by Stacy W.
c. May 2001
Halfway through their watch, and it had been a routine day for the men of Adam-12, at least as routine as police work ever got. Actually, it had been a quiet day. What that meant was up for debate, which was exactly what was happening in the car.
Jim Reed turned slightly in his seat to face his partner. "I think we caught all the real criminals yesterday. You know how busy we were last watch. We were single-handedly filling up the jail. Today all we're doing is giving speeding tickets to little old ladies late for their bridge games."
Pete quickly glanced over at Jim, then turned his attention back to the road. "They could all be hiding," he offered.
Jim snickered. "The little old ladies?"
Pete glared at his partner. "No. The criminals. Holed up in some dank, dark basement somewhere, plotting new ways to outwit us tomorrow."
"Or maybe they went on vacation. Took the loot and split for the beach, or the mountains, or some nice fishin' pond somewhere."
Pete snorted. "You wish. You know those criminal types. They never go away. They always find a new way to get themselves and us in trouble. You just wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow they'll be robbing banks every hour on the hour. We'll finish the paperwork on one just in time to go catch another. And they'll probably all be the shotgun-toting type who don't know when to give..."
"You're a real pessimist, you know it?" Jim broke in.
"Me? Nope, I'm an optimist. I think we're going to catch 'em."
The good-natured argument was interrupted by the radio. "1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, meet the watch commander at the station." The two officers exchanged a look. What was this about? Usually, Mac would have given them some clue as to why they were being summoned back to the station.
"One Adam-12, roger," Jim replied to the radio dispatcher. Then he turned to Pete. "Maybe he wants to have lunch with us. It's about that time, at least that's what my stomach thinks."
Pete smirked at his partner, "Your stomach always thinks it's time to eat. Besides, what are we going to eat? Candy and coffee from the vending machines? That might work for you, partner, but I like my lunch to have a little nutritional value. I dunno. Something's up." Minutes later, the two arrived back at the station and walked down the hall to Sergeant MacDonald's office.
Sgt. MacDonald, Mac to most of those he worked with, stood up from behind his desk as Jim and Pete entered his office and introduced a man in civilian clothes who was sitting across from him. "Officer Jim Reed, Officer Pete Malloy, this is Detective Mark Simmons, from the state prison in Chino. Reed, have a seat. Pete, you should hear this too, so stick around." Mac said as the three exchanged handshakes and sat down, Jim and the detective in Mac's chairs and Pete against window frame. "Mark, I'll let you start."
The detective pulled a photograph out of a folder he held. "Reed, do you recognize this man?" he asked as he handed it to the officer.
Jim studied the picture for a minute. The rather unremarkable face of a large man in his early thirties started back at him. Something about the image pulled at his memory, made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, but he wasn't certain. He finally looked up the other officers in the room. "Maybe. He looks vaguely familiar. Should I know him?"
Without a word, Pete stretched out his hand and Jim handed the photograph to his partner. Pete shook his head. He didn't recognize the man either.
"You remember when Pete was out after that robbery at Duke's?" Mac asked. When Jim nodded, he continued. "You rode with an officer named Jake Willard for a week or so, and the two of you arrested this man. His name's Frank Tucker. He was convicted of one murder, and there are other charges pending. Two more murders, assault, rape, robbery... the list goes on and on," Mac explained.
The detective jumped in. "And now you can add escaping from prison to it. Last night, his girlfriend helped him break out. They killed a guard in the process."
"Frank Tucker?" Jim asked, as he ran the name through his head. Suddenly, the details of that week came rushing back. Willard's relaxed, almost sloppy style that was such a contrast to Pete's professionalism. The string of horrifying murders in the county. The traffic stop of the man who was the prime suspect in those murders that had quickly turned into a high-speed chase, then into a long foot pursuit. And the fight at the end of that pursuit. Jim closed his eyes, remembering that fight. Tucker had managed to get his gun away from him, had almost shot him with it before he got control of the gun again. Willard hadn't shown up until he already had the man handcuffed. Took a wrong turn, he'd said.
Jim took a deep breath, trying to push the frightening memories away. Strange how his sharpest memory of that day was his anger at Willard's carelessness; Tucker was just a dim recollection in the background. He took the photo back from Pete, studying it again. "Well, I haven't seen him around today, but we'll keep an eye out. Don't you think he's as far away from this area as he can get by now?" he asked, obviously confused as to why an escaped prisoner would necessitate a semi-private conference with Sgt. MacDonald. Normally, these things were handled at roll call.
"We don't know where he would go," Detective Simmons replied. "You see, one of the last things he said to his cellmate was that he was going to pay back the 'little boy blue' who put him behind bars. We think he was referring to you. Now normally we don't take these threats too seriously, but this guy's different. Revenge has been something of an obsession of his for the past year. His cellmate says he spent all his time talking about how the people who locked him up were going to pay for it."
"What makes you think he would remember me enough to come after me? I didn't remember him," Jim asked, now even more confused than before.
In response, Simmons picked up three well-worn file folders, and dropped one onto the desk in front of Jim. "Open it. Tucker and his accomplice dropped these during the escape." He held up the other two folders. "This one's all about Willard; this one's about an L. A. County Deputy named Gillespie. We think Tucker's girlfriend-his lawyer's secretary, uh, ex-secretary-put them together for him."
Jim slowly opened the folder. In it was a collection of newspaper articles. As Jim flipped through them, he noticed one common thread: he was mentioned in all of them.
Pete moved from his position leaning against the window to stand behind Jim, looking over his partner's shoulder at the contents of the folder. After just a few pages, Pete looked up at his sergeant and the detective with a worried frown. This is bad. Really, really bad.
Sensing Pete's stare, Mac looked away from Reed and met his gaze, concern etched on his face also.
Unaware of the silent conversation taking place over his head, Jim continued to flip through the papers in the folder. Recent cases that had made the news. A story on the Police Olympics medal he'd won. The story on the teenaged sniper he'd shot a few years ago. A copy of the story on his Police Academy class graduation. As he looked through the folder, Jim's confused look was soon replaced by a worried one. The last page was the most frightening-his wedding announcement.
Mac heard Jim's worried gasp and quickly spoke up. "Jim, if you want, we can put a twenty-four hour guard on your house and family for a few days. That should give us a chance to recapture him or give him some time to cool off. Just say the word and we'll be there."
Jim looked up at Mac. From the startled look in his eyes, the possibility that this guy would go after his family was still sinking in. He dropped his gaze back to the folder, closing it, then re-opening it to that last article. There's no safe place to take Jean and Jimmy. That wedding announcement... The names of all of both of our families... This guy could track them down wherever I try to hide them. Fear for his family's safety quickly grew into anger. Jim jumped up out of his chair and slammed the folder down on Mac's desk. "No. I need a few days off. I'm getting Jean and Jimmy out of here." He turned away from his sergeant and headed toward the office door.
"Jim, stop. I wish I could give you the time off, but we're already stretched thin. I have five guys out with 'Brinkman's Bug'. Why don't you let us take care of protecting them?" Mac asked.
Jim spun to face Mac, anger at the situation blazing in his eyes, both hands balled into fists. "No. I gotta get them somewhere safe." He took another step toward the door.
Pete stepped into his path. "Calm down, partner. Where are you going to go?"
Jim stopped and ran his hands through his hair. "Away. Out of town. I don't know."
"What are you gonna do if Tucker follows you? He could be watching you right now, waiting for you to go charging off like the Lone Ranger. You'd be out there, alone, with no backup. Come on, Jim. Think it through. If Tucker's really going to try anything, don't you want all the protection you can get around your family?" Pete argued.
Pete's words seemed to drain a lot of the fight out of Jim, and he dropped heavily back into his chair. "Yeah. I guess you're right. Maybe you should watch my family for few days," Jim finally said, trying to force some small measure of professionalism back into his voice.
"I think that's the best choice," Detective Simmons said with some relief. One family protected. Next, I go talk to Gillespie. If only we knew where Willard's run off to…
Sergeant MacDonald nodded in agreement. "Reed, I'll get a car out there right away. No need to give this guy any opportunities." He turned around and activated the intercom to call communications.
Pete let out a small sigh of relief also, glad that his partner wasn't going to try to protect his family on his own. This situation had him more worried than he wanted to admit, and if he was worried, he could imagine how frantic Jim had to be. Knowing someone would be watching over his partner's family helped ease Pete's mind. He hoped it would do the same for Jim, and keep him from letting this mess distract him when they were out on the streets. He wanted Jim's attention focused on whatever incidents they were dealing with. Too many distractions and Jim wouldn't need to worry about Tucker killing him. Some street punk would be just as happy to do it.
Glancing at his shocked partner flipping through that folder again, Pete realized they needed more information, and Jim wasn't up to processing it right now. He needed to get Jim out of the room. "Hey partner, don't you think you should give your wife a call first?" he asked. "Having a black and white start hanging around outside her door with no warning could really spook her."
Jim looked up at Pete, trying to pull his thoughts back to the present. "Yeah. Yeah, I should. If it's okay with you, Mac?"
