"Peter, would you please tell me why you insist on having me wear a blindfold?" Caine asked from the passenger's side of Peter's Stealth.
Peter smiled. "I told you it was a surprise, so humor me, all right?"
Pop refrained from commenting that perhaps it was a fault of his that he humored Peter 'too' much and simply resigned himself to wearing the black satin blindfold his son had handed him. He felt Peter's hand in his and squeezed it.
Peter had to grin at his dad's willing trust in him. He knew it probably didn't make a bit of difference, that his Pop could probably sense where he was taking him, but he didn't care. He still liked the idea of at least trying to surprise his dad.
After Peter had a meeting with some of the members of the S.W.A.T team, they had broke for a late lunch. Peter had treated his dad at a diner not too far away from the 101, but afterwards, Peter had something special he'd wanted to show to Pop and he thought the timing was right to do it now.
Pulling up to the curb, Peter turned off the ignition, hopped out and sprinted to the other side and grabbed his dad's hand to pull him out.
"We're here, Pop, c'mon," he said excitedly. "And no peeking," he warned, even though he knew his dad wouldn't.
"As you wish, Sweet One," Caine said, twining his fingers with his son as he was pulled into some establishment he could not see.
He felt the darkened shadows around him, could hear his footsteps against concrete, and heard Peter fumbling for a light switch.
"Okay, Pop, you can take the blindfold off now," Peter said.
Pop untied the blindfold and removed it to see Peter standing with arms spread wide open and looking around him with a wide smile on his face.
The bare bulb hung from overhead threw light on a empty concrete floor in a building that was dusty, dirty, and completely empty. The paint on the walls was peeling, the windows were broken, and rubbish was scattered along the floor.
"You are...surprising me...with a building?" Pop asked with some confusion.
Peter grinned even more. "Not just any building, Pop," Peter said. "Your...our...future Kwoon."
Pop's eyes widened. "A...Kwoon...but why?"
Peter wrapped Caine in an embrace and hauled him close. "Because, Pop, you're the best teacher I've ever known. It's in your blood as much as anything else is, whether being an apothecary or Shambhala Master. You need to teach...you've got so much to give to your students." Peter nuzzled against him. "I know."
"Peter...." Caine found himself at a loss for words.
"Not only that," Peter went on excitedly, "but there's three stories to this place. The first floor can be the Kwoon, while the second and third stories can be our apartments."
Peter's smile faded a bit. "Yeah, I figured it would look better if people at least thought we still had separate places, but I figure we could really use it for you to see your patients or turn it into a place for meditation or something while the third floor can be 'our' place." Peter looked deeply into Pop's eyes. "And I'm going to need a place to stay since I'm giving up my high-rise apartment."
Caine reached out and stroked Peter's face lovingly. "Sweet One, you are prepared to give up your apartment?"
Peter kissed his hand. "I figure it was about time. I'm never there anyway." He leaned over and kissed his dad's lips lightly. "So what do you think? Do you like the idea? I haven't signed any paperwork yet, but it's as good as done if you want it."
Pop smiled softly and rubbed Peter's lips. "A new place for our new life together." He nuzzled against Peter's nose. "I think I would like that very much if it is what you desire, my darling one."
"I want whatever you want, Pop," Peter whispered back. "I love seeing you happy."
"You are all I need for happiness, Beloved," Pop said, "but Darling, how are you going to afford this?"
Peter shrugged. "Don't worry about it. I've got great credit, have my car as collateral, have some bonds and CD's in the bank, made some cash on a few investments...I can manage," he assured his lover. "Besides, it's worth it if it means bringing your skill as a teacher back to the community."
"'We' will manage," Caine emphasized to his boy. If it was to be their home, Pop was determined that the responsibility for it would rest not just on his son's shoulders alone, but on both of them equally.
Peter stayed in the embrace for several long moments before he pulled back slightly. "C'mon, Pop, let's get back to the station, they wanted us there for a briefing before tonight."
Caine gave one final look to the place that would soon come to serve as their home and Kwoon. There was much promise in the building once he and Peter both created a home from it. They truly would be creating a new life together after the ceremony.
Kermit pulled the Corvair into the station's parking lot just as Peter and Caine arrived. He looked over at Jack who'd been fairly silent since the last interruption by Captain Simms. The computer expert had noticed Jack glancing at the videotape several times on the ride over. He wanted to say something to help relieve some of Jack's nervousness, but the words just wouldn't come. He suspected that the tape reminded the architect too much of his own ordeal. Not knowing what to say, Kermit had unexpectedly took Jack's hand in his own for almost the entire trip, offering his silent understanding.
Kermit and Jack walked behind Peter and Caine into the bullpen where other officers, both detectives from the 101 and the S.W.A.T team were filing in and taking whatever seats they could find. Standing in the front were Simms and Strenlich, each waiting until everyone was seated. Kermit felt Lasher's eyes burning against the back of his neck, but he ignored the other man. If it meant that they had to work together to make sure the operation came off smoothly, Kermit was willing to put aside his personal dislike for the S.W.A.T team leader. If he could get the job done, Kermit didn't care whether the other man liked him or not.
"All right, since you've had lunch, let's get to business," Simms announced, while Strenlich pulled up a dry ease board on rollers. "Now, since Detective Griffin will be heading this operation, he will be the one to explain to you what will be going on," Simms said as the men quieted down.
"Captain Simms," Lasher interrupted, "I'm sorry, but I have to ask just why Kermit Griffin is heading thing? Pardon me for saying so, but I don't think Detective Griffin has the experience to be running this operation."
"Well, Captain Lasher," Simms said in a stern voice with a fine edge, "apparently Commissioner Kincaid doesn't agree with your assessment of Detective Griffin's skills, but you're welcome to take it up with him. In the meantime, I suggest you pay attention so that you and your men will know what is expected of you."
Properly chastised and put in his place, Lasher scowled as Kermit strode to the front of the room. No movement was wasted as he took a green marker and began drawing on the board. He drew separate sketches of buildings and the streets surrounding them.
"All right, by now everyone knows which of three main teams they're on," Kermit began. He pointed towards the building in the center. "The restaurant has two main entrances, the front door and the one on the west side that leads directly into the kitchen they had set up for deliveries. Now team A will be covering the West side entrance by holding position in the back of the dry cleaners that's next to it here," Kermit said, pointing to the drawing representing that building. "Team B will be spread out along the rooftops of the bakery, and the apartment building here and here along the North and East sides," he said tapping with his marker. "Team C will be covering the South side entrance from across the street in the empty parking complex. I'll be monitoring the activity from in front of this location from a van we're going to set up to look like it's been stripped and abandoned. Any questions?" Kermit looked out but no one spoke up. From the back, Lasher was still glaring at him so sharply that it should have cut him into ribbons. He smiled slightly with amusement. "Fine, Captain," he said, turning the group back over to Simms.
"All right, men, I want this mission ready to go within the hour. I know it's a little early yet, but I don't want to take the chance on any surprises in case Kwan decides to get there early. Make sure the business owners and the civilians in the apartment complex are told what's going on and that they need to evacuate the locations until further notice. Dismissed."
As the last of the men started trickling out, Kermit found his way to Jack. "Come on, let's get Blake and get you set up with that microphone."
