Page Two

Part Five

Carlos charged into the emergency area of Parkland Memorial hospital. Walker and Trivette were right behind him. The Hispanic detective wasted no time in cornering one of the nurses milling about the medical facility.

"Excuse me Ma'am, but could you tell me where Trent Malloy has been taken?" Carlos asked a maternal looking redhead in nursing scrubs.

"I'm afraid I don't know Mr..."

"Sandoval, Carlos Sandoval," he introduced himself, only barely in control of the dread threatening to overtake him.

"I'm afraid I don't know where Mr. Malloy would be at the moment, Mr. Sandoval, but perhaps Admitting would know," she offered and pointed in the direction of the large window down the corridor.

"Thank you Mrs..." Carlos read her nameplate, "O'Conner."

"My pleasure," she said with a warm smile.

Before Carlos made it to the desk, he spotted Maria Dosheva waiting with Leon by her side. Carlos sprinted up to the woman and grasped her shoulders.

"Maria, where is he?" Carlos asked, his eyes searching the area around her frantically.

"Oh thank goodness you're here Carlos, I don't know what happened. When I got there he..."

"Maria..." he shook her shoulders slightly." Where is he?"

"They took him back there," she said pointing to a pair of heavy double doors. "Said something about x-rays."

"Back there?" Carlos asked. "Are you sure?"

Maria nodded her dark head and in an instant he took off.

"Hey! Wait a minute Sir! You can't go back there!" A young Asian woman sitting at the widow called after him. Her hand poised over the phone, ready to call security.

Walker stepped up and showed her his badge. "Its all right, we're Texas Rangers."

The woman nodded and waved them to go through the doors as well.

"Is it just me, or does Carlos seem a little freaked out to you?" Trivette commented, taking note of Carlos' paled skin and panicked eyes.

The other Ranger didn't answer, just followed the length of orange and brown tiled hallway until he heard Carlos' familiar voice.

"Oh, querido, what on Earth happened?"

Both Walker and Trivette entered the room that was partitioned off with several screens. When they saw Trent, the private investigator was covered in a hospital gown and laying down on an examining table. On the bandage wrapping Trent's shoulder, Walker could see bright red blood spotting through.

Walker could recognize the pain in Carlos' eyes as he looked his injured companion over. Automatically, Carlos' fingers came up to lightly brush through Trent's disheveled hair.

"It's all right Carlos, it looks worse than it feels," Trent assured him, shooing the fingers away, looking a little self-conscious. "So you don't need to play the mother hen routine with me. Besides, you should see the other guys," he said, trying to smile.

"Trent, this isn't funny, man. I was scared to death," Carlos told him. "The only thing I was told was that there was a disturbance down by the dojo, and that a man was being taken to the emergency room. No details, no nothing except gun shots were fired."

Trent tried to sit up and groaned a little as Carlos slid his hand onto Trent's back for support. Once up, Carlos kept his hand there and rubbed small circles over it tenderly.

"Actually, I didn't even want you told about it."

"What?" Carlos asked incredulously. "Why?"

"I didn't want you to worry when there wasn't anything to worry about," Trent continued.

"I wouldn't exactly call your injuries 'nothing', Mr. Malloy." An unfamiliar voice came from behind the men. Turning, all the men looked at a middle eastern man wearing a white coat.

"Hello, I'm Doctor Sunkara," he introduced himself and shook hands with Carlos, Cordell, and Trivette.

"Just what are his injuries?" Carlos asked with concern. The hand on Trent's back had moved up to rest on his shoulder, Carlos' thumb rubbing gently along the side of Trent's neck.

"Mr. Malloy is very lucky that his injuries are not more severe than they are. He has suffered bruised ribs, a sprained knee, and a superficial gun shot wound to the upper tricep."

"You were shot?" Carlos asked, hard eyes flaring. "My God, Trent!"

"Yes, but as I said, it was a superficial injury. A very lucky man indeed," Dr. Sunkara reinserted.

Walker stepped forward. "Trent, what exactly did happen?"

Trent went on to tell them in detail about the three men that had accosted him in the parking lot and how he'd defended himself against them.

"Do you have any idea why they were after you? Did you recognize any of them?" Trivette asked, cocking his head slightly at the non-verbal communication that seemed to be going on back and forth between Trent and Carlos.

"No, I've never seen any of them before. I'm sure of it," Trent responded. "Maybe it has to do with one of my old cases or something?"

