"So, what're you thinking here?" Lee asked as Sam handed her a flashlight. The house was pretty dark inside due to the blinds being closed and with the cloud cover, flashlights would be needed for some of the rooms.
"I'm thinking that if Raston was really the first one or one of the first pair killed then the answer has to be under our noses." She opened the front door, listening intently before switching on her own flash light and stepping inside. Lowering her voice, she continued, "Whether it's bank statements, utilities, how he bought his VCR or what, I don't know. But, since we didn't find anything to connect the murders at Curtis' this morning, then I really hope we find something here."
"Okay, I'll start in here," Lee replied, shining her flashlight into a corner of the room to her left. Just as she was turning to step into the room, she was startled when a loud noise sounded from her right.
Sam grabbed her phone and flipped it open with a silent 'Sorry' and grin at Lee. She watched her partner shake her head and move into the room as she spoke into the phone, "Foster."
Feeling the muscles in her face move into an unbidden smile, Sam shook her head in resignation and took a few steps to enter the room on her right. "Hopefully, never for you. What's up?"
Sam's not quite whisper but definitely not normal voice was causing Kris' body to do very interesting things, such as send a skitter of prickles down her spine. She wiggled and tried to get her mind back on the call. "Well, Rob left a message that she'd be back in a couple of hours and bringing James with her. They're having a few problems and I gave my verbal notice to Connie, who wasn't happy. I had to leave a message for Pam and she's already called me back, wanting to know what was going on but, at least, she's being supportive."
"I'm sorry about Connie but Pam seems a good sort, I'm glad you have her."
"Yeah, me too." Kris paused. "Anyway, I was just wondering if there was any chance I could make you dinner or order in or something?" The blonde grimaced at her almost pathetic tone, the truth was that she was finding the idea of being with Sam a necessity and having to listen to her roommate's love life, good or bad, not appealing at all. That, in addition to the fact that she just simply wanted to be in the tall woman's arms, fueled her call.
'Damn.' Sam wasn't happy with what she had to say, but, she also recognized the fact that she had spent very little extra time, compared to normal, on the job since Kris had been hurt. Something had to give eventually. "I wish I could tell you when I'll be back but I have no idea. We're a couple hours away and just starting on a search. It might be really late."
"Of course. I've been pretty spoiled lately," Kris tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice.
The detective winced, this just would not do. Even the tiny chance that Kris might feel as if she was trying to make an excuse was too much. "Tell you what, why don't you plan on spending the weekend? If you can't get a ride, I'll come get you whenever I'm done. But, make sure you eat, okay?"
Kris grinned. "Been talking to my mother?"
An eyebrow rose on that one. "Uh, no. I've done enough of that lately, thank you." Sam began to look around the room, her sharp eyes taking in as many details as she could.
A chuckle escaped. "That's true. Thank god that's turned out all right."
"Yeah. It's definitely a good thing."
Kris laughed. "Lord, now it's Martha."
"Cute. That sound like a plan?"
"Yeah, it does." Kris tapped a finger against the phone. "Sam, I'm not pushing am I?"
Sam had been leaning over a table, looking at the magazines, but the comment caused her to straighten and frown. "Pushing?"
"You know, invading your space? Being too needy?"
Sam moved as far into the room as she could and glanced at the doorway. Her voice both gentled and quieted even further, "Kris, do you remember what I asked you this morning?"
A faint smile touched Kris' lips. "Yes, quite clearly."
With another glance at the doorway, Sam said, "Then know that I meant every word. Never worry about invading and you're never needy, I really like you being there with me. Okay?"
A thought came to Sam. "However" she said in a teasing tone.
"Can I mention that you have quite an interesting researching technique for work?"
The blonde thought about that for a moment, a puzzled look transforming her face. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, do the names Delores and Blanche ring a bell or ..." A chuckle spilled out of Sam. "Or ring something anyway?"
"Delor ..." Kris' eyes went wide and she froze. Words had completely failed her.
As the silence lengthened, Sam's concern grew. Finally, she broke it. "Kris?"
Kris took a breath, unbelievably embarrassed that she'd forgotten to delete the bookmark she'd set before she went looking for further chapters of the story. "Um. I ..."
At a sound, Sam looked over at the doorway again just in time to see Lee move from one side of the room across the hall to the other. "Kris, you do know that I'm completely teasing you, right?"
"Well, yes, but ..."
"Hey, no buts!" The brunette decided on another tactic and lowered her voice, "I have to admit, I was wondering how you knew about ..."
"Sam!" Kris interrupted.
"Ah, knew what I was talking about, hmm?"
Kris bunched her lips, she could hear the grin in Sam's voice and was fighting the impulse to laugh. "Chapter eleven."
Sam chuckled. "I love you."
A deep sigh escaped from the blonde. "God, I love you too."
An easy smile floated across Sam's lips at the depth of feeling she could hear behind Kris' words. "I wish I was there."
"So do I."
"I'll try my hardest to not be super later, I promise. Unfortunately, I need to get back to work, though."
"I'm sorry to keep you."
"Don't be. You're always the highlight of my day."
As if a yoke had been removed from her shoulders, Kris felt the muscles in her neck and shoulders relax. Felt her heart lift from the dark place that it had been slipping. "You say the best things."
"I only wish I had the words to really say what I mean."
"Then I'd be a puddle of mush all the time and that wouldn't be fun at all, would it?"
Sam laughed and then winced, hoping Lee hadn't heard. "We'll have to discuss that later."
"On that note, let me scoot. I'm going to catch up with Leo. He's pretty happy with me right now and I have a ride. I'll see you later."
They quickly concluded their call and a slightly repentant Sam got straight to work, checking the room she was in very carefully as Lee continued to with hers.
"Are you kidding?" Patricia gushed. "He was sure you were leaving. The entire staff of the New York Times could apply and he wouldn't be happier, believe me." The older woman smiled easily with Kris. The blonde wasn't just Leo's favorite around the newsroom, she was popular amongst them all.