They almost made it to the door before Kermit felt his shoulder grabbed and he was spun around.
"Griffin, I wanna talk to you," Lasher snarled.
"Jack, wait for me in my office, will you?" Kermit said, and waited until the architect left before speaking again. "Just what's your problem, Lasher?"
"You're my problem," the S.W.A.T team leader snapped. "You've got no damn business running this and you know it. But of course, since everyone knows you're fucking your captain you can pretty well do what you damn well please, but if you get any of my men hurt by protecting some fag...."
Lasher was completely blindsided by the right hook Kermit threw in a blink of an eye. Lasher stumbled back a couple of paces, felt warmth trailing down and leaving a acrid copper taste in his mouth. The S.W.A.T team leader felt the pain of a busted lip and the taste of his own blood as his head rung loudly. Pain radiated from his jaw.
"Lasher, since you can't watch your mouth, maybe now at least you'll think twice before you speak," Kermit growled out and stalked out.
In the hall, Peter was leaning against the wall and waiting for him.
"I saw Lasher hang behind, what did he want?" Peter asked.
"Trouble," Kermit responded, "and I decided to give him some."
"You might regret that," Peter said, noticing Kermit's reddened knuckles.
"I doubt it, felt too good," Kermit returned.
In Kermit's office, Jack and Blake were waiting on them.
"Hey, Jack, how are you doing? Ready for this?" Peter asked softly, patting the architect's shoulder briefly.
"No, I'm not ready," Jack said bluntly, then smiled a little, "but that's not going to keep me from doing it."
"Do you have the device, Blake?" Kermit asked.
"Yeah, right here," Blake answered, handing over the miniature transmitter to Kermit.
The ex-mercenary took the microphone. It was a dull gray and no bigger than the tip of Kermit's little fingernail. His eyes looked into Jack's as he clipped it on the underside of Jack's button down collar.
"Now with this, I'll be able to hear everything that's said," Kermit explained. "It's going to feed back into a recorder that I'll be taping on."
"So you'll be able to hear me, but you won't be able to talk to me," Jack said.
Kermit shook his head. "No, we could set you up with a receiver, but I don't want you going in with too much hardware that could get spotted."
"Don't worry though, we're going to know what's going on the entire time," Peter said reassuringly. "Blake is also going to set up video surveillance too, so we'll be seeing what's going on as well as hearing you."
"And this is the most reliable microphone made," Blake added.
There was a knock on the door and Strenlich came in with Brewster behind him. Brewster still had to be escorted everywhere within the precinct.
"Yeah, what did you want, Detective?" Brewster asked.
"It's getting close to the wire. You know the plan, you know you're going to be watched so if you try to pull something, we're going to know it," Kermit warned.
"Yeah, yeah, like I said, I'm with you on this. Remember this is as dangerous for me as it is for him," Brewster said, staring at Jack.
"Only if you're not on the level," Kermit cautioned him. Reaching in his desk drawer, he tossed a couple of things over to Brewster. "Here."
Brewster held up a pair of handcuffs and a handkerchief. "This for him?"
Kermit ignored the vice cop and turned to Jack. "Jack, to make this look legitimate, we're going to have to have Brewster take you into the building handcuffed and gagged. Is that going to bother you?"
"Yeah, but I can deal with it," Jack responded.
"Don't put them on him until right before you go in, get me?" the computer expert told Brewster.
"Yeah, I got you."
"Come on, Brewster, I want to do a check on the recording equipment with Blake and I want you where I can see you," Peter said. He had the feeling that Kermit and Jack needed a little time alone before they all moved out and he wanted to give it to them.
As they found themselves alone again, Jack looked up into Kermit's eyes.
"I feel like there's something I need to be doing to get ready for this. I...don't feel prepared for this," Jack confessed. "And I'm a little scared."
Kermit sighed in relief as Jack's bravado started to slip a little. He'd been waiting for it for a while now. He couldn't believe that the thought of seeing Adam again wasn't going to bother the architect.
"Jack, after what happened, how 'could' you really be prepared for it?" Kermit reasoned. "You're putting so much on the line and it's not surprising if you're a little bit frightened. Hell, I'd worry about you if you 'weren't' a little scared. Cut yourself some slack," Kermit told him.
"What if I lose it when I see him again?" Jack said softly. "What if the sting goes bad because I can't handle seeing him?"
Kermit moved behind Jack, light hands resting on the architect's shoulders. Jack closed his eyes and laid his head back against Kermit's stomach.
"Then the team and I go in there and get you out. That simple," Kermit said mater-of-factly, his hands stroking Jack's shoulders and upper arms.
Jack wished everything was so black and white as Kermit was making it sound. It'd be all too easy to buy into it. "You make it sound so simple."
The barest hint of a smile curved Kermit's lips. "Hey, you're the one that decided to trust me. Now it's up to me not to let you down."
'Can you do that, Kermit?' Jack wondered to himself. Did he dare let himself believe that the ex-mercenary was capable of doing something no one else who'd been a part of his life had managed to do?
The knock on the door caused Jack to lose the feel of Kermit's hands against him as the computer expert called out to the invader to enter. "Hey Kermit," Broderick stuck his head in the door. "D.A Stratton is here and he wants to talk to you in Simms' office."
"We'll talk more about this in a couple of minutes," Kermit told him.
Jack nodded and watched him leave. Jack thought about what he'd discovered earlier in Kermit's apartment. When he'd told the police detective that the night they'd shared together was special to him, he'd meant it. He'd even started to believe it'd been something special to Kermit too, but at Kermit's apartment, his doubts had started to resurface.
Seeing those pictures of Kermit with his ex-wives was like a slap to his face, a cold shower dousing him with reality. After all, Kermit had lived his entire life with women as his sexual partners. What made him think he really had anything that Kermit would be interested in? Someone didn't change his or her lifestyles overnight. While he knew Kermit had those kinds of thoughts for Peter before they'd ever met at that museum, having thoughts and actually acting on them, Jack knew, were two very different things.
'Or maybe you're just as guilty as Kermit when it comes to making excuses instead of taking chances,' the small voice in his mind accused.
But then again, hadn't it been easier to make excuses than to take chances? If he'd been strong enough to take chances, maybe he would have left Adam earlier.
Jack quietly turned the lock on the apartment door. It clicked loudly as it unlocked and Jack tried to muffle it the best he could. He let the door swing open and walking softly, made his way through the pitch-black living room. His shin hit the edge of the coffee table and he held back the yelp of pain, because he didn't want to disturb Adam. He knew Adam hated to be awakened for anything and Jack wasn't going to give Adam any reason to get upset.
Slipping his shoes off, Jack walked stealthily down the hall and into the bedroom. No sooner had he stepped past the threshold, than did the bright lamp on the night stand flipped on, blinding him in a flood of light. Sitting in a chair by the window was Adam, dark eyes narrowed and filled with fury.
"Where the hell have you been?"
Jack covered his eyes with his forearm for a moment until his eyes adjusted to the harsh illumination. His pulse raced and his stomach turned and twisted into a tight ball.
"I-I went out," Jack said, his voice shaking slightly. "I told you I'd be going out after work."