"Maybe," Walker said, but didn't seemed convinced. "Think you could identify them if you saw them again?"

"Yeah, I probably could," Trent responded. After all, he made his living noticing details, even during stressful circumstances. If he saw those faces again, he'd know them.

"Okay, later on tomorrow afternoon, I'd like you to come down to the station and take a look at some mug shots, see if anything pops out at you," Walker told him.

"Sure, I can do that," Trent responded.

"All right," he said and turned to Trivette. "Let's go. I want us to check and see if anybody Trent's helped to arrest has been released lately."

Trivette nodded and looked over to Trent. "Take care of yourself, okay, man?" The blonde man nodded and before leaving the room, Trivette couldn't help noticing Carlos moving a little closer to stand by Trent.

As Jimmy followed Walker down the hall, when he felt they were far enough away from hearing distance, he grabbed hold of Walker's arm. "Hey, hold up a sec."

Walker turned to face his younger partner. "Yeah?"

Cordell watched the other man's gaze shift around the hallway nervously. Finally the dark brown eyes came to rest on him.

"Now I don't know if I'm out of line here or anything, but is there something going on I don't know about?"

"What do you mean?" Walker asked, his steady gaze and schooled face revealing nothing.

"Well, before we came in, didn't I hear Carlos call Trent 'querido'?" Trivette asked.

"It's possible," Walker yielded.

Trivette blinked several times before speaking. "Well, I know I haven't taken Spanish since high school and I'm pretty rusty, but doesn't that mean... um..." Jimmy coughed slightly and cleared his throat, "...beloved?"

"Yep, that would be the definition," Walker stated before starting his progression down the hall.

It took several seconds of processing before Trivette realized what Walker had just said and that he was left staring dumbfounded at the other Ranger's retreating back. When he finally reached the parking lot again, Walker was already waiting on him in the cab of the truck.

"But how, what, when..." Trivette voice trailed off helplessly as Walker started the engine.

"Remember when Trent was almost killed by Riggs?"

"Yeah," Trivette answered.

"That's when it finally dawned on both of them how much they meant to each other," Cordell explained.

Trivette studied the road in front of them quietly for a long moment. "That was over two months ago. You mean to tell me this has been going on that long and that you knew?"

"Yep," Cordell answered, looking at the other man out of the corner of his eyes.

"And you didn't tell me?" Jimmy asked skeptically, his tone hard and clipped.

Walker turned his face slightly. "It wasn't my place to say anything," and then added more pointedly, "Or any of my business for that matter."

Trivette turned to look out the window at the cars they passed. "And it doesn't bother you?"

"Why should it?" Cordell asked with a shrug. "Like I said, it's their business, not mine."

It just wasn't that easy for Trivette. The news had come as such a shock and now his mind was playing catch up on the processing. Trent...Carlos... together? A cold chill swept through him at the thought of all that meant. Two of his male friends whom he 'thought' he knew were together...as lovers? He didn't even want to go where that particular thought led him, or the acknowledge the images playing in his mind at the thought.

How could any two normal men want to engage in something like that, he wondered? The thought of two men being attracted to each other completely baffled him. In all his years with the Dallas Cowboys, training as a Ranger...that was just something that was not tolerated, no if ands or buts about it. If anyone had 'ever' made a move on another guy or something in either of those situations, he would have gotten his butt kicked clear across the state line and back again. Man, shit like that just did 'not' happen!

And Walker! He was a former Marine for god sakes, and yet he seemed to be accepting of it. How could an ex-military man from one of the most elite forces be so complacent about it? That reminded Trivette how Trent was a former special forces officer in the Army himself. He should 'know' better! The 'don't ask, don't tell' policy wasn't in effect for nothing, he should know how difficult they make it on men in the forces and it wasn't 'that' much more tolerated on the streets.

It just ceased to make any sense to Trivette and the more he thought about it, the more questions were raised. Carlos...now there was another thought. Trivette couldn't keep count of the number of dates he'd seen that man go on, even trying to fix him up sometimes. How could he possibly be interested in sharing a bed with another man when he had so many gorgeous women waiting at his door like that? For god sakes, he was practically the Latino Lover image personified before this! What in the hell had changed so drastically?

