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The Auction, Part IV

The next morning when they arrived in the bullpen, Blair headed straight to Rhonda's desk and handed her the long stemmed rose he'd picked up on the way to work. Jim trailed in behind him, a smile lifting the corner of his mouth as he made his way to his desk. They'd both brought their vehicles to work, and he'd wondered what the kid was up to when Sandburg had suddenly pulled into a lot next to a florist. Blair had waved at him to wait and had dashed inside, emerging less than five minutes later with the wrapped token. Now, Jim unabashedly listened to the conversation going on across the office.

"For you," Blair said simply as he handed her the deep crimson flower. "With thanks."

A blush of pleasure tinted her cheeks as she accepted the gift. "You didn't have to do this, Blair," she protested, even as she unwrapped the cellophane and deeply inhaled the rich fragrance, and then smiled. "It's lovely."

"What all of you did yesterday ... it was ... was incredible, you know?" he told her with naked sincerity. "I was – am – overwhelmed by the support and the validation. I'll never forget it. Not as long as I live."

Touching his arm lightly, she said, "I wish I could take credit for the idea. But when Cindy Lou and her team suggested it, well, we all thought it was a brilliant way to make the point that ... that we really are glad you're here." Her gaze dropped as she said hesitantly, "We know it's not been easy for you, or for Jim, either, for that matter. And we don't need to know the details." Glancing at Ellison out of the corner of her eye, she went on, "But we can make some educated guesses." Lifting her eyes again to meet Blair's solemn gaze, she hastened on, "We just figured it was time you guys knew that not everyone who works in this building is a jerk, you know? A lot of us think you more than paid your dues and you're right where you belong."

"Well, I know I'm where I want to be," he said warmly. "Gotta say, you ladies sure know how to make a man feel welcome. Can you, uh, pass the word about how truly grateful I am to all of you?"

"Consider it done," she assured him.

He leaned forward and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before moving toward his own desk. Making eye contact with Jim, he quirked a brow and Jim shrugged. They both knew that lots of their colleagues all over the PD were making 'educated guesses' and that such speculation was unavoidable.

"It's okay," Ellison said softly as Blair approached his desk, to alleviate the worry he saw lurking in his partner's eyes. When Sandburg paused and didn't look too sure about that, he insisted, "I mean it, Chief. I'm okay with them guessing. I'm more than okay with them showing solid support for you."

Blair nodded and shrugged out of his jacket, hanging it on the hook beside Jim's, and then they both got to work, once again focused on trying to get a lead on Kincaid.

* * * * * * * * * *

Seven and a half hours later, Sandburg hung up after what felt like his thousandth phone call of the day. They'd been backtracking rental and for sale listings from three to four weeks before, trying to find Kincaid's centre of operations. He made a note on a short list of 'possibles' that they'd begin checking out more thoroughly in the morning. Standing, he stretched and winced at the low, creaking pops in his spine, and then picked up the sheet of paper to carry it over to Ellison's desk.

"You got anything?" he asked.

"Maybe three worth looking into," Jim replied. "Better than nothing. Two small warehouses in the industrial district and one down by the waterfront. You?"

"Two. Another old warehouse in the garment district, and what sounds like a rundown ramshackle place on the edge of town. None of the names tally with known or suspected associates, though. One, the warehouse, was rented by a Randall Wilson, and the house by Warren Finkleman."

"Given Kincaid's ideology, Wilson sounds more likely," Jim reflected, and then glanced at his own list. "I've got G. Baker on the waterfront, a Winston Mgabo, and a Tyrell Lafitte in the industrial park. Baker and maybe Lafitte might fit the profile."

"You think it's worth trying to get at least those three staked out tonight, just to see if they spot anyone suspicious?"

Jim considered it and nodded. Gathering up the two pages, he rose to take them to Simon. But Blair looked up at the clock and said, "It's getting late. I'm going to go change in the men's room and head downstairs to pick up my date."

Quirking an amused brow, Jim looked at him askance. "How're you going to fit nearly twenty women into that old jalopy of yours?"

Laughing as he bent to pick up his backpack, which contained a clean shirt and his shaving gear, he explained, "Obviously, oh great detective, I'm not. Most of the women are going to meet us at the roadhouse, but I'm at least going to offer Cindy Lou a ride over. Seems only right, ya know?"