"Sure, Jim. You know where the phone is. And remember, this is just a precaution. We don't think he's going to actually try anything," Mac called after Jim as he headed for the telephone.
Pete stayed behind, watching the younger man exit Mac's office, walk to the telephone, and reach for the handset. Instead of picking it up, Jim leaned his forehead against the wall and stood there for a minute, then finally picked up the phone and dialed his home. Pete watched until he saw Jim talking to someone, then turned back to his fellow officers in the office. Now that Jim was out of earshot, he had a few more questions for Mac and Detective Simmons. "Mac, how seriously are you taking this guy? How worried do we need to be?"
Mac and Simmons exchanged glances. The detective spoke first. "Malloy, we just don't know. Normally, we wouldn't be concerned. But this guy is a real nut. We just don't know what he's going to do."
Pete walked over to the desk, picked up the folders Tucker had kept on the other officers, and quickly flipped through Willard's folder. Jake Willard. I remember him. The Academy clown.
"What makes you think Reed's his main target, and not Willard or Gillespie?"
"We don't know who his first target going to be, Malloy. I'm going to meet with Deputy Gillespie next to get him some protection. He's a bachelor, though, so there's no family to worry about. And Willard," the detective paused, and Mac jumped in.
"We don't know where Willard is. He resigned from the force soon after the arrest. Strange as it seems, he later married Tucker's old girlfriend, a Lindsey Morgan. Last we heard he was working construction somewhere in northern California or Nevada. We're working on tracking him down."
Pete nodded. "So Jim's his most likely target, unless Tucker knows where Willard got off to. Great. Just great."
Mac cleared his throat as Jim returned to the office looking as worried and on edge as they had ever seen him.
"Mac, I need to go home. Jean's real shook up…" Jim's voice almost quavered.
Mac nodded. "Sure thing, Jim. Go get changed and come back here. Pete can escort you home."
He gave Reed a small smile, and the young officer nodded and ran for the locker room. Mac then turned to Pete. "Well? You wanna go home, too?"
Pete smiled at his sergeant. The smile faded as he thought about the nightmare his partner had fallen into. "No, thanks, Mac. I'll finish up the day, then stop by the Reeds' after work. Jim needs some time alone with Jean."
Later that evening…
Pete slowly cruised his borrowed Dodge Charger past the Reeds' home to the end of the block, turned onto the cross street, and then turned down the alley, checking his partner's small house from all angles. If Jim's protection was doing their job… Ah, there they are. As he approached the end of the alley, an unmarked car pulled in front of his. Pete stopped the car and waited as a plainclothes officer approached.
The officer stopped a few feet in front of the car, shaking his head as he recognized the driver of the Charger from the photographs he'd been given. He walked up to the driver-side window and leaned over. "Good evening, Officer Malloy." He reached into the car to shake hands with Pete. "Eric Gibbs, Foothill Division." He looked over the car. "So, who's this Leslie Walsh the car's registered to? Your girlfriend?"
Pete smiled. "A, um, friend. We had a date tonight, but she let me borrow her car instead," Pete explained.
"Checking up on us, are you?"
Pete shrugged his shoulders and grinned apologetically.
The officer grinned at him. "Don't worry. We've got your partner covered. Go on in and enjoy that chicken with him." He gestured toward the red and white striped buckets in the passenger seat. "Save a few scraps for us, okay?"
Pete parked his car in the driveway and walked up to the Reeds' front door. He rang the doorbell then called out, "Jim, it's me. Brought dinner for you guys."
Seconds later, Jim pulled the door open, hastily tucking his gun back into its holster with his other hand. "Hi, Pete. C'mon in."
Pete waved the bucket forward. "Thought you guys might want some dinner." He studied his partner, attempting to determine how well he was handling this situation. Jim was obviously nervous and trying unsuccessfully to hide it. Guests at the Reeds' weren't usually greeted with a drawn gun.
Jim sensed Pete's observation of him, and forced a smile onto his face, trying to look more relaxed than he felt. "Hey, fried chicken! Thanks, Pete. Jean's really not up to cooking tonight." Jim glanced back down the hallway, then called to his wife, "Jean, honey, Pete's here, and he brought some fried chicken for dinner!"
Jean came down the hallway with three-year old Jimmy following close behind her sucking his thumb. "Pete, thanks," she managed to stammer, then bit her lip, trying to stop it from shaking. Jim stepped to her side and wrapped an arm around her.
Pete was shocked at how bad she looked: pale, trembling… he smiled at her. "Hey, Jean, it's gonna be okay. Now where do you want this food?"
His words seemed to shake Jean into hostess mode. "The kitchen." She took the bucket away from Pete. "I'll go get some plates and stuff out for us."
As Jean and Jim headed for the kitchen, Pete squatted down to his godson's level. It was obvious his parent's fears were rubbing off on him. In contrast to the cheerful, energetic greeting he usually received from the child, tonight Jimmy had yet to speak one word or even crack a smile. "Hey, Jimmy, you like fried chicken, right?"
Jimmy nodded, not taking his thumb out of his mouth.
"Bet it tastes better than that thumb." Pete stuck his own thumb in his mouth. "Yef. Fwied hihen if muh beher."
Jimmy finally smiled. "Unca Pete, you too big to do that."
Pete puffed up his cheeks and snapped his thumb out of his mouth with a loud pop, causing his godson's smile to turn into giggles. "You're right, kiddo. So let's go get some of that chicken." Jimmy squealed with delight as Pete picked him up off the floor and tossed him over one shoulder to carry him into the kitchen.
Jean kept up her 'perfect hostess' routine through most of dinner, making sure everybody had enough food and keeping up light conversation, until Jimmy accidentally dumped his water glass all over himself. "JIMMY! Can't you be more careful?" Jean snapped as she jumped to her feet. Pete and Jim stared at her in shock; Jimmy, cold, wet and unaccustomed to being yelled at, screwed up his face and started wailing.
Pete looked from Jean to his crying godson to his partner, who was still staring at his wife in shock. He grabbed Jim's arm. "Jim, take care of your son," he told his partner in a quiet version of his training officer voice. As soon as Jim looked at him and nodded, Pete turned his attention to Jean. "Jean, let's go sit down in the living room for a minute, okay?" He gently led her over to the sofa. Behind them, he could hear Jim picking up his son and baby-talking to him as they headed back toward the boy's room.
Pete sat Jean down on the sofa before taking a seat next to her. He took one of her hands in his, trying to think of where to begin. Before he could say anything, she leaned forward and started sobbing quietly. Pete wrapped an arm around her shaking shoulders and let her cry herself out against his shoulder. When she seemed to be calming down, he settled her back against the sofa. "Feeling better now?"
Jean nodded. "Yes. I'm sorry. I'm sorry... It's just… I'm just so scared… I… I don't want to lose Jim."
Pete faked a reassuring smile. "Don't worry about Jim. I'm watching him all day, and other cops are watching all of you the rest of the time, got it? Tucker's not gonna get near Jim, or you two, either. I… we're not gonna let that happen."
"This isn't fair. What gives this guy the right to mess with us like this, anyway?" Jean sniffed and swiped at the tears still running down her face.
"He doesn't have the right, which is why we're gonna arrest him again." Pete paused for a minute, trying to push aside his anger at Tucker. He doesn't have any right to put you through this. None at all. "Jean, you know most of these threats turn out to be nothing. We're taking this guy a little more seriously because it seemed so organized. He's probably not gonna try anything, but if he does, we've got you protected. Trust me, okay?"
Jean nodded. "I do trust you Pete." She looked down at her hands. "Pete, I hope I'm not asking too much, but would you mind staying over here tonight? I know there are officers outside, but I'd feel better if you were here with us, if we weren't alone. I mean,…what if he manages to get by them… not that Jim can't take care of us, but… but he's a lot more nervous than he's letting on and I don't want to lose him…"
"And you'd feel more secure if someone with a little more, uh, objectivity was here?" Pete interrupted Jean's babbling explanation before the tears that were welling in her eyes started falling again.
Jean looked up at him with a small wobbly smile. "Yeah."
"Sure, Jean. If you want me here, I'm here." Pete let out a quiet sigh of relief. If he'd gone back to his apartment, he wouldn't have slept a wink, worrying about the Reeds' safety. Now that Jean had asked him to stay, he could at least be doing something to protect them. He handed Jean a tissue. "Now why don't you get cleaned up some before my godson comes back down here?"
She took the tissue from him with a quiet giggle. "I must look terrible. I'll probably scare Jimmy again."
Pete glanced over at her. She wasn't looking her best, but the small smile seemed genuine. "Nah. If those creatures on Sesame Street don't scare him, you won't."
"Pete! You're horrible!" Jean sat back against the sofa, pretending to glare at Pete, showing some of her usual spunk for the first time that evening.
A few minutes later, a toddler's giggles floated down the hallway and a pajama-clad Jimmy ran into the room, with his father close behind him. Jimmy ran to the sofa. "Unca Pete, I runned faster than Daddy!" he announced, lifting his arms so Pete would pick him up.
