For this, her second piece of fanfic, Gwenn McGovern revisits the characters she brought to life in "Third Time's The Charm," from our Spring issue. Says Gwenn, "I love Lennie's character, but since it is rare to find any fiction featuring the older detective, I decided that I would have to write my own. The story was completed shortly after the second one, based mainly on a need for me to know where my characters were going." We're glad she took us on the ride...
Traveling was never Laura Russell's thing. She liked being there, not getting there. As she pushed her honey blonde hair back out of her face, she checked her watch again. Two more hours until she landed back in New York. She wouldn't be back soon enough for her liking.
She had traveled to New York once before on a three-week business trip. Her publishers had put her up in the company suite while she did some re-writes on her murder mystery and explored the city. Then the horrible execution-style killing of the occupant in the next suite and her witnessing of the aftermath had turned her previously simple and sedate life upside down.
And yet despite the attempt on her life by the killer and the grueling trial that followed, she was glad it had all happened. How awful was that...glad that someone was brutally murdered? But if John Wamsley hadn't died right next door to her, she never would have met Leonard Briscoe, one of the detectives assigned to investigate the murder.
In fact, her trip back home to Montana was the first time they had been apart. By the time the case had wrapped up, they were far too involved for her to even consider leaving. After six months, though, there were personal and business affairs to tend to that she could no longer put off. Laura had been moody and uneasy since leaving Lennie at JFK International Airport. Her mood did not improve once she got to her destination.
Her parents were shocked that their youngest child would choose to live so far away from them and everything she knew. She had tried to explain that New York was where she had to be at this time in her life. She had been able to secure a position as an editor with her former publishers (she could no longer write murder mysteries...death was all too real a concept now after witnessing someone else's). Most of all, she had found someone she loved and needed, who loved and needed her back. Her family was unsympathetic and unrelenting, and she had ended up leaving her hometown after five days of arguments and confrontations. How is it, she wondered, that at thirty-three years of age your parents could make you feel like an errant six-year old girl?
Laura had finally decided that whether they accepted it or not, New York was a done deal. She tried to push the tension of the trip to the back of her mind by putting on her headphones and listening to the tinned airplane music. She thought of the reunion to come and was able to push past her worries with smile on her face.
"Detective Briscoe, can you please tell the court exactly what you found in the defendant's home?"
EADA Jack McCoy paced in back of his desk, watching the face of the cop as he rehearsed his testimony. The case was one of the biggest that had come across his desk this year and he was making sure that nothing was going to let it slip away from him. He knew that Briscoe would make a much more effective witness if he was comfortable with what he had to say the next day.
"We were able to recover an overcoat which matched the description of one the defendant was seen wearing the day prior to the murders. The coat had bloodstains on the front. We also found a .38 Special stuffed into a hole in the mattress." Lennie sat upright in the chair in Jack's office, glad to practice his testimony but anxious to get away to the airport. He glanced at his watch again. 11:50 p.m. Laura's plane would be in at 1:30 am and he wanted to be there early.
"I still have forty minutes of your time, Detective." McCoy gave Briscoe a knowing smile and continued on. "What did forensics have to say about the blood?"
"There were two Type B- and a Type O, matched to the three victims". Lennie pulled off his tie and sat back in the chair.
"And the gun?" Jack continued to pace as if in court.
"The ballistics report concluded that it was an ninety-five percent match for the bullets taken from Susanna Saunders, Andrea Grueger and Jeanine Dumont."
"Thank you, Detective, that will be all." Jack sat down in his own chair and rubbed at his eyes. "I appreciate your taking the time to come in...we all want to make sure this one doesn't get away. I don't think that there is much the defense will be able to say about your testimony tomorrow...you swear to me that you and Logan didn't pull anything with this guy that could come back to haunt us?"
"No, Counselor -- you would have been proud of us. Just good little boys in blue doing our jobs. There is no way they can touch us on the evidence or interrogation." Briscoe braced his hands behind his neck.
"Glad to hear it. This guy wasn't very bright but he was definitely brutal. We want to make sure he never has the opportunity to hurt anyone else." Daryl Smythe had hunted down and killed three college girls in their dorm after some imagined slight in a bar. The DA's office was pushing for the death penalty and wanted as little basis for appeal as possible.
"Let's go over the tape of the interrogation one last time." As he spoke, the door to Jack's office slowly swung open and thinking that Claire had returned with the files he needed, McCoy looked up with a smile. It was not Claire that he saw through the doorway, but the muzzle of a handgun.
"DOWN!!!!" screamed Jack as the first shot rang out. Briscoe reacted immediately and dove to the side, but not before he felt something like a sledge hammer throw him forward against the desk. The gun fired twice more in quick succession and then he heard the shooter running down the hallway. Lennie lay on the floor and gasped in pain as warmth spread over his back and chest.
"Jack? You OK?!!" Lennie got no response. He pulled himself up and saw McCoy crumpled in his chair, unconscious and bleeding from wounds to his chest and neck. Blood was splattered over the wall and floor.
"Oh Christ...NO!!!!" Lennie heard footsteps running down the hallway and Claire's cry of grief, but then everything got very far away and dark and he slid to the floor.
The weary travelers dragged themselves from their seats and began pulling belongings from the overhead bins. Laura pushed her way as far up the line as she could, desperate to get off of the stale plane. She finally blew by the stewardess who was handing out thank-you-for-flying-with-us smiles and popped into the ladies' room. She gave her hair a quick brush and touched up her make-up. Didn't want to scare Lennie off, she thought with a twinkle in her eye. They had been apart for too long already! Finishing up, she went out the door and proceeded over to the baggage claim area where the other passengers were standing.