"Okay, Chief," Jim nodded. "But don't leave the garage until Simon, Joel and I are down there to follow you, understand? It will only take a few minutes to organize these stakeouts."

"You got it, man," Blair agreed readily. "See ya in a few," he called over his shoulder as he loped across the office and out into the hallway.

* * * * * * * * * *

Fifteen minutes later, Jim and Simon were just finishing the stakeout arrangements when Ellison jerked his head up and around at the sound of an unexpected voice in the bullpen. Lifting a hand to Banks to signal a need to investigate, he left the office and found Cindy Lou chatting with Rhonda and handing over a stack of files.

"Cindy Lou," he called in surprise. "I thought Blair was taking you to the restaurant?"

Looking up with a grin, she struck a pose and drawled, "Oh, ah've got dibs on the ride home, Detective. But when he offered, ah thought it was only fair to let the li'l lady who came up with the idea of winning Blair have the pleasure of riding over with him."

"Oh? I thought it was your idea," he replied, curious.

"Ah wish ah could say it was," she returned. "But it was one of my new girls. She's only been with us for 'bout a month, an' two weeks ago, she came in one mornin' all starry-eyed. Said she'd seen an angel on the elevator, all big blue eyes 'n long gorgeous hair; said a long, tall, drink o' water had called him, Blair, an' we all cheered to know sweetie pie was back. Anyway, she reflected as how she'd sure enough love to win him in the auction, an' Margie said, 'Wouldn't we all.' An', right then, we started in talkin' 'bout why not? Why, when Blair agreed, she was so excited, she got right on the phone 'n called someone to pass along the good news! An' then, when the bidding went a mite higher than we'd imagined it might," she went on, with a mock glare at Rhonda, "the li'l gal offered up her credit card, to cover what all would be needed."

Jim nodded, remembering that he'd seen and overheard that conversation during the auction. A slender, pretty, young blond that he'd never seen before but had thought sounded familiar – and then, something else itched in the back of his brain and he frowned, trying to capture the errant thought. But Cindy Lou was rambling on. "So when Blair turned up a li'l while ago, offerin' a ride, and Gail just looked so wistful an' all, ah just knew she was hankering to go with him, so ah said ah still had a mite o'work to do, and why didn't she just hitch a ride? Why, she lit up like a kid at Christmas when I shooed her along with him." Chuckling, she winked as she added, "That boy better watch himself. I think she's got her eye on him."

"Gail, huh," Jim grunted, about to turn to his desk and retrieve his jacket. "Gail who?"

"Gail Baker."

He froze and then whipped around. "Gail Baker?" he repeated blankly, and a dim memory of a distant conversation overheard in the corridor outside the Records Unit two weeks before, a woman saying with a coldly triumphant tone, 'It's all set,' and a male voice drawling in response, 'You're a good girl, Gail. I'm real proud of you, darlin'. Real proud.'


"Just hold on a minute," he ordered Cindy Lou preemptively, his voice harsh and tight, and then he spun to hurry back into Banks' office. "Simon," he grated hoarsely, "the woman who proposed getting Sandburg into the auction is Gail Baker."

Banks frowned and then looked down at the sheet, at the 'G. Baker' beside the rental of a warehouse on the docks. "My God," he rumbled, "you don't think ...."

"He's with her now, down in the parking garage," Jim ground out, then turned on his heel to dash across the bullpen and into the stairwell. Banks surged up to follow him, pausing only long enough to say to Cindy Lou, "You might want to reschedule that dinner."

* * * * * * * * * *

Amused and not a little chuffed at how delightfully thrilled the attractive young blond was to be personally escorted to their group dinner, Blair held the elevator door open for her on the basement level. Given the signals upstairs in the Records Unit, he thought she might have brushed against him on her way past, but she stayed well over on the far side of the opening as she exited. Her smile was still in place, but it looked a little strained, and the girlish eagerness had evaporated entirely. Mildly disconcerted by the mixed messages, he decided she must be shy, and moved slightly ahead to hold the heavy door into the parking lot open ... and again she was careful to make no contact as she went through the portal. Didn't thank him, either, he noticed, nor did she respond to his light banter about the evening ahead and how much he was looking forward to the fun they'd all have. Shy was one thing but he seriously doubted that he was so intimidating that he'd rendered her completely mute. Once in the garage, he placed a light hand on her back, to steer her toward his Volvo, and couldn't help but notice how she stiffened at his touch and moved briskly away. Sighing silently, he told himself he never had understood women anyway, so it seemed she was going to be no exception to the rule. "It's just over here," he said warmly, gesturing across the crowded lot. She gave one short tight nod and moved in the indicated direction. Walking a half step behind, he decided that maybe she was an ice queen. Nevertheless, he continued to play the gentleman, unlocking the passenger-side door and holding it open until she was securely inside.