As the scenery rushed by Trivette outside of the cab's window, images of the past came back to haunt him. Jimmy recalled times where all three of them had played football together and they had jokingly patted each other on the behind, which Trivette hadn't thought a thing about till now. He remembered times where they were at one sporting event or another and either Carlos or Trent had grabbed him in an enthusiastic hug when their particular team won. Goosebumps raised under his skin.

How could two people he had considered such good friends of his end up being such strangers to him now? Had he 'ever' really known them?

Glancing out of the corner of his eye at Walker, at his impassive face staring ahead, Jimmy wondered if he really, truly, knew anyone completely.

Part Six

Back at the hospital, Trent was finishing getting dressed as Carlos got the prescription from Dr. Sunkara for Darvocet to help Trent's discomfort and taking care of the insurance forms to speed up Trent's release.

"You ready babe?" Carlos asked when the doctor left them alone again. With a hand under Trent's arm and one on his back, Carlos helped his lover to stand.

"For not wanting to be here in the first place? Yeah, I'm ready," he said, getting his jacket. "I'm just wanting to go home."

Trent started to take a step, and when Carlos noticed Trent favoring his knee, the officer moved to put his arm around Trent's waist.

"I can manage Carlos," Trent snapped, but when he saw the hurt look flitter across Carlos' dark eyes, he gently squeezed his hand and smiled. "Thanks anyway."

Carlos looked doubtfully at his mate and shook his head. "I figure we can stop on the way home and get the prescription for your pain med filled."

Trent just nodded, feeling Carlos' hand stray to his back again and stay there, guiding him gently through the hall.

"How do you feel?" Carlos asked, looking at Trent out of the corner of his eye.

"Well, between my bandaged ribs, my bandaged shoulder, and my bandaged knee, I feel like I ought to be part of a King Tut exhibit," Trent remarked drolly.

Carlos smiled in spite of himself. "I meant, are you in any pain right now."

"Nah, they've given me enough pain meds to keep everything pretty numb, but come tonight I'll probably feel it," Trent responded.

Carlos was just about to say something when Leon came running up to them with his mother following closely behind.

"Mr. Malloy! You're all right!" Leon said excitedly, looking as though he wanted to hug his teacher, but wasn't sure if it was wise to do so.

Trent smiled brightly and ruffled the boy's dark hair. "Yeah, Leon, I am. For the most part anyway. Nothing major."

"Oh thank heavens! I was so worried," Maria Dosheva exclaimed.

"So was I," Carlos murmured and got a look from Trent.

"Well praise whatever saint that happened to be looking out for you today, Mr. Malloy. I'm so relieved that your injuries aren't serious," the young Hispanic woman remarked before turning to Carlos. "You take him home, look after him," she ordered with twinkling eyes.

"Don't worry Maria, I plan on doing just that," Carlos responded and noticed with amusement that Trent actually blushed.

The ride home was a quiet one, neither man having much to say. Trent could quickly tell Carlos wasn't pleased, but wouldn't say what was troubling him. Instead of asking, Trent just watched Carlos' jaw clench as he wove through the traffic. The private investigator put it out of his mind for the moment, his own head feeling like it was splitting apart at the seams and feeling tired from the pain medication.

Once home, Carlos helped Trent out of the car and into the elevator up to their loft wordlessly.

"Are you hungry?" Carlos asked as Trent sat himself down on the sofa.

"A little," Trent replied honestly. He'd skipped lunch and had only had a piece of toast for breakfast.

"How about if I heat up some of that beef stew?" Carlos asked. It was only a couple of days old.

"Yeah, that'd be fine," Trent answered, leaning against the back of the couch and shutting his eyes.

Trent rested while he heard Carlos puttering around in the kitchen, the sounds of pots and pans being rustled about and the refrigerator being opened and rifled through keeping Trent from falling asleep.

About ten minutes later, Carlos came out carrying a tray that had a large bowl of stew, a glass of ice tea, and a couple of pieces of thickly sliced bread. He sat it down on the coffee table in front of Trent and then handed him a small tablet.

The aroma of the stew made Trent's stomach growl, not realizing just how hungry he had really been. He dug into it heartily.

"Can you just tell me why?" Carlos asked, taking a sip of his own ice tea.

"Why what?" Trent asked, taking a bite of his bread.

"Why you didn't want me to know you had been taken to the hospital," Carlos asked quietly.

Trent looked up from his bowl. "I told you, I just didn't want you worrying."

"You don't get it do you?" Carlos asked.

