing out over something neither of them could do anything about. It just wasn’t worth it.

He coughed again, and winced at the sharp pain in his chest that accompanied the coughing. He figured it was more than likely a cracked rib that was causing the pain. His chest had been aching dully all along, but only now was the pain starting to flare up to the point where he could no longer ignore it.

“Mike… You okay?”

Mike glanced around at the sound of Bobby’s voice, and found his friend was watching him with a deep concern that was tempered by obvious fever. Moving slowly to avoid giving himself motion sickness, Mike sat up slowly.

“Fine,” he mumbled, pressing his hand over his eyes in an effort to stem a minor bout of nausea. “Dandy. How are you?”

Bobby didn’t answer immediately, continuing to stare at Mike with wordless concern.

“How much water do we have left?” he asked finally.

“Don’t know,” Mike muttered. “Not much. Why?”

Bobby shifted with some difficulty onto his side and reached down to the floor beside his cot and grabbed his water bottle. He then rolled it across the floor to Mike.

“Finish it.”

Mike picked up the bottle from where it had rolled to a stop at his feet, and stared at it for a long moment before answering.

“No. No way. I’m okay, Bobby. I’ve still got a little water here in my bottle. You… You keep this.”

Grimacing at the pain that flared through his leg, gut and chest, Mike pushed himself to his feet and started across the floor to return the water bottle to his friend. He only made it halfway before his knees buckled beneath him and he collapsed to the concrete floor with a painful thud.

“Mike!” Bobby exclaimed hoarsely and, with a burst of panic-fuelled strength, pulled himself off his cot and across the floor to where Mike lay.

“I’m okay,” Mike mumbled in between painful coughs. “I’m good… Just… a little dizzy. That’s all. Gimme a minute…”

“Yeah,” Bobby muttered. “Blood loss and dehydration can throw you right off balance.”

Mike looked up at him, baffled.

“Blood loss? What are you talking about?”

Bobby gently rubbed his thumb over the corner of Mike’s mouth, and then held up his hand so that Mike could see the blood. A chill spread through his body at the sight of it.

“What the fuck is that from?”

“Internal bleeding, Mike,” Bobby told him. “You’ve probably got a broken rib from that fight on Friday night. All the moving about that you’ve done has probably caused it to puncture one of your lungs.”

Mike felt sick, and that was rapidly followed by a strange sensation of calm acceptance.

“Fuck,” he mumbled. “So what you’re trying to tell me is that I’m dying.”

Right at that moment, Bobby looked as sick as Mike imagined he felt.

“If we don’t get out of here soon… yeah.”

“How soon?” Mike asked.

“No way of knowing,” Bobby admitted. “If it’s just a small rupture, and if it’s only just happened, it could take hours. On the other hand, if you’ve been bleeding into your lung for a while now…”

“I could croak any minute,” Mike finished off bluntly when Bobby hesitated.

“Yeah,” Bobby whispered. Mike groaned softly.

“So, it’s a toss-up. I’m either gonna get blown up, or I’m gonna drown in my own blood. Fuck. That’s a pretty shit choice, Bobby.”

Grunting in pain, Bobby reached over and grabbed both the water bottle and the two blankets from his cot.

“What are you doing?” Mike mumbled. “Go lie back on the bed. At least it’s more comfortable than the damn floor.”

“Can you get up?” Bobby asked flatly. “Do you have any strength left to move?”

In answer, Mike tried to lift himself up off the floor, but to no avail. He groaned softly, shutting his eyes in a vain effort to shut everything else out.

“Didn’t think so,” Bobby muttered. “Here…”

Mike opened one eye to find Bobby unscrewing the cap of his water bottle.

“What are you doing?”

“I figure there’s maybe five or six mouthfuls left. We’ll share it.”

Mike stared at Bobby for a long moment before conceding with a sigh.

“Okay, but you first. I don’t think you wanna be drinking water mixed with my blood.”

Smiling faintly, Bobby took three modest mouthfuls of water, savouring the taste and feel of the precious liquid in his dry mouth before holding the bottle for Mike to finish it off. When the bottle was finally empty, Mike stretched across the floor and managed to snag the other bottle. There was even less in it, just enough for one good mouthful each.