Kris chuckled. "The New York Times?" She lounged easily, perched on the edge of Patricia's desk. Her cast rested easily against her raised leg.
"Hey, it was the first one that came to mind. Want me to pick a few more?"
Kris laughed along with the older woman. "No! My reputation can't live up to what you have so far!"
Patricia's response was interrupted by Leo's booming voice, "Are you two going to spend all afternoon playing around on company time?"
Looking up through her lashes, Kris raised an eyebrow slightly and looked at him. "And if we are?"
Behind her desk, Patricia tried not to laugh at Leo's bulging eyes. Finally, as the silence continued, she had to put a hand against her mouth to stop the laughter.
Noticing the other woman's difficulties, Kris took pity on her and pushed off the desk with her good hand to stand in front of Leo. Then, the unceremoniously threw her arms around his thickened waist, hugging him tightly. "Will you ever forgive me?" she asked with every bit of pathos she could evoke in her voice.
As Leo's face crumbled against the onslaught, Patricia failed in her attempt to keep the laughter in. Her infectious laugh caught on and soon both Leo and Kris were laughing as well, along with two reporters who had been watching the scene unfold.
"Enough, enough!" Leo said, a seldom seen grin on his face. It was, after all, much easier for him to appear gruff and imposing if he didn't smile. Unfortunately for him, everyone was well aware that it was a facade but just didn't call him on it often.
Touching Kris' elbow, Leo waited for Kris to finish laughing and look at him. "I believe we have some business to discuss?"
"Lead away, Boss."
"Don't call me Boss!"
"You got it, Chief."
"Not Chief either!"
"Okay, Head Honcho."
Patricia finished wiping her eyes and shook her head as the two walked to Leo's office, bantering back and forth the entire way.
Putting both of her hands on the small of her back, Sam stood straight and stretched, the audible pops giving her some relief. Rolling her head around her shoulders also helped. It had been a long few hours and even if Sam hadn't been required to use the flashlight more often it would have been easily noted that the sun was obviously waning.
She let out a breath and looked at the small pile of papers that she had determined needed to go back to the Captain from what she had found. There was nothing conclusive but plenty that brought up more and more questions. Such as evidence of large deposits that came from nowhere. Lee had a similar stack.
The information they had found at Curtis' spelled out the fact that Curtis was almost certainly in league with someone. Put together with Raston's information and their connection, it definitely looked bad for the ex officer. Unfortunately, they hadn't found anything to point them in a direction as far as the murders went. Nor had they found any evidence that this was anything but Curtis and Raston's private moneymaking endeavor. Nothing pointing to outside connections. It was frustrating and they were almost finished with the house.
A dark head poked out of the main bedroom and Lee continued as soon as she saw it, "I'm about finished. Just going to get a bag for my stuff. Want one?"
"Yes, please. I'm about done too." It was disappointing. Sam had been so sure that they'd find something, anything to give them a lead. Her eyes roamed around the room, desperately searching for something, anything. Starting a slow walk around the room, Sam let her gaze touch everything just as she had in every room.
She let her fingers push several photographs around the top of a chest of drawers. One of Raston in uniform, with his family, fishing, in a car somewhere ... Sam found her eyes tracking back to the fishing picture. It looked very much like the same place that was in many of Curtis' photos. She looked closer, someone only half seen in the photo could have easily been Curtis. Uncovering the rest of the photos didn't show any others of the same type.
Still, Sam felt a tingle inside and her senses lit up. "Lee?"
With her foot on the first step of the stairs, Lee stopped and looked up. "Yeah?"
"Have you found any photographs?"
"Uh, yes. In a drawer somewhere."
"Fishing? I don't ... hmm, yes, I think maybe there were."
"Do you have them?"
"Let me think where and I'll get them." Lee had to look in a few drawers, but finally spun around and had to take a step back, her heart in her throat. "Jesus!"
"Sorry!" Sam held her arms away from her body in a placating gesture.
"You're gonna give me a heart attack if you do that too often." During the sentence, Lee's hand moved to her chest.
Sam's lips twitched but she controlled herself. "Sorry, I just feel like there's something here."
Lee held out her hand. "Well, here they are."
Sam snapped them up and spread them on kitchen counter to look them over. There were three more fishing pictures amongst various others. "Do you remember seeing any fishing stuff around here?"
Letting her mind trail over the rooms she'd been in, Lee shook her head. "No, I don't."
Lee thought again. "No. What's up?"
"I'm not sure but ..." Sam's hand shot out to pick up one of the photos up. Holding the flashlight in one hand, she moved the photograph in various directions, trying to get a clear view on one of the figures. A dark pit opened in her stomach as she whispered, "Oh god."
Instantly concerned, Lee stepped around Sam's tall form and grasped her upper arm. "What?"
Feeling tears spark in her eyes, she struggled to keep them at bay. She felt as if she had been so stupid but she never would have thought ... never. "If you want to hide a car for a very long time, where would you do it?"
Watching her partner's abnormally pale face and the hand holding the photo tremble, Lee asked, "You think it's in the lake?"
"And if it is. We have another connection." She handed the photograph to Lee and waited for the shocked dark blue eyes to meet her own over the top of the photo.
"You're sure there's nothing wrong?" Kris asked, still a little apprehensive over the fact that Sam had asked someone else to pick up her up. She was also a little uncomfortable about someone else getting ideas about the larger than normal bag she was taking with her. She was taking Sam at her word and bringing over a couple of changes of clothes and tried to be reassured that Sam must be okay with it.
"Yep, no problems at all. She just knew she'd be late."
"Okay. Thanks a lot for doing this." Kris smiled up at the tall, dark figure and tucked her head down to get into the car. She settled herself in the seat and then whirled her head around when she felt the sharp pain in her shoulder. Her eyes first tracked to her shoulder, where a needle was being removed and then up to the face of her betrayer.
"What the ... hell?" The blonde felt light headed, she could swear that she could hear the blood flowing through her veins. Then she watched her hand slide off the dashboard as she tried to exit the car.