"Get what?" Trent asked, confused.

Carlos got up from his chair and moved in-between Trent and the coffee table where he got down on his knees. Watching out for Trent's knee, Carlos ran his hands up and down Trent's upper legs.

"I 'want' to worry about you. God, babe, you know how scared you had me today? I mean 'really' know? All the way to the hospital you had me thinking the worst thoughts, that something like Riggs happened again only this time you weren't as lucky just because no one could tell me otherwise." Carlos' words were softly spoken, but still filled with husky emotion.

Trent's hand stroked through Carlos' sable hair. "See, that's 'exactly' the reason I didn't want you knowing. I wanted to spare you that. I'm so sorry, Love."

Carlos reached up to stroke Trent's cheek. "Don't be sorry querido, it's not your fault. But you gotta realize something here babe."

"What?" Trent murmured.

"If we're gonna make this thing between us work, you gotta remember that you're not in this by yourself. There's two of us now to consider, two. What hurts you hurts me, and if we can't count on being able to lean on each other then this," Carlos used a hand to wave at the space between them, "isn't going to work."

Trent looked ardently into soft, warm, umber eyes and felt himself drowning in the dark pool. He'd almost forgotten, almost couldn't recall, what it meant to be in a committed relationship since it had been so long since his last one. It had been a long time since he had someone in his life whose concerns came before his own. He was so used to not relying on anyone else to watch his back for him and it was a hard habit to break. He realized that Carlos had been right, even though he wanted to spare Carlos worry, it was his 'right' to worry about him, his right as Trent's friend, lover, and more.

Trent leaned forward and captured the Latino officer's lips with his own, kissing him soundly and thoroughly.

"You're right lover, I'm so sorry. You have to remember that I'm rusty at this, so bear with me for awhile longer, okay? Forgive me?" The smile on Trent's lips was playful, but his tone was serious.

Carlos leaned in for another deep kiss.

"You know I can never stay mad at you," he said with a dramatic sigh.

"Lucky me," Trent teased, his fingers still brushing through Carlos' curls.

Carlos took the hand in his own and placed a kiss in the center of the palm. "You look beat, Love. The pain killers getting to you?"

"Yeah," Trent responded. "I think I'm ready to call it a night."

Nodding, Carlos stood and helped his lover off the sofa and gently guided him into the bathroom where he helped Trent get undressed down to his briefs. Pulling the comforter back off the bed, Carlos helped his companion under the covers and waiting until he settled in before Carlos got ready for bed himself.

Carlos climbed under the covers, shut off the light and drew the other man very carefully into his arms, not wanting to hurt a rib or bump a shoulder. Before laying his head down, he placed a kiss on the nape of Trent's neck and nuzzled him. Trent sighed contentedly and pushed himself back a little to snuggle more closely against Carlos.

The Hispanic detective listened to his lover's steady, harmonious breathing and sure heart beating, just soaking up the warmth of Trent's body against him and languishing in the clean scent of his skin. Once Trent was sound asleep, only then did Carlos follow suit.

Part Seven

Jarius Valdez walked around the three men who were standing in his office. All of them had shirts covered in blood, their faces caked and smeared with it. Valdez also noticed the various bruises that were prominent on all of them, how one held his wrist. He wasn't moved in the least.

"Marco, Ramon, Galeno, would any of you like to explain to me why three of my best men were incapable of overtaking a single man?" he asked, as all three men studied the floor in front of them, incapable of meeting his eyes.

"We didn't know he could fight that well," Galeno, the biggest of the three finally answered.

"Yeah, we figured he'd be an easy snatch," Marco ventured.

"You underestimated your opponent, didn't you gentlemen?" he asked and they reluctantly nodded their heads.

Valdez paced back and forth in front of them, hands held behind his back.

"Well, I am very disappointed in all of you. I thought you knew better, but apparently I misjudged your abilities. You failed me gentlemen, and failure is something I don't accept very easily," Valdez informed them.

"Well, if you had just told us what we were going to be going up against, then maybe we would have had a better chance," Ramon said bitterly.

Valdez stopped and lifted his eyebrow. "Are you blaming me for mistakes you've made?"

The man wearing a ponytail swallowed hard, intuitively sensing he had stepped his bounds. "No sir, of course not, it's just..."

Valdez raised a hand to stop him in mid-sentence. "No, no, you're right Ramon."

