Simon Banks was barely conscious, tossing and turning in the rough cotton sheets that always smelled of antiseptic. Amy Williams shook her head as she prepared the IV line for the injection. Hopefully, this dose would give the man a chance to relax and sleep.
She looked down at the restless man who barely fit on a standard hospital bed. He was a damn attractive man; it was unfortunate that they hadn't met under different circumstances. Obviously a family man, if the devotion his son had shown sitting by his bedside was any indication. She had had to chase the boy out; he would have spent the night if his mother had allowed it.
"No, no not now. Go away. All right, come back later," the tall man muttered.
"Mr. Banks? Simon?" Amy called gently, placing one hand on his shoulder, hoping that the touch might help calm her patient.
"Go away. Go away."
Amy bit her lip. If Simon didn't calm down, he might injure himself further. "Mr. Banks "
Simon's eyes opened slightly and he blinked fuzzily at Amy. "I Joan? Joan, what are you doing here?" His voice hardened. "What do you want now?"
Having met the woman, Amy was both offended and flattered. Flattered, because Joan Banks was a very attractive woman, offended because the woman, who obviously still cared for her ex, had made no bones about her active dislike of his chosen profession and the reasons behind their divorce. She reined her thoughts in and focused once again on her patient. "Mr. Banks, its just me, Amy. Your nurse. Your ex-wife left hours ago."
Simon shut his eyes. "Where's Daryl? You said you were going to bring Daryl?"
"She brought your son to see you," Amy said soothingly. "Relax. I'll be back to check on you soon." Removing her hand, Amy was startled when her patient reached out and grabbed it. "No. Joan Joan, I'm sorry. We should have tried harder "
Amy felt a pang at the obvious pain in his voice. "You'll get better, Mr. Banks. Sleep now." She left the room, looking back to see the big man grab the call button.
She didn't see him hit it, turning on the two-way microphone.
Cascade Hospital, nurses' station
Doctor Burt Phelps grabbed his colleague or was that cohort? and pulled her behind the empty station. Jill Chaney let him, but the expression on her face showed, without a doubt, that she did not appreciate the manhandling.
"Look," she said, pulling away from him. "The bottom line is that if we don't do something, our careers are over. We could even go to jail!"
Phelps growled in frustration. "Well, maybe if we gave her more money "
Chaney shook her head. "No. It's too late. She's committed now and the review board meets tomorrow."
"But she's a doctor too. She'll only be implicating herself." He kicked at the desk in frustration. "There has to be another solution."
Chaney sighed. "We've been through this, Burt."
There was an edge to Phelps' voice as he glared at his partner in crime. "So you want to compound things by killing her, too?"
"There's no other way out."
The calm, matter of fact tone chilled the other doctor. He winced. "Well, how are we going to do that? I mean, this is crazy "
"What was that?" Chaney asked, her calm vanishing.
"What?" Phelps asked, looking around. He spotted the blinking red light on the room monitoring system at the same time as Chaney.
"Shhh." she said, moving towards the panel. Reaching out, she put her finger on the name beside the blinking light. Banks. Chaney moved her finger to the button and turned off the mike. Both doctors turned toward the door to room 09, just on the other side of the desk.
Cascade Hospital, Simon's room
Through the fog surrounding him, Simon heard voices. Was it that nice nurse, Amy? She was very attractive looked sort of like Joan had been before they started fighting. The voices got louder, took on an edge. Simon turned, wishing they would go away. 'Go to jail.' penetrated his drug-induced sleep, and he tried to wake up.
He only heard snatches of the conversation, but what he heard chilled him. ' more money kill her? .committed now review board compound this she's a doctor too killing her crazy"
Two people, planning a murder. That came through, loud and clear. Simon knew he had to do something. He reached for the phone, knocking the receiver off the stand. He fumbled for a moment, his fingers feeling like they belonged to someone else, and managed to dial a number before catching the receiver and dragging it toward his face.
"Look guys, you know this wasn't my idea," Joel repeated, looking over at the two men in the cab with him. It was a tight fit for three adult men, two of them larger than average, jammed in the front seat of a '69 pickup. Blair thought it was a good thing that it was automatic. He would not want to be stuck sharing the middle with a gearshift, too.