He reached his hand across the blonde's mouth, to forestall any cries for help until her head slumped against her chest just a short time later. Swallowing, he tried not to remember the accusation in the green eyes that slowly fluttered closed as he buckled the limp body in.
His heart was beating a million beats a minute and he looked around again to be sure that nobody had seen him. He'd chosen this part of the parking lot because the lighting was bad and he was using his own car. He didn't want this to end too prematurely, even though he knew this was indeed the end. It was time.
He had overheard the Captain talking to his secretary about getting Raston's information and had made sure to keep his eyes and ears open since then. He'd been able to follow the trail straight to Carson and Foster and, being far too well aware of how good the tall brunette was, realized his time was running short.
Closing the passenger door, he tried to casually walk to the other side, keeping his eyes moving over the lot and immediate surroundings. It wasn't until he'd actually started the car and began to pull away that he felt as if his plan would work. Up until then, he was sure that Sam would come flying out of the dark and stop him before he was able to make his escape. With one last glance at his passenger, his resolve strengthened and he thought, 'You could've had it all, Sam.'
Exceeding the speed limit was certainly not a new thing for Sam, but her fingers tapped nervously against the steering wheel and she felt as jumpy as a cat trapped in a dog pen. There was an awful foreboding that she was going to be too late, that she had been too slow and someone else would die because of her incompetence. Then there was the tiny matter of trying to persuade the Captain that yet another of his officers was bad. Oh yes, this was going to be a wonderful discussion indeed.
As if reading her mind, Lee asked, "Any ideas on what we're going to tell him?"
Glad for something else to do besides worry, Sam replied, "Besides insist we drag that lake? Not really." Looking in her side mirror, she smoothly changed lanes and passed another car going far too slow.
"Even if they find something, it'd have to be pretty conclusive to give us anything on him."
"I know but ..." Sam sighed. "I should've seen it." Her teeth clashed together as her jaw clenched.
"Sam, this is absolutely not your fault. Don't go there," Lee countered.
Shaking her head, Sam couldn't help but feel it certainly was her fault. She'd had clues along the way and it had taken her too long to put them together. It didn't help her mindset that her earlier calls to let Kris know she'd be late had been unsuccessful as well. 'Hopefully, she won't be too mad at me. "Why don't you see if he's done with that meeting yet and make sure that Margie gives him the message to call us or stay there?"
"Gotcha." Lee pulled her cell phone from her pocket and began to dial.
Meanwhile, Sam decided another try at Kris would be a good idea. She dialed the very familiar number and waited for a few rings, almost pressing the disconnect button just as someone answered."
"Yeah, who's this?"
"It's Sam, Sam Foster. I'm looking for Kris, she there?"
"No, that wasn't you she left with?"
The blood drained from Sam's face with tidal wave strength. Somehow, she managed to keep her voice calm, "What do you mean?"
"About an hour ago, James and I pulled into the parking lot and saw her in a car that was pulling away."
"It wasn't a taxi?"
"No. It's weird, though."
Sam waited for Robin to continue past the pause but quickly lost her patience. "What's weird?" The detective noted her partner's glance over at her sharp tone and realized that Lee must have finished her call already.
"Well, it's just that I waved but she looked kinda out of it."
Sam's heart began an off beat mamba. "She didn't respond?"
"Well, that's it ... she looked like she was asleep." Robin paused, not sure if she should be worried at the detective's questions or not. "That's why I thought she was with you, that maybe you were taking her somewhere."
Fear took Sam's breath away and shot itself straight to her core. She didn't catch Lee's widened eyes when the speed of the car began to shoot up. "Do you know what the car looked like, license plate? Anything?"
"Oh shit. Sam, is she in trouble?"
"Robin, think! I need to know."
"God, I don't know. It was dark, the car was dark. Big. I don't know!" Frustration was evident in Robin's voice.
Sam tried to control her breathing, but could feel every part of her insides bursting at the seams. She was spending so much time on controlling her body so that it wouldn't shake apart that her driving was pretty much on autopilot. "Hold on, Robin." She spared a quick look at Lee. "Get the Captain on the phone, I don't care who he's talking to."
Seeing a look in her partner's eye that, quite frankly, scared her, Lee immediately pulled the phone from her pocket again and began to dial.
"Robin, it was dark and big. What else? Black, blue, green, brown? Make? Anything?"
Picking up on the detective's worry, Robin began to panic. "I ..."
Impatient, Sam turned on her light in the front and back windows and watched cars begin to move out of her way. She was trying not to fluster Robin but there was no doubt in her mind that something was very, very wrong. "Wait, James was there. Put him on!"
In the background, Sam could hear Lee trying to reason with Margie. "Lee, tell her it's something about Kris and I need him now." Finally, James came on the phone and had obviously been quickly briefed.
"I remember seeing the Olds insignia, I'd say probably a few years old." He began and paused to think. "I really don't know what model, I've never been a fan of them but I'm pretty sure it was black."
"All right, thanks. Get Robin out of there and call me the instant you think of anything else. The number's on the fridge." None of it was a question or request, simply an order. She pushed the disconnect button and handed her phone to Lee, who pressed her own into Sam's hand.
Sam swallowed a knot of emotion so thick it barely went down and put the phone to her ear. "Captain, ..."
An irate voice immediately interrupted the detective, "Foster, what the hell is going on?"
"Sir, I think Kris is in trouble and I need you to just go with me here," sparing a few seconds to concentrate on avoiding an idiot who refused to move over, she then continued to explain what they had found and her reasoning before moving on to what Robin had seen. By the time she was finished, she could see the start of the familiar city and prayed they'd be in time.
Kris felt the tug on her jacket and struggled to open her eyes and move. Her brain felt as if it had been stuffed with cotton wool and her limbs as if they wanted to be anywhere but attached to her body. They didn't seem to want to move or at least move how she wanted them to. A stronger tug jerked her over on her back and she strained at the effort necessary not to vomit right then and there.
Noticing his 'guest' appeared a bit more lively, he spoke up, "Don't try anything stupid, I'm going to give you the chance to live a little longer."