"I am?" Ramon asked disbelievingly.

Valdez came over to him and draped his arm over the young man's shoulder. "Of course you are! I am the boss aren't I?"

"Yes sir," Ramon answered quickly and Valdez smiled at him.

"Well, being the boss means that I am responsible for my men, that I should be responsible for making sure they're prepared to carry out what I ask them to right?" Valdez tightened his arm around Ramon's shoulders in a friendly squeeze.

"Y-yes sir," Ramon asked hesitantly.

"Then as boss, wouldn't you also agree it's my obligation to rectify mistakes I've made so that they don't happen again?" Jarius asked casually.

"Um...yeah, I guess," Ramon responded with a puzzled look.

Valdez's smile grew. "I'm so glad you agree with me."

With his free hand, Valdez then reached under his jacket and withdrew a snub nosed revolver. Ramon had several seconds pass as recognition hit him and all the color drained from his tanned face before Valdez brought the pistol up to point blank range to his head and fired.

As Ramon's dead corpse fell to the floor, dark crimson blood flowing freely onto an expensive oriental rug, Valdez turned to the other two men whose frightened gazes were transfixed on their deceased partner.

"As I said, I don't tolerate failure. Do I make myself clear?"

The two men nodded mutely.

"I'm glad I'm understood. Now you will get Carlos Sandoval's lover for me and this time there will be no mistakes, right?"

Again, they both nodded.

"Good," Valdez said, feeling very pleased with himself as he turned to leave. "Oh, and before you go, take care of this mess."

With mumbled 'yes sir's', Valdez walked away without a look back, having no doubts that his point had gotten across quite effectively.


That afternoon, Carlos was at the station with Trivette and Walker. He felt like he should still be at home with Trent, taking care of his lover, but he knew that he would do his mate more good at the station than being in Trent's way. Besides that, he had already been accused of hovering, but he knew secretly that Trent enjoyed the attention.

"So what do we have so far?" Carlos asked the two Rangers.

Trivette glared at him as Walker answered.

"Nothing so far unfortunately. None of Trent's former cases have come up for parole or been released, for that matter."

"You don't think it could have been a random attack, do you?" Carlos asked hopefully, not really wanting to consider the other option, that his lover had been deliberately targeted.

"It's possible, Carlos, but I really don't think so," Walker said, his lips drawn in a thin line under his mustache. "This sounds like it was a professional move to me, or at least that's what my instincts are telling me."

Carlos looked grimly at the Ranger. He knew from experience that Walker's hunches usually turn out to be right on the mark. "So it was a deliberate snatch attempt."

"Yeah, I think so," Walker responded.

"So what are we going to do now?" Carlos asked, frowning.

"Well, why don't we wait until later for Trent to show up and see if any of the mug shots jar his memory. If these men are professionals, then there's a good chance they're in the computer somewhere."

"You think he's going to be safe?" Carlos asked, concern marring his face.

Trivette snorted and was shot a glance by Walker.

"Yeah, I think so. After yesterday they now know what Trent's capable of. It'd be a mistake on their part to try to go after him again."

Carlos looked into steadfast pale blue eyes, hoping to find the same sense of surety that the older man seemed to have, but he was still left with an uneasy feeling clawing at the depth of his gut.

A reassuring hand found it's way onto Carlos' shoulder. "Don't worry Carlos, we'll find out who tried to take Trent."

"Yeah, sure we will," Carlos answered, but his voice rang hollow and lacked conviction. Maybe he'd feel better if he gave his lover a call. Hearing Trent's voice always made Carlos feel better.


Leon pulled his coat up close around his neck, the chilly fall wind still managed to whip around him and found the opening at the back of his neck. Hauling his book bag more securely onto his shoulders, he made his way down his usual path for home. br>
The Hispanic boy was anxious to get home and get his homework done so he could meet Demont, another student from the Thunder Academy. Demont was in high school, but had been nice enough to offer to practice with Leon for the tournament and Leon wasn't about to turn that down. God, he got so scared when he thought about being in front of all of those people like that.

Leon was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he didn't even realize he was walking into trouble until two boys, Jeffry Scott and Michael Cartright jumped out at him.

"Well, well, well, if it ain't the Karate Kid," Jeffery sneered as Michael laughed and moved behind Leon.

Leon's pulse started racing quickly. He knew these two had a reputation around school as bullies. So far he'd been lucky enough to avoid the duo, but Leon quickly came to the realization that his luck had just ran out.