“Here. Might as well go the whole nine yards.”

Bobby took the bottle without protest and stared at it for a long moment before speaking softly.

“To friendship,” he said simply, and swallowed.

Mike looked thoughtful for a moment.

“To the beautiful women in our lives. May they find the flat-nosed son of a bitch who killed us, and kick his ass all the way to death row.”

“Amen to that,” Bobby murmured tiredly as he helped Mike to finish the water.

“So that’s it,” Mike said as Bobby discarded the empty water bottle, and dragged the blankets over the two of them. “All done… Now we just wait for the big bang.”

“Now we wait,” Bobby agreed. Mike looked around at the other detective thoughtfully.

“Are you scared? To die, I mean.”

“Not so much of dying,” Bobby admitted. “The thought of how much it’ll hurt scares me, though.”

“Just one rush of pain, and then lights out,” Mike mused. “You think the explosion will get us? Or are we gonna end up being crushed to death?”

“I think the explosion will probably knock us both out,” Bobby guessed. “At least, I hope it does. It won’t kill us outright, but with any luck we at least won’t be awake for what’ll come after.”

“Any chance those bars might give us some protection?” Mike wondered.

Bobby looked up above their heads at the bars of their prison. He could hear the hope in Mike’s voice and he hated himself for having to smother that, but he just couldn’t see the point in raising false hopes.

“If this was only a couple of storeys, then maybe… But the fact that they have explosives set says that this is probably a high rise. When it all comes down, those bars are going to fold like paper under the weight.”

Mike sighed again.

“It was just a thought.”

“Eames and Barek could still find us in time,” Bobby offered, but Mike shook his head.

“You don’t believe that now anymore than I do. Look, it’s okay, Bobby. We’re going to die. I accept that. There’s no reason to keep kidding ourselves.”

“Miracles can happen.”

Mike snorted derisively.

“Yeah, well, not in this reality. Do you think Deakins will try to get new partners for the girls? Or will he just partner them up with each other?”

“I don’t know, Mike.”

Mike looked at Bobby, not so sick that he missed the tension in his voice.

“What are you thinking about?”

“My mom.”

“Oh… Shit. Look, Bobby, Deakins will make sure she’s looked after properly. You know that, right?”

“I know. But she’s still not going to understand. When… When Dad finally left for good, it took years for her to come to grips with it… and he was still around. She’s not going to be able to comprehend what happened to me.”

“And you’re worried it’ll push her over the edge.”


Mike grimaced. There was precious little he could say in response to that.

“Deakins will take care of her,” he said softly, finally. “And I bet Alex will see to it as well. You don’t have to be scared for her.”

Bobby shifted a little on the hard, cold floor.

“You’d better try to take it easy, Mike. Don’t talk.”

“Yeah,” Mike muttered ruefully. “I wouldn’t wanna miss the grand finale, would I? I hear it’s gonna be explosive.”

Bobby laughed softly, unable to help himself, and Mike smiled, quietly pleased to have been able to get Bobby to laugh.

“Thanks, Mike.”

Confusion flickered across Mike’s face.

“For what?”

“For just being you. If this had to happen, I’m glad I was with you.”

“Oh, now don’t go getting all fuzzy and sentimental on me.”

“I’m not,” Bobby assured him. “I just wanted to say thankyou. And… you were right.”

“I was? About what?”

“About it being together making this more bearable. The only person I’d ever really talked to about anything before was Eames. So… thankyou.”

“That wasn’t easy to say, was it?” Mike asked, and he was sure he caught a glimpse of red in Bobby’s otherwise pale face.

“No, it wasn’t.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I feel the same. Do you think that…?”

“What?” Bobby asked curiously.

“Well… I was just wondering… do you think we would have eventually gotten to be friends if this hadn’t happened? I mean, I know we work pretty well together, but we weren’t ever really friends. We are now… aren’t we?”

“Yeah,” Bobby agreed softly, acutely aware of the sudden threat of tears in his eyes. “We are.”

A small, tired smile passed fleetingly over Mike’s bloodied lips as his eyes flickered shut.

“That’s good to know.”

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