"Yeah, but you didn't say anything about going to 'Ryan's Tap' with Samuel Lyall, now did you?"
Jack knew his mouth was hanging agape. "How...how'd you know?"
Adam smirked at him. "I told you, I'd always know where you were and what you were doing."
'He had me followed,' Jack thought to himself. "Adam, it's not what you think. Sam had just found out he passed his Bar exam and he wanted to celebrate." Jack had met Sam while taking a night course at the college and had since become friends, but friends only.
Before Jack could blink, Adam was out of his seat and grasping Jack by the upper arms. Adam's fingers dug harshly into skin and muscle that still hurt from old bruises that had just started to fade.
"You're fucking him, aren't you?" Adam accused, his face right in front of Jack's.
The architect shrank back. "Adam, no! You-you know I wouldn't cheat on you."
Adam shook him so hard Jack's teeth rattled in his head.
"What I know is that you're nothing more than a queer whore," Adam spat through gritted teeth.
Suddenly Adam grabbed two handfuls of Jack's shirt and in one yank tore it completely open. Another hard yank had it off and on the floor, reduced to rags.
"What are you doing?" Jack asked, the anxiety causing the room to start turning to gray around him. His heart throbbed and pounded against his throat as his mouth went dry and he swallowed hard.
Adam spun Jack around and pushed him back hard until the architect was sprawled back onto their bed. Adam pinned Jack down with his weight as he straddled him.
"You want to be treated like a whore, you're going to get exactly what you want," Adam snarled.
Adam worked quickly to jerk off Jack's pants and briefs, then his own.
The feral look in Adam's face, the red flush of anger in his features, caused a spiking fear to tear through Jack as he clutched and pulled at the bed.
"Adam, calm down, let's talk...."
Adam raised his fist, and though Jack shrank back, there was no where to go to escape the blow when it hit his jaw square on.
"Shut up, whore, I don't want to hear your mouth again, got it?" Adam yelled.
Jack watched Adam spit into his palm and stroked it over his aroused cock.
'Oh God, Oh God, Oh God,' Jack's mind whispered over and over again in a chant. He knew what was going to happen next, had been through it before so he squeezed his eyes shut as he felt Adam's clawing fingers gouging into his skin as he was grabbed and pulled down further.
"Hope you're ready to be fucked because I'm going to fuck you harder than Sammy could even imagine."
Jack had already started going numb as Adam jerked one of his legs up and over his shoulder. Adam's spit was hot on his skin and served as the only lubrication he was likely to get as three fingers roughly pushed into his ass. Twisting hard, Adam abruptly worked the attacking fingers into his tunnel and stretching him for a moment before they were removed and the blunt tip of the saliva covered cock slammed into him with enough force to ram his head against the headboard.
"Stop, Adam, please," Jack begged while Adam impaled him over and over, driven by some bestial force.
Hands went unexpectedly around Jack's throat, blocking out his pleas and cries. He opened his mouth and made sucking actions, but he couldn't drag a breath into his lungs. The architect's heart pumped blood wildly, but it clamored for oxygen that wasn't coming. Jack's hands gripped at Adam's hands and wrists, trying to pry them off, but to no avail. Adam's grip only tightened until Jack saw white spots dancing behind his fluttering eyelids. Jack made some gurgling noises from somewhere in his crushed throat as the room started spinning and turning gray.
As the strength drained from Jack's arms and they lost their hold on Adam, Jack could feel himself losing consciousness. Still Adam kept pumping his hips in hard strokes with a vicious, twisted smile that hinted at madness carved on his mouth.
Jack didn't know how long he'd been passed out, but when he finally stirred, he was met with an excruciating headache. He swallowed hard and could barely get it down his swollen and sore throat. The architect tentatively turned his head side to side to see if he could see Adam anywhere. The apartment seemed empty and Jack figured Adam probably went to the bar down the street for more than a drink or two.
Movement was painful. Every muscle in his body ached and cried in protest when he stumbled from the bed. His stomach lurched and pitched when he saw a noticeable amount of blood on the sheets. Staggering, he turned from the bed and slowly made his way to the bathroom.
Reaching the shower and twisting on the water until it was scalding hot, Jack climbed in and let the water wash over him full force. Wearily, Jack felt the contrast of the cool tile against his back. His weak legs finally could no longer support his own weight and he slid down in the shower, the surging water hitting his head and shoulders, his body numb to the heat as his eyes dropped shut.
"Jack! Jack, look at me!"
The architect felt himself being shaken. Blinking rapidly, he found himself staring into disturbed dark eyes and Kermit's frowning face.
Jack couldn't stop his voice from shaking as he spoke. "Wh-what happened?"
"I thought you could tell me that." The ex-mercenary could hear the trembling in Jack's voice, recognized the fear in his eyes, and could see the tension held tight in his muscles that made him look like he was going to flee any minute. "It's about Adam, isn't it?"
Jack took in a deep breath, relishing the cool air flooding his tight lungs with ease. "Yeah," he whispered. He knew it wouldn't pay to try and mislead the older man. He just couldn't seem to hide anything from Kermit's investigative gaze.
"You were having a flashback, weren't you?" Kermit asked knowingly. He was more than a little familiar with flashbacks since he'd experienced them himself for awhile after leaving his earlier occupation. Jack's glassy gaze, his unresponsiveness...they were all signs Kermit knew personally. For him though, they'd often occur without the company of others around to pull him out of them. "Tell me about it."
"Adam...something he did to me once," Jack confirmed quietly. "Something that happened before...before the rape."
"Damn, I knew this was a mistake," Kermit said with frustration. "I never should have even told you about the idea. Let them figure something else to do, you don't need this now." Kermit reached towards the phone. "I'm calling Simms and telling her everything is off."
Jack reached out and caught Kermit's wrist and held his hand down on the receiver. "No, you're not!"
Kermit blinked at the determination in the blond's voice as his hand was jerked off the phone.
"I'm all right and I can do this," Jack said with force. "I've waited too long for this opportunity and you're not going to take it away from me just because you're worried that I can't handle it." Jack's eyes flared. "You said you didn't think I was weak, right? Give me the chance to prove it!"
"Dammit, Greyson, just who are you trying to prove something to?" Kermit groused.
"Myself," Jack answered, his voice losing its edge and turning softer.
Kermit ran a distracted hand through his hair and glared at the younger man. "Is there anything I can say that's going to talk you out of this?"
"No," Jack said softly, "but you can wish me luck and remind me that you're going to be there through it."
Kermit grabbed the hand still holding him by whipping his own around and capturing Jack's. With a tug, Kermit pulled Jack towards him and took his mouth completely under his for an abrading kiss.
Jack's fingers twisted in the fabric of the back of Kermit's shirt as he held on while the older man's warm lips sent an electric tingling sensation running wildly up and down his spine. His lips were seized and gently teased into submission with talented nibbling and the tormenting tongue-play as Kermit's slid across his mouth and beckoned for access. A soft cry was pulled from Jack's throat as he gave into it. He sighed as their bodies pressed together, generating the comfortable warmth he couldn't deny longing for anymore.
When they pulled away, Kermit looked into slight dazed and dilated eyes. His own body was tingling with nearness of the younger man.
