By Lyn and Annie
Blair slapped frantically at the door handle to no avail. Williams cast a quick sidelong glance at him as he gunned the engine and accelerated onto the road. "Childproof locks," he said, a note of smug satisfaction in his voice.
Blair shimmied over until he was firmly pressed against the door, keeping his eyes on Williams. "Why are you doing this?"
A nasty smile upturned Williams' thin lips. "Because I like you."
Blair shook his head. "I'm not your type," he said decisively. "Too old. You like boys, Williams." He knew he was running off at the mouth in his panic but figured it was safer to keep talking, keep Williams focused on that. That way he might have a chance to attract some attention to his plight or escape. There were traffic lights coming up. Maybe he could… He allowed one hand to drift toward his holster.
Williams' hand whipped up and his handgun smashed into the side of Blair's face, slamming him hard against the passenger window. His vision greyed out and he could feel warm wetness dripping down his cheek. Dimly, he realized the car had stopped. Williams patted at Blair's chest and pulled his weapon from its holster, checked the safety and tossed it onto the rear seat. He loomed over Blair, his blurred features menacing. "You talk too fucking much." The hand came up again and Blair tried to rear away from the gun clutched in it. It swung down, impacting his skull and agony exploded for a split second before the lights went out.
At least he wasn't dead - yet, Blair decided, trying to put a positive spin on things and keep his panic at bay. He hurt way too much. He'd woken some time ago, his thoughts piecemeal, finally coalescing into muzzy memories of going down to find Billy, of Williams ordering him into a car at gunpoint… and then nothing until he'd woken up here. He still had no idea where here was.
Once more he had to struggle to stay calm as his breath quickened and he gagged on the filthy rag stuffed into his mouth and secured behind his head, remembering coming to, finding he had been stripped naked and was tied spread-eagled, to a bed. His fear ambushed him and bile surged up his throat, threatening to choke him. He drew in a strangled breath and tried to cough but his inhalation of much needed air drew acid with it, and for a horrible moment, he thought he was going to die right now, choking on his own vomit. His body convulsed in the throes of oxygen starvation, then a fist clamped in his hair, and his head was forced to one side. Blair was grateful for even this small reprieve. The rag was torn from his mouth, ripping hair from his scalp and skin from his lips but he ignored those small pains and dragged in a greedy breath.
"Idiot!" Williams said, smacking Blair's face hard. "Coulda choked before we even get to have some fun."
Blair wheezed, trying to calm his breathing and dispel the lightheadedness. He took a chance and opened his mouth to yell, but Williams obviously guessed what was coming and before Blair could take advantage of the situation, he smashed one fist brutally into Blair's mouth, splitting his upper lip, before grabbing the gag and pulling it over Blair's head once more. He stepped back and gave Blair an evil smile.
Blair refused to cower from the menace in the man's face. Instead, he glared back, putting as much defiance and venom into his stare as he could. He almost lost his composure though when Williams chuckled and dug in his pocket. Williams raised a hypodermic to his lips and pulled the cap off with his teeth. Panic overwhelmed Blair then and he fought desperately against his bonds, his screamed protests muffled by the gag. His right arm was turned roughly. Williams sought out the vein with apparent practiced ease and plunged the needle in. Blair felt cold snake up his arm and almost instantly, heat flooded his body, sweat breaking out on his brow.
Williams tossed the syringe away and placed a meaty hand over Blair's mouth, pressing inexorably until black spots danced in front of his eyes and his lungs once more screamed for air. Blair felt himself weakening and just when unconsciousness would have taken him, Williams removed his hand, leaving him gasping like a fish out of water, exhausted, all fight gone.
He could feel the pull of the drug now as well, a sense of lethargy creeping over him. His eyelids were weighted and he let them drift closed, uncaring of the hand that trailed down his naked, sweaty body and cupped his genitals, stroked between his thighs.
"Gonna have a lot of fun before I'm done," Williams whispered, his voice taking on a soothing tone. "Wonder if you'll scream as loud as those boys did."
"Why are you harassing my boy again?" Irma Williams said hotly. "Seems every time he gets settled, you pigs are at him again!" She spat at the ground between Jim's feet and he grimaced.
"We have a warrant to search the premises, Mrs. Williams," he told her, indicating the paper she held in one thin hand.
"I tear it up, you got nothing!" she sneered.
"We'll just be back with another one. Now, step aside please." Jim waited until she did so then stepped into the hall of the ramshackle house and immediately dialed down his sense of smell as an overpowering odor of something fetid hit his nostrils. Maybe he should have brought Sandburg with him, after all. "Where's your son?" he asked.
"Out," she replied shortly. She pushed past him roughly and headed toward the rear of the house then turned and shook an admonishing finger at him. "You wreck anything, you pay for it."
"Gonna be hard to tell," H snickered softly as he walked past Jim and up the stairs.
"I'll start down here," Jim offered, following Mrs. Williams, not entirely certain the woman wouldn't attempt to get rid of any evidence that might be there.