"You sure did, Jimmy." Pete acknowledged, picking up his godson and sitting him on his knee. "You won that race by a mile, at least." Jimmy just beamed back at him, a smile that was a miniature version of his father's.
"Only because he got a big head start." Jim grumbled.
"Jim, don't be a sore loser. I saw the race, and my godson beat you fair and square."
Jim frowned at Pete. "It was not fair. I had to get up off the floor first."
That frown was so like one of his godson's pouts that Pete couldn't help but laugh. Jean looked over at Jim and snickered, also seeing the resemblance. She patted the couch beside her. "Honey, come on and sit down. You and Jimmy can have a rematch later."
Jim dropped onto the couch beside Jean and draped an arm around her shoulders. Jean snuggled back against Jim and whispered something to her husband that Pete didn't even try to hear. Instead, he turned his attention to the toddler he held in his lap. "So, Sport, you gonna try out for the next Olympics? Bring a gold medal home, right?"
"Gold medal." Jimmy repeated back to him without any understanding of what that was.
"That's right. A gold medal for being the fastest kid in the world."
In response, Jimmy just looked at him and giggled. Then he squirmed out of Pete's grasp and crawled to his mother.
Pete looked over at the young family. Jimmy was snuggled sleepily in Jean's arms, and Jean was curled up against Jim, her head resting on his shoulder. They're gonna get through this just fine. They're all going to make it through, if I have to watch them twenty-four hours a day. Pete knew he had to protect Jim for Jean's sake, for his godson's sake, and also, he admitted, for his own sake. He didn't want to lose a partner, and friend, again, ever. And he sure wasn't going to lose Jim or his family to that good-for-nothing Tucker. Not if there was any little thing he could do to prevent it.
As Frank Tucker exited the small house set well back from the road on the outskirts of Las Vegas, he threw the keys to his ex-girlfriend's car in the air, and grabbed them on the way back down. "Monnie, cross one pig and one old girlfriend off that list," he laughed. He tossed the keys to his current girlfriend, Monica, before climbing into the car they had stolen in the escape.
Thirty minutes later, they had ditched their original stolen car in the city, and were back together in the second car. Monica looked at the notebook she had kept for Frank. "Where to next, Frank? Deputy Gillespie or Officer Reed?"
Frank silently cursed Monica for her carelessness in losing the folders she had compiled for him during their escape, but pushed the irritation away. What really mattered was that he was out, and free to take his revenge. Deputy Fishy or Pipsqueak Reed? Gillespie was the county deputy who put together the facts and identified him as the prime suspect. But Reed... that scrawny little pig had been the one to chase him down and arrest him. Frank felt a fresh surge of anger. "Reed. Reed goes down next."
Monica looked at the newspaper photograph of the officer, one of the few items recovered after she'd dropped Frank's precious little folders. "He's a cute one, isn't he?"
"That's what you think right now. He won't be for long, not after I'm through with him," Frank snarled. The frown slowly grew into an evil smile.
January 25, 3 a.m.
"Reed residence," Jim mumbled sleepily into the phone. No answer. Again. Dropping the phone back into its cradle, he stared at the ceiling for a minute, then rolled out of bed, walked over to the window and carefully peered out from behind the drapes. The street was quiet, deserted, as it should be at this time of night, but Jim couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. Give it a rest, Jim. Tucker's gone, left the state. He's probably living it up in Las Vegas right now. You're just nervous because your baby-sitters left. The officers watching the Reeds' house had been pulled after the car used in the escape had been found on the Strip in Las Vegas. Still… he turned around, walked over to Jean's side of the bed, and sat down. "Jean, honey, wake up." He shook her shoulder gently, hating to wake her up. Jimmy had kept them both up the night before with what the doctor said was just a bad cold. "Jean, open your eyes, honey."
"Nuhhh… go'way… tired." Jean muttered, rolling over onto her other side, away from him.
"C'mon, honey. Wake up. Just for a second here."
Jean moaned again, then flopped onto her back. "'kay. I'm awake."
"Jean, did you notice anything … unusual today? Phone calls? Any people or cars you didn't recognize?"
Jean stared up at him, trying to process information through her still-sleeping brain. "Some lady called-had the wrong number. And, uh, Bill and Wendy had friends or somebody visiting from Nevada."
"You sure they were visiting the Sellers?" Jim asked.
"Jim, I don't spy on our neighbors! All I know is the car was in front of their house and it had a Nevada license plate. Remember, that's where Wendy's from?" Jean blinked a few times, still trying to wake up. "What's wrong?"
"Nothin', honey. I'm just being a worrywart." He leaned over and kissed her. "Go back to sleep."
"Think I will." Jean rolled onto her side, curling up against his back as he sat on the bed. "Better than a hot-water bottle," she muttered. Within a few minutes, she was sound asleep again.
Jim reached down and gently brushed a lock of reddish-brown hair off her face before he carefully stood up, retraced his steps to the window and again checked the street outside. Still quiet. He returned to bed. Unlike his wife, he couldn't get back to sleep. That hinky feeling wouldn't go away. What if we're wrong? What if he's not gone?
January 25, 1 p.m.
"Huh?" Jim responded distractedly.
"You going to clear us or should I do it?" Pete asked. They had just started moving again after wrapping up a routine traffic citation. Well, it had been routine for him, at least. Jim, on the other hand, had almost acted like he'd never pulled a car over before. Pete had had to prompt his partner every step of the way.
"Oh, uh, yeah. I'll get it." Jim responded as he picked up the mic. "1-Adam-12, clear," he said before returning the mic to its holder and resuming staring out the window.
If it had only been that one traffic stop, Pete wouldn't have been concerned by Jim's behavior. But it wasn't. Jim had called Jean before they left the station that morning because he'd forgotten his lunch and wanted to apologize. Then they had stopped twice this morning so Jim could call his wife. He forgot to leave her the checkbook like he said he would, and he wanted her to know where it was. What was that other reason he'd given? It didn't matter; they were obviously all excuses.
Pete had written off Jim's need to keep in touch with Jean as leftover stress from the past week, complicated by the head cold his godson had picked up from somewhere. After that first night, Jim and Jean had remained remarkably calm throughout the stressful week, even joking about how nice it was to have "baby-sitters" who worked for free and teasing Pete about what a crimp his near-constant presence was having on their 'personal time'. "Hovering like Air-10" was how Jim had put it. Pete had smiled at the analogy. Jim, that helicopter keeps us out of a lot of trouble. And that's what I'm gonna do here, too.
Every now and then, the fear lurking behind the jokes showed itself, most notably when Jim insisted on changing both the door locks on his house after work one day. Pete had never thought of that task as particularly challenging, until he tried to do it in the dark, on a freezing cold night. Fortunately, Jim had insisted Jean stay inside, and she'd spent the time making the best hot cocoa Pete had tasted in a long time. And understandably, Jim had been on edge at work all week-a little crabbier with some of the irritating people they had to deal with, a little quicker to reach for his gun when a suspect acted hinky. Pete had kept a close eye on Jim, making sure he wasn't a danger to himself or anyone else and had let him take the back seat, as it were, on most of their calls.
Now, as Pete glanced at his partner, trying to figure out what was going on inside his head, he realized Jim looked awfully tired for someone who had just had a day off the day before. Pete poked his partner in the side. "Hey buddy, I thought you said that cough medicine had my godson sleeping like a log," he joked. "Why so tired?"
Jim jolted around, startled out of his thoughts, and his hand instinctively went to his gun. "What? What did you say, Pete?" His eyes scanned the area for any threat he may have missed.
"Whoa, partner! Didn't know it was such as sensitive subject." Pete gave his partner a smile he didn't really feel. What the hell is going on?
Jim looked at his posture and quickly moved his hands away from his gun, then busied himself checking the plate of a passing car against the hot sheet. "Sorry, Pete," he mumbled, too embarrassed to look at his partner.
That's all? Pete thought. He nearly draws his gun on ME and all he says is 'sorry'? Okay, that's it, partner. It's past time for a talk. He pulled the car over to the side of the road and stopped. "Jim, you have been jumpy all day. Either you tell me what's going on now, or we're going to go discuss it with Mac, okay?"
"It's nothing. Really, I'm sure it's just stress from this past week." Jim said cryptically. "Just little, stupid things turning me into a nervous wreck."
Pete gave Jim his best slightly exasperated look. "You want to explain what you're talking about?"
"No," Jim said, but seeing the glare Pete laid on him, he decided he'd better talk. "Uh, well, Jean and I got some strange phone calls yesterday and last night, um, this morning. You know, wrong numbers, a couple of hang-ups. Every car I see on our street looks suspicious. It's nothing except me going nuts." Jim tried to laugh it off, but failed miserably.
Pete shifted the car back into gear and whipped it into a tight U-turn, aiming the car for the station. "Jim, get on the radio and tell dispatch we're meeting Mac at the station. We're going to have a talk with him about getting your baby-sitters back."