"We know, Joel," Jim said patiently from behind the wheel.
"The last thing I want to do is replace Blair."
"We know, Joel," Blair reassured him.
"It's just not my style, okay?"
"We know, Joel," Jim and Blair said together.
Joel looked out the window. "Glad you guys are taking this thing so well." Jim and Blair exchanged looks, not sure if Jim's new partner was being serious or sarcastic. Ellison's cell phone rang before they could pursue that train of thought.
"Ellison." There was no answer. Jim listened; he could hear breathing, so someone was there.
"Hello?" he asked again. There was no reply, although the heartbeat on the other end got a little louder and faster. "Hello?" On the other end, the connection was terminated. Jim shut the phone. He looked over at Sandburg and Joel.
"That was weird."
Cascade Hospital, Simon's Room
Simon ran out of energy before he pulled the receiver into place. His hand, still clutching the phone tightly, fell to rest on his chest. He shifted uneasily when Jim's voice came over the line, but didn't wake up. Nor did he wake when Doctor Chaney walked in.
Chaney walked over to the bed, immediately spotting the phone resting on the patient's chest. With a muttered exclamation, she gently tried to ease the receiver from the man's grasp. She jumped back when the patient tightened his grip, the other hand coming around to wave her away.
"No!" The man frowned, his closed eyelids fluttering. "No, I have to make a call. Have tell Jim tell "
Chaney licked her lips as the man fell silent. "Tell Jim what?" she prompted.
"Going to be a murder," the man answered clearly.
"He doesn't know about it yet?" Chaney asked, desperately hoping.
In the bed, the patient shook his head. "Hmmm call my office," he mumbled. Chaney's heart leapt to her throat at his next words. "Cascade PD."
She hid it behind her hard-won exterior of cool professionalism. "Okay, I'll do that, Mr. Banks. Let me have the phone, Mr. Banks. That's right," she soothed as Simon's grip relaxed and she retrieved the phone, hanging it up.
"Thank you. Thank " Simon sighed.
"That's right." Chaney said, studying the man laying in front of her, her eyes narrowed.
"Thank you " Simon trailed off, finally falling into a restful slumber. He didn't hear Amy returning to the room, but Chaney spun around at the sound of the door closing.
"Ah, Amy " she acknowledged, quickly grabbing the chart from the end of the bed. "I thought Mrs. Leavitt was in this room."
Amy looked at the doctor suspiciously. "'Til this morning. They moved her to seven west."
Chaney laughed easily. "Oh, boy. They never let us lowly doctors know anything." She hung the chart back on the bed and moved to the door, leaving Amy staring after her. Outside, Phelps was waiting. It was her turn to grab his arm, pulling him down the corridor.
"We have a big problem," Chaney said grimly.
Jim walked into Major Crimes, wearing the requisite coat and tie. He scowled at the commiserating glances from the uniforms and his fellow detectives. Making his way to his desk, he opened the top drawer and pulled out a baseball cap. He pulled it firmly on his head, immediately feeling better. With a sigh, he started on the paperwork left over from the day before.
Deliberately, he didn't raise his gaze when Finkelman paused on her trip through the bullpen at his desk. "Hmmm " she said, looking him over from head to toe. "Step in the right direction, Detective. But lose the hat."
Jim stood up and pulled the hat off, tossing it onto his desk. "Captain, could I have a private word with you?"
Finkelman frowned. "If it's about Blair Sandburg, the answer is still no." When Jim simply clenched his jaw and made no move toward her office, she nodded dismissively and walked away.
Watching her go, Ellison pulled off the tie -- a clip on -- and dropped it in the trashcan. He picked up the discarded cap and pulled it back on. "Riight," he drawled. Angry and frustrated, he watched the new captain sit down at her desk. When she picked up the phone, he tuned in. Not satisfied with pulling Sandburg's pass, she was probably getting him demoted. Forewarned was forearmed, right? He tuned into the phone call. His eyebrows shot up to his hairline at her first words.