"I'm just on my way home," Leon said, trying to side step Jeff, who quickly moved to block him.

"I don't think so little man," Michael replied, shoving into Leon hard.

"Why don't you just leave me alone?" Leon asked, wanting to avoid a confrontation if possible. Sensei Malloy had always told him that the best fights were the ones you avoided.

"Now why would we leave you alone when this is so much more fun?" Michael jeered, moving once more to stand behind his friend.

"What's the matter? Are you too much of a pussy to show us some of that karate of yours Dosheva?" Jeff provoked.

Suddenly Leon felt a pair of hands come to rest on his shoulders.

"Nah, he's just too smart to let the likes of you two get to him."

Leon turned his head to see Tommy Malloy standing behind him.

Jeff and Michael's eyes turned hard, a sneer curved on their lips. Obviously they weren't planning on taking on both Leon and a boy several years older than they were.

"Fine, but we're not through with you yet Dosheva," Jeff warned before backing down.

"Oh, I think you are," Tommy warned. "Unless you wanna deal with me too."

The two boys took several steps back before turning to leave.

Leon turned to the boy who was three years older than he was and smiled.

"Thanks Tommy, I didn't really want to have to fight those two."

The dark blonde boy smiled in return. "No need to thank me. They probably wouldn't have fought you anyway. They were nothing more than a couple of bullies and bullies always back down when you stand up to them," Tommy replied.

"You really think so?" Leon asked.

"Nah, I know so," Tommy replied. "Besides, you'd cleaned their clocks," the teenage commented, punching Leon gently in the shoulder.

Leon laughed nervously, feeling his face flame up. "Oh I don't know about that."

"I do, I've seen you in action. You know how to handle yourself," Tommy told him.

Leon ducked his head, studying the rocks that littered the road. "Thanks."

Tommy just shrugged. "Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for yesterday, how you made sure Trent got to the hospital and all." When Tommy's mother had told him about what happened to his older brother, Tommy had been worried, but he hadn't been able to make himself go to the hospital to check on him.

Leon met Tommy's blue-green eyes. "I just wish I had been able to do more to help out Mister Malloy. I should have been able to stop it somehow."

Tommy's hand fell on Leon's shoulder again and he squeezed it. "Hey, from what I heard, we're talking about three big adult men. Trust me, you did the right thing by staying out of it, or else you could have ended up getting seriously hurt."

"Yeah, still though, I wish I could have just 'done' something. If I had known..."

"You did a lot Leon, you called the cops and took him to get medical help. You did just fine," Tommy assured him. He paused for a moment. "Are you gonna be all right or do you want me to walk you home or something?"

Leon shrugged his shoulders. "Nah, you don't hafta, I should be all right now." Then with a grin, he added, "I don't think those two are going to be bothering me anytime soon thanks to you."

Tommy grinned himself. "Okay man, I'll catch up to you later then," and turned to walk away but was stopped.

"Hey Tommy?"

The teenager turned. "Wha?"

"Why don't you ever come to the academy anymore? I haven't seen you there in over a month," Leon wondered.

Tommy's smile faded and his eyes darkened slightly. "I've just been busy, that's all."

Leon began feeling uneasy again. "Oh, all right. Maybe sometime soon you can show up. Some people have been asking 'bout you."

"Maybe," Tommy said quietly, turning to leave.

Leon watched the older boy turn a corner and disappear before he started back for home himself. As he walked, kicking rocks out of his way, he wondered what was going on with Tommy. He'd always liked working out with the older boy when they were in class together. Every time they had been sparring partners, Tommy had always taught him something new. Then there were the few times that Mr. Malloy and Tommy had come with him and Carlos on an outing together. A smile played on Leon's lips when he remembered the time that Tommy had won a stuffed tiger at a carnival they had all went to together, then surprised Leon by giving it to him at the end of the night, claiming he had no place in his room to keep the thing.

Tommy had always seemed like an all right kind of guy and Leon liked hanging around the older boy. The high school boy never looked down on Leon just because he was younger, never treated him like a 'little kid' and Leon liked that about him. Lately though, Leon sorta missed having Tommy around because over the last month they hadn't done anything with Carlos and Trent, nor had the older boy been coming to class like he always had before. Leon mused, trying to figure out what could be going on with Tommy.