"Pete, that's not necessary. I'm sure it's just wrong numbers. And the car was just our neighbor's friends. It's nothing. It's just a coincidence." Jim insisted. "Listen, if the same stuff happens tonight, I'll go talk to Mac first thing tomorrow morning."
Pete wasn't sure that waiting was a good idea, but if Jim didn't want to talk to Mac, he wasn't going to, and there was little Pete could do to change his mind. And maybe Jim was right--maybe it was as simple as a few wrong numbers spooking him. Pete's instincts told him it was more than that, but going to Mac had to be Jim's decision, and Jim had clearly decided he didn't want to take that step yet. Pete sighed. "Okay, partner. If that's the way you want to play it. But you call me or Mac tonight at the slightest hint of anything hinky, understand?"
"Okay." And that was the end of any conversation for the rest of the afternoon.
Adam-12's last call of the day, two teenagers fighting, came just fifteen minutes before the end of their shift. Although they processed the two boys as quickly as possible, it was an hour past quitting time before they finished. Jim left the station as soon as he could, not even bothering to change completely out of his uniform, stopping by the locker room only long enough to hang his gun belt in his locker and grab his jacket out of it. As it was, it was already dark when he arrived home to find Jean busy cooking a roast for their dinner and Jimmy already tucked into bed.
Jean turned away from checking on the dinner to give her husband his welcome-home hug and ask how his day had gone.
"Slow. I wanted to be here with you and Jimmy. How is he today?" Jim responded to her question with one of his own.
"Better. He's not coughing as much, but that medicine has him really out of it. He's already in bed, sleeping."
"That's good." At his wife's startled look, Jim explained. "At least he's not bugging you to play outside, or go to the park or anything. By the way, were there any more phone calls or anything today?"
"No. Nothing happened today. The only phone calls were from you, worrying about us. The Sellers' friends weren't even there today," Jean replied. "By the way, can you take the trash out? Since you didn't want me going outside today, it's piled up and it's starting to stink." Jean scrunched up her nose in distaste.
His wife's grimace had the effect she desired. Jim smiled and kissed her nose before picking up the bag of trash near the kitchen door. "Your nose is too cute for you to take the chance of it freezing like that," he joked as he walked out the door with the trash.
As he put the bags in the garbage cans out at the back alley and began walking back to his house, Jim thought he sensed something move behind him. He spun around to face the seemingly empty alleyway. Seeing nothing out of place, he turned back toward his house. "You're letting your imagination get carried away. Get a hold of yourself, Jim," he told himself. That was his last thought before he knew he heard someone behind him. A split second later, before he had a chance to react, a hard object struck the back of his head. His vision went gray around the edges as he fell to his knees. Jim reached up, felt the lump on the back of his head and tried to blink the fogginess out of his brain. At the sound of a mocking laugh in front of him, Jim looked up and caught a brief glimpse of the frightening face he'd last seen on a photograph in Mac's office. Then the man's fist connected with his jaw, knocking him into unconsciousness.
Frank Tucker laughed quietly, then knelt down beside Jim Reed's unconscious body and relieved Jim of his gun. "Here, Monnie. You keep his gun. I've already got one."
Monica took the gun from Frank and shoved it into a pocket on her jeans, watching as Frank roughly restrained Jim's arms behind his back with the prison guard's handcuffs. Soon afterward, Jim started to regain consciousness. He opened his eyes to find Frank Tucker squatting beside him, calmly pointing a gun at his head. "Get up," Tucker demanded.
Jim slowly rolled over, then pulled himself into a sitting position. "No." Right now, his only thought was keeping Tucker out of his house, away from his wife and child.
Tucker didn't like that answer. Slipping the gun into his belt, Tucker grabbed Jim's arm and pulled him to his feet. "Wrong answer, pig," he snarled as his fist connected with Jim's ribcage, causing him to stagger backwards, toward his house. Tucker got a grip on his arm before he fell to the ground again and dragged him toward the back door.
Jean had just begun to worry-what took so long to walk to the trash cans and back, anyway?-when the kitchen door suddenly flew inward. She screamed in surprise, then spun around to face the door. "Jim! You scared…" Her voice trailed off as her husband was pushed into the room with his hands bound behind him and fell to the floor. He was followed by a tall, heavyset man and a woman, both carrying guns. Jean knew they had to be that prison escapee and his girlfriend. For a minute, all she could do was lean heavily against the kitchen counter and stare at the strangers in her house, her brain refusing to accept what her eyes were telling her. No. No. This isn't happening. They're in Las Vegas, not in my kitchen. A quiet moan from Jim finally convinced her this was real, and she ran to his side and knelt beside him, helping him to sit up against the wall. "Jim?"
He looked at her, a sick expression on his face. "Honey… I'm sorry. I blew it." He winced as breathing sent a spasm of pain through his bruised ribs. "Oh honey, I'm so sorry. I thought..."
A loud laugh from Tucker interrupted him. "Isn't this just a pretty picture, Monnie. Like one of them Norman Stonewall pictures." He stood in front of the couple, laughing at his own joke.
Jean watched the expression on Jim's face change as Tucker stood over them. Jim glared up at him, seething anger quickly covering up the fear she'd seen seconds before. Tucker seemed to find Jim's anger amusing, laughing harder as he stepped back from his prisoners to whisper something to his girlfriend. Jim looked down at the floor, closing his eyes as he tried to get control of his raging emotions. Leaning against his shoulder, Jean could feel the tension in his muscles as he clenched his hands into fists behind his back. Finally, Jim looked up from the floor. Judging by the determined look on his face, it looked like he'd managed to push away some of the fear and anger she knew he was feeling. Jean tried to follow his example, knowing Jim needed her to stay calm.
Beside her, Jim was looking around the kitchen, taking stock of their situation, searching for any possible means of escape. His survey of the room stopped at the stove as a plan began to form in his mind. Jim spent a few more seconds studying the scene, then turned his attention back to Tucker, trying to cover the fear he knew must be visible with what he hoped was an arrogant expression. "Tucker. Get over here."
Jean stared at her husband, shocked at his rudeness. What was he thinking, being so demanding of a man who was holding them at gunpoint? Jean pushed those thought away. Jim knows what he's doing. He does.
The escapee walked over to them, pointed that gun right at Jim and growled down at them, "Whadda you want, cop-boy?"
Jim glanced around the room again before continuing. "Y'know, my partner's coming over for dinner. He should be here in about a half-hour. There's a roast in the oven if you want to look. We only have roast when company's coming-you know how expensive it is now, considering how little cops make. I need to call him and tell him dinner's off tonight, unless you want him to get involved too."
Tucker and Jean were both confused by Jim's revelation, and Jim used the opportunity to begin to stand up. "Sit down!" Tucker yelled. "You ain't callin' no one. Your lady can do it. But any funny stuff and you both die, right now, got it, pig?"
Just what Jim didn't want-focusing this loser's attention on his wife. But it was too late to turn back now. Jim turned to Jean. "Go on, honey. Better call Pete now before he leaves his place. Just tell him something came up. He'll understand." He looked right into her eyes. Understand, honey? Oh, honey, please understand what you need to do…
Jean looked from her husband to the telephone and back to Jim. "Okay," she whispered. She slowly got to her feet, trying to steady herself so Jim wouldn't see her shaking, walked to the phone and dialed Pete's number from memory. As she dialed the familiar number, she tried to think of what she could say to alert Pete to the danger they were in. The phone seemed to ring forever, but it was probably only three times. Please answer, Pete. Please answer, Pete. Jean repeated the words to herself each time the phone rang. Please answer…
"Hello, Pete Malloy."
Jean nearly sobbed with relief, but quickly tried to compose herself. Jim's counting on you. You can do this. "Hi, Pete, this is Jean. Listen, abo..."
Jean? Remembering his last conversation with his partner that afternoon, Pete cut her off. "Everything okay over there? Is Jim okay?"
"Sure, Jim's fine. Everything's just fine." Jean tried to keep her voice as calm as possible, for the benefit of the two criminals.
You mean everything's NOT fine, Jean, don't you? You just can't say that, Pete thought. She didn't sound like herself at all-none of her usual perkiness, an almost unnatural calm. "Jean, can anyone else hear me?"
"No, Pete, of course not. But about dinner tonight. I know how much you were looking forward to coming over here tonight, but we're going to have to cancel on you. Something came up."
Something or someone. "Jean, is there someone in the house with you?" Pete asked.
Jean felt a small stirring of panic. What do I say? She tried to calm herself, think of how this conversation would be going under normal circumstances. "Yes, Pete. You figured it out. I burned dinner again." Jean said in a singsong tone, like she was repeating something he'd said to her.
Pete suppressed a burst of anger at himself for the action he hadn't taken earlier that afternoon. However, it was too late to change that now. It might be too late, period, for Jim and his family, and he was at least partly responsible. Why hadn't he insisted Jim talk things over with Mac? He was the senior officer, after all. He pushed those thoughts aside…there would be time for regrets later. Right now, he had this one opportunity to fix this mess. He tried to think of what information they needed to know. "Good, Jean, you're doing great. I'm assuming it's Tucker? Anyone else with him? How many people, total?