Even at that time in the morning, JFK was a pretty busy place. As the conveyor started up and suitcases began dropping from the chute, Laura looked through the crowd in the arrival area for Lennie. It was entirely possible he wouldn't be here. With his job, she knew she couldn't plan on it. She was disappointed, though, and was walking towards the taxi stand with her things when someone took her by the arm from behind.
She turned with a smile and was surprised to see Mike Logan, Lennie's partner. She reached up and gave him a quick hug.
"Hi! Is Lennie out in the car? I thought that maybe you guys ended up working tonight." She stopped suddenly at the look on Mike's face. "What? Mike, come on. Where is he?" Laura started to laugh nervously, but paused when she saw him struggling for his words.
"I came out here as soon as I heard; I knew you were coming in. There's been...Lennie and Jack McCoy, they were together when it happened. They...they've been shot." Mike was trying so hard to hold himself together but he couldn't stop the quiver in his voice. He took her by the arm and started leading her outside to a waiting squad car but she stopped him, unable to walk further.
"No...Mike, no." Her voice was small and she felt as if her legs could no longer support her body.
Sensing what she must be thinking, he reassured her. "No, no...they're alive. But it is serious. We gotta get to the hospital." She and Mike climbed into the back of the car and it sped off towards the city with siren screaming.
The corridors of the hospital rang with their steps as Laura and Mike ran towards the Shock Trauma Unit. There was a gathering in the waiting area, mainly made up of other detectives from the 27th Precinct and a few uniforms. Through the crowd, Laura could see Claire Kincaid standing against one of the green walls, wringing her hands. She ran over and the two women held one another tightly. Laura pulled herself back and looked into Claire's face.
"What did the doctors say? What's happening?" Laura was shaking, afraid of the answer she might get.
"I...I don't know, we're just waiting. They're working on them. They won't let me in to be with him! I can't believe this is happening!" Claire choked with a sob and she and Laura clung to each other. Mike stood with them, fists clenched in anger and fear.
Finally the doors swung open and a tired looking physician emerged. He was immediately surrounded by the members of the police department, all shouting questions at him. The doctor held up his hands for silence.
"Is there a Detective Logan here?" The others parted and Mike, Claire and Laura made their way through to the doctor.
"I'm Logan. What's happening?" The fear in his eyes was tangible; he had already been through this same thing twice before.
"I'm Dr. Lumley. Your partner was shot in the right shoulder; his injuries are not life threatening. The bullet went straight through. He lost a great deal of blood and has been in and out of consciousness since he was brought in, but there was no damage to any internal organs." Laura felt like crying in relief but stopped herself. He had said nothing of Jack.
"Mr. McCoy was not so fortunate. He was hit in the neck and chest. His breathing and circulation were restricted by the shot to his neck and we have no way of knowing what, if any, damage that caused. The bullet wound to the chest nicked one of his lungs, but that is minor in comparison to the other injury." The doctor stopped to take a deep breath.
"He has been taken to surgery and following that, he will in all likelihood be on a respirator. If he is to recover from this, we must ensure that his oxygen level remains high. If Mr. McCoy has family, I would suggest that you contact them as soon as possible. With this kind of unstable condition, we cannot be sure of the outcome. We will keep you posted." Dr. Lumley turned back towards the swinging doors.
"IF he is to recover?! That's all you can say? How can you just tell someone that he may or may not recover and then just walk away?! How can you do that?!!" Claire was becoming hysterical, but would not be comforted by either Mike or Laura.
"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to sound insensitive, just truthful. We are doing our best, I promise you that. If he survives the surgery and the first twenty-four hours afterwards, his prognosis improves. It's a wait and see game. I am sorry." The doctor turned to leave again as Claire slumped against the wall and slid to the floor, her face buried in her hands.
Laura pulled her up by her shoulders and walked her over to the waiting area. Mike had run after the doctor. As they sat, someone else pushed his way through the crowd and took Claire's hands in his own.
"Oh, Adam. You're here! Oh God!" Claire fell forward onto Adam Schiff's shoulder and started to cry again, gasping out details as she could. Laura vacated her chair for the District Attorney and stood to the side. She heard her name called softly and looked up to see Mike signaling her over.
"They've moved Lennie up to a ward already. He's sedated, but I told the doctor that we were going to see him anyway. Come on." She glanced back at Claire and seeing that she was in good hands, followed Mike down the hallway to the elevators.
Once up on the seventh floor, they found the nursing station and identified themselves to the duty nurse. She told them where Lennie was, but warned them that they could only see him for a few minutes. Laura and Mike walked over, stopping in front of the room. They looked at each other then pushed the door open and walked in.
Lennie was laid out on the bed, looking pale. His shoulder was heavily bandaged and red stars of blood dotted the white gauze. The room was so quiet that it scared Laura. She caught herself checking the pattern of his breathing just to be sure. She and Mike walked over and took up positions on either side of the bed. Mike looked down and sighed heavily.
"So much for the luck of the Irish. Three partners get shot, you gotta start to wonder if it isn't just me." Mike walked away from the bed and clenched his fists tightly to his sides before bursting out of the room. She heard a crash in the hallway as something metallic hit the wall. She looked at Lennie briefly to make sure he was still asleep before she headed out after his partner.
Logan sat outside on the floor, crouched down with his head in his hands. A supply cart lay overturned outside the door and various pieces of it were scattered up and down the hallway. Laura knelt down in front of him and touched his arm. He looked up at her with such despair in his eyes that she thought her heart would break.
"Mike, there is no way you can take this on yourself. Lennie knows what being a cop means, the risks that are involved as part of that life. Your other partners knew that too. There was nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening. My God, you weren't even on duty. You're the best partner Lennie has ever had, he's said so a thousand times. He's going to need you to be there for him now."