Leon turned a corner himself, glad to know he only had about another fifteen minutes of walking before he was home again. With his thoughts still on the teenager who'd helped him out, Leon didn't notice the dark van as it approached.

The gray vehicle closed in on him and he suddenly turned when he heard the sound of a door sliding open. He turned just in time to feel his arm grabbed and nearly jerked out of its socket as he was roughly jerked by one pair of hands as another pair grabbed at his waist.

Both arms and legs flailing, Leon's book bag fell to the wayside as he was hauled into the van.

Part Eight

Trent knew full well he should have stayed home instead of coming to the academy, considering that his body still ached from yesterday's adventure in the parking lot. He just couldn't do it though, the thought of spending all day at the loft not doing anything was driving him stir crazy. He still had a few hours before he was expected down at Ranger headquarters and still had some cases he had been working on that he wanted some computer time with to chase down some leads and check out some records.

Trent smiled to himself as he thought about the fact his lover would be none too happy with him if he knew what Trent was doing. Not that he intentionally wanted Carlos to worry about him, but it 'was' kind of nice to have someone who took a vested interest in him. It was a strange sensation to know that someone wanted to protect and care about 'him' for a change. He loved his work, found satisfaction in it, and wouldn't even think about giving it up, but sometimes it was nice to lean on someone else once in awhile, to not always be the one depended on.

He still smiled as his eyes rested on the photo that sat on top of his computer. It was a picture of him and Carlos taken during their last camping trip. Their arms were wound around each other's waist, they stood so close their hips touched, and their faces were turned to one another. The look of affection they shared, the secret glint in the eyes that only another lover would recognize was captured, frozen in time, during a perfect and romantic day.

"Face it Malloy," he said into the emptiness of his office, "you've got it bad." He chuckled to himself when he realized how true that was.

Whether it was due to the fact that Carlos had known him forever or because they were best friends before becoming more, Carlos was able to bring out only the best in him, made him better than he had ever been before. Or at least it sure felt that way to the private investigator. What had taken them so long to get to this point in their lives? Trent sighed a little regretfully, thinking about all the time they missed out on because of not wanting to admit how they truly felt, but at least that was past them now and they had so much to look forward to still.

A ringing phone broke his concentration.

"Hello, Trent Malloy," he spoke into the receiver.

"S-sensei Malloy?" a frightened and familiar voice asked.

Trent wrinkled his brow. "Leon? Is that you?"

"Sensei, I need your help, I'm in trouble..." the familiar voice of his student said, the fear being betrayed by the slight quivering that Trent could hear.

"Leon, where are you? What's happened?"

"Mister Malloy, I'm at one-oh-eight Brewer road. Please come, help me," the voice pleaded.

"Hold on Leon, it'll be okay buddy. I'll be there just as soon as I can okay?" Trent reassured him.

The line then went dead, only a dial tone ringing in Trent's ear.

"Leon? Leon?" Silence.

Hanging up the phone, Trent grabbed his coat and took off for the car waiting outside.


The cordless phone was clicked off and the hand that was cruelly clutching the back of Leon's head released it's hold, but the revolver pointed at his skull didn't waver.

"That's a good boy," the man holding the gun on him said. "You did a fine job, son, just fine."

"What do you want with Sensei Malloy?" Leon asked, his hands trying to work loose of the cord that was wrapped around them.

"That's none of your business boy," the man with a goatee, the one who had held the phone to his mouth, said.

"Y-you're not going to hurt him are you?" Leon asked, knowing it was wiser to keep his mouth shut, but not able to help himself.

The man with a goatee leaned in close to Leon, a grisly smile playing over his mouth. "Now do we look like the type of people who would hurt anybody?" The two other men in the van laughed as the goatee man picked up a black felt sack and put it over Leon's head.

As his face was covered, making him unable to see where they were taking him, Leon head the sound of the cell phone being dialed again.

"Yeah Franky, we got him, he's on his way east on Brewer's road."

Leon's stomach sunk and churned and he had the distinct feeling he was going to get sick.


Trent wasted no time in trying to get through the city traffic, battling red lights and slow drivers the entire way. He sped along to the city limits, trying to remind himself to keep in mind that there was a heavy rainstorm going on outside.

Wipers squeaked against the windshield on it's fastest speed to cut through the wall of rain that battered against the glass. Even with the headlights on, it did little to make an improvement on the poor visibility, the translucent lights being dimmed and muted by a layer of fog that was rolling in.