"Yes, maybe we can do a picnic this weekend. Say two... two o'clock Saturday?"
"Okay. There are two people there? Tucker and his girlfriend?" Pete asked.
"Looks like it," Jean replied.
"I'm assuming they're armed, is that right Jean? How many guns do they have? What kind--tell me Griffith Park if it's a shotgun or rifle; the beach if it's a handgun."
"Two o'clock is better for us. And… and the beach sounds perfect."
Pete didn't want to ask the next question, but they had to know. "Jean, where's Jimmy? Is he okay?"
The question almost shattered Jean's composure as the danger her baby was in hit her. God, please God, keep him asleep. Keep him safe. Jean bit her lip to stop herself from screaming, then realized Pete was still waiting for a reply. "You know he had a hard day at work. When I wrecked dinner, he decided to turn in early. He's already getting ready for bed," she finally said, her forced calmness stretched to the limit.
Pete wanted to stay on the phone with Jean, but it didn't sound like she could keep up the act beyond another few seconds. He was surprised she'd held together as long as she had. Besides, Tucker would get suspicious if this conversation went on much longer. "Jean, listen, we've got to get off the phone before they suspect something. I'm going to call Mac and get over there. You guys just hang on. We'll get all of you out, okay?"
"Okay, Pete," Jean replied, trying to force the fear out of her voice. "Sounds good. Jim and I will see you then. Two on Saturday. Bye-bye." Jean hung the phone up but didn't turn to face the criminals yet. Pete understood. I can't believe it actually worked. I can't believe we actually pulled it off. I don't think they suspect anything yet. I wonder how long Pete's going to need to get here.
Frank tired of waiting. He stalked over to her, grabbed her arm, and spun her around to face him. "Well, did you convince him to stay home?" he demanded.
Jean nodded. "Yes."
"Good. Now get yourself back over there with your pig husband and sit down." Tucker shoved her in the direction of her husband.
Stumbling across the room, Jean noticed the angry stare Jim had fixed on Tucker. She slid down the wall to sit next to her husband. Is there any way to let Jim know help's on the way? "Jim, hon, Pete says he understands about dinner. He's going to call his buddy Mac and make some other plans for tonight. We'll just get together some other time."
Jim looked at her, and the slightest bit of a smile crossed his face. "Perfect," he whispered. Jean knew he was referring to more than just the coming help.
DAMN, Pete thought as he slammed down the phone on his end, DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN. Why didn't I insist he go talk to Mac earlier? Why didn't I just drive him to the station, haul him into Mac's office, and throw him in a chair? Picking up the phone again, he dialed Mac's number at the station. Not surprisingly, the sergeant was still there. "Mac, we have a problem..." Pete began.
Back at the Reeds' house, five long minutes went by. Tucker kept pacing across the floor in front of the couple and occasionally smirking at Jim while his girlfriend stood silently behind him. Finally, he squatted down in front of Jim and pointed the gun directly at him. "Hey little boy blue, betcha want to know what I'm thinking," he said.
A thousand smart-mouthed replies sprung into Jim's head, but it wouldn't do any good to annoy this guy. "I figured you'd tell me when you felt like talking," he finally said.
Tucker stood up and started pacing again. "I'm tryin' to decide if I'm gonna kill you or your wife," he said, smirking again. "Y' see, you put me in the slammer a few years ago, and I'm still mad about that. But while I was locked up, my girl ran off and married some jerk. So I figure you're responsible for takin' my girl away from me. Maybe I'll take yours away from you so we'll be even."
Tucker stopped talking and pacing long enough to look Jean over. "Then again, maybe I'll just take her with me as a replacement. She sure is better looking than my old girl." Tucker squatted down again and leered at Jean, who unconsciously hugged her knees up closer to her chest and dropped her head down onto her knees. Tucker laughed loudly at Jean's discomfort, then turned to Jim. "What do you think, Jimmy boy?"
Jim could feel all the blood draining from his face, but he didn't want to show how much this guy shook him. He had to do something, had to get Tucker's attention away from Jean and back onto him. He focused a contemptuous look on Tucker. "I think you're being kinda stupid here. You should put the gun down and leave. You're already in enough trouble as it is without hurting anyone else. Give it up now and ..."
Without warning, Tucker viciously struck Jim across the face with the back of his hand, very effectively shutting him up and knocking him to the floor. "I'm not turning myself in, stupid pig. I'm not going back to jail ever."
As Tucker got up and paced angrily across the room, Jean helped her husband sit up again. The side of his face was already an angry red, swelling from both Frank's earlier blow and this latest one. "Oh, honey," she whispered, biting her lip to keep from crying.
Jim turned to meet her eyes. "I'm okay. Just hang on. Pete will be here soon," he whispered. "Okay?"
When Jean nodded, Jim returned to studying the two criminals, trying to find any weakness he could use to get his family to safety. Tucker was still pacing back and forth; Monica was leaning against the counter, glaring angrily at Tucker. If looks could kill… She's angry at Tucker? What for?… Those comments about his old girl… and Jean… nothing about her… She's thrown away her whole life for him, and he doesn't even care about her… maybe that was something he could use.
He turned his attention back to Tucker. "If you don't want to go back to jail, why'd you come here? It seems like coming back here is the surest way to get caught." The escapee ignored Jim's questions, so he tried again, asking, "Just where have you been for the last few days? We thought you were gone for good."
Tucker stopped pacing, looked down at Jim and Jean and smirked again. "I had some 'personal business' to take care of before I got to you. Isn't that right, Monnie?"
Monica continued to glare at him. "Glad to have helped out," she snapped.
"Personal business?" Jim asked.
"Yeah, my old girlfriend. You know, she married a cop-that Willard fellow, Jake, I think his name was. Had to go teach her and her new man a little lesson. Nobody takes what's mine without paying for it." Tucker laughed again. "Don't know how long they remembered it, though." Tucker suddenly stopped laughing and stopped pacing to stand in front of Jim again. "Speaking of taking things, it seems you took something that belonged to me. Three years of my life!" he growled, viciously kicking Jim's leg right below his knee. "I'm still deciding how you're going to pay me back for that, little boy blue."
Jim winced at the impact, but managed to stay sitting upright this time. "Tucker, it wasn't me that sent you to prison. If anyone's responsible..."
Just then, Jim was interrupted by the last sound he wanted to hear. A small wail from the back of the house. "Mommmmmy. Mommmmmmmmmy. Daaaaaady." He suddenly felt as if someone had stabbed an icicle into his chest, and from the muffled sob Jean made, he knew she felt the same way.
The sound of another person in the house startled at least one of the criminals. Tucker quickly knelt down beside Jim and roughly backhanded him across the face again, knocking him into his wife this time. "You didn't tell me you had a brat back there, Jimmy. Monnie, go get the little runt before it wakes the entire neighborhood. I think it's time for the Reed family reunion." He chuckled at his own joke. No one else did.
Beside Jim, Jean moaned a muffled "no, not my baby" as she buried her head on her husband's shoulder.
With one gun-wielding criminal out of the room, Jim saw a possible opportunity. He had to get Jean out of this mess somehow. Not surprisingly, she looked like she was ready to fall apart. To be honest, he didn't feel much better himself. "Hey, Frank," he called up to the escapee, "how about we move into the living room. This floor's getting cold and hard, and if you make my kid sit down here, he's not going to stop crying. Come on, be reasonable here." And maybe, maybe, while we're moving, I can get that gun away from you, he thought silently.
Tucker stared down at him, and for a second Jim regretted saying anything. "Yeah, okay," he said as he reached down and hauled Jean to her feet. "But I'm keeping this gun on your wife until we get there. You get yourself up, and don't even think of trying anything." Jean let out a small whimper as the villain tightened his grip on her arm and jammed the gun into her side. For Jim, it was just as much work to keep his anger under control as it was to pull himself up off the floor.
Before they could move anywhere, Monica stalked back into the room, pulling Jimmy along by his right arm. "See, kid. I told you your Mom was down here." Monica snapped at the toddler.
Jean tried to pull away from Tucker. "Please. Let me go."
Tucker looked down at the crying child. "Fine. But you better shut him up, or I'll do it for you." He shoved her toward Monica and Jimmy, turning to aim his gun at Jim.
Jean ran over and picked up her frightened son, holding his head tightly against her shoulder to muffle his choking sobs. "He.. he needs his cough medicine," she stammered. "It's in the refrigerator."
Monica moved to the refrigerator and pulled out the bottle. "Here." She handed the medicine to Jean, then watched as Jean gave Jimmy a good-sized dose.
A minute later, Frank had had enough. "Okay. Let's move on into the other room, like little boy blue wanted. You first." He gestured toward Jim with the gun. The small group moved into the living room, where Tucker motioned for Jim to take a seat on the sofa before shoving Jean and Jimmy down beside him.