He pulled her into his arms and dropped his head down on her shoulder. They held each other that way for a long time, and Detective Mike Logan silently cried for Lennie and Phil and Max and found forgiveness for himself in the process.
After he finally composed himself, Mike decided to head back down to Trauma and check on Jack's progress. He had a new focus now; like every other cop in the city, the goal was to find out who did this to Lennie and Jack.
The nurse had come to check on Lennie and agreed to give her some extra time to spend alone with him. She stood at the head of the bed and brushed the hair back from his face. The whole situation seemed surreal. The emotions tumbling through her head were dizzying in variety. Guilt for leaving at all, horror at what could have happened to him, raw anger at those responsible -- it all made her sick to her stomach. Looking at him, she had a new realization of all that he had come to mean to her. His humor had taken the edge off of her seriousness, his devotion to his job and his partner had given her new intensity in her own career and life, and his passion for her had unlocked previously unknown doors of desire and love in her heart. And she had almost lost all of that in one terrible minute. Thinking about it was unbearable, so she decided that she would not think of it at all.
Bending over, she kissed his long dark eyelashes and stroked his cheek. His eyelids fluttered and his hand found hers on the cool sheet.
"Welcome home," he whispered, and squeezed her fingers.
Tears started to run down her cheeks again and she found she couldn't say anything for the lump in her throat. She laid her head down lightly on his left shoulder and felt him place a kiss on her hair. She turned and kissed him gently on the lips before standing again.
"How's McCoy?" Lennie was fighting the sedative, but he needed to know.
"Mike just went down to check, but Jack was hurt pretty bad. He's in surgery now. The shot to his neck was the worst. We just don't know." Laura drew her hand over his shadowy cheek and Lennie closed his eyes again. She thought he had drifted off when he spoke again.
"He saved me, warned me about the shooter." This time the sedative finally won out and he was sleeping again.
Laura kissed him once more and took her hand from his. She wiped the moisture from her eyes and went out into the hallway to wait for news from Mike.
Laura awoke with a start back at the apartment and bolted upright. Looking at the clock, she could see that she had slept for three hours and that it was already after 11:00 am. Falling back amongst the pillows for a moment, the events of the night before hit her again with startling clarity. She wished at that moment that she had some close friend or relative she could call on, someone who would listen to what had happened and understand what she was going through. New York was still a pretty new place to her, though, and although she had forged some friendships at work, Laura didn't feel comfortable enough with any of those people to open up the way she needed to. She supposed that she could call her parents or her brothers, but their parting words had not been kind ones and it would probably just give them more reason to fight her decision to remain on the East Coast.
She remembered that she hadn't wanted to leave the hospital but realized that she wouldn't be much good to anyone if she didn't get some sleep. Lennie had been resting comfortably and was in no danger, so she finally left. A large part of her wished she had stayed; it would have been far more comforting to be at his side.
Deciding that there was no point in wallowing in regret or worry, she threw back the covers, ran into the shower to freshen up and had Mike paged as she got dressed. The phone rang only a few moments later.
"Hi Laura, we're just at the DA's office with the Crime Scene Unit," Mike said. "What's up?"
"Have you heard anything more? How's Jack?" She walked with the cordless phone into the kitchen and got herself some coffee.
"No real change from last night. They've put him into a drug-induced coma to help him recover from the trauma. We're just waiting now. Look, I'm going to have to get back to you later. You're going to see Lennie? Tell him we're not stopping until we get this asshole."
"I'm leaving in a few minutes. I'll tell him. Thanks, Mike."
"Thank you for...you know, last night. It helped a lot." Mike rang off and Laura finished getting ready. She grabbed a taxi and headed over to the hospital. With the sun shining and the people filling the sidewalks and streets, it was hard to believe that last night wasn't just a nightmare.
Before heading up to the seventh floor, Laura decided to go over to the Critical Care Unit where Jack had been moved and was being closely monitored. She found an uniformed officer posted outside the door and knew that there was one outside of Lennie's door too. Until they knew what the shooting was all about, they weren't going to give the one responsible a chance to finish the job.
She saw Claire asleep in the chairs across the hall. Bringing over two cups of coffee, she gently shook Claire by the shoulder and smiled as the petite young woman blinked awake.
"Hi. I thought that you could probably use this," she said as she handed Claire the warm drink. She got a grateful look in return and Claire took a careful sip. "How is he doing? Any new developments?"
"He came out of the surgery OK, but he's still in rough shape. They don't know if he will have any permanent damage..." Claire stopped and sighed. She was all cried out, tired and desolate. "I feel so helpless, like I need to do something and I can't. My whole life is in there, connected to tubes and machines."
"Claire, I don't know what to say. None of us can know what will happen. But this I do know. Jack McCoy can be very stubborn when it comes to getting his own way, and I don't think that this situation will be different." She gave Claire a quick squeeze around her shoulders. "He's going to fight with everything he's got, if only to make sure that he can nail the guy who did this to him."
Claire rewarded her with a small laugh and a shake of her head. "Yes, you're right there. More than anything, I'm sure that this whole thing has pissed him right off."
"And Jack needs you to take care of yourself as well. I know it's hard, but you should go home for a while and sleep. I'll be here all morning, I promise that I will check on him every hour and call you at the slightest sign of change. Take a cab and get some rest." She stood Claire up and draped a coat over her shoulders. The two walked together to the elevators and hugged before Laura sent her on her way.
Laura was dozing in the chair beside Lennie when Mike came in. She woke up and glanced over at the bed; the drugs they were giving him for pain kept him asleep much of the time. Laura stood and walked with Mike over to the windows.