<I'm not some cheap trick. You want something out of me, you show me some respect.> The voice on the other end was muffled, even with his hearing, the mechanical sound of the phone and the way Finkelman was pressing the receiver against her ear made it impossible to make out the words. <Tonight? When?> She paused, waiting. <Five thousand, cash. Right.>
Jim settled back as she hung up the phone. This called for an investigation
Amy moved a couple of clipboards and files, obviously looking for something.
"What's the matter, hon?" Lily Jansen asked.
"I can't find one of my charts," Amy replied, ducking to look under the counter.
Lily shrugged. "Maybe you forgot to put it back?"
"Not a chance." Amy sighed as she found the file on the counter where the nurses left messages, personal papers, and paperwork waiting for signatures. "What's it doing over here?"
"This place has been a zoo tonight," Lily said sympathetically. "Someone may have moved it."
"Yeah," Amy agreed. Tucking the chart under her arm, she returned to the cart. Pulling off the bags marked 'Banks,' she moved into Simon's room. Temporarily hooking the chart to the foot of the bed, she exchanged the new IV bags for the almost empty ones on the stand beside his bed. She smiled down at the sleeping man, glad that his rest was finally peaceful.
She closed the door behind her after picking up the chart. As Amy moved out to the nurses' station, she flipped through it to note the time of the exchange. Something caught her eye, further up the page and she frowned, looking at it more closely. Her breath caught in her throat as she deciphered the cramped writing.
"Oh my God!" Whirling, she opened the door, her fears realized as she saw the man on the bed convulsing. Amy grabbed the IV tubing, disconnecting it from the bag before retrieving the call button.
"I need a doctor in 7009 stat!" she shouted, trying to hold Simon in place at the same time. She dropped the button and moved to comfort the man on the bed. "Damn it! Don't you dare die on me!"
A medical team responded within minutes, and briskly moved in unison, stabilizing the patient. Amy went into automatic, following orders while still worrying about the strange writing on Banks' chart. It was only minutes, but it felt like hours before the doctor in charge leaned back with a sigh of relief.
"Looks like we got him stabilized."
"Thank God," Amy said under her breath. With a glare, she turned to the doctor. "What were you thinking when you wrote that order? It's a good thing I took a closer look at the chart."
The doctor Amy recognized him as one of the newer interns looked confused. "I'm sorry? I don't know what you're talking about."
Amy handed him the chart, her finger stabbing his signature at the bottom of the chart. "That combination of drugs would've killed him if I hadn't caught it."
The young doctor frowned. "That's not my writing." He looked up at Amy. "I didn't write this order."
"Then who did?" Amy demanded angrily.
The young doctor shook his head. "I don't know," he said slowly. "But, look at the time at the top of the chart. I was in 2114 on a code blue when this was written. Maybe somebody picked it up by mistake?"
"But you're on duty," Amy responded, worry creeping into her. "Who else would have been looking at patients?" Amy asked. They looked at each other for a moment silently. The doctor's pager rang, and Amy sighed, knowing he had another emergency. "I'll check it out."
Streets of Cascade
It was darker than usual in this part of Cascade. The warehouse district was often ill lit, but this block was practically black. With the streetlights broken or painted over, the only light came from bulbs mounted on the corners of the building currently under close observation by Ellison and Sandburg.
"What the hell is she doing in a meat packing plant?" Jim asked. It was not the type of place he had pictured Finkelman sneaking off to with five thousand dollars.
Beside him, Sandburg sighed. "Jim, I know you don't like Finkelman, but, I mean " Blair's expressive hands waved through the air, "her being a dirty cop? Come on. It doesn't make any sense."
"I know what I heard, Chief."
"Well, maybe she just likes to buy wholesale." Blair looked sideways at his partner, unsurprised that there wasn't even a hint of a grin on the grim visage. "Jim "
"Shhh ." He cut off his friend, cocking his head to the side in an unmistakable pose of listening.
Inside the plant
Sarah Finkelman walked toward the two young men seated in the dingy office. She sighed as Joe, the older brother, leered at her. "You look nice," he said, his eyes sliding over her body from head to toe. She should have worn a longer skirt. Or better yet, pants. Baggy pants.