Trying to speak around the mothballs in her mouth, Kris finally managed a "Why?" and sank back into the bed when his face loomed large in her view. She blinked.
The question was obvious. "She betrayed me and she'll pay for that." At the confusion in the blonde's muddled face, he grabbed the neck of Kris' t-shirt, lifting her off the bed slightly and continued, "I know about you two. Did you think I wouldn't find out?"
He let go with a slight push of disgust and stalked to the corner of the room. "After all that I did for her. Everything I went through."
The curtain of murkiness began to lift a little. "Sam?" Kris whispered, licking her dry lips.
He whirled. "Don't even say her name!" The light in the room may have been weak but it nevertheless glinted off the steel in his hand.
Nervously, Kris tried not to make any sudden moves. "I'm sorry. I ... I don't understand." She watched with quite some trepidation as Hamilton cocked his head to the side and gave her a thorough once over with his eyes.
"I'm not lying." Holding his gaze, she repeated, "I'm not. I don't get it."
"You really don't, do you?"
Kris shook her head and winced as that made her head hurt. "No."
Staring at her again for several long moments, he began to speak. "She stood up for me when she could've just let it go. I was a rookie, not worth anything."
"Everyone's worth something," shot out of Kris' mouth before she could stop it.
Jimmy turned. "You don't have to fake being nice to me."
Kris blinked. "I don't ... Why are you doing this?"
Frowning, Jimmy watched the blonde's apparent confusion wash over her face. "Do you know who I am?"
"Hamilton? Jimmy Hamilton?" The blonde thought for a few moments. "I remember you from some of the crime scenes and I think my father introduced us once?"
Surprised, the man leaned back against a wall. "And that's it?"
Hoping that her head would completely clear very soon, Kris responded, "Should there be more?"
A short laugh burst out of Hamilton. "Damn, I figured she would've told you."
"Told me ..." Abruptly, Kris' mind clicked into gear. Her eyes dropped as she considered all the facts. It was hard to believe but things would certainly fit. With sickening slowness, her eyes flickered back up. "It's you?"
With a sardonic smile, Jimmy eased more of his weight against the wall. "At least you're quick."
"God," was shocked out. "Why?"
"None of your business."
"Then why bring me here?"
"Asking why you're not dead yet? That's an interesting method."
Several other pieces snapped into place for Kris. "You've brought me here to get Sam."
"Oh, not just that. No." Jimmy smoothed a sleeve with one hand.
"Why do you hate her?" Kris immediately regretted the question as Jimmy's eyes lit up with anger.
"Hate her?" he spat. "She betrayed me!"
Understanding that bringing up her relationship with Sam was absolutely not the way to go, Kris tried another path, "You said she stood up for you."
"And then took up with you!" He pushed himself off the wall and approached the blonde again, the menace was even more apparent. "She could've had me! I killed for her, killed those who hurt her."
Kris spoke quickly, "You think she would want that?
Jimmy stopped. "It doesn't matter now, does it?" A derisive snort escaped. "I talked to a friend in Miller's Park. There's talk that maybe the killer put a virus in their computers." Now Jimmy laughed, a dark sound with no humor. "As if. Computer expert I'm not but I did enjoy mixing up some files after that. Helps to have friends there, you know? They had no idea what I did or where I went and I've learned to take advantage of situations when I can."
"You want to be caught now," Kris' voice was flat, her conclusions as to the reasons for her capture had added up quickly.
"No. Something happened yesterday, something important, I've been watching her and her partner. Sam's too good to let this go before she figures it out. I want to be in charge of this. After all, I have been all along." There was more than a large bit of smugness in his tone.
"And taking me assures her participation in your game."
"Exactly. My game." He approached Kris again. "And it's time for the next step." His hand held another needle and he merely smiled as Kris struggled.
Exiting his office as soon as he saw the two women rush into the station, the Captain's fear for his daughter exploded against them, "You better damned well have a good reason for this, Foster."
"Where is he?"
"He's off duty and nobody knows where."
"Nothing." His jaw clamped shut on the word and he drew in a breath before continuing, "Her cell phone must be turned off, nothing there either."
"And the stolen car information?" She had asked him to check for any missing Oldsmobile or similar cars in the last day or two.
"Yes, several. Only two that are dark, though."
Jackson came through the swinging doors and made a beeline for the group. Sam began to bristle but the Captain spoke up, "I asked him to help out."
Sam shot him a look of disbelief but stood down.
Before Jackson could begin, Lee spoke up after noticing several curious stares, "Maybe we should go somewhere a bit more private?"
Once ensconced in the Captain's office, they all looked to Jackson for whatever he was going to say. "Just got off the phone with his parents. He drives a Corolla but he borrowed their Olds earlier today. Told them that his was in the shop." They all looked to him. "Dark blue."
Every muscle in Sam's body tightened as she heard the damning words and a chill ran down her spine. She turned, and somehow found herself facing the window, her breath racing almost as fast as her heart. 'My fault, my fault.' Repeated in her mind. She wasn't sure she could do this again, it was too much.
Lee's forehead creased into a frown as she watched her partner's shoulders droop in a defeat she never imagined she'd see.
"Foster!" Sam didn't turn and he tried again, "Foster, dammit!"
Calling on reserves she didn't know she had, Sam straightened and slowly turned, steely determination back in her baby blues and taught muscles. "We need to put an APB out on him," she managed to rasp out.
A father's frustration flared up, "We don't have enough here to get anything!"
"I'm telling you, he has her." Sam saw the Captain's indecision and experienced a little explosion of her own. "Think about it, damn it!" He plays softball, he probably saw it when Morris almost took my head off during that game. He certainly saw Pelman."
They all watched as the tall woman stalked from the window to stand in front of the Captain, no fear in her stance at all. "At least get the lake checked and get an APB out on Kris. That is the very least you can do."
The Captain's nostrils flared. "Jackson, get on the lake. Carson, get him the information and get on the APB." He looked at Sam. "You, stay."
Jackson couldn't have left the room faster but Lee left slowly and only closed the door when Sam looked at her and nodded. She turned to look at Kris' father.