"What have you found out?" Laura crossed her arms and looked up into Mike's face. He seemed eager and intent.
"It wasn't a random act, it had been planned out. One of the security locks on the back doors to the building had been left open, we figure that's how the shooter got in and out after hours. The security guards on duty don't often check those doors; they're so rarely opened. The thing is this -- the door can only be opened from the inside with a specific key. Only a few people in the building have one and we are pulling them in now for questioning. One of them has some connection to what happened, it's just a matter of convincing them to share their information with us." Mike glanced over at the bed where his partner had begun to stir.
Laura walked back to Lennie's side and took his hand. He opened his eyes and smiled up at her.
"Good morning, Sunshine. Actually, good afternoon. About time you woke up. How are you feeling now?" She thought that his color looked better and the bleeding seemed to have slowed down on his shoulder.
"Like I got hit by the A-Train. Pills don't take the pain away, but they at least make it so I don't care quite so much. Hey Mike!" Lennie had just realized that Logan was in the room. The younger man walked over and grinned at him.
"Ya know, Lennie, if you wanted time off, there are easier ways to do it." Mike was unbelievably relieved to see that Briscoe really was all right.
"Laugh it up, pal." Lennie's eyes sparkled with humor for a moment, but he was quickly serious again. "Fill me in on what's happening."
Laura told him all she had been able to find out about Jack's condition and Mike detailed the discoveries at the DA's office. The detectives were discussing possible connections to different cases when the door opened to Lennie's room and a woman walked in.
She was probably in her mid-forties, a sophisticated looking woman with short auburn hair. Her clothes were carefully tailored, and she crossed her arms as she looked at the three of them.
"Whoa," Mike whispered under his breath. "Laura, let's go grab a cup of coffee. We can check on Jack on the way down." Laura looked confused but followed his lead when Lennie nodded at her. The woman regarded them coolly and didn't say anything as they went past her out the door. As they passed the guard outside the room and walked down the corridor, she asked Mike what was going on.
"That is Lennie's ex, Gloria. Believe me, if the two of them are in the same room together, it is not a place either of us want to be." He rolled his eyes and they stepped into the elevator.
"Well, I see you're still clinging to life. The papers made it sound much worse than it apparently was." Gloria walked around the room and took in her surroundings.
"Thanks for your concern. Very touching," remarked Lennie, his eyebrow raised. He sighed and asked, "What are you doing here?"
"The girls are listed as your next of kin on your personnel file...your lieutenant called early this morning to let us know what had happened. They wanted to see you, but I thought I should come in first to check on your condition." She walked over to the end of the bed and looked at him curiously.
"That young woman...a friend of your partner's?" When Lennie didn't answer, she gave a harsh laugh. "Oh really, Leonard. I thought you a bit above robbing the cradle. How cliche for the middle aged man. You disappoint me." She smirked at him.
"I got used to being a disappointment to you while we were married, Gloria. It's a hard habit to break." He took responsibility in large part for their divorce, but felt that he owed her no explanations. His reply wiped the smile from her face.
"Now, let's try to keep it civil, shall we? I'll send the girls in for a few minutes. Don't keep them too long, we're driving back to The Hamptons this afternoon. We just want to get away from New York and back to our lives." She returned Lennie's cold look with one of her own and walked out the door.
Hard to believe that two people who shared so much through their lives could learn to hate each other with such a vengeance, he thought. If things could have been better between them, if he hadn't been drinking while they were together, if he hadn't cheated on her -- a thousand possibilities that were no longer important. He was determined to put all the hurt and anger aside long enough to enjoy his brief visit with his daughters. Their time together was a rarity and he was determined make the most of it.
A week dragged by and although his condition didn't get any worse, Jack McCoy didn't make much progress either. The doctors had tried to wean him from the respirator after three days but Jack had not been able to breathe on his own. Claire was shaken, taking it as a bad sign. The doctors had told her not to give up yet, that three days was very early. Adam had convinced her to return to work at least half days and putter around with paper work. In all honesty, it made her feel better. The judge had given the DA's office a two-week continuance on the Smythe trial and Adam needed all the help she could give him to prepare another assistant to try the case.
It was now Day 7 and they were going to try again to get Jack off of the breathing machine. Claire had insisted on being in the room while they did it. She stood at the foot of the bed and watched as they turned off the machine and drew the long tube from Jack's throat. Then they simply stood and waited, watching the second hand on the wall clock.
Ten seconds had passed and nothing was happening. Claire got concerned and started towards the bed, but one of the doctors gestured for her to stay back. Another ten seconds and the physicians looked at each other with disappointment. They were preparing a new breathing tube for insertion when Claire could control herself no longer.
"God damn it, Jack....BREATHE!" she screamed.
The outburst startled the doctors, but not as much as the sudden hitching that followed from the patient. After a few jagged breaths, Jack's respiration evened out. The doctors were incredulous and quickly checked his other vital signs. He seemed to be stabilizing and it was obvious that the brain had not sustained damage in his motor center.
"Well, Miss Kincaid. I'd say that was one for the books. We shall have to try and shout at our patients more often!". The two of them left the room laughing after fifteen minutes of watching Jack breathe with no apparent problems. He would still be closely monitored by machine, but this was the first sign of improvement since the shooting.
Claire moved over to Jack's bedside and bent to whisper in his ear. "It's nice to see that you will occasionally do as you're told. Please come back to me, Jack." She kissed his cheek and went to call Adam with the good news.
The day after Jack's first big step, Lennie was released from the hospital, his arm in a sling to keep pressure off of the shoulder. Laura had tried to convince him to stay home for a few days but he wouldn't hear of it. Although he would be restricted to desk duty for at least four months while he healed, he felt that he had to return to work and make some sort of contribution. He was going crazy and besides, he felt that he owed it to Jack to help catch the one responsible. Laura was reluctant but saw that his mind was already made up. She drove him to the precinct and went into the office to catch up on some of her assignments.