"If I can't talk you out of it, might as well wish you luck," Kermit said in a thick voice. "And you know I'm going to be there."
Jack looked deeply into green tinted dark eyes. Maybe, just maybe he had finally found someone who wasn't going to let him down.
Pulling his eyes away from the searching azure gaze, Kermit glanced at his watch.
"If we're doing this, it's time," he said softly.
Kermit felt caged in the broken down van. His eyes kept darting between the entrance of the restaurant and the small screen sending him video input. The sprinkler system Blake hid the camera in gave him a great view of the old restaurant's dining area. Brewster was nervously drumming his fingers on a tabletop as he sat beside Jack in a booth in the far end of the restaurant.
The ex-mercenary pulled off the black police cap he was wearing and ran a hand through his hair before putting it back on backwards. He wasn't prepared for how much it bothered him to see Jack, hands bound in cuffs with the gag in his mouth. He'd wished they hadn't had to put them on him, but with Haun and Kwan due to arrive anytime, they didn't want to take the chance of waiting until the last minute.
"Come on, where the hell are they?" Kermit whispered aloud.
"Take it easy, Kermit, play it cool," Peter warned. He knew that they had to keep a clear head in case things heated up.
"Play it cool. This advice from Mr. Coolheaded himself, huh?" Kermit taunted, covering the microphone on his headset. "You don't know how bad I want to nail this guy."
"Why? Why do you want to get Haun?" Peter asked quietly.
"Because, you don't know what he did to Jack," Kermit said.
"Then fill me in, what happened?" Peter persisted. He watched Kermit's fists clenching and unclenching as his eyes kept scanning for outside movement.
"He had him raped, Pete," Kermit whispered as he looked into Jack's face on the monitor, the words nearly sticking on his tongue. "Three of his friends drugged Jack and then.... Dammit!" he growled out, slamming his fist down on top of the table the monitor sat on, shaking the equipment. "They used him, hurt him, while that bastard sat back and watched the whole show!"
Peter was as startled at the fury in Kermit's tone as by the revelation itself. He knew Jack had suffered abuse at Adam's hands, but to think that Adam set it up so that Jack could be raped?
"My God, Kermit, and he's in there waiting for Adam to come after him? Why didn't you say anything before this?"
"Because he 'wanted' to do this. Now you know why I didn't want him involved in this," Kermit said.
Peter rested his hand on Kermit's forearm. The ex-mercenary turned to look him in the face. "Nothing is going to happen to him," Peter reassured him.
Kermit scowled at Peter. 'I shouldn't have let him do this,' he thought to himself. 'I could have stopped him, but I didn't. If anything happens to him...'
"Hey, Kermit, heads up," Peter said, his eyes tracking an approaching Buick turned the corner and slowed to a stop at the curb outside the restaurant.
"Listen up teams, we've got a black Buick, it's them," Kermit said, speaking into the headset.
They watched as Adam Haun got out of the driver's side. An older, but imposing, Asian man slid out of the passenger's side. From the back seat, two more men appeared and Kermit recognized them instantly as Kwan's bodyguards.
Both were stoutly muscled and looked like their faces had taken one too many punches. Both were also Asian, one having closely cropped hair that was shaved on the sides, while the other had shoulder-length hair pulled back much like Peter's father wore his at times. They were James and Dean Liao, two brothers who used to work for Jimmy Mah. Apparently, they'd found a new employer.
"That's gotta be Kwan," Peter murmured.
"I'd bet on it," Kermit murmured back. "Hold your positions until I give you further instructions," Kermit ordered into the headset.
Both Kermit and Peter watched the men enter the glass doors of the building and watched on the monitors as they approached Brewster's table, the Liao brothers stood nearby at the door. Kermit watched Jack's eyes go wide the closer Adam drew. Azure eyes watched Adam's every step as he advanced. The hair stood up on the back of Kermit's neck.
"Well, well, Brewster," Adam drawled, removing his black sunglasses. "You've got some nerve, don't you think? Getting a little demanding if you ask me."
"Hey, don't blame me for knowing what's valuable and cashing in on it," Brewster said. "After all, we've got a business arrangement and business is meant to be renegotiated."
"Stand up," Adam ordered.
Brewster slid out of the booth and was roughly grabbed as Haun pulled his shirt open down to his waist and then patted him down.
"Hey, what's the idea?" Brewster yelled.
Adam smiled malignantly at him. "The idea is, I don't take chances." He finished patting him down. "He's clean," Adam said to Kwan. Kwan nodded.
Adam then approached Jack. "Ah, Jackie-boy, didn't I tell you that you couldn't get away from me?"
Kermit heard Jack gasp as Adam grabbed him and pulled him up from his seat. Slowly, one by one, Adam undid the buttons on Jack's shirt.
"I told you, Jack, there's no running from me, that I'd always find you, but you didn't believe me, did you?" Adam whispered hotly in Jack's ears, his cool fingers making Jack shudder as they touched his skin.
"MMmm, mmm, mmm I almost forgot how good you felt, Golden Boy. I'm going to take a lot of pleasure in reminding you what it means to be mine."
Kermit felt the heat rise as his fists started clenching and unclenching again, his jaw working tightly, grinding his teeth together as he watched Adam's hands sliding possessively down Jack's body, rubbing and taking a handful of Jack's rear in his hands.
Peter's hand that was still on Kermit's forearm squeezed lightly. "It's all right, he's not hurting him," Peter whispered to Kermit. The low growl resonating from the ex-mercenary sounded almost animalistic in nature.
Adam slid a thumb across Jack's lips that protruded from the gag. "Jackie, you always did have such a beautiful mouth. Too bad Brewster had to keep it gagged. No matter, I'll be putting it to good use soon enough." Adam nuzzled his nose roughly against Jack's cheek and ear. "You could always suck cock with the best of them. Remember tasting my cock in your mouth, baby?" Jack whimpered a bit and tried to pull back away from him, but Adam's hold was strong. "I'm gonna to fuck you raw, Baby, then I just might let my friends have a turn with you. They had such fun with you the last time."
Peter could feel the muscles in Kermit's arms turn to tense steel bands that quivered. The ex-mercenary's face started to flush and his teeth were gnashing hard. 'My God, he 'is' in love with Jack!' Peter thought to himself. This realization was like being doused with a bucket of ice water. He knew this wasn't the time or place to try and process this information though, so he filed it away for later on.
"Smoke and mirrors, Kermit," Peter said softly. "It's all talk, don't let it get to you."
Kermit flashed a surprised glance over at Peter, momentarily dropping his defenses enough that Peter could read the concern, worry, and anger in those dark eyes.
"My son is correct, Jack is safe for the time being."
Peter and Kermit both jerked around to see Caine standing behind them, who had managed to gain entrance to the van without their notice.
"Pop, what are you doing here?" Peter asked, his momentary look of pleasure turning quickly into a frown of worry.
Caine shrugged his shoulders. "I thought that perhaps I could be considered...."
"...back up," all three men said at once.
"That's fine, Caine, just try not to get under foot," Kermit said.
'Sorry, Pop, Kermit's just feeling a little tense right now,' Peter apologized through thought.