"What the ..."
Sam was startled when her pocket rang, she quickly realized that she hadn't hooked her cell phone back on her belt and pulled it out of her pocket. She hadn't planned on answering it but her heart skipped a beat at the caller ID. In the blink of an eye, she had the phone to her ear. "Kris!"
The line sounded open but there was no response, she tried again as the Captain moved closer, "Kris?"
Tilting the phone so that they could both listen, she frowned at what sounded very much like a grunt of pain from the other end of the line and then her world stopped.
"Sam?" Kris' cracked voice came through.
Sam's insides couldn't decide what to do, they fought against each other in elation that Kris was alive but in fear of the evident strangeness of her voice. "Are you all right?"
"Kris?" Sam began to mouth something to the Captain but noticed that Lee was looking in their direction. Waving her hand, she caught Lee's attention through the office window and pointed at her cell phone repeatedly, mouthing 'Trace' as clearly as she could.
Lee stood, frowned and started to move closer, then nodded sharply, turning back to her desk and grabbing the phone.
There was a muffled sound from the other end of the line and Sam looked at the Captain, but he didn't appear to have any more idea of what was going on than she did. With one final glance at her lover's father, she dove in, "Jimmy?"
She was rewarded with the sound of silence. "Jimmy, talk to me." Sam shook off the Captain's hand from the arm holding the phone. He was trying to stop her from talking and she was studiously ignoring him.
"Knew you'd figure it out."
Sam stopped moving, realizing that the Captain probably didn't hear the words. He looked at her in surprise when she stepped closer. "Well, I was a bit slow, wasn't I?"
There was the sound of a snort. "Faster than I thought."
Captain Scott instantly stopped his attempts to dissuade Foster from speaking, he recognized the voice as Jimmy Hamilton's.
"What do you want, Jimmy?"
"You. At the corner where all this started in thirty minutes. Alone. You can figure that out, can't you?"
"Let her go first."
"Jimmy, please. Let her go, she hasn't done anything to you."
Anger came through the phone in waves, "She's taken over your life and your bed. If not for her ..." He stopped speaking, only his short breaths could be heard.
Closing her eyes against the waves of stiffening fury beside her, Sam continued to try and reason with him. "I'll come unarmed to wherever you want, just ..."
"Twenty five minutes."
The phone line went dead.
Sam's eyes flew opened to find Lee as her arm lowered.
Lee had been watching and knew something was definitely happening. When Sam's eyes found hers and the phone moved from her ear, she barked into the phone. Sadly, she shook her head at Sam.
Lee's negative response was obvious, no trace. Sam's disappointment swirled inside but she had another problem looming very large. She turned to face Kris' father. His face was beyond chalk, to an almost sickly gray, and he was obviously furious.
"Is what he said ..."
"Respectfully, sir. I need to go." Without waiting for an answer, Sam turned and ignored the angered request of her Captain to return, heading for her desk.
Unfortunately, he followed her. "Foster, what the hell are you doing?"
She looked up from looking in a drawer, blue eyes blazing. "I'm going to do whatever I can to save your daughter's life and if that means giving him mine, that's what I'll do." The shocked silence of the room told volumes.
"You've done enough harm," the Captain spat out to the further surprise of the room's occupants. "You're off this case!"
Sam looked very long and hard at Kris' father and made her decision, not that there was any question as to what it would be. Trying to preserve some semblance of his dignity, for Kris' sake, she lowered her voice, "I'm going anyway, ... sir."
Lee watched the scary side of Sam come out in spades. The blonde could almost feel the waves of tension and anger radiating from her partner. She held her breath and waited for the explosion.
"It'll take me at least fifteen to get to the place he's talking about or do you know where that is?" The brunette looked right at Captain Scott, her gaze at melting steel strength.
The Captain was speechless. Realizing what a terrible position he'd put himself in, he backed down slightly, "You'll wear a wire."
"No time," she clipped her reply, now fully in charge of the situation.
Surprisingly, Jackson spoke up, "Yes, there is. Loyla checked some out earlier to use tomorrow." He spun around.
Loyla had been so intent on trying not to listen, his mind hadn't registered his name being said. When it did, he looked up and saw the group looking at him and he immediately started to rummage around in his desk. "Here!" He held up the microphone and receiver.
"I'll help you in the car," Lee stated.
"No, he wants me alone."
Lee spoke up again, "We'll follow then."
"Kris' safety is my priority. I will not do anything to endanger that."
Jackson spoke up again, "Christ, Foster. We know what in the hell we're doing. Get the wire on and get the fuck out of here, we'll be close by."
Sam blinked and an eyebrow rose at Jackson who handed her the wire.
Another long look at Jackson and then the other two and she twirled around, racing to the car with long strides.
She made the corner in less time than she thought possible and had even managed to partially conceal the wire. Taking the extra time to quickly rearrange her clothes so that the wire was covered, Sam stepped out of the car and looked around.
Senses were heightened and even the occasional car driving by didn't break her concentration. There was little doubt in her mind that Jimmy would be watching and waiting, hidden somewhere that he could escape easily. He might be crazy but stupid he wasn't.
She had already noted the telephone booth attached to the side of the building on one corner and wasn't surprised when it began to ring. Sprinting over, she picked it up on the third ring. "Foster."
"No weapons, no wires and no company. Nobody else needs to hear what I'm going to say, they already know enough. Oh, and Sam, she dies the second I see anything wrong."
"Souter Bridge. Ten minutes." A click and the dial tone came on.
"You heard him." She spoke into the microphone, "It's just me now and I will get her out of there. Don't do anything stupid, he'll know." Reaching inside her blouse, she ripped out the wire and held it out, in case Jimmy was able to see what she was doing and then dropped it on the ground. She refused to contemplate on the fact that he knew it was likely she'd be followed the bridge. To do that was the act of someone who didn't care about being caught or perhaps dying and he had Kris.