Mike and the other detectives had managed to narrow it down to one person who could not account for the location of his assigned key. Lester Jackson was part of the company responsible for building maintenance and one of those entrusted with a set of limited-access keys. Although he had a top security clearance from the company, something about his demeanor made the investigators suspicious. When they decided to pick Jackson up at his apartment for questioning again, they met him halfway down the stairs, suitcase and plane ticket in hand.
Because it was a potentially ugly situation, Lt. Van Buren insisted on sitting in on the second interrogation. She understood how Lennie's fellow officers felt about those who made attempts on cops' lives and she knew how quickly a scene could get out of hand. Van Buren stood in the back of the room while Logan took charge of the questions. Briscoe stood outside the one-way mirror and watched.
"Lester, Lester...my friend, you are in a world of trouble. You have access to the crime scene, no alibi for the night of the shooting...".
"I was at home by myself watching TV! I told you that the first time! And I lost my key a long time ago."
Lester was squirming and Mike loved it.
"Yeah. Right. Well, that specific key has a computer code on it, smartass. We know for a fact that it was your key that opened the back door the day of the shooting." There were no such keys used in the building, but Lester didn't know that.
"Furthermore, we talked to your supervisor and he tells us that you were somehow able to complete all your maintenance duties throughout the building that same day, including the work in some secured areas. All that without your key? How do you explain that one?" Mike leaned over with his face only a few inches away from Jackson's.
"Maybe I'm thinking of a different key, you know? There are lots of doors and....". At that point, Logan slammed his fist into the table and Jackson jumped.
"BULLSHIT! You opened that door. And maybe you snuck back in late at night and decided to blow away a cop and a district attorney so all your friends would know what a big dick you have! And then to top it all off, you decide to make a run for it today. Now that really made us wonder, Les." Van Buren moved closer to Mike, afraid of what he might do. Sometimes Mike's temper got the better of him.
"No! That's not what happened! I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt!" Jackson was trying to shrink back in his chair to get away from the detective.
Van Buren snorted in contempt. "No?! Well, two people were hurt pretty badly. Was someone else involved, Lester? Someone else pull the trigger? Because maybe, just maybe we could work something out with the DA's office. But I'd have to hear a lot more than the crap that you've spewed so far."
Jackson slumped down and took to staring at his hands. Mike gave him a look of sheer disgust and walked away.
"I think I want to talk to a lawyer now," said Lester in a small voice.
"Yeah, I'll bet you do. I wonder what kind of defense you'll get, Lester. After all, one of your victims was a lawyer too. I'd be REALLY anxious to keep your ass out of jail if I was your attorney." Logan gave Van Buren a knowing look and headed out the door.
"You've got him by the short and curlies, Mike. Let's go see what else they've dug up on this guy while he sits and sweats," said his partner, patting him on the shoulder. Lennie and Mike returned to their desks to sift through their leads.
"I just can't figure the connection between us and this Jackson guy," puzzled Lennie as Mike was driving him home after work. "No record at all, no weapon registered or found in his apartment, no money problems...I don't get it."
"He's part of it, though. And if his lawyer can make him understand what he is up against, I'm sure he'll lead us to the shooter. He just needs tonight to think about it." They had decided to hold Jackson as a material witness, not wanting to jump the gun on an attempted murder charge before they had all of their facts straight.
Mike pulled up in front of Lennie's building. "There you go. If Jackson decides to unburden himself in the night to the boys in lock-up, they'll give us a call. Otherwise, we'll go back at him in the morning."
Briscoe opened the door and turned back to the younger detective. "You wanna come up and have some dinner? I'm sure Laura wouldn't mind, she always makes too much anyway."
Mike laughed. "I'm sure she would mind. Your first night home since you were released, first time alone together since she got back? And you call yourself a detective!"
Lennie grinned at him. "Good night, Mike." He got out of the car and headed through the doors to the elevator.
It was a good thing that his partner was still on top of things, Lennie thought. He decided to blame his fuzzy thinking on the pain medication.
Lennie went into the apartment and could smell supper warming in the oven. He eased his coat off his shoulders, hung it up and kicked off his shoes. Soft music from the local fifties radio station was playing on the stereo and only a dim light was visible. Walking into the living room, he saw that Laura was asleep on the couch. Her golden hair was spread out on the cushions and she was wearing her short black off-the-shoulder dress, one of his favourites. A manuscript lay open on her stomach; she had obviously been doing some editing work when she dropped off.
Lennie stood and watched her for a while. He thought of everything she had endured, not only with the trip home and the shooting, but the dramatic changes in her life during the past several months. That someone would be willing to go through all that for him seemed unbelievable at times. Could she really love him that much? It made his heart hurt to think of it.
He crouched down beside her and kissed her softly. She awoke and looked up at him with her violet eyes, responding in kind. When she moved her arms gently around his neck, her dress slid up over her legs to reveal the tops of her black stockings. Lennie saw and ran one hand along the inside of her thigh and over the lacy triangle of her panties. She sighed happily but took his hand and held it away.
"Is this something you think you're ready for? The doctor said that you should avoid stress on the shoulder." The conflicting emotions of the previous week had manifest themselves into a desperate need to be with him, but she was practical enough to worry causing more harm.
He took the manuscript from her and put it on the coffee table. He then stood and pulled her up with him. "I think it'll be all right," he said and smiled. "You'll just have to be gentle with me."