Taking care of Jimmy gave Jean something to do besides worry about their current situation. In a few minutes, her quiet words and rocking had quieted Jimmy down considerably, but the little boy was still whimpering. She felt his forehead, finding it still too warm. He's sick and now this. He knows something's wrong. Strangers in his home, pulling him out of bed and hurting his wrist, shoving Mommy and Daddy around, waving guns around. Maybe when he wakes up he'll think it was just a bad dream. Maybe I'll wake up and find it was all a bad dream. Jean picked up Jimmy's right arm, looking at the ugly red marks Monica's grasp had left there. She glared up at Monica, tempted to yell at her about hurting an innocent baby.
Jim apparently anticipated what she was going to do, and nudged her gently with his knee. When she looked over at him, he mouthed, "Not now." Jean glanced over at Jim, wishing she could be as calm as was right now. How can he do that? I saw the hurt and anger in his eyes when he looked at Jimmy. How can he just calmly sit there? How can he not do something? Jean again looked over at her husband, who had now turned his attention back to the two criminals. Suddenly the answer hit Jean. Because he's in 'policeman mode.' Somehow, he's treating this like any other situation that comes up on his job. 'Sit tight and wait for backup', isn't that what he said once?
Jean was half-right. Facing criminals in his home, Jim had turned to the tools he'd learned at the Academy, from years of experience on the streets and from Pete to deal with the situation. But the calmness was just an illusion. His face hurt like the blazes, his hands were going numb from the handcuffs, his leg hurt enough he thought something might be broken, two invaders, one armed with his gun, threatening him and his wife while she desperately tried to rock their son back to sleep. He wanted to do something, but right now, he didn't seem to have a lot of options. Where the hell was Pete?
A couple of houses down the block, in the garage of one of Jim's neighbors, Pete Malloy was pacing the floor. What was taking so long to get things moving? Mac had called out a SWAT team-they had better training for this kind of situation, he said. This wasn't really Pete's area of expertise, he said. Right, Pete thought, two thugs invade my partner's home, take him and his family prisoner and it's not my area.
In the back of the garage, Mac was briefing the team on the situation. "Now the man we suspect is holding Reed and his wife is a prison escapee. He swore revenge on the three officers he held responsible for capturing him, including Jim Reed. We just found out an hour ago that he's already killed one of the other two officers-Jake Willard, who used to be a cop here. He also killed Willard's wife."
The SWAT commander took over from Mac. "Normally, we'd try to talk him out, but this guy's got nothing to lose. The psych boys say Tucker is living for his revenge now. If he knows we're here, Reed's dead. He'll kill Reed right away, just to complete his plans. So we're going in unannounced...."
Pete forced himself to stop pacing the floor and leaned against the garage wall, listening as the SWAT commander continued outlining his plan to resolve "the situation" to his team. It sounded simple enough-get the baby, as they insisted on calling his godson, out first, and then go in with sharpshooters who would take down or capture the two criminals, hopefully without injuring Jim or Jean. If that's what they were going to do, Pete knew he had to be part of the first team in. He decided it was time to speak up. "Captain Johnson, your plan looks good on paper, but you forgot one thing."
The Captain gave him a look that would have melted a patrol car. Apparently he wasn't used to a lowly street cop challenging his plans. Mac also glared at him, but the anger in his expression was obviously caused by worry and resignation. He'd known Pete was going to insist on being a part of the dangerous rescue. In the tense silence that followed his challenge, Pete stared at the two senior officers unflinchingly, unintimidated by their anger.
"Officer Malloy, exactly what would that one thing be?" Johnson finally asked.
"Little kids cry when they wake up in the middle of the night. Especially when they get awakened by strangers wearing black masks. You don't want Jimmy crying--he's got one good set of lungs on him. It would really mess up your element of surprise." Didn't hurt to remind them that "the baby" had a name, either.
"And you think the baby, uh... Jimmy, won't cry if he sees you?"
"Jimmy's used to seeing me around. I am his godfather, you know. I think I'd have a much better chance than your men. No offense." Pete knew he was staking his career on this, but some things were more important than promotions. Like the life of his godson. And his godson's parents.
"Well, Mac, he does make a good point there. You willing to let him go in with us?" Johnson asked.
Mac looked in Pete's direction. "Let me talk to him for a minute," he told Johnson. Mac walked over to Pete and led his senior officer to a quiet corner of the garage. "Pete, I know you want to help Jim, but are you sure you should do this?"
Pete looked at his friend. "Mac, Jim's my partner. I gotta do whatever I can to protect him and his family. Besides, I promised Jean I'd be there. She's… they're both counting on me."
"You already gave them floor plans of the house, including Jimmy's exact location. They can handle it from here." Mac argued. "Pete, you know as well as I do, you're too close to this situation. You're more likely to make some stupid, careless mistake; get yourself or someone else killed."
"Mac, I know what I'm doing. I'll be careful."
"Okay, Pete. It's your decision. Go talk to Johnson," Mac sighed quietly. As much as he didn't want to admit it, their chances of getting Reed out alive were pretty low, in light of what had happened to Jake and Lindsey Willard. Maybe sending Pete in was the Reeds' best chance. Mac knew Pete would do anything, whatever it took, to protect his partner and his partner's family. Maybe that determination would enable him to pull this one off. He suppressed another worried sigh. And maybe he'll manage to keep himself alive at the same time…
Johnson's booming voice carried across the garage as Pete finished speaking to him, "Okay, Malloy, see Mills for some gear. You can't go in dressed in that uniform. Too many shiny parts. We move in fifteen minutes."
Jim glanced at the clock on the fireplace mantle. Thirty minutes had gone by since they moved into the living room; over forty-five since Jean's call to Pete. Okay, partner, you should be here any time now. I know you're gonna try to help Jimmy first. Jim looked over at his wife and their son, cradled in her arms, and fought down a wave of panic. I gotta get you out of here, Baby. I can't let him hurt you. But how? How do I get you two where Pete can help you?
He reviewed their situation again. Jimmy had finally dropped off to sleep again, but that was the only change. Aching head, aching leg, numb hands, Frank still pacing around waving the gun about, Monica still standing around looking like the spare wheel. Like a very irritated spare wheel. Like a spare wheel who was no longer convinced the path she was on was the right one. Jim had noticed her occasional glances at Jimmy, and suddenly remembered the glaring omission from that folder she'd put together on him-Jimmy's birth announcement. Maybe… maybe she never wanted to involve Jimmy… Maybe... maybe there was a way to save his family
"Hey, Frank, over here," Jim called.
Frank walked over and deliberately stomped, hard, on Jim's foot. "Whatta you want now, little boy blue?" he asked.
Jim waited until the pain in his toes subsided some before speaking. "Jimmy's sleeping now. Why don't you let my wife take him back to bed? He'll stay asleep better, so you won't have to worry about him waking up and making a lot of noise again."
Frank looked over at Jean and the sleeping toddler in her arms. "Well, OK. Monnie, take the lady and her brat back to his room. It's past his bedtime," he said with a smirk, "Oh, and Monnie, if you here any odd noises from down here, kill them both." Monica nodded at Frank as Jean stood up with Jimmy still in her arms.
Monica grabbed Jean's arm and gave her a rough shove toward the hallway. Holding her sleeping son, Jean stumbled forward. The fear that she was never going to see her husband alive again suddenly gripped her, and she glanced back at the sofa hoping to get one more look into his eyes. Jim didn't see her, too intent on calmly glaring at Tucker. Why won't he look at me? He must be planning something. Oh, God, please protect him. Protect all of us.
Monica gave her another shove down the hall toward Jimmy's room and then a final push through the doorway into the child's room. Jean stumbled into the dark room, then stopped just inside the doorway and pulled her son tighter against her. Something isn't right here. It feels... crowded? she thought, then forced herself to continue walking forward. Stay calm. One foot in front of the other. Just keep moving. Whatever the other presence in the room was, she needed to stay calm enough to deal with it. The insistent voice in her brain kept repeating the same message. We're not alone in here.... Jean fought to keep from panicking as the door slowly swung shut behind her and Monica.
Frank stared after Monica and Jean as they left the room, then turned back to Jim. "Monica didn't tell me you had a kid," he snarled at Jim. "That could mess up my plan." He glanced down at his watch.
"And just what is your plan, Frank?" Jim wasn't sure he wanted to know, but he needed to keep Tucker talking, keep him distracted from any noises that may come from the back of the house.
Frank took a step toward to Jim and leveled the gun at the officer's head. "Bang bang, you're dead," he laughed as he pantomimed firing the gun. "But first, in a few hours, you're gonna call Deputy Gillespie and have him meet us in Griffith Park."
Tucker's words hit Jim harder than he thought they would. You're dead…you're dead… Jim glanced at the clock again. Pete should be here with help any time now. I gotta trust Pete. He'll get Jean and Jimmy out. I've done all I can for them. They're all that matters now… Jim took a deep breath to steady himself, trying to push those thoughts away. He needed to focus on his plan of keeping Tucker distracted. "And why would I lead Gillespie into a trap like that, hmm?"