Souter Bridge was one of the oldest bridges in the city. Built over the river with something akin to a seventeen hundred foot span and up to two hundred foot clearance over the water, it had been closed for the past two weeks as crumbling concrete guardrails and old lights were replaced.
Sam knew it well, a favorite of those wishing to end their lives prematurely. Indeed, she'd spent more than one visit talking down some of those very same people. She hadn't lost one yet and hoped her record would continue.
A sense of urgency began to push her along even faster, every second seemed to count and she wasted no time getting to the bridge.
Stepping out of the car, the cool breeze immediately caught her jacket and whipped it away from her body. She shook her head to get the blowing hair out of her eyes and looked around. Apart from the requisite air traffic lights and lights on the barricades, the bridge was quiet and dark.
Reaching behind her back, she removed her gun and made a show of putting it inside the car. The wind caught her jacket again and she took it off with a spurt of annoyance, locked the car, pocketing the keys, and started to walk.
There was plenty of room for a person to move around the barricade and so she did, noting the change in sound when she stepped onto the steel bridge. Pausing for a few moments, she closed her eyes, both to extend her senses and give her eyes a better chance to get used to the darkness.
Extra sounds were filtered out as she concentrated on those that were both on the bridge and alien to it. Soon blue slits opened and she had pinpointed her target several hundred feet away. Her senses were sure that there were two people but prayed that her heart wasn't lying to her about it. If she was right, they were close to the side of the bridge, by one of the steel girders.
Regardless, she began to walk, ignoring the wind's bite against her skin. Her steps echoing oddly against the steel and water. The lights of a segment of the city shone in the background and the detective tried to avoid looking at them so as to not destroy her night vision. The beauty of the multi-colored river escaped her as well. Her focus was one spot; one location that she was sure held everything she needed in her life.
The speed of her steps increased as soon as the blonde head she knew so well resolved itself in the dark, Sam faltered slightly in her step when Kris didn't look up. About thirty feet away now, Jimmy Hamilton leaned out from behind a girder.
"That's far enough," his voice rang out through the cold steel.
The detective held her arms away from her body and tried to gentle her voice, "What's going on, Jimmy?"
Stepping away from the girder, Jimmy looked hard at the woman who had been the object of his dreams for a long time. From her comfortable shoes, up the length of her amazingly long legs covered in dark cloth, past the belt and cream blouse, to her shadowed face with the black holes that contained her eyes. Her dark hair picked up highlights of the various lights and moved lightly around her shoulders and face.
Her gaze darting between Jimmy and Kris, Sam prayed for some type of movement from the kneeling blonde. Kris had been still since she'd been watching her, the blonde head bent over and hair moving in the sharp breeze. It was too far and too dark to see details, she took a step forward unconsciously.
Jimmy's weapon finger tightened on the trigger as Sam stepped forward. Frowning, he searched for her eyes. He needed to see her eyes again, one more time. Needed to see that flare of pride and strength.
Realizing that she'd managed to move without any reaction, Sam pushed it and took another step, then another. She had taken several steps before he finally reacted. Unfortunately, it was violently. Her heart lurched and she dropped into a crouch when the crack of the gun reverberated through the very metal around them. The bullet hit close by, too close and it wasn't far from her mind that a ricochet could be deadly too.
"Don't push it, Sam. I'm in control here." Jimmy moved closer to his captive, keeping the detective in his sights the entire time.
"I'm sorry, I just thought we could talk better if we were closer." Internally, Sam's heart soared. Kris' head had come up at the sound of the gunshot and although appearing somewhat confused, she had seemed to focus on Sam until Jimmy had yelled. Sam slowly straightened, making no abrupt movements.
"Oh yeah, that's it, right." He shook his head and stood behind Kris, cocking his head to the side and regarding his prey. "You forget how many times I've seen you work."
Pushing aside any thought other than getting Kris out of there, Sam thought about and discarded several ideas on how to deal with Jimmy before settling on one. "Jimmy, you're my friend. Talk to me, you could always do that."
Sam listened carefully; Jimmy's tone was too even. "You know that's the truth, Jimmy."
"And that's all, isn't it? All it ever was," he spat out.
"You have to know that I'm so very sorry if I gave you some other impression. Is that what happened?" Sam inched forward, attempting to keep her movements hidden from Hamilton.
Jimmy found his attention moving to the blonde in front of him. "What does she have, Sam? What perverted hold does she have on you?"
Kris tried to focus on Sam but her fevered mind saw the moving hair turn into writhing snakes, she shivered uncontrollably and closed her eyes. 'Damn, what did he give me?'
'Please forgive me for this.' Sam sent the thought to Kris with everything she was before speaking, daring no more looks directly at Kris. "There's no hold, Jimmy."
Surprisingly, Jimmy laughed and put the gun against the back of Kris' head. "So you won't mind if I blow her head off, right?"
Her heart in her throat and most definitely getting in the way of her voice, Sam pushed past it, "Of course I'll mind. She's an innocent in this. It's me you want, not her."
Not believing a word, Jimmy knelt down and pulled Kris' head up by the hair. "Don't lie to me! Tell me what she did!"
Shuffling forward again, Sam pleaded, "Listen to me, please! Look at her, Jimmy! Look! Do you really think she could ... satisfy me? Do you really think that?"
Kris' head dropped as the tension from above left, she forced her eyes open to look at her lover. Her muddled mind put together what Sam was saying and didn't care for it at all. 'What?'
Standing up again, Jimmy looked at Sam curiously. "What are you talking about?"
'Time to earn an Oscar.' Sam kept her eyes on Jimmy, praying that Kris would understand or that she would be able to explain it later. "She doesn't deserve to die because of something I did."
Noticing that she had his attention, the detective continued, "You know her, Jimmy. Please don't hurt her for being naive and innocent. Please don't put her death on my shoulders too." Another shuffle and Hamilton frowned. Sam paused for a moment, dropping her eyes to the ground and then spoke softly, "Think about it. She's the Captain's daughter. I want to go far in the department."
Incredulous, Jimmy stepped around Kris and asked, "You're saying you took up with her for a promotion?"