They stood with their arms wrapped around each other for a while. Laura breathed in the scent of him and luxuriated in the feel of his body against her own. The music wound itself around them and almost unconsciously they began to move in time to the melody. He hummed quietly to the song, a popular love ballad from his youth. She lifted her head from his shoulder to gaze up at him and brushed his cheek with the back of her hand.
The way he was looking at her was making her heart pound. Laura backed up from him and maintaining eye contact, unzipped the dress from behind and stepped out of it. As a sultry tune flowed from the stereo around the room, she slowly removed the strapless black bra and released her full breasts. Her dusky pink nipples were already stiff in anticipation of what was to come. Unsnapping the panties on either side, she tossed them to the floor and wearing only the garters and stockings, stood in front of Lennie and ran her fingers lightly over her breasts and torso. She loved the effect that her behavior had on him -- he liked it when she was a little brazen.
He stepped forward and pulled her to him, and she carefully helped him remove his sling from his arm. She took his tie off and deftly unbuttoned his shirt. Laura loved the dark brush of hair on his broad chest and she ran her fingers through it, over his nipples and down his navel to where the hair disappeared under his clothes. They kissed tenderly as he moved his hands down her back and around the swell of her bottom. She felt him swollen hard against her stomach and as always, was exhilarated at how quickly she could excite him. With her mouth now hungrily moving over his, she rubbed herself against him and was rewarded with a deep-throated growl in response. Reaching behind her waist, she caught his hands up in hers and brought them around front. She led him back to the couch and made him sit down.
Kneeling in front of him, she pulled off his socks and belt and threw them aside. She undid his pants and languidly pulled down the zipper, never taking her eyes from his. He was already fully aroused as she brusquely tugged the pants from his waist and off of his legs. Now with only his underwear on, she was ready to get started.
Laura ran her fingers over the hot bulge in his shorts, touching him delicately through the material. Lennie leaned back against the cushions, closing his eyes and savoring the sensations that moved through his body. She could feel him pulsing with each stroke and she increased the pressure of her grasp. He had begun to moan and breathe faster and she knew that she had to pace herself. Moving her hands away from his loins and up over his chest, she leaned up and placed tiny feather kisses on his eyelids, his cheeks and down his throat until he had regained control.
Again crouching by his knees, she put her hands under the waistband and slid his underwear off. She continued to use only her fingers for a while, and then leaned forward to kiss the tip of his manhood. Using her tongue, she traced a line from there down the seam of skin on the shaft and back again. She took her time, getting more vigorous and aggressive as his erection grew taut. As she took him into her mouth, her hands stroked his balls in rhythm of her movements. She had rarely enjoyed performing oral sex before, but with Lennie it was such a natural and satisfying act. His pelvis arched and he began to match thrust for thrust, holding her head between his hands. She took him to the edge and then suddenly pulled away from him again and teasingly traced circles with her tongue on the inside of his thighs. He turned his dark blue eyes on her, looking every bit like a man being tortured but desperate for her to continue. Laura could feel herself starting to throb and could wait no longer.
She climbed onto Lennie's lap and mounted him, ever so careful not to put any pressure on his injury. Holding onto the back of the couch, she began to rock forward and back, up and around, grinding her hips and reveling in the feel of him inside of her. As she moved, Lennie nuzzled and bit at her breasts until he brought her nipples to painful erection again. With each motion, the penetration was deeper and her breathing became heavy. She felt the steady heat building in her and it washed over her suddenly and unexpectedly. Laura threw her head back and shuddered in pure bestial pleasure.
With a strength that surprised her, Lennie pushed her from his lap and onto her hands and knees on the couch. He entered her from behind, driving himself into her more and more forcefully each time. He reached beneath with his hand and stroked at the small nub hidden above her softest parts. Laura felt the flush work up her neck and over her face and knew that she was coming again, and this time her cry was lost in the cushions as she buried her face. Her climax was too much for him and he came too, caught in the moment.
They held each other in silence for a long time. They rarely said anything afterwards; words could never do any justice to either the experience or their emotions.
They stayed that way, in fact, until the dinner in the oven started to smoke. Laughing, Laura ran into the kitchen and pulled out the hopelessly burnt lasagna. Upon viewing it, Lennie suggested that perhaps sending out for Chinese food would be a better option. She agreed wholeheartedly and picked up the phone to call. For the first time in two weeks, she finally felt like a real person again.
The phone rang, breaking the peace of a new day. Laura rolled over and looked at the clock next to her -- 9:07 am! They must have slept through the alarm!
She threw back the warm covers and ran to grab the phone in the kitchen. "Hello?"
"Gee, didn't get you up, did I?" She could almost hear the smirk in Mike Logan's voice. "Hate to disturb you two at such an early hour but I was wondering if I could talk to my partner for a few minutes?"
"Hang on. Babe? Mike's on the phone." Laura took it into the bedroom where Lennie was propping himself up and rubbing at his eyes.
"Hey," said Lennie, sleep still in his voice. "What's up?"
"Feeling a little rough this morning, Detective?" Mike chuckled.
"Yeah, well -- you know how it is with the pain pills. Sometimes hard to get going while you're on those." He gave Laura a sly grin as she blew him a theatrical kiss and headed off to shower.
"Sure, Lennie. Must have been a long and torturous night for you, poor guy. Anyway, I need you to come over to the hospital," Mike began.
That got Lennie's attention and he sat straight up. "Oh no -- is something wrong? JackÖ?"
"Nothing wrong, no. Yesterday they took Jack off the drugs that brought on the coma, and today -- well, I think you had better come see for yourself." Mike was jubilant but would not reveal any more details.
"We're on our way!" Lennie hung up and dashed from bed. Running into the shower, he told Laura about his conversation with Mike and the two of them quickly washed and got dressed. They were out of the door and down to the garage within ten minutes.