Frank chuckled. "Forgot to tell you that, I guess. You'll do it. You don't want your brat growing up an orphan. We'll be taking your wife with us, and if he doesn't show up, alone, they'll find her dead body in the park tomorrow. Probably after they find yours here. So you can see how the little brat complicates matters. Take him or leave him?"
Neither plan sounded like good option to Jim, so he kept his mouth shut. Hurry, Pete, hurry. We're running out of time…
Ten minutes. It had taken the members of the SWAT team and Pete ten minutes to silently advance through the backyards of several of Jim's neighbors and sneak up to the back bedroom of the Reed's house. Pete made a mental note to help Jim work on reinforcing the window in Jimmy's room. It wasn't secure enough; Mills had opened it in a matter of seconds, without a sound. All that work replacing the door locks, when the real weakness was the windows. Then he remembered that if things didn't go just right here tonight, it wouldn't really matter.
Pete was the first through the window, in case Jimmy was awake. Not that they needed to worry, Pete saw as he climbed in-Jimmy wasn't in his bed at all. Damn. That blows Johnson's great plan. Within a few minutes Mills and Zavala, two members of the SWAT team, were in the room also. Other officers waited outside the window; still others were covering all other possible exits from the small house.
Before they had a chance to discuss what to do, Zavala heard the sound of people moving in the hallway and motioned for Pete and Mills to take cover against the wall beside the doorway. Mills ducked behind the door, Pete behind Jimmy's small dresser on the other side of the door. Zavala kicked out the nightlight before seeking a hiding place himself. The resulting darkness made the trio nearly invisible. The door swung open as the three stood, guns drawn in the darkness.
The light from the hallway silhouetted the figures in the doorway. To Pete's surprise and relief Jean was the first through the door, carrying a sleeping Jimmy in her arms. She was followed by a woman carrying a gun that looked like the snub-nosed .38 Jim carried off-duty. As soon as they had cleared the doorway, the door slowly swung shut and Mills' voice floated out of the darkness in a subdued whisper "One sound, one move out of you and I pull the trigger. You want to die? No? Then put the gun down, lie face down on the floor, arms out to your sides. Not a word."
At Mills' words, Zavala and Pete stepped out from their hiding places. The woman glanced around the room at the officers surrounding her. Pete watched as the expression on the woman's face went from irritation to outright anger. She didn't respond to Mills' commands, just stood still with the gun pointed right at Jean's back, only a few feet away from her.
Pete didn't like the way this was going, not at all. The woman looked to be right on the edge, and he didn't know which way she was going to go. He did know one thing: if she was going to shoot someone, it was not going to be Jean or his godson, not while he was here to prevent it. Keeping his gun trained on the woman, Pete slowly and deliberately stepped into her line of fire, putting himself between her and Jean while gently pushing Jean behind him. He silently started into her angry eyes. "Do what he said, lady," he growled at the woman.
Monica glared at Pete for a few tense seconds, then sighed heavily and lowered the gun. "That idiot. I told him this was too risky. I told him we'd get caught. I'm not dying for his stupid plan," she hissed quietly. She knelt down, laid the gun and the floor and shoved it toward Mills before slowly following the rest of Mills' instructions. Pete and Mills both kept her covered while Zavala moved in and handcuffed her.
As soon as he was sure the woman was restrained, Pete holstered his gun and quickly turned to check on his partner's family. He found Jean still holding her son tightly against her, watching the arrest, her eyes darting between the woman lying handcuffed on the floor and Pete. She opened her mouth, trying to say something, but couldn't seem to get any words together. She was breathing way too fast, way too short. In a few seconds, she was going to either start screaming hysterically or pass out cold, or both.
Pete couldn't let Jean give into either reaction. Not yet, at least. Not while Jim was still in danger. Any noise from back here could tip off Tucker that his plan had been blown. He embraced her tightly, snuggling her against his chest, effectively muffling any noise she might make. "Jean, it's okay. We're here now," he whispered "Sshh. Sshh. Not a sound. You and Jimmy are safe now. It's okay. You're safe now." He held her tight until the rapid breathing slowed to a more normal rate. She still didn't look too steady on her feet, so he sat her down on Jimmy's bed.
Jean looked up at him, tears running down her cheeks. "Pete. You made it."
"Sure we did. I can't let anything happen to you," Pete whispered. "My godson needs his parents around, right?" He quickly looked her over, but didn't see any obvious injuries. "You two are okay? They didn't hurt you?"
Jean shook her head. "No." she whispered, swiping at the tears with her free hand. "Pete, you have to help Jim. Please." She covered her mouth to stifle another sob.
Pete sat down beside Jean and wrapped his arm around her shoulders "Jean, that's why I'm here. We're not leaving until all of you are safe. Now, can you tell me exactly where Jim is?"
Jean sniffed, then whispered. "Living room sofa. The middle seat. Please, help him."
"We are, Jean. First, we need to get you two out of here." he responded and led her to the window. Gently taking his still-sleeping godson out of Jean's arms, Pete handed the child out to Captain Johnson. "Okay Jean, now it's your turn. The captain and I will help you out."
"No. No. I can't leave Jim," Jean protested, her voice barely audible. "I can't abandon him..."
Pete resisted the urge to shove Jean out the window to safety. He took her small hands in his and looked into her eyes, which were overflowing with tears again. "Jean, it will be easier to help Jim if we know and he knows you and Jimmy are safe. Please. Just get out of here. It's what he would want."
Reluctantly, Jean nodded and then let Pete assist her out the window and into Johnson's hands. Monica, now handcuffed and, thanks to the rifle Zavala was holding inches from her face, silent, was assisted out the window next.
As the other officers assisted Monica out the window, Pete reviewed the progress of the operation. Phase One had gone better than expected. Not only had they extracted 'the baby', they had gotten Jean out and reduced the number of criminals by half. Pete was anxious to move onto Phase Two-rescuing Jim Reed from the psycho in his living room.
Pete walked over to the window and lightly grabbed Mills' arm to get his attention. "Jean said Jim's in the living room, on the sofa. I'm going to go check it out."
Mills tried to grab his arm. "Malloy, wait up," he whispered.
Pete ignored him as he continued to walk down the hallway, and a minute later, he heard Mills come up behind him. They walked the few steps down the hallway until they were in position to see into the living room, hopefully without being seen by Tucker. Pete thought Jim might be able to see them from his location on the couch.
Pete stepped a little further forward so Mills could get a better view. For someone being held prisoner by an insane murderer, Jim didn't look too bad-bruises on both sides of his face and he was holding his right leg at an odd angle. On the other hand, Tucker looked like the irrational escapee he was, waving his gun about in front of Jim's face, pacing around. This situation couldn't get much worse.
Mills looked back at Malloy. "Need to get him pointing that gun somewhere else," Mills whispered.
"You're telling me," Malloy whispered back. He looked back into the living room and saw Jim glance around the room, his gaze stopping briefly on the hallway. That's right, Jim, I'm here…
As the minutes ticked on, Frank became more agitated. Five minutes went by. Then ten. Finally Frank had had enough. "What takes so long to put one little brat back in his bed, little boy blue?" he asked.
Jim shrugged as best he could. "Dunno. It just takes a while to get a kid in bed sometimes." And hopefully, he's not there anymore. If I guessed right, maybe Monica's let them go. Or Pete got here with help….
Tucker stopped pacing in front of Jim. "Get up, we're going to go find out."
From his position on the couch, Jim scanned the living room one more time before responding to Tucker. With Jean and Jimmy out of the room, and Monica gone with them, this was probably his best chance to try to overpower Tucker. His gaze stopping briefly on the hallway as a shadow caught his eye. As far as he knew, there was nothing in the hallway to cast shadows. Did it just move, too? If he actually saw what he thought he had, that was not Jean, little Jimmy, or Monica.
"Okay, give me a second here. It's hard to get off this sofa with my hands..." Jim began.
In response, Tucker leaned down, grabbed Jim's arm and jerked him to his feet. As Jim was pulled up, he got a better view of the hallway. It took only a second to recognize the familiar outline of his partner shadowed against the wall. Pete! As the realization of who the shadow was hit him, he took action, jumping forward, slamming into Tucker and knocking both of them off-balance. The two men fell to the floor, but Tucker somehow managed to keep a grip on his stolen gun. Over his head, Jim thought he heard the familiar voice of his partner yelling something, and he tried to roll himself away from the criminal to give Pete a better shot. Tucker was too fast for him. The butt of the revolver connected with the side of Jim's head, and he slumped to the ground, fighting to remain conscious. This was a bad idea. Should've waited for Pete…
Malloy and Mills kept their silent watch from the hallway, waiting for an opportunity to move in. Suddenly there was a sharp exchange of words from the room. "...go find out." Tucker was saying. Then Jim's voice: "Give me a second here. It's hard to get off this sofa with my hands ..." Malloy watched Tucker haul Jim to his feet, watched Jim either fall into or jump into Tucker, knocking them both to the floor.