He hurried around the trunk and slid into his seat. "I'm sorry, Gail," he explained once he was settled, "but we'll be held up here for a few minutes. Jim and Simon will be following us over, and they want to go in a little convoy." He chuckled at how silly he knew that sounded as he put his key in the ignition switch, conscious that she was settling her good-sized handbag on her knees. "They're right behind me, though, so we'll be on our way soon." He looked back over his left shoulder toward the doorway, wishing they'd arrive, as he was finding the one-sided conversation tough sledding. "I hear there's a good band playing," he began as he turned to face her and froze at the sight of the revolver leveled at him. "Whoa," he exclaimed, his eyes widening as his gaze lifted to search her face.

"If you think I'd ever dance with a kike, you're delusional," she said coldly. "And we're not waiting for anyone. Let's go."

Stalling for time, he lifted his hands away from the steering wheel. "Uh, what's going on, Gail? Go where?" But the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach told him that wherever they were headed, he could pretty much expect to see Kincaid there.

"Drive out of here now or I'll shoot you and be done with it," she ordered, and the steely look of virulent hatred in her eyes convinced him that she meant it.

"Okay, okay," he muttered, lowering his hands. With his right, he switched on the ignition. With his left, he quickly reached into his jacket pocket and hit the speed dial for Jim's cell phone, before clamping both fists around the steering wheel. He backed out and headed toward the exit. "Do I turn right or left?" he asked as they neared the top of the ramp.

"Right, toward the docks," she told him.

And that's when it clicked. He hadn't been told her last name when they'd been hastily introduced by Cindy Lou, but he'd bet his next year's salary that it was Baker.

* * * * * * * * * *

Rhonda and Cindy Lou gaped after the two men, stunned by their sudden display of forceful haste.

"What'd he mean, postpone dinner?" Cindy Lou asked, confused and completely mystified.

"I don't know," she replied, "but it looks like there's trouble. Who's this Gail Baker? What do you know about her?"

"Well, not much. She's a quiet li'l thing," Cindy Lou began but before she could say more, Rhonda heard the cell phone ringing on Jim's desk, and she leapt up to rush across the room to answer it.


When there was no response, she frowned, but then heard Blair's voice ask, "Do I turn right or left?" and a strange woman's voice answer, "Right, toward the docks."

Her throat and mouth went dry when she realized something potentially very serious was going down and she sank onto the chair behind Jim's desk, her free hand already scrambling for a pen and paper. Knowing that everyone in Major Crimes had been trying for a week to get a lead on Kincaid, she was very afraid for Blair and felt the breath catch in her chest. Her grip tightened on the phone as she pressed it tightly to her ear, straining to listen to be sure she didn't miss anything. Cindy Lou had followed her and was saying something but Rhonda waved at her urgently to be quiet. Looking up at the other woman, she whispered, "Get me everything you've got on Gail Baker – as fast as you can!" When Cindy Lou stared at her, not understanding, she hissed, "Hurry, dammit! Just get it!"

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim, Simon on his heels, charged into the underground lot, and stopped short when he saw the empty space where the Volvo should have been. "Damn it," he snarled in frustration. "She's got him." Fishing in his pants' pocket for his keys, he started toward the truck, but Simon grabbed his arm, abruptly pulling him back and off-balance. Furious, he shook off the grip, bellowing, "What are you doing! I have to go after them!"

"Jim! Settle down, dammit!" Banks roared back. "I know you're worried about Sandburg, but would you stop and think!" Pulling his cell phone from the inside pocket of his suit jacket, he lowered his volume but not the cutting intensity of his tone. "We know where they're probably going, and Sandburg's no fool. He knows about the warehouse and that we'll connect the name." Punching in a number, he kept talking fast, so Ellison couldn't interrupt. "We have the element of surprise on our side if, and I mean if, we don't go off half-cocked."