Laura and Lennie walked into Jack's room and stood in utter disbelief. The EA District Attorney was sitting up in bed, propped by pillows and flanked on either side by Claire and Adam. Mike stood back beside the door, watching their faces. Jack's eyes sparkled at their reaction and he smiled wearily.
"Oh God, Jack. I can hardly believe it--" stammered Lennie, who seemed almost on the verge of tears. He had been feeling his own guilt for not being the one to take the more serious injuries, something he hadn't admitted to anyone. He grinned and walked over to grab Jack's hand.
"I was ordered back into action," whispered Jack, the wound in his neck preventing him from speaking louder. He looked at Claire and took her hand. She beamed radiantly back at him and then at the others.
"It happened late last night. I was asleep in the chair and heard him call my name." Claire smiled from one friend to the next. "I couldn't believe it myself, the doctors don't know what to think."
"Tell Lennie what you told me about the shooter," Logan urged McCoy, anxious that his partner share his information.
"You saw the guy who did it?" Lennie couldn't believe their good fortune.
"Not guy. Woman." Jack was getting very tired; just staying awake this long had been draining.
"He gave me a brief description, Lennie. When we hit Jackson with this, I'll bet he'll start spilling his guts." Mike was anxious to get going but didn't want to seem insensitive to Jack and Claire.
"Well, now's as good a time as any," Claire said sternly, knowing what was on Mike's mind. "Jack needs to rest now. Everybody out!"
"I've gotta go -- I'll call you later on." Lennie squeezed Laura's hand briefly and then turned towards the door. He and Mike left the room with determined looks and headed for the 27th.
Mike and Lennie were frustrated. They tried to get Lester Jackson to open up about the actual shooter but he and his lawyer refused cooperation without someone there to talk deal. Lt. Van Buren placed a call to the DA's office and was shocked when Adam Schiff himself walked into the precinct.
"What are you doing here?!" inquired Van Buren. She was sure he hadn't darkened the door of a precinct for ten years.
"My best man is in the hospital, no one else I can trust with this one. What would you do, Lieutenant?" Adam spoke gruffly and impatiently. "Now where is the son-of-a-bitch?"
When Adam walked into the room, the color drained from the public defender's face. Janice Tobias could not believe that Adam Schiff had come down to deal with this case himself. She had only been practicing for a year and was thoroughly intimidated. Not only did she have to deal with one of the victims directing questions at Jackson, now the District Attorney himself was there.
She tried to maintain her poise as she began. "Mr. District Attorney, my client would like to know if he is going to be charged in this case. He is only being held as a material witness at this point, you really can't keep him here--"
"Your client is a suspect in the attempted murder of one of my associates and a police officer. He either starts talking about what he knows or we'll charge him with two counts of Attempted Murder in the First Degree and see what the Grand Jury has to say. I am not playing games, Mr. Jackson. Your attorney has no doubt made you aware of the possible consequences."
"I never meant for any of this to happen -- I had no idea what she had in mind." Jackson was terrified.
"Mr. Jackson, if you can convince me that you had no intent to harm either of those men, I could see a lesser charge and maybe a suspended sentence. Let's hear it." Adam signaled Logan to turn on the tape recorder. Tobias nodded at her client and wringing his hands, he started talking.
"I only opened the door. She told me that she wanted to get into Mr. McCoy's office, take some files and get out. She never said anything about a gun." Jackson stumbled on, staring down at the desk. He just couldn't force himself to look either the DA or the cops in the face.
"Who? Who did you let in?" Logan looked down with dead eyes at Lester Jackson.
"My sister, Yolanda. You're trying her boyfriend for murder, and he told her that if she didn't get the files and destroy them that he would have her little five-year old boy killed."
"The boyfriend's name?" Adam was skeptical. Destroying files would accomplish nothing; there were copies of trial documentation on computer and in duplicate files in archives. Besides, there had been full disclosure to the defense attorney. Nothing in the DA's files would be news to them.
"Smythe. Daryl Smythe." The name got an immediate reaction from both the detectives and the DA.
"YesÖI am aware of some of Mr. Smythe's work. Where does your sister live, Mr. Jackson?" As soon as they had the address, Schiff nodded to Logan and the detective left the room to apply for the necessary warrants. Briscoe stayed behind, not in any condition to be involved in the arrest or search of the premises.
"All right, Mr. Jackson. We'll pick up your sister and see what she has to say. You may get off lightly on this one." Schiff stood and turned to leave the room.
"It's not her fault -- she was just protecting Josh! This guy Daryl, he might be in jail but he has friends who would kill a kid without a thought."
"Then she should have gone to the police, Mr. Jackson. Her fear doesn't justify her actions."
Adam stood and nodded at Ms. Tobias and her client. He turned and left the room without another word.
"So the little worm gave me up, did he? Typical. I thought that with all that crap I fed him about the kid, he would keep his mouth shut." Yolanda Jackson spat on the floor as a curse on her brother as Mike Logan dragged her into the interrogation room. Her brown eyes burned with hatred as she was pushed unceremoniously into a chair. Her long stringy hair fell across her face, and she flipped it back over her painfully thin shoulders. Yolanda had the look of a long-time drug addict; not enough food and way too much crack.
"You're a real piece of work, Yolanda. You set up your own brother for a fall, use your kid to get to him -- want to tell me the whole story? I'm just dying to know." Mike had expected to find a meek and frightened woman when the police had burst into the sister's apartment. The person they had pulled in under arrest was of an entirely different temperament. Once they identified themselves as police officers, she had gone for her gun. As scrawny as she was, it took four of them to restrain her long enough to get the cuffs on. They hadn't found the little boy in the apartment; as it turned out, Child Protective Services had removed him from the home months earlier.