'I could...sense as much,' Caine responded in thought, and verbally said, "I will attempt not to interfere unless needed."
"All right, Brewster, what do you want?" Kwan finally spoke.
"Like I told Adam on the phone, since I've got something you want and I think you're going to be pretty willing to pay up for it."
"What's the price of tapes go for these days?" Kwan asked, in a tone Brewster wasn't able to identify.
"A hundred thousand on top of my usual fee," Brewster responded, meeting Kwan's unwavering gaze with his own.
Kwan's laughter was robust as he clapped Adam on the back. "You're right, he 'does' have nerve." Kwan slung an arm around Brewster's shoulders, ignoring the wary look he was getting. "I like that, you're ambitious." Kwan flashed white, straight teeth in a macabre smile. "A lot like me when I was first starting out in the business."
"I don't like this," Kermit said in a low voice. He felt the prickling along his neck, felt that tingle in his gut. Something was going to happen.
"Just stay loose," Peter said, watchful himself. "We're going after the confession. We gotta hold out till we get that."
"Is EMS still on standby?"
"You know it," Peter reassured him.
"So where's the tape?" Adam asked, finally switching his attention to the trade.
Jake walked back over to where he'd been sitting and pulled out a small sack. From the sack, he produced the unmarked, unboxed VCR tape.
"I watched this thing," Brewster said. "You've got some good stuff on it, though if it fell into the wrong hands, you're looking at a lot of trouble." He looked directly at Adam.
"I've got no idea what you're talking about."
Kermit couldn't stand the smug, arrogant look on Adam's face. His palms itched to wipe it off his face permanently. "Easy Brewster, don't make it too obvious. Let him hang himself," he spoke to the screen.
"Oh, don't give me that," Brewster jeered. "Play it that way if you want, but I've got to tell you, I think you were pretty smart to use hookers that weren't going to be missed if they happened to 'disappear'."
"It served the whores right," Adam said, sitting down and pulling Jack onto his lap. "They got everything they deserved." Adam looked right at Jack. "Whores always get what they deserve, don't they, Baby?"
Jack's body was numb to the stroking Adam's hands were doing. As hard as it was not to struggle against the unwanted touches, Jack forced himself to remain as calm as he could because he knew how important it was to lull Adam into believing he and Kwan had the upper-hand here. As Adam's hands started getting more aggressive and demanding, Jack closed his eyes and thought about his night with Kermit. He couldn't help but be calmed by thinking about Kermit's touches pleasuring him, so gentle and tender in comparison to Adam's, the look of warmth in those dark eyes so different from the feral, cold look from Adam's. There 'was' no comparison of the two. The fact he knew the older man was still close by and watching him as he promised helped calm Jack even more.
"Yeah, you were smart to have used hookers," Brewster acknowledged, "but you have to admit you were more than a little sloppy with the whole thing."
"What are you talking about?" Adam demanded.
"C'mon, Haun, look at the facts here. First you left a tape just laying around for Jackie here to get his hands on," Brewster pointed out. "Then of course there was the mistake you made in hiring Deke."
"Don't you worry about Jackie because he's in good hands now," Adam leered and squeezed the man hard enough to get a choked gasp out of him. "And there was nothing wrong in hiring Deke," he challenged. "He was reliable. I'd used him a number of times before and he never failed me before. He's one of the best."
"Oh, so that's why he bungled the shot on Griffin and Caine?" Jake ventured. "I'm telling you, everyone at the precinct had a good laugh at such a botched, amateurish attempt."
Kermit let a small smile play over his mouth. 'That's it, get him good and angry. Make him lose his cool.'
Jack could recognize the growing hostility as Adam was provoked. He had gotten to know it all too well and knew when Adam was being pushed to his limit. Brewster needed to start treading very lightly, but he suspected the cop didn't know Adam like he did.
Jack's heart leapt into his throat when he heard the shrill squalling of a small cry coming from somewhere unseen in the restaurant. The cry was muffled and pitifully weak, but still loud enough to make Kwan and Brewster jerk around.
"What the hell is that?" Brewster asked, trying to pin point the location of the sound.
"I don't know, but I'm damn well going to find out," Adam warned, sitting Jack to side and drawing out a Glock from behind the tail of his jacket.
Brewster watched as Adam listened to the soft yowls coming in an erratic pattern. Ever so slowly, he approached a small wooden door. Tossing it open, he pointed the barrel of his gun down a flight of wooden plank stairs and into encompassing darkness.
"Whoever's down there, you've got exactly to the count of three before I start firing," Adam called out.
"No, d-don't shoot," a frightened, soft voice called back.
From out of the shadows, a slender, petite figure immerged. A woman, girl rather as Adam noticed she couldn't be past pubescence by more than a few years, moved into the light. Winery cooper-colored hair hid a bent face as the young girl made soothing cooing sounds to a small infant she held cradled in her arms.
"Get up here, now," Adam ordered.
The girl complied, rocking the crying infant as her hair was clutched in tiny tight fists. Enraged tears streaked a tiny face that was beet-red in frustration. As soon as she reached the top step, Adam jerked her by her collar and threw her towards Kwan and Brewster.
Kermit grumbled and cursed as he jerked his arm away from Peter's "What the hell is going on, now?" he groused softly and spoke louder into his earpiece. "Hold your positions, do you hear me? Don't move until I give the order."
The girl stumbled into Kwan, who reached out and caught her and steadied her on her feet.
"My dear child, you must forgive my associate's rudeness," Kwan said benignly. Adam just grinned coolly as the girl looked at him. Startled pale-blue eyes looked huge against the fair, freckled face of the teenager. "What is you're name, my dear?"
"Gr-Gretchen," she replied with a faltering voice. Her slender arms shook as she held the baby.
"Gretchen, and what might you be doing here?" Kwan asked, peering down at the infant swaddled in rags.
Blue eyes darted to Brewster, met Jack's, then past Adam's until she finally looked back to Kwan's dark gaze. "Joey and I don't have anywhere else to go," she spoke quietly. "I...I've been staying here nights to keep him out of bad weather," she explained, rocking her sobbing son and looking as though she were near to joining him.
Kwan reached up and gently tucked a strand of cooper hair behind the girl's ear. "There, there, Gretchen, why don't you take that handsome child and sit over there in that booth until we finish talking?" Kwan offered, gesturing towards the booth near Jack.
When she didn't respond fast enough, Adam shoved at her again with the muzzle of his gun. "Do what you're told, girly."
Gretchen fell hard into the booth, bumping into Jack as she did. The sudden movement made the baby start crying harder and louder.
"And shut that brat up, now," Adam yelled into the redhead's face.
The frightened girl covered the infant's face with tattered blanket and rocked him back and forth. Her voice quivered as she whispered soothingly to the baby. Adam scowled at her and the infant with disgust.
"You've frightened him, he'll settle down in a minute," Gretchen said, clutching the baby to her small bosom and rubbing his back.
Adam looked pointedly at the gun in his hand and the back of the infant's head. "Shut him up or I'll find a way to do it for you."
"Adam, I believe you have more to concern yourself with than threatening this young lady," Kwan reminded Haun brusquely.