'No, no, no.' Kris' mind screamed. 'This is not true, she's just looking for a way to get to him. It's not true!' She tried to look at her friend.
Slowly, she brought her gaze back to Hamilton and deliberately avoided the accusing, frightened stare that would be Kris'. "I've done worse."
Hamilton shot a look of disgust and then shrewd intelligence. "No, I saw you in that parking lot. You were really upset about her being hurt."
"Of course I was. She's a nice kid. Not to mention that I was the one who'd have to tell the Captain that his daughter got hurt when she was with me."
Jimmy thought about that for a few seconds, never taking his eyes off the detective. He knew that she had secrets from her past that nobody seemed to know about, along with several years of undercover work that were less than pleasant but he just wasn't sure. But, he'd seen her operate too many times and shook his head. "Forget it, I've seen you work the suspects too many times, Sam."
'Shit! I swear I almost had him.' Sam thought in frustration. 'Okay, keep calm. Don't do anything stupid. Like look at Kris and crawl on your knees for forgiveness.' Nodding, she spoke again, her voice just loud enough to ghost along the breeze, "Yes, you have and that's why you know I won't lie about this. Won't give you things I can't give."
The adrenaline rushing through Kris' body was clearing up her mind somewhat. Although, she was glad that Sam was now close enough to be able to see her eyes and not the hollow-eyed zombie that the drugs seemed to make her see sometimes. Somehow, she had to help Sam. Somehow, she found the strength to not believe and, oddly, the detective's unwillingness to look at her only helped strengthen that conviction.
Sam spread her arms wide slowly, as if to trying to decide what to say, and shifted from one foot to the other, using the motion to step one more bit closer. "You've had a reason for doing what you've done so far, I know that. But, you don't here. Not unless you just want to put an innocent soul on both our heads."
Capturing his eyes, she held on with everything she had and moved closer still as she spoke, "I don't think that's the Jimmy Hamilton I know. God, I hope it's not. I think I've harmed her enough for both of us. Please, Jimmy, take me but let her go." She moved her foot forward and stood rock still when Hamilton's voice rang out.
"That's close enough!"
She splayed her fingers wide in front of her as if to show her complete compliance. "You're in charge. What next?"
Reaching behind him, Hamilton whipped his hand forward and the clang of metal on metal rang around the bridge as handcuffs hit one of the grids in the floor and bounced towards Sam. "Put them on."
Looking from the 'cuffs to Hamilton, Sam asked, "Will you let her go?"
Jimmy's reaction was instantaneous. In a heart stopping move, he turned the weapon to Kris' head. "I thought I was in charge?"
Not sure whether her stomach was in her throat or toes, Sam knelt down to pick up the handcuffs. Faltering only when her eyes were inexplicably drawn to the green ones tracking her. If her heart could have left her body at that point, it probably would have. Beating a mile a minute, it ached for what she was doing and any pain it was causing to Kris. 'I love you, please know that.'
He was so hard to read, nothing like the Jimmy Hamilton she had come to know. 'What the hell happened to you?' Hoping that he wouldn't notice, she stood straight again and deliberately kept her eyes away from Kris', her mind flicking from one scenario to another as she tried to understand what was really going on. She slipped one piece of the cold metal around her wrist, sliding it shut with a raspy sound and snick.
Watching the detective pause, with the bright metal swinging from one wrist, he kept his weapon aimed at the blonde. "And the other."
Keeping her eyes on him, she slowly dropped to her knees and deliberately relaxed every muscle as far as she could to make herself less imposing.
Surprised, Jimmy frowned and partially turned towards the kneeling detective. "Get up!"
Patiently waiting for the instant that the gun moved away from Kris' head, Sam asked, "What did Raston and Curtis do to you, Jimmy?"
His rage was instant, Hamilton took a few steps forward and his eyes were stretched as wide as they could be. "You don't know anything! Nothing!"
"Then talk to me, Jimmy," Sam entreated. "Talk to me."
Kris kept very still; she could almost see Sam pulling Hamilton closer with her actions and words. Still, he was on a knife edge and the smallest interruption could easily get either one or both of them killed. Drawing his attention back to her would definitely count as an interruption and so she endured the agony of trying to improve her position in tiny steps and only when his attention was firmly on Sam.
The pain helped and the blonde took a quick inventory of her body as her mind continued to clear. She couldn't really feel her legs but her shoulders and back were killing her from however he'd tied her arms behind her back. Whatever he'd put around her cast and good wrist had a little room but he'd also apparently tied something around her upper arms, making the ability to move her hands a tiny bit moot.
Hamilton had stopped and simply stared at her. Although chilled from the sanity that seemed to fade in and out, Sam met his gaze straight on, not giving any ground before speaking.
"I know that Raston made your life very difficult. I know that Curtis helped him and they were both in on the burglary scam. I know that you killed Stacy Morris and Pelman because of what they did to me." Laying her hands on her thighs, she let the open end of the 'cuffs fall alongside her thigh, trying to keep it out of his mind. "Tell me what happened, please?"
"What they did to me. You wanna know?" He turned and stalked toward the middle of the bridge and then back again, glancing at her and away again several times. "They killed my dog. Threatened my parents. Destroyed my car. Spray painted my apartment door. Beat me up. Followed me on duty. What didn't they do? What didn't they DO?!"
"Did you go to anyone?"
"Who?" Hamilton sneered and started to take a step closer. "Who could I go to where they wouldn't hurt my family? Would you have helped me, Sam? Would you have risked her?"
'Dammit!' Sam cursed to herself when Hamilton's apparent step forward actually ended with him swiveling and heading back towards the still kneeling Kris. Sam had noticed that blonde was trying to straighten and she held her breath at the pain evident in Kris' face as she froze her muscles, trying hard not to move.
As Hamilton began to raise his gun, Sam could feel the blood pulsing through her body, the beat thrumming through her head and the pounding in her chest. With one smooth move, she found herself standing and moving toward the danger to her mate. "Jimmy!" she snarled.