"Dream on, Beefcake. I ain't talking until I get a cigarette and a lawyer." She sat back with a smug grin on her face and all Mike wanted to do was smack it off of her face. He managed to restrain himself long enough to leave the room and confer with his colleagues behind the mirror.
"We have her dead to rights. The gun was in her possession, same caliber as the one that shot you and Jack, Lennie. Ballistics has it now. They're pulling her phone records now, but we're pretty sure we'll find a few calls between her and Riker's Island. I really don't think she ever considered the possibility that her brother would turn tail on this one. She did nothing to cover her tracks." Mike was like a hound close to the kill. His eyes were fierce and his knuckles white with intensity.
"If she had stuck to her story, this might all have come down on Smythe. The lady lacks control, she's way too proud of her involvement". Van Buren crossed her arms as she regarded Ms. Jackson through the window. "Let's get a lawyer in here for her as soon as possible. I donít think we're going to have to work very hard on getting a confession. She's halfway there with her statements already. I'll call the DA's office, get them in here to talk to the lovely and demure Yolanda Jackson."
"You were the target all along, Jack. No motive besides revenge. Smythe knew he was screwed, told his girlfriend that if he was going to burn in hell, he wanted to be sure that he had you there for company," explained Lennie as he and Mike sat with Jack at the hospital. "He was sure you'd be working late that night, preparing for the trial. Getting one of the arresting officers too, that was just so much gravy."
Once she realized the seriousness of her involvement, Yolanda Jackson had confessed, hoping for some kind of leniency. As it turned out, she and her boyfriend had been well matched; both were sociopaths who got off on violence. Not surprisingly, the DA's office offered no deals; there was nothing that she could offer them. Yolanda pled guilty to the charges of Attempted Murder and a dozen others and was going to be in prison for the better part of thirty years. The extra charges that were laid against Daryl Smythe meant nothing to him; he figured that they could only put him to death once.
Although he ended up losing his job, no charges were laid against Lester Jackson in exchange for his testimony. He was searching for other employment and had hopes of applying for custody of his nephew Josh.
"I've had a hundred threats made against me," murmured Jack. "Never once did I really think that my life was in danger."
"It's the ones that don't talk about it that you gotta worry about," remarked Mike. "The building is putting in a fancy security system now. There won't be a fart that goes unnoticed once everything is in place."
Jack smiled at Mike's colorful imagery. ""Thanks for coming by and filling me in. You'd better go. Claire is due back any moment from court. Don't want to see you put in any more physical danger."
The detectives grinned and headed for the door. On his way out, Lennie turned around and looked at McCoy with a serious expression.
"Jack -- thanks. For the warning, I mean. If I could have--" Briscoe couldn't finish his sentence.
"I know, Detective," Jack smiled back warmly. The cop turned and left.
Lennie knew that there was trouble when he walked in the door at home and could smell PineSol and Easy-Off in the air. The scents meant that Laura was cleaning, and she only cleaned if something was really upsetting her.
He saw he was right when he stepped through the hallway and saw her on her knees in he kitchen, scrubbing out the oven. She was still wearing her dress clothes from work. When she saw him, she gave him the briefest of smiles and went back to the task at hand. He debated leaving her alone but knew that if he didn't say anything, the situation would probably just get worse.
"Not that I don't appreciate the spotless home," he said as he pulled her from the floor to her feet. "But I would like to know what's behind it. What's wrong?"
She looked to the side to avoid Lennie's eyes. "Nothing. It's nothing, just a long day."
He refused to be brushed off. Taking her chin in his hand, he forced her to look at him. He could see tears brim her eyes. "What's wrong?" he whispered softly.
All at once she was crying angrily. "What's wrong is that I was sitting at my desk today and the reality of everything that happened hit me right between the eyes. Not only did I just about lose you this time but it could happen again! I've found with you something I always wanted and some nut with a gun could take it away at any time! Most of all, what's wrong is that the next time Mike Logan comes to meet me, it might be to escort me to the morgue instead of the hospital!"
Laura had tried to drive her fears and reactions to the shooting to the back of her brain and to just get on with her life. But that composure had cracked and now everything was rushing uncontrollably back onto her. She pushed Lennie away and collapsed onto the couch in the living room, wrapping her arms around herself.
Lennie knew that this was something that those who loved cops faced all the time. Knowing that, though, didn't necessarily make it easier to handle. He thought that she had been dealing with everything so well; he should have known that she was just holding back. Sitting beside her, he took her by her shoulders and held her close.
"I wish I could promise that it will never happen again, but I can't. I can't know something like that, none of us can. Even though my training and experience help me in dangerous situations, there are too many wild cards in the deck for any guarantees. I'm a cop, that isn't going to change. But you know something? I've got a good partner watching my back, and I've got a really good reason to want to make it home safely every night."
At that, Laura finally lost all semblance of control -- she could no longer pretend to be strong. She could only bury her face in Lennie's chest and cry.
After what seemed an eternity to both of them, her sobs subsided and she pulled back to brush the wetness from her face. She was embarrassed at her outburst and stood with her eyes downcast, a blush creeping up from her neck. He smiled at the vulnerability that only rarely peaked through her persona. Lennie bent and kissed Laura gently on her damp cheeks, and she looked up to see his eyes filled with tenderness. She hoped to God that she could learn to cope with her fears because there was no way she was going to give up this man.
He drew her into a deep embrace, kissing her intimately. He drew back and looked down at her with a glint of mischief in his eyes.
"Now, are you still upset enough to finish tidying the house? 'Cause I noticed that my closet could use some work."
Laura laughed and smacked him across his good shoulder.