"But –"

"I said settle down," Banks intervened sharply, and tilted his head back toward the doorway and the elevator beyond, even as he began talking rapidly into the phone and walking back into the building. "It's Banks. We've got a situation. Officer kidnapped by, we suspect, one of Garrett Kincaid's people." Glancing back over his shoulder at Jim, who looked like he was ready to explode, Simon glared at him and waved sharply for him to follow. "I have a probable location. Meet me in my office in two minutes to discuss takedown tactics."

Jim glared in his turn at the ramp and the exit onto the street above and then grudgingly, tension cramping in his gut and his chest tight with anxiety, he followed his boss inside.

Terminating the call, Simon snapped the phone closed and jammed it back into his pocket. Punching the button for the elevator, he growled, "He's not an observer, anymore. He's a cop and he knows how to handle himself. Kincaid isn't going to kill him outright. The set-up was too careful, too elaborate – he's going to use him to lure us there. If you were using your brain, you'd know that. If we do this right, we'll be all over Kincaid before he has a clue that we're on to him."

Jim fumed in silence a moment more, and then he rasped, "I heard him – Kincaid. I heard him on the phone to someone in Records two weeks ago, before we knew he'd escaped."

"What? And you're only telling me this now?" Simon exclaimed, his eyes wide with disbelief.

Taut, furious with himself for not having connected the dots sooner, Jim grated, "I didn't hear him clearly, didn't know he was on the loose. Didn't really even register it consciously. I don't know ...." He sighed and shook his head as the elevator doors opened and they got on. "I just got ... angry. Furious that Sandburg had agreed to be in the auction. I guess subconsciously I recognized the danger. I just didn't make the connection until I heard her name and put it together with the rented warehouse – and that brought back the memory of his voice on the phone."

Banks rolled his eyes and hit the button for the sixth floor.

"He's gonna hurt him, Simon," he muttered in agitation, sick at heart. "To put pressure on us, to raise the ante. He's gonna hurt him."

Banks nodded grimly. "Blair's tough," he replied matter-of-factly. "He'll survive." Relenting, he squeezed Jim's shoulder reassuringly. "We'll be in position in less than an hour. We'll get him back, Jim. He'll be okay."

* * * * * * * * * *

Ran Jorgenson, the tall, blond Captain of the SWAT Unit arrived on the sixth floor, via the stairwell, just as they exited the elevator. Banks was already briefing him as they marched briskly through the bullpen. Rhonda jumped to her feet and hastened to intercept them. Cupping her hand over the cell phone's mouthpiece, she called, "Captain Banks!"

"Not now, Rhonda," he cut her off, as he pushed past.

"Sir, wait! It's Blair!"

The three men froze at her words. "What?" Simon demanded. "On the phone?"

"Not talking, but he must have made the connection without Gail knowing – they're headed toward the docks," she told them rapidly, handing over the phone to Jim when he abruptly held out his hand. "I've sent Cindy Lou to get all the information we have on Gail Baker. She should be back any minute."

"Good work, Rhonda," Simon acknowledged. "Bring in the file as soon as you have it."

"Yes, sir."

As they continued into Simon's office, she returned to her desk. Brown and Rafe immediately rose to loom over her, demanding to know what was going on.

"I don't know for sure," she replied anxiously. "But I think Blair is being taken to Kincaid."

"Ah, shit," Brown cursed as he picked up her phone and punched in Joel's number.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Gail, what's going on here?" Blair asked calmly, or at least he hoped he sounded calm. Though he was fairly certain of their destination, he wanted to keep her talking, if only to relax her a little. He didn't like the way her gun-hand was shaking. If they hit a pothole, he could wind up being shot.

"You'll find out soon enough," she replied tautly, staring at him relentlessly, except for brief glances at the street to see where they were in order to give him directions when they needed to turn. He found it nerve-wracking to not anticipate her orders because she tended not to give him adequate time to brake slowly – and her hand was still shaking.

"Hey, c'mon," he cajoled, playing dumb. "What's the big secret, huh? I don't understand. If this is some kind of joke you ladies are playing on me, it's not funny, you know?"

"No joke, 'Mr. Natural'," she sneered.

He flicked a look at her and swallowed hard, pretending to be startled. "Wha ... I ... only Garrett Kincaid calls me that," he stammered.

She laughed, low and mocking.