Instantly, he whirled, his gun pointed directly at Sam's chest. Fury burned through his veins. Fury at the terror he'd experienced, the shame, what he'd been forced to do ... all of it, everything.
Sam stopped the instant he started to turn and held her arms away from her body. Refusing to show fear at the dark barrel pointing at her, Sam brought both arms up, wrapped the cool metal around her other wrist and snicked it shut, holding her handcuffed arms toward him. "You want me? Well, I'm here. This is between you and me, Jimmy. You and me."
The barrel didn't waver.
Sam ignored the strands of hair blowing into her face and refused to back down in any form. Even if she wasn't able to stop her heart from beating so fast that she couldn't possibly keep count. Lifting one fist and letting the fingers uncurl to point at Kris, she continued, "She has done nothing to you, she's an innocent and the Jimmy Hamilton I know would never hurt an innocent. Never."
Once again, she met his eyes as soon as they met hers. Her fists clenched as she let a little of her own fury show. "You are stronger than this, dammit!"
Kris seemingly forgotten, Jimmy began to speak, "It was an accident. I went over there when I figured out it was Raston who'd killed my dog. We struggled and he fell against the bench. I thought he was just acting but ... but he was dead."
Jimmy seemed to lose himself in the memories. "That idiot, Curtis, just walked in. My luck they were supposed to go fishing. I picked up the first thing that came to my hand, the knife Raston used to gut his kills, and he was dead too."
"But you knew you couldn't have them found like that. That it might lead to you somehow?" Hoping that the floodgates had finally opened, Sam delved a little.
"I put them both in Chuck's car, then cleaned up all that I could. Bet he didn't think his bottle of bleach would be used for that." A humorless chuckle escaped. "I had to make some stupid excuse about my softball shirt being torn apart in the wash. I burned it when I got home, I couldn't get away from all that blood."
He concentrated on his hands for several long moments, envisioning the blood there again. Seeing it all over his shirt and arms. "I burned it later, along with everything else I'd been wearing."
"I was so scared. Didn't know what to do. I had parked a distance away so he wouldn't see me coming, so I drove his car out of there and stashed them until the next day." He tugged on a sleeve, keeping his general attention on the detective. "Curtis I dropped off at the dog groomer's later. The guy was going out of town and since he'd killed my dog, it seemed fitting."
"And Raston's in the lake."
"Fish food." He snorted.
Sam could see the insanity stealing back its hold, second by second. "Jensen?"
"Asshole. He beat up his wife so bad she lost their baby but she wouldn't press charges. She was my first girlfriend, ever and he took her away from me. Had to rub it in when he saw me that night."
Sam suppressed a shiver when he looked at her again; there was almost pride in his eyes. "Do you know what it's like to kill someone with a knife, Sam?"
A stark response, "Yes."
Kris felt the pain in the single word and tried again to get into a better position. Coming to terms with the knowledge that she really couldn't help Sam at all in the state and position she was in was almost physically painful.
"It's so quiet when you make the cut, isn't it?" Jimmy didn't wait for Sam's answer. "I was glad I had a sharp knife. Just like paper. That bitch who tried to hurt you in that one game, she was the best. She tried to run and just a quick slash from behind, one more to be sure. No mess for me."
Hamilton's accompanying arm movement made it easy to understand what he meant and Sam swallowed bile at the thought of that.
"Chase. He was tough."
Finding her voice again, Sam queried, "Chase?"
"Oops, guess there's one or two you haven't found. And, yes. Before you ask, Pelman was easy. The idiot would've sold his kid for five bucks, getting him to follow me to the car was child's play."
"Who else, Jimmy?"
Ignoring the question, Hamilton seemed to come back to lucidity and asked, "Why did you stand up for me?"
The skin around her eyes tightened as Sam wished she'd never been at the corner that night. "Because it was right. You were right."
"Nobody ever did that before for me. Always done it on my own."
'Obviously Steele didn't do his psych eval.' "What about your parents, they seem to care?" Sam tried to evaluate all her options, she still wasn't close enough to Hamilton to do much of anything and it occurred to her that closing the other handcuff might not have been the best of ideas but it was the only one she had at the time to get his attention.
"Yeah, they're okay but they're really just my legal guardians. Went to them when I was fourteen." His eyes dropped for a second and then came back up. "Enough."
Sam watched as Hamilton took a few steps back, actually angling more between Kris and the edge of the bridge than toward the blonde.
Jimmy jerked his chin at the river. "See this? I used to sit along the bank here and watch the river go by, hoping it'd take me somewhere some day. After ..."
Sam had moved closer, regaining the lost ground. "After wh ..." She had felt the presence somewhere behind her a short time before and hadn't reacted. But when Jimmy obviously saw the figure moving closer, she had no choice.
Unfortunately, Hamilton had just enough reach to grab onto the chain of the handcuffs and pull Sam to the side as she tried to swivel her head to get a view of who was coming.
"Get away or they both die!"
Captain Scott's voice rang out, even as his arm rose, "Drop it, boy!"
Seeing Jimmy bring his gun around, she tried to reach out to hold his arm. 'What the hell are you doing?' Sam's mind screamed, at herself and her captain.
Two shots rang out and as Jimmy stumbled he dragged a shocked Sam with him. Catching himself on one of the concrete guard rails, he looked stupidly at it as the time worn protector crumbled further under their combined weight.
He couldn't keep his balance and his fingers were caught in the handcuff chain. Looking at the blood splattering them both, he let out a bemused "Huh" before turning his gun toward the kneeling Kris, in an effort to repay the Captain for his good marksmanship.
Sam frantically tried to pull back but with the awkward position, she only managed to combine their weight against the guard rail. Feeling it give way more, she tensed her legs and sprang forward and the strength of it surprised both of them.
She tried to catch herself against another guard rail but Hamilton's dead weight pulled at her. Hearing Kris scream her name, she twisted her neck but only caught a fleeting glimpse of the green eyes she adored before she was falling along with Hamilton.
It had only been a matter of minutes since Sam had begun her trek across the bridge. In a matter of seconds, all bets were off.
Concluded in Part 8