Mrs. Williams turned into a dark, tiny kitchenette and immediately a multitude of cats, all mangy and rheumy, swarmed around her legs. At least he knew where the smell came from, Jim realized, when he spied an overflowing litter box in one corner of the kitchen. His eyes watered and he clamped a hand over his nose before stepping into the bathroom further up the hall. He'd get H or one of the uniforms to check out the kitchen.
The bathroom was as dark as the kitchen had been, and Jim snapped on gloves before dialing up his sight. The only light came from a tiny, barred, filthy window on the opposite wall and the light bulb hanging from the ceiling had blown. Jim took his time, examining first the bathroom cabinet then the shower stall, coming up empty on both. He was about to head upstairs to help Brown check out the bedrooms when something caught his eye.
The tiles came halfway down the wall, a dirty cream color, yellowed by tobacco stains, the grouting a dingy brown. One tile looked odd though, as though the sealant had been dug out and never replaced. Jim pulled his keys from his pocket and carefully ran it around the edge. The tile gave easily and Jim levered it out. Peering into the tiny space, he saw two pill bottles and a clear vial. Pulling them out, he allowed a small smile of success. Each of the pill bottles were for powerful sedatives, each had been prescribed for Michael Williams and were the same drugs that had been found in the dead boys' bloodstreams. The vial was labeled morphine. Though the label had been partially picked off, Jim could make out the name Cascade General. All three boys had traces of morphine in their blood as well.
He placed the bottles in an evidence bag and backed out of the bathroom, heading for the stairs.
An hour later they called a halt, having discovered nothing more except a receipt for a storage space in the Cascade warehouse area. Jim made his way downstairs, returned Mrs. Williams' sour glare with a curt nod and headed back to the PD.
He felt somewhat guilty at having left Blair behind, although he knew he'd been right to do so. He didn't want to get this close to putting Williams behind bars, only to have the murderer walk on a technicality. But after all the hard work Blair had put into the profile, and knowing just how badly the boys' deaths had affected him, Jim knew it was only right Blair should be there when Williams was arrested. They had one more stop to make, then they'd sit down and put it all together, make sure they could nail the bastard properly. He hoped the storage space Williams had rented might contain trophies from the boys' murders. The profile Blair had built of the guy made it a pretty sure bet.
Blair was nowhere to be seen when Jim walked into the bullpen and he was caught unawares by a frisson of unease. He sat down at his desk and was about to pull out his cellphone in an attempt to locate his errant partner when a yellow post-it note stuck to his computer monitor caught his eye. Reading it quickly, Jim cursed and stood. It seemed even after their heated words earlier, Blair still didn't get that procedure needed to be followed. He vowed when he caught up with Sandburg, he really was going to tear him a new one. He was about to head back out the door when his desk phone rang. Snatching it up, he started in immediately. "Sandburg! Where the hell are you?"
There was a moment's silence on the other end, then an unfamiliar voice spoke. "Detective Ellison?"
"Speaking. Who's this?"
"Billy… Billy Connors. I… ah… spoke to Blair at Cinders last night."
"What can I do for you, Billy?"
"I saw Blair today, down on Murchison."
"What did he want to talk to you about?"
"I don't know. A car pulled up and that guy from the nightclub, Mike, was in it. I started to go over to it but Blair waved me away. I think… Mike had a gun."
Oh God. Jim reined in his worry. "All right. Thanks, Billy. Listen, I need you to stay where you are. I'm gonna get a patrol car to come pick you up. I might need to talk to you again, get a statement."
"No way, man!" Billy protested. "You send uniforms down here, my brothers are gonna think I'm a snitch." He paused for a moment. "I'll meet you there on one condition."
"What's that?" Jim asked, his impatience climbing, wanting nothing than to get out and start looking for Blair.
"You don't tell anyone you saw me. You don't talk to my folks or anything."
"No! That's the deal. I'm only calling you because your friend got me out of a bind. I heard about Troy today. We got a deal or what?"
"Yeah, we got a deal. If I'm not here when you get here, you wait for me, understand?"
Slamming down the phone, Jim paused only long enough to apprise Simon of the situation and ask for back-up to meet him at the storage company, then he hurried down to his car. He had no idea where to begin looking for Blair. He hoped the storage locker was a starting point.
Blair didn't think he'd ever felt this sick before. He'd have to talk to Jim, find out who the hell had spiked his drink. He never drank to extremes, at least not since he'd been the new guy at the university and trying to prove he wasn't a geek.
"Good, you're awake," a voice said from beside him, and his reality came crashing back. "Now we can get down to business."
Blair's heart threatened to beat its way out of his chest. He watched Williams casually light a cigarette then stand and walk to the foot of the bed.
"You're a pain in the neck, Detective," Williams said. "Think you're so smart with your fancy college words, threatening to take me out." He smirked and took a pull on his cigarette. "Proved I was smarter than you, didn't I? Taking that namby-pamby mommy's boy right out in the open? I tell you, I never heard anyone scream like he did when I shoved that beer bottle up his ass. Wonder how you'll take it. You ever take something up the ass, Detective?"
Blair moaned, but the gag muffled his anguish. Oh god, Jim, where are you? I'm sorry. I should have listened to you!
"First, though," Williams took a long pull on his cigarette then blew on the glowing end, "first we're gonna have some fun."
The cigarette touched the ball of Blair's foot and he screamed.
Blair didn't know how long the torture lasted, only that he passed out and was slapped back to consciousness to re-live it over and over again. Williams had lit another cigarette and pressed it against Blair's shoulder, laughing out loud when tears ran down Blair's cheeks and he writhed away from the agony. Distantly, Blair heard an absurdly cheerful chiming of bells and Williams cursed and turned away, grinding the cigarette beneath his boot.
Blair lay gasping for breath, his chest heaving, rank sweat covering his body. Urine dampened the filthy mattress beneath him.
"What do you want, Ma?" he heard Williams say. "When? Shit! Yeah, yeah, okay. I'm gone. You remember, you ain't seen me." Turning back to Blair, Williams pushed the cell phone back into his pocket. "Looks like fun time's over. You and me are gonna take a drive to the mountains."
Blair flinched as Williams bent over him, freeing his hands and feet. There was no chance of escape, he knew that. His energy was gone and he was barely hanging onto consciousness.
Williams hauled him upright, snarling and lashing out at him when Blair's legs would not support him. Blair screamed in pain when his burned foot touched the ground, but Williams merely dragged him closer, supporting him against his body and headed for the exit door at the rear.
Blair flinched as bright sunlight assaulted his eyes, clamping them shut. Williams had a chokehold on his throat and he was finding it increasingly difficult to breathe. Then the sweetest sound he'd ever heard:
"Stop right there, Williams. Cascade PD!"
"J- Jim?" The name was croaked out and Blair barely heard it himself.
Williams shook him like a rag doll and dragged him closer. He felt the muzzle of Williams' gun digging into the tender skin under his chin. "You let me go, cop, or I'll kill him."
There was a sudden explosion and something wet sprayed Blair's face. Williams jerked away from him, his hold loosening and Blair collapsed to the ground.
"Check him," Jim ordered Brown.
Uncaring of Williams's dead body, Jim rushed to Blair's side and carefully rolled him to his side to examine his injuries. Blair's face was marred with bruises and cuts, his upper lip split and still oozing, his naked body dirty and stinking of sweat and urine. Seeing the burn on his shoulder, Jim growled and wished he could shoot the fucker all over again. Gently, he lifted Blair's upper body and cradled him against his chest.
Blair was insensate, his head lolling limply against Jim's chest. A heavy coat was gently laid over Blair's naked body and Jim looked up into Henri's horrified gaze. "Thanks," he croaked out. "Get an ambulance here, H."
"He's going to be fine," Doctor Bill Saunders said, attempting to soothe an agitated Jim Ellison. "He's bruised, some minor cuts. The burn on his shoulder is fairly minor though the ones on his right foot are second degree and they're going to be painful for a while. Luckily, they'll heal. He won't need skin grafts. I'm keeping him overnight to allow him to rest and let the drugs dissipate from his system."
Jim looked down at the floor, seeming unable to meet the doctor's eyes. "Was he…? Was he…?"
Saunders reached out and patted Jim's shoulder. "No sexual assault. You can go sit with him. He's pretty sleepy but I think he'd appreciate the company."
Jim nodded and finally a small smile broke through. "Thanks, Doc."
Blair's eyes opened as soon as Jim crept into the room, though his eyelids drooped heavily. "Hey."
"Hey to you." Jim leaned forward and dropped a gentle kiss on Blair's cheek, mindful of the split lip. "How you feeling?"
"Like an idiot," Blair whispered. "Sometimes I wonder -"
"If you say you shouldn't be a cop, don't," Jim said firmly. "You followed a lead. You weren't to know Williams would go after you."
"Should have known," Blair replied. "I wrote the damn profile."
"But," Jim continued, pressing a gentle kiss to Blair's forehead, "if you ever go out on a lead again without your Blessed Protector, I'll kick your ass into next week."
Blair sketched a sloppy salute. "Gotcha. Williams? You got him, right? It all got kinda blurry at the end."
"I got him."
"Good." Blair nodded. He shook his head, huffing out a sigh. "I never thought I'd see the day when I'd say something like that."
"There are times I wish you'd never met me -"
"Don't!" Blair grabbed Jim's hand, squeezing it hard. "Don't you ever say that!"
"I just meant -" Jim began but Blair slapped him lightly on the chest.
"No, don't ever say that."
Jim leaned down and gently, very carefully, kissed Blair's mouth. "I'm sorry."
Blair smiled, oblivious to the bead of blood that welled from his split lip. Jim pulled a tissue from the box on the bedside table and dabbed at the cut, grinning when Blair yawned. "Go to sleep, Chief. I'll be right here."
"Go home. Get some rest."
"Won't," Jim assured him, "unless you're lying next to me."
"You're gonna be stiff tomorrow," Blair warned him, his eyes already closing.
"I don't mind."
"The other boys - Tom and Jake. Someone should care, don't you think? Care enough to remember them."
Jim stroked a hand across Blair's brow, soothing him to sleep. "Yeah, Blair. Someone should."