"How do you know Kincaid?" he asked tensely, not having to fake it.

She didn't respond for so long that he began to think he wouldn't get an answer but, finally, she said, "He's my uncle."

"Oh, shit," he muttered, and shook his head. "Look," he began the obligatory spiel, though he was pretty sure she wouldn't buy it, "you don't have to do this. We can stop now before you get in any deeper. You won't get away with this, you know? We've taken Kincaid down twice – we'll do it again."

"Just keep driving," she commanded haughtily. "And, while you're at it, slide out your weapon and hand it to me – no tricks!"

Steering with his left hand, his eyes on the traffic, he reached under his jacket to pull his pistol from his shoulder holster and held it muzzle up toward the roof of the car. She yanked it savagely from his hand, and dropped it to the floor between her feet.

"Okay," he said then, pretending to be resigned to the inevitable – not that he had a lot of choice short of driving the car into a wall while attempting to wrestle the weapon from her. Not that the idea wasn't tempting, but he figured his odds of succeeding without getting shot weren't good, and he didn't think Kincaid would kill him before the cavalry arrived. "We're almost at the docks. Where do you want me to go?"

"To Hell, ultimately," she said vehemently. "But for now, turn left at the next corner and into the alley on the right."

"Man, what did I ever do to you?" he murmured, shaking his head.

"You helped put the man who is like a daddy to me in jail – twice," she growled. "I'm going to enjoy watching him take you apart, piece by piece."

"Great," he sighed as he slowed to make the turn. As if rambling nervously, he went on with the hope that someone – preferably Jim – was listening in, "Pretty desolate neighbourhood, isn't it? Just one empty, dilapidated warehouse after another. Not even any panhandlers or indigents around – you sure it's safe to leave those three vehicles parked around here? Somebody might steal them. Couldn't he find more comfortable accommodation? Or did he need a lot space – recruited a new army in the last couple weeks, maybe? I only see one guy down the alley there, by the side door. Oh, wait, there's another guy up on the roof. Pretty fancy automatic rifles."

"Shut up," she snapped, "and stop the car."

He got out and held his hands high. The guard grabbed his arm and shoved him inside the old warehouse. Inside, Garrett Kincaid was waiting for him.

"Well, if it ain't Mr. Natural," he drawled sardonically, sauntering closer. "Good to see you again, boy. I hear you're a liar and a fraud, and they still gave you a detective's shield. My, my – doesn't say much for the quality of law enforcement in this town, now does it?"

"Kincaid," Blair acknowledged cautiously, his hands still held high as he looked around. The place was caked with decades of grime and festooned with cobwebs. There were two floors, the one above open to view through the grilled metal flooring, and the section directly above had fallen away at some earlier time, creating a loft effect. "Can't say it's a pleasure to see you again. But man, I'd have to think prison was more comfortable than this hole." Returning his gaze to the escaped felon, he taunted, "Not much of an army, anymore, huh? You've got what? Ten, twelve guys here?"

"Don't need an army if a little bit of a thing like Gail can take you down," Kincaid observed sarcastically. "Good work, darlin'."

"I made him give me his weapon, Uncle Garrett," she bragged.

"Did you now?" he acknowledged with an approving smile, waving her further away from his captive. But he eyed Sandburg assessingly and reflected, "But if he's learned anything from that partner of his, he might well be carrying a backup." Flicking a look at one of his henchmen, a young muscle-man with a crew-cut, he ordered, "Mallory, search him."

Blair blinked slowly and took a steadying breath, knowing his ploy with the cell phone would soon be revealed. Wondering if Kincaid would order him to be summarily executed, he licked his lips and swallowed against the cramp of fear in his belly. He willed himself not to tense up as Mallory approached, and he held Kincaid's gaze coolly; planning to fight if it looked like things were going to go bad in a hurry, he wanted his muscles to stay loose. He couldn't beat the odds, but he'd be damned if he'd just stand still, waiting to be shot.

"So, what's the plan, Kincaid?" he asked as if only mildly curious, while Mallory patted down his back and sides.

"Revenge, boy. Sweet revenge."

Snorting, Sandburg replied, "You know, I always gave you credit for being smarter than that. When you got loose, you should have run in the opposite direction, and kept going. You're never going to get away with this."

"I see you're still a cocky bastard," Kincaid rejoined wryly, with a cold smile. "I always liked that about you."