Pete sprang out into the living room. "Give it up, Tucker. It's over!" he yelled, trying to keep his gun aimed at Tucker. The way the escapee and Reed were struggling on the floor, he really didn't have a good shot at Tucker, and he sure didn't want to shoot Jim by accident. Behind him, he heard Mills calling the rest of the team in.
The criminal didn't seem to get the message. He slugged Jim on the head with the gun he was still somehow holding, stunning the young man and causing him to drop limply to the floor.
"Drop the gun now, Tucker!" Pete repeated his earlier demand as Tucker rolled over, scrambled to his knees and started to aim the gun at the back of Reed's head. Pete didn't give him time to finish. He squeezed the trigger on his gun, and Tucker jerked backwards, his gun flying out of his hand even before he hit the floor.
Mills ran past Jim to make sure Tucker was no longer a threat, more out of the ingrained routine of following procedure than any real need to check the man's condition. Malloy handled his gun too well for Tucker to still be alive. He wasn't. Mills didn't even bother checking for a pulse-the man was clearly dead. Turning around, he found Pete already kneeling at Jim's side, working on unlocking the handcuffs. Mills squatted down on Jim's other side. "Good work, Malloy. Your partner okay?"
Pete acknowledged Mills' compliment with a quick nod and ignored his question. He didn't know the answer yet, either. He twisted the small key in the lock, and the handcuffs popped open.
Jim rolled over onto his back as soon as his hands were free. "Pete," he moaned quietly and reached for his head. "You… you got the message," Jim finally said, his voice unsteady.
"Of course I did, partner. You okay?" He quickly examined Jim, evaluating the bruises on his face, the ripped right leg of his pants and the bruise showing through the tear, and the shallow, jerky breathing that testified to some sort of rib injury. What else can't I see? At least one good knock on the head, if not more. He needs to get to a hospital. Now. Pete sighed as relief began to replace the anxiety of the last hours. At least he's alive to need a hospital. He'll be okay. They'll all be okay.
Jim forced himself to sit up, gasping in pain as he pushed himself off the floor. Almost immediately, he felt Pete's hands on his shoulders, helping hold him upright. "I'm fine." He paused for a second. "Where are Jean and Jimmy? You got them out, didn't you? Are they hurt?" Jim asked while he tried to rub some circulation back into his wrists and hands.
Pete knew that was going to be Jim's first concern. "They're okay, Jim, they're both okay. They were the first ones out of the house. Now why don't you lie back down until the ambulance medics can check you over?"
Jim shook his head. "No. I don't need an ambulance." He looked away from Pete, staring intently at the floor.
Pete glanced away to give Jim a few seconds of privacy. "Jim?" he gently asked a minute later.
"I need to see Jean," Jim choked out. He started to try to stand up.
"Hang on there, partner. If you're gonna do that, at least let Mills and me help you." Pete and the SWAT officer carefully helped Jim to his feet. This time, he stayed standing up, although he winced when he stepped onto his right leg. Grabbing his partner's arm, Pete draped it around his shoulders to support Jim's weight.
Jim allowed Pete and Mills to assist him out front door and down the steps, until he saw Jean standing next to Mac in their neighbor's driveway. Then he twisted away from the other officers and hobbled as best he could across the yard. Jean saw him at the same time. With a cry of "Jim," she ran toward him. She met him in their front yard, and Jim pulled her into a tight embrace, burying his face against the top of her head. The young couple was clearly unaware of the crowd of police officers, ambulance personnel, and curious neighbors that had gathered around the scene.
Pete kept a close eye on his partner and his wife, ready to rush in if Jim collapsed. Jean was so tiny she wouldn't be able to support him for long. Although now that he thought about it, he wasn't feeling all that strong himself. Now that it was all over, the stress and danger of the past few hours seemed to hit him all at once, and he tried to hide a small shiver. At least it's over for them, and everyone's safe…finally.
Beside him, Mills was also watching at Jim and Jean. "Cute couple, aren't they? Almost makes me want to go find a girl and get myself hitched," he remarked.
"You?" Pete turned his attention to Mills, and laughed. "You get married? I've heard of your reputation. Any girl who'd marry you would have to be crazy."
Mills laughed too. "The girl would have to be crazy? I'd have to be crazy too."
Any further conversation was cut short when Captain Johnson summoned Mills into the house. Pete decided he also needed to go check with his supervisor, and headed across the yard to the neighbor's house. "Get a room," he muttered as he walked by the Reeds, still holding each other in the middle of the yard. He was rewarded with a half-hearted kick in the leg from Jean, and turned around to see both Jim and Jean smiling at him. Jim mouthed a silent thank you before he pulled Jean back into a tight hug.
From his position near the neighbor's front porch, Mac saw Pete approaching and waved him over. "Well, Pete, you did it," Mac said in his normal gruff tone. What he really wanted to do was slap Pete on the back and jump up and down, singing the Hallelujah Chorus, but that would destroy his reputation as the toughest sergeant in the area. Besides, all that jumping around would probably wake the sleeping child he held draped against one shoulder.
Pete sighed and slumped back against the neighbor's porch railing, suddenly feeling too weak to keep standing unsupported. "Yeah." He reached toward Mac and rubbed the top of his godson's head, the only part of the child visible above someone's heavy field jacket. He looked at his shirt-sleeved sergeant. "Guess all that extra weight keeps you warm," he joked.
Mac gave him a friendly glare. "Malloy, I'm gonna let that remark go, because it's been a rough night. Jimmy needed the coat more than I did."
"Yeah." Pete brushed a lock of dark blonde hair out of his godson's eyes. "Poor kid. Glad he slept through all this." Pete really, really wanted to hold the toddler in his arms, just to convince himself this nightmare was over, but didn't want to risk waking him up.
"Here, Pete. You can take him. My arms are getting tired," Mac joked.
"No, Mac. I don't want him waking up right now. Jim and Jean need a few minutes together alone."
"Don't worry. He's not gonna wake up for a while," Mac said, handing Jimmy over to Pete.
Pete held the child close to him, noticing he still felt a little feverish even in the chilly night air. "Why not, Mac?" he asked as he quickly began checking Jimmy over for any injuries he may have missed earlier. "What's wrong?" Pete soon found the marks on his godson's wrist. "Who did this? Tucker or that woman?" he demanded angrily, standing up straight and looking around the area.
"Pete. Calm down. You can't change anything now. Let it go." Mac grabbed his arm and pushed him back against the porch. "From what Jean said, it was more just carelessness than maliciousness. Let it go."
Pete took a deep breath and forced himself to relax. He shifted Jimmy in his arms slightly. "So, what has my godson so sound asleep that he's drooling all over your jacket, anyway?"
Mac sighed. "I just had that thing cleaned," he grumbled, then addressed Pete's question. "Jean gave him an extra dose of cough medicine. He's gonna sleep for a few hours, minimum," Mac told him. "He'll be fine. We already talked to a doctor," Mac added hurriedly at Pete's worried expression. "She did what she had to do to keep him quiet and alive."
Pete nodded. "Jean did a great job tonight. If she hadn't come up with a way to tell me what was going on…" He stopped, imagining what could have happened. We wouldn't have known anything was wrong until it was too late. "She oughta get an award."
Mac laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, but before he could say anything, another voice spoke up.
"Malloy, you should get an award also." Captain Johnson joined the two officers. "Mac, thanks for letting Malloy go in with us. He's the main reason this turned out well for the Reeds."
Mac nodded. "Malloy's one of my best officers, besides being Reed's partner. I'm just glad they're all alive." Mac looked over at the Reeds again. "I'd better go get Reed in that ambulance. Doesn't look like he's going to go there by himself. Stubborn… takes after his partner." Mac took Jimmy back from Pete, and walked over to Jim and Jean.
Captain Johnson stayed behind, standing silently until Mac was out of earshot. "Malloy, we need you back in the house to get your version of what happened." He motioned for Pete to start walking back to the Reeds' home, then fell into step beside him. "I talked to Mills. He said you did some real good work in there-took the initiative to get you partner free."
Pete shrugged his shoulders. "Just doing my job, Captain."
Captain Johnson glanced at him incredulously. It was a little more than that, Malloy. "We could use officers like you-guys who can think on their feet, keep their cool in tense situations and aren't afraid to take chances. Anytime you want to join SWAT permanently, give me a call."
Pete looked across the yard to where Mac was helping Jean into the ambulance, while Jim stood next to him, cuddling Jimmy in his arms. "Thanks for the offer, Captain, but I've got a partner to watch out for right now. Maybe some other time."
Johnson followed Pete's gaze to the ambulance Jim Reed was now climbing into, and knew he had his answer. 'Some other time' would probably never come, and a small part of him was glad. Good, strong partnerships like Malloy and Reed's weren't that common. He didn't want to be responsible for breaking the bond between them; a bond that not even the determined efforts of a deranged criminal could break.
Big, big, big thanks to Leslie for all your feedback. Without your input, this story would still be collecting virtual dust in a folder on my computer.
Thanks to Cathy, for doing all the hard work editing our stories and maintaining the website.
And finally, thanks to the men and women who created the original Adam-12, for their inspiration.