"Yeah, I'm still waiting for my money," Brewster said, wanting to take Adam and Kwan's attention off the girl. He was all too aware that if anything happened to either her or the baby, that any possible deal would be down the drain.
"Getting a little anxious, are we?" Kwan asked with a rakish smile.
Brewster's skin began to crawl and the hair rose along his collar. "I just want the cash so we can all move along on our separate ways."
"Adam, get our friend the case," Kwan ordered.
Adam disappeared in the back of the restaurant and returned with a large, gray metallic case and slammed it down on the table in front of Jack and the girl. With a snap, Adam opened it up and revealed the contents and turned it around to Brewster for approval. In the black felt-lined case there were layers upon layers of fresh hundred dollar bills neatly wrapped.
Brewster picked up one of the stack and thumbed it to be sure it was genuine. Man, that was an awful lot of cash and he was so tempted to make sure it never made it into evidence, but it wasn't nearly enough to sacrifice his freedom for. "This looks good," he said, snapping the lid back down once more.
"Don't think this buys your freedom, Brewster," Adam said while the officer was picking up the briefcase. "You know we still own you and will not hesitate to call on you. You'd better not forget that."
'We'll see about that, Haun,' Brewster thought to himself. "So what are you going to do with the girl and the kid?"
"That is no concern of yours. We will deal with them on our own." Finally the dangerous edge was revealed in Kwan's tone and his eyes narrowed.
"Yeah, just walk away from it. I'll do her and the kid like I did the rest of those bitches," Adam said, the pleasure from the thought reflected in his smile.
"Hey, is that really necessary?" Brewster asked, trying to think fast. "She doesn't have a clue who any of us are or what we're doing."
"She could identify us, surely you're aware of that," Kwan reminded him.
"Besides, we wouldn't want to have any loose ends running around. We can't afford anymore mistakes, can we?" Adam taunted, throwing Brewster's words back at him.
'Shit, this ain't how it's suppose to happen.' "Yeah, but do you want another couple of bodies the cops could potentially connect you with?" Brewster tried to reason.
"What do you care for anyway? Don't feel sorry for the little bitch, do you?" Adam taunted.
"Of course not," Brewster denied, "but you don't need to be taking anymore stupid chances either."
Adam brought the Glock up and aimed it levelly at Brewster's face. "The only stupid mistake I ever made was bringing you into the organization in the first place," he growled.
"Mackenzie, report!" Kermit barked out into the microphone to the sharpshooter stationed on the roof.
"I don't have clear line of fire, Sir. The girl's right in the way. Repeat, no line of fire," the voice on the other end crackled in over static.
"Dammit!" Kermit cursed. "Hold your positions! Hold your positions!"
Adam then spun around and pointed the gun at the girl. "I say why wait? Why don't I waste her right here and now." His eyes looked into Jack's frightened ones. "What do you think, Jackie? The real thing is so much better than seeing it on tape."
"No!" Brewster heard himself call out.
Without giving thought to action, Brewster charged in-between Adam and the girl. One hand moved out, striking Adam's gun hand and forcing him to lose his aim. His grip tight on Adam's wrist, Brewster twisted around and tried to pry the Glock from Adam's hand.
James and Dean Liao started to move from the door, but Kwan held his hand up in a motion telling them to keep their place.
Wrestling back to stomach, Adam rabbit punched Brewster in the head, aiming at the temple. Brewster retaliated with hard blow of his elbow into Adam's gut. Adam shoved his leg between Brewster's, forcing him to twist once more until they were face to face, both of their hands holding the Glock high above their heads.
Adam reared his neck back and head-butted Brewster hard enough to rattle his teeth, but Brewster didn't loosen his grip. Slowly, very slowly, force fought against force and the weapon moved lower and lower.
Sweat broke out on Brewster's forehead as his arms shook with straining, he tried to force the muzzle of the gun towards Adam and away from himself. The gun was lowered, past their heads, past their chests, as the muzzle was jarred back and forth.
Jack reflexively jerked and gasped at the sound, his eyes opening in time to watch a startled look come over Brewster's face as his hands slid from Adam's. The cop stumbled back several steps, looking at his blood covered hands before falling down to his knees, his face hitting the floor as he collapsed.
"Torres, fire the smoke bomb, now!" Kermit ordered into the microphone.
Across from the restaurant they heard the sound of a loud pop, then the sound of breaking glass that splintered and shattered as the smoke bomb was released. Within second, they could see the curls of smoke lofting out of the broken front window.
"Lasher, get the entrance team in there!" Kermit commanded, throwing the headset down and busting through the back door of the van with the Caines close behind.
"Kermit, wait!" Peter called out, but knew it was falling on deaf ears.
A group of five uniformed S.W.A.T members manned the battering ram. Swinging it back and forth to gain momentum, they busted through the door with ease.
Guns drawn, the team moved forward cautiously, eyeing the corners as well as they could through the thick, billowing smoke. Kermit drew his Desert Eagle while Caine and Peter followed him inside.
"Jack! Jack!" Kermit called out, eyes search even though he couldn't see much either. "Damn smoke," he complained. He'd wanted the S.W.A.T team to be able to bust in while Haun and the others were distracted, but now he couldn't make heads or tails in the thick haze of the noxious cloud.
He started coughing and looked over to Caine. The older priest waved his arm with a little flourish, and the cloud of smoke quickly receded and dissipated as though caught on the tail of the four winds and was carried off.
From out of the clearing, James Liao came rushing forth with a snarl in the direct line to Peter.
Advancing on Peter, James was caught with a roundhouse kick to the breast-bone. Without pausing, Peter turned the round- house into a snap kick to Liao's jaw and sent him careening backwards and falling into a heap on the floor.
Hearing a grunt and the sound of flesh being hit, Peter spun to see his father's arm blocking a blow by Dean Liao and returning an uppercut and a right cross. Peter lunged out with a side-kick to aid his lover. Dean Liao was bent over, holding his ribs while Caine reached out and caught Dean between the shoulder and neck. With one squeeze, the big man dropped and was rendered unconscious.
Looking up, both Caines saw that Kermit was over by Brewster, using Brewster's coat to stop the blood flowing from the cop's belly.
"Get the EMS in here, now!" Kermit yelled out.
"You heard him, go!" Lasher ordered as well, his knee on Kwan's back and holding the crime lord's hands behind his back while he cuffed them.
Instead of waiting for another S.W.A.T team member, Peter looked over at his dad. "Pop, check on the girl and baby, make sure they're all right." The detective knew Caine had already been on his way anyway as he met the EMS men hauling a stretcher at the door.
Caine moved closer to the young woman who stared blankly at the wall ahead of her. She was rocking her crying child rhythmically in an effort to soothe herself as much as the infant.
"He shot him," she said as Caine grew closer. "He shot him." She repeated this several more times until the feel of Caine's arm around her shoulder jarred her from her near-catatonic state.
"Yes, he did," Caine agreed softly. "One faces many dangers when one finds oneself without sanctuary," the priest pointed out gently while caressing the infant on the cheek in a manner that quieted him almost instantly. "Perhaps for the sake of your baby, you will look for such sanctuary?"
The pale blue eyes that turned to him were hollowed by anguish. "I have no place to go, my parents disowned me."
Caine smiled softly and caressed her cheek as he had the baby's. "Come to Chinatown, ask for Caine, I will help you."
Before the teenaged girl had a chance to respond, a S.W.A.T member came by to take her to another EMS team that was ready to look her and the baby over to make sure both were all right.
"Thank you," she said softly with a look over her shoulder.
Caine bowed his head. He then turned, his eyes scanning in search of his beloved. He found his son assisting the medical personnel loading Brewster onto a stretcher. With a quick yank up, the wheels were lowered and the wounded policeman was wheeled out. His gaze caught his son's. Once again Caine was acutely reminded of the mortal danger that surrounded his darling's profession.
"Hey, where's Jack? And where the hell is Haun!"
Both the Caines and Lasher, along with several S.W.A.T members, turned to Kermit's explosive demand. No one had seen the pair since the raid. The sound of soft chucking made the computer expert spin around.
The chuckling from Kwan started out softly, but grew louder until it was a full-belly laugh. "Leave it to a snake to slither out of the way in the nick of time," he managed in between the chuckles.
Kermit stalked over to the crime boss, shoved Lasher off his back and picked Kwan up by the back of the neck. The computer expert spun him around and propelled the older Asian man backward against a table until the crime lord was laying on it. Kermit bent over him until their noses touched.
"You have precisely two seconds before you find out just how ugly I can get," Kermit warned. "Now tell me where you last saw Adam and Jack."
The felon wasn't quite so easily intimidated and took a moment to offer up a smug smile to the detective. "The last I saw of them, they were leaving out the back door."
Moving away, Kermit pulled Kwan up off the table and shoved him towards Lasher. "Make yourself useful for a change and take care of him," Kermit ordered and was off towards the door in back.
"A lot of concern over a fag, if you ask me," Lasher mumbled.
Peter gave the S.W.A.T leader a wilting glare. "Lasher, has anyone ever told you that if your IQ were actually larger than your shoe size, you'd be dangerous?" he grumbled as he followed his father towards the back. Bursting into the alleyway, Kermit's eyes scanned back and forth for any signs of Jack or his captor. His stomach was wound into a tight ball and he felt his pulse starting to bound with the force of adrenaline he'd not felt in longer than he could recall.
"They are...there," Caine spoke from behind him.
Kermit followed Caine's hand as it pointed up and into the darkness. There, illuminated by the wan moonlight, stood two figures masked in shadows upon the roof of the apartment complex.
Kermit hit the stairs at a run, his feet pumping in time with his heart. Unnoticed by the computer expert, the Caines followed just a clip behind him as the steps turned into flights. His thoughts on Jack's safety, Kermit didn't feel his own body's protest of racing up flight after flight, floor after floor without pause. His only focus: reaching the roof before things with Adam turned ugly.
"Come a step closer and I'll kill us both."
Kermit heard Haun's angry threats before he even threw the door to the roof open. Within the murky ink of night, the detective could see Adam held his Glock under Jack's jaw, they were hovering closer and closer to the roof's narrow edge. Several Task force members were trying to close in around Haun, forcing the Asian back step by step.
"Roberts, Elliot, back off and call the others off, now," Kermit barked out, his attention on the unit leader and second in command.
The two men exchanged looks, obviously waging a war between knowing what protocol called for in a hostage situation and the look Kermit was giving them that they knew meant business. Roberts nodded to Elliot.
"Better listen to him, boys, or I'll waste him," Adam added, clutching Jack tightly to him.
Slowly, Roberts and Elliot holstered their weapons and took some steps back. With the nonverbal relinquishment of control over to Kermit and the Caines, the other S.W.A.T team members followed their superiors' example and moved back.
Adam moved closer to the roof's edge. "Good, that's a start, now tell them to leave."
"You heard him, get out of here," Kermit ordered.
"Kermit...." Roberts started to protest.
"Now," the ex-mercenary growled.
"But Captain Simms...."
"Captain Simms put me in charge," Kermit reminded him. "Now go."
Eyes met in a silent battle of wills, resolve against resolve. Finally Roberts lowered his gaze in compliance.
"You heard him, team. Back off and give them some space."
Doing as they were told, the unit members reluctantly backed off further and one by one made their way through the door and off the roof. Kermit knew that despite the order, none of them would be far away. The ex-mercenary then turned to Haun.
"All right, what do you want?" Kermit demanded.
Adam chuckled softly. "What do I want? There's plenty of things I want," he answered. "But what you're going to do for me, or rather for us...." Adam gave a hard squeeze to Jack, digging the nose of the gun even deeper into the architect's jaw, "...is simply turn around and walk away while I leave with Jackie, here. All right? No one needs to get hurt if we all play nice."
Without looking, Kermit could feel Peter on one side of him and Caine on the other. He took a measure of comfort in their presence and knowing his back was covered. "Haun, you already know I'm not going to let that happen."
"Well, uh, you see...." Adam hedged even closer to the edge of the roof. Looking over the stone parapet, the Asian climbed up on and pulled Jack with him, "...you don't really have a choice in the matter. One way or another, Jackie and I are both leaving together."
Kermit looked into Jack's frightened azure eyes and longed to reassure the younger man. "Hey, it makes no difference to me at all if you want to take a swan dive into concrete, but leave him out of this."
"I can't," Haun said. "Can't you see that he's mine? That we belong together?" Adam looked over at the architect. "Can't you see that we love each other and just want to be left alone to be together?"
"Man, you're a few cards short if you really believe that garbage," Kermit antagonized. "He loves you, that's why you've got him at gun point right now?"
"The reason I've got him at gun point is because you won't let us be," Adam retorted. He stroked the gun along Jack's jaw. "All we need is just a little time to talk things over, until he realizes the truth he's forgotten."
"C'mon, Haun, try and be reasonable," Peter interjected, moving in closer as he talked. "Think about this, even if we let you leave, the building is surrounded by cops and even if you got by them, the Feds would be tailing you within the hour. You can't win here."
Haun took a few steps sideways on the narrow overhanging away from the three men. "Don't tell me I can't win. From where I'm standing, I'm the one in control here, not you."
Clouds cast a darkness over the shallow moonlight, a pale haze filling the horizon. Caine took opportunity to get even closer to the gunman.
"Stay back, Priest...." Adam warned.
"Your idea of love is obscured by the overwhelming intensity of your obsession," Pop stated deliberately while he came up another step.
"You've got no idea what you're talking about, Old Man," Haun returned.
"Love is not about possession...."
Adam jerked his head when Caine's voice came from a new direction. He saw the priest was now on his left.
"In fact, it is just the opposite. Love is about trusting another enough to give yourself entire over to them without expectation of anything in return."
Adam jerked around again, his eyes widening when Caine's voice was now at his right.
"Stop it, stop it now!" Adam yelled.
"But you see such trust as a weakness, a vulnerability, so instead you strike out against the one thing you attempt to cling to."
Adam blinked hard several times in disbelief as the image of the priest now in front of him splinter into three separate, distinct images.
"Therefore, the control you seek can never be had because it is in control of you."
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Haun screamed at the images.
Adam jerked the gun away from Jack's neck and began waving it erratically at the split images and getting off several rounds that found only air. Peter had also managed to creep closer while Adam had been distracted, and one hard front kick sent the Glock airborne and over the side.
The kick sent Adam pitching, his feet sliding back against the edge of the wall. He clutched Jack hard for purchase, but Kermit had been close enough at that point to make a grab for Jack's waist and pull him to safety.
The concrete started to give and crumble and with nothing to hold on to, Adam felt himself sliding over the edge. He could hear himself crying out as he started backwards before feeling his arms nearly jerked out of their sockets.
Adam was smacked hard against the brick wall as he looked up to see Caine holding onto him by the wrists and grunting as he clung to him.
"Let me go, Caine, just let me go," Adam pleaded in defeat.
"I...can not," Caine grunted out as he began lifting Haun's full weight up.
"Nope, you're not getting out of it that easy," Peter added, as he took one of Adam's wrists and helped his father to pull Haun back up and over to the side.
Face down on the brick roof and exhausted, Adam felt his arms being wrenched behind him.
"You have the right to remain silent, anything you say...."
Haun didn't even hear the rest of the Miranda rights as Peter Caine read them to him. Instead he turned his face and watched Kermit Griffin released Jack from the hand-cuffs and gag and took Jack's face into his hands.
"Are you all right?" Kermit asked in a whisper.
Jack looked deeply into Kermit's eyes and though he was still shaking a bit, he found himself smiling at the detective. "Oh yeah."
Down on the street a few minutes later, Kermit was hovering nearby the ambulance while the EMS was giving Jack the once over. Satisfied that the architect was indeed uninjured, they cleared him to leave.
There was silence for a few moments before Kermit spoke. "Look, if you need a ride home, I'd like to give you one."
Jack looked at the detective out of the corner of his eye. "I think I'd like that." He then spotted Peter pushing Adam's head into the back of a squad car.
As Jack watched Adam, hands cuffed behind him, head bowed submissively as his legs were shoved into the vehicle, the architect couldn't help noticing how vulnerable the Asian looked when he no longer had his bravado to hide behind. The facade that had once been Adam's claim at dignity had cracked on the roof, and now all that was left behind was the shell of a very pathetic man.
"Hey, are you okay, Jack?"
Jack pulled his eyes off Adam and onto Kermit. "Yeah, I'm just thinking about how he ever had any kind of control over me."
Kermit looked up into the moonlight. "I've met more than one man like him in the past. People like him depend on fear and intimidation to control. Take that away from him and he's nothing."
Jack looked thoughtfully at the Asian for a moment longer. "Yeah, I know you're right, but I can't help but feel a little sorry for him."
In his mind, Kermit saw Jack once more on the rooftop and could hear Adam's threats repeating themselves. "I don't." He looked over to Jack's pensive face. "Do you want to talk to him before they take him off?"
Jack looked on thoughtfully. "No, just take me home. He's not worth it."
Kermit smiled and pushed up his shades. "Nope, he's not. C'mon, let's get out of here," Kermit said softly, leading the younger man to the Kermitmobile.
Peter watched the detective and architect driving away in the Corvair together, still not quite believing what he'd come to realize in the van. It still threw his mind into a tailspin.
"Are you all right, my son?"
Peter turned to his lover. "Yeah, I'm fine. I think Jack will be too, now that Adam's going to be behind bars."
"There is still much yet he must face, inner-demons that he has to conquer yet," Pop reminded him, "but at least the first steps have been taken."
Knowing the other officers wouldn't think it odd since they'd seen him do it before, Peter allowed himself to sling his arm around his dad's shoulder. "Yeah, they have, but do you think Kermit's going to take the chance and travel it with him for awhile?"
Pop shrugged. "I do not know."
'For his sake, I hope he does,' Peter thought to himself. He knew his dad was watching him out of the corner of his eye and smiled, remembering what his Pop told him the first night they'd become lovers. 'Love is as allusive and rare as it is treasured. If Kermit's found it, he needs to hang on to it.' Aloud, he said, "C'mon, Pop, I want to get a good night's sleep before hitting those reports in the morning."
"Yes, let us go home...."
'Beloved,' Peter's thoughts finished. "Will you make some of that bedtime tea?"
Caine smiled indulgently at his lover. Though fatigue had etched it's mark around Peter's eyes, his boy's face was still flushed from the stimulation of the battle with Haun. Peter would not sleep soundly on his own for hours yet and his son needed his rest. "If you wish."
"Good, I've got to stay rested to keep up with you during our morning work-outs," Peter commented mischievously and had he not known better, he could have sworn his father's face actually grew flushed. Peter chuckled and pulled his Pop even tighter into him, enveloping him in a one-armed hug.
Kermit found himself taking the long way back to Jack's apartment. Though they sat in silence, Kermit could sense Jack wasn't quite ready to be left alone yet, and surprisingly enough, the detective wasn't quite ready to leave him alone.
"Think Brewster is going to be all right?" Jack asked, disrupting the stillness.
"I don't know," Kermit answered. "He took a pretty bad hit, so it's hard to say."
Jack looked out the window into lit city. "At least the girl and baby's okay."
"Do I want to know how Caine did what he did on the roof tonight?"
Kermit felt a small smile teasing the corners of his mouth. "I've learned that sometimes it's better not even to ask questions."
"That's what I thought."
Kermit glanced over to the younger man. "Caine and Peter aren't your typical father and son."
"I'm starting to realize that," Jack commented.
Jack seemed content to not discuss Adam at all, and Kermit wasn't going to push the issue. He decided that if Jack still needed a little processing time, he wasn't going to force anything.
Though they drove around a little longer, Kermit knew he couldn't delay the inevitable and found himself pulling up to the curb of Jack's building. If Jack was surprised when Kermit went with him into the building and saw him to the door, he didn't let it show.
Jack fiddled with the lock for a moment before getting the door open. Once he did, he looked up at Kermit. "Um, would you want to stay for a drink?" He looked away from the older man and down the hall, unable to keep eye contact long. "I think after the night we've had, we've earned one."
"Oh, I'd say two," Kermit agreed, shoving his hands into his pants pockets, "but I've got a feeling there's going to be a lot of questions Commissioner Kincaid is going to want answers for tomorrow."
"Yeah, you're probably right." Jack shifted back and forth on his feet. "After all, it didn't go exactly the way it was supposed to."
"Nope," Kermit agreed, his eyes straying past the doorway and into the apartment. "But it got the desired effect, that's the main thing."
Jack ran his hand through his hair, brushing his sandy blond strands out of his eyes. "Yeah, I guess it is."
The two men's gazes held, surrounded by silence in the empty corridor. A door slammed in the distance and broke the spell.
"Well, good-night then," Kermit said gruffly.
"Good-night, Detective," Jack murmured, turning to go inside.
"If you need anything, call me, all right?"
Jack didn't risk a look back. "Sure thing."
As Jack entered his apartment, Kermit turned away from him and headed back down the hall. When he heard the soft click of the door shutting, Kermit turned his head to look over his shoulder, his step pausing a moment.
From inside, Jack's hand hesitated on the doorknob, his forehead resting against the hard wood for the space of several heartbeats.
The two men turned at the same time, Kermit resuming his stride down the hall, as Jack made his way wearily into the bedroom.