"Sir!" Mallory called out urgently after he'd investigated the hard object in Blair's jacket pocket and found the phone. He held it out to his boss. "It's connected to someone."

Kincaid's eyes flashed dangerously as he grabbed the phone and glanced at the number. His expression hardened and his lip twisted in an ugly grimace of fury as his gaze lifted to meet Sandburg's. Figuring he might as well live up to his reputation for cockiness – though he wasn't at all sure it was warranted as mostly he could only remember feeling terror in this man's presence – Blair quirked a brow and smirked. "I guess that kinda screws up your plan, huh?" he goaded, knowing he was playing a dangerous game, not sure whether a furious Kincaid was more of a threat than a cold and calculating Kincaid, but anger usually put a man off-balance.

Wordlessly, Kincaid stepped forward, grabbed the collar of his jacket and jerked him forward to glare furiously at him – and then he backhanded Sandburg viciously in one smooth motion, so hard that Blair grunted and staggered a step to the side. Blair rubbed his jaw gingerly and dabbed at his bleeding lip, as he watched Kincaid cover the mouthpiece and demand of Gail, "How much would they have heard? Could they follow you here?"

Gaping at the phone, she shook her head as she tried to think. "I'm sorry," she stammered. "I didn't know."

"How much do they know?" he demanded again, his tone harsh, impatient.

"I didn't mention any street names," she replied anxiously. "Just a warehouse on the docks."

He nodded crisply and turned his flat, cold eyes back to Blair. Drawing his sidearm, he leveled it at Sandburg as he raised the phone to his ear. "Do I have the pleasure of speaking with Detective Ellison or Captain Banks?" he demanded, his voice brittle with rage.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Ellison," Jim replied, his tone frigid and his gaze locked with Simon's, as he held up a hand to stop the loud discussion in the office.

"Your boy here thinks he's pretty smart," Kincaid snapped. "But he's about to learn how stupid it is to play games with me."

"Yeah, well, my partner's smart enough to have gotten you so riled that you're not thinking straight," Jim challenged levelly. "You wanted Sandburg for a reason, right? You must have been planning to issue us an invitation to your party anyway. He just expedited the process."

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While Jim kept Kincaid talking, across the room, Simon gave swift direction. "Okay, let's recap. The control point will be here," he said just above a whisper, pointing to the agreed upon location on the map open on the conference table. "Patrol cars are already sealing off the area. Ran, you'll deploy your men, here and here, ready to move in on command. Brown, Rafe, you're coming in from the side alley. We'll evaluate the situation on the scene and go from there. Everyone clear?" He looked around at the other men in the room – Ran, and Joel, Henri and Brian, who had joined them minutes earlier, and then Jim. When they all nodded, he said, "Let's roll." Brown quickly detoured to grab Ellison's jacket while, the phone still clamped to his ear, Jim followed the others out.

"Well, you're right about that, Detective Ellison," Kincaid replied, his tone more contained, and Jim could hear his breathing level out, indicating that he was calming down. "I want you and the good Captain Banks to come alone, or your little buddy here is going to die a swift if very painful death. Do I need to issue you directions, or can you find your own way?"

"We need the address," Jim responded evenly as he got on the elevator with the others. "We've only been able to figure out a general location from what we overheard."

Barking a laugh, the felon drawled, "Oh, you're smooth, I'll give you that. Now, listen up, Detective. I do mean that I don't want to see any other cops, you understand? You come alone or I promise you, the next time I'll have my people cut your families to ribbons. Are we clear about that?"

"Yeah, we're clear," Jim told him dryly. "You want Captain Banks and I to march in there alone so you can kill the three of us at your leisure. It's an interesting plan, Kincaid. Did you really think we'd go for it?"

"I see you need an incentive to get here quickly," he replied, and Jim winced, realizing belatedly he'd pushed too hard.

"Kincaid, wait!" he shouted. "You kill him now, and we've no reason to come at all, except to take you and your clowns down." Simon and the others looked at him with sharp alarm.

"Takes time to mount an operation, Detective, I know that," Kincaid drawled, and the evil in his voice made Jim's skin crawl. He strained to hear, frustrated to only be linked by sound – and what he heard scared him. Blair's heartbeat suddenly jumped, and he heard his partner say urgently, "You don't want to do this, man," and then the