Trent nearly missed the sign for Brewer's Road and made a sharp turn onto the country road. Something prickled at the nape of his neck, an uneasiness settling in the pit of his stomach and he didn't know why. Pushing the thought out of his mind, he concentrated on Leon and finding the boy. He didn't know what sort of trouble Leon had landed himself in, but Trent was sure going to find out.

The blonde P.I.'s eyes scoured the surrounding area, keeping an eye out for the address Leon had given him, but he had yet to come upon a house of any kind yet - the road being mostly a long empty stretch with an occasional cross-road disrupting it's flow.

As Trent passed one of those crossroads, a beam of light began to reflect in his rear-view mirror. Trent's eyes darted back and forth between the road in front of him and the brown Sedan behind him that was quickly barreling towards him. Fingers tightened on the steering wheel, Trent's pulse beginning to pick up it's pace.

The car edged closer, only several car lengths away from his bumper. Trent slowed down slightly to encourage the car to pass if that was it's intention, as he hoped. Still the car drew closer until it was right on Trent's bumper.

Trent steeled his muscles in anticipation, sensing what was going to be coming next. The Sedan rammed into his tail end, causing it to swerve, but since Trent was ready for it, he was able to keep it in control.

Trent now sped up, trying to put a healthy distance between them, but the car sped up and slammed into him even harder. Trent tried to veer into one lane and then the other to shake the Sedan, tired squealing against the wet road, but the other vehicle was able to stay on him.

Trent saw a deep embankment coming up on his right, and his alarm intensified. The Sedan pulled up and directly next to him. Before Trent could react, the Sedan was pulling into him, colliding into him. Trent heard the sickening sound of metal scraping against metal and felt himself being pushed over the edge of the steep embankment, his car having no other place to veer off to.

Trent braced himself as he felt his car roll, the ground crashing, rushing up to crush against the side, then the hood, then the other side of his car. His bruised ribs, and shoulder were jarred as the seatbelt was yanked against him hard, and he felt his head hit the steering wheel before sweet darkness claimed him.

The Sedan screeched to a halt, the two men inside watching the car crash and smash down the embankment, metal crunching as it rolled.

Once the wreckage settled, the two men got out and slid down the hill to the car, careful of shattered glass and pieces of metal in their path.

Making it down to the car, both men looked into the upturned car, seeing the bleeding man laying limply against the leather seat.

"Think he's dead, Franky?" Eduardo asked worriedly, knowing that their boss wouldn't like that at all.

Franky put his fingers against Trent's carotid artery at his neck and waited a second. "Nah, he's just out of it," Franky replied, feeling the thin pulse against his fingertip. Franky then pulled out a knife from his back pocket. The other man watched as Franky slit the heavy seatbelt and grabbed Trent under the arms.

"Don't just stand there, help me!" he ordered the other man.

Doing as he was told, he grabbed the blonde's legs and helped haul the man out of the wreckage. They then carried him back to the Sedan.

"What do we do with him now?" Eduardo asked Franky. "We tie 'im up," Franky said, pulling out a thick rope from the back seat and pulled Trent's arms behind him as Eduardo held him up.

"Is that necessary?" he asked Franky. The big man simply glared at him. "You weren't there when we tried to get 'im the first time, yeah, it's necessary. And so is this," he said, pulling out a small vial and needle. Drawing clear fluid up into the syringe, Franky shoved Trent's shirt sleeve up a limp arm and injected it. "There we go blondie, that ought to keep you nice and agreeable," he said with a sneer before shoving the private investigator into the back of the car. "Come on," he said to Eduardo. "Valdez is waiting for this pretty boy."


Carlos was sitting at his desk, still wanting to call his lover, but he knew it wouldn't be long before Trent would be showing anyway. He knew that his mate sometimes wanted his space, so he decided to hold off on the phone call.. Staring at the phone, he was startled when it actually rang.

"Detective Sandoval," Carlos greeted after picking up the receiver.

"Carlos, it's Maria Dosheva," he heard the familiar voice on the other line say.

"Maria, what can I do for you?"

There was a long pause on the other end. "Carlos, have you heard from Leon today at all?"

"No," Carlos said slowly. "I haven't. Why? What's going on?"

He heard a shaky sigh. "He hasn't come home from school, he was due home an hour ago," Maria told