"Thanks. You have the cash?" Brisk. Businesslike. "Let's keep it on a professional level, boys," she muttered to herself.
"It's behind the bar," Rick, the younger brother, volunteered. He watched as she turned away from him to look at the bar.
"It's not going to do me much good back there," Finkelman said dryly. There was no way she was going to go over there and bend down to retrieve the money in front of these juvenile delinquents.
"She's something, huh, Rick?" Joe asked proudly.
Rick smirked as he walked behind the bar, pulling an envelope out from behind it. Finkelman leafed through the money, counting rapidly.
"You're cute," Joe said, his eyes on her legs.
"Hmmm " she just barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes at the obviousness in the young man's tone.
Joe wasn't discouraged. "And you got backbone. A real nice backbone "
Finkelman sighed. "Focus. Business."
In the truck
Jim narrowed his eyes, looking through the grimy window. He was able to make out Finkelman accepting an envelope and rifling through the contents. "They just gave her an envelope," he told Blair. "There's got to be several thousand dollars in cash inside."
Blair looked surprised, and squinted, looking toward the tiny figures in the small square of light, wishing he had the same powerful vision as his friend.
They ducked down as Finkelman left the warehouse, even though there was no danger of her spotting them. No one came with her. She hopped into her car and drove off without a backwards look. With the lights off, Jim started the truck and followed far behind her as she drove through the dark streets. When she pulled onto a main road, he put on the lights and drove slowly, keeping well behind her.
The two men exchanged glances as the captain pulled into one of the local low-rent motels only a few miles from the warehouse district. Jim pulled the truck to a halt on the street in front of the parking lot. They watched Finkelman pull her car up to room 240 and get out. The door swung open as she reached for the handle; she entered without hesitating.
"Oh, man," Blair breathed. "She is up to something. What's she doing?"
"Beats me," his partner replied, motioning for quiet.
That didn't stop Blair. He shifted impatiently, waiting a few minutes before tugging on Jim's sleeve again. "What's going on?"
Shaking off the grip, Jim translated. "Three guys are in there. Finkelman just waltzed right in and handed someone the money. Five thousand dollars " Blair prodded him when he stopped. "She introduced herself as Trudy Marshall, said she works for Joe Brock."
"The guy back at the warehouse?"
"Yeah. The spokesman's not buying it. Says he doesn't work with women."
"What a crock!" Blair said in amazement. "This is the '90's, man."
Jim spared him an amused glance. "That's what Finkelman said."
"So, you have any idea what she's buying?" Blair asked.
Shaking his head, Jim motioned for quiet. "She's telling him he has to deal with her, Brock won't play. This guy is trying to strong-arm her, and she's coming back too strong." Blair watched as his face tightened at whatever was happening inside the motel room. "Arthur Sabin?" Jim blurted out, already reaching for the door handle.
"Arthur Sabin?" Blair repeated. "Who's that?"
Jim was already in motion. "Tell you later, Chief. She's in trouble. Stay put." Blair's mouth dropped open in indignant protest, but his partner wasn't listening. Blair tracked him as he moved across the parking lot to the door Finkelman had disappeared through.
Taking a deep breath, Ellison approached the motel room, hoping that he
wasn't doing something stupid. His instincts told him that Finkelman, while a major pain
in the ass, wasn't dirty. On the other side of the door, he heard her gasp. His jaw
tightened as he listened to the conversation.
"Is this really worth killing me over?" her voice stayed brash, but Jim could hear a hint of fear creeping in.
Sabin's answer, in contrast, was coldly amused. "Well Yeah."
Reaching the door, Jim knocked insistently. If the goons on the other side hadn't opened it by the count of five, he was going to kick it down. There was a scuffling movement from inside, then Sabin demanded "Who's that?" to Finkelman.
Sounding breathless, Finkelman replied "I don't know!" Jim listened to the sound of guns being pulled and safeties unlocked. "I don't know!" the captain repeated, fright creeping into her tone.
The door swung open just before Jim reached zero in his unspoken countdown. He moved past the two rent-a-thugs towards the captain, feeling his undercover fašade slip over him. "Trudy, are you all right?" he asked Finkelman, willing her to play along. Behind him, one of the thugs placed a meaty hand on his back and pushed him further into the room. Wanting to shove back, Jim instead went with the flow, knowing that he had quite a bit of convincing ahead of him.
"And who might you be?" Sabin was fairly young, shorter than Blair, with dirty blond hair and an attitude that screamed 'mafia wannabe.' Jim was not impressed.
"Brock. Joe Brock," he said easily.
"You always send a woman to do your dirty work?" Sabin asked with a scowl.
"I thought she could handle it."
"You were wrong."
Jim looked over at Finkelman, raising his eyebrows. She nodded slightly, then her shoulders slumped in a submissive posture. Sabin smirked.
"Get the stuff," Sabin said to the taller thug. "Joe?"
Jim turned, mildly inquisitive.
"Just checking." Sabin looked satisfied. He obviously hadn't been in the crime business for very long. His henchman returned, handing a canister to Ellison. Jim looked it over for identifying marks, but saw nothing. He was just as much in the dark about what he was 'buying' as he had been in the parking lot. "That's just a sample," Sabin remarked, his eyes lingering on the canister.
"When do we get the rest?" Jim asked, reaching out for it. Cold metal touched his palm, it didn't weigh much, so whatever was in it wasn't heavy.
"Tomorrow. I'll tell you when and where." Sabin motioned toward the door with his chin. "Now, get the hell out of here."
Yep, a lot to learn. Carrying the canister, Jim left the room, taking it on faith that Finkelman would fall into step behind him. She did. Without exchanging a word, they went to her car. Jim got in the driver's side. Finkelman didn't utter a protest as she tossed her keys at him. They drove away in silence, leaving Sabin and his two guys behind them in the motel doorway, watching.
Jim drove around the block and pulled into the back parking lot of a strip mall. Finkelman jumped out of the car just as Blair drove up to park beside them.
"Son of a bitch!" Finkelman shouted, slamming the door behind her. She turned to Jim, her eyes glittering with barely suppressed rage. "Damn you!"
Jim met her head on, unflinching. "What the hell was going on there, Finkelman?"
"You could have blown my whole set up!" she raged, ignoring his question.
"Seems like I also could have just saved your life."
Finkelman paused. "My hero," she announced sarcastically.
"It appeared to me that you were in over your head. In what, I still don't know!" Jim shouted, frustration getting the better of him. "Now, what the hell is in that cylinder?"
"Don't change the subject, Detective." Finkelman said unfairly. "You barged in on an undercover operation without authorization, and you bring HIM along to enjoy the show!" She punctuated her disdain by poking Blair in the shoulder with one long fingernail.
Blair, who had been watching the argument with his head bobbing from side to side, as if he was enjoying a tennis match, jumped. "Hey!" he protested. "Wait a minute, lady. Look, I don't know what your deal is here, but give it a rest!"
Jim put a restraining hand on his chest. "Let me handle this, Chief."
Blair realized that he was shaking with sudden anger. "No. No, I'm okay. I'm all right. You know what?" he asked, turning from his partner to Finkelman, rage getting the better of him, "This is his personal car. It's his personal time. We're friends. If he invites me along, guess what, lady? I'm going!"
"You are not a cop!" Finkelman said through clenched teeth.
That set Jim off again. "What kind of cop goes into an undercover sting operation without a backup contingency?" he shouted, "Would you answer me that?" Finkelman crossed her arms, looking above his head. Jim shook his finger in her face. "Not only is it stupid, it's in violation of department policy! I squawk to the brass about this, and you're going to be out!"
"Yeah? Well, I tell them that you're bringing your civilian friend into cases without authorization, and you'll be joining me!" They stood staring at each other, both shaking with rage. A patrol car drove past, catching the attention of all three. Glaring daggers at each other, Finkelman and Ellison froze.
"Um " Blair said diffidently, looking from one angry face to the other, "I think we all need to calm down. Why don't we take this somewhere quieter? We can talk and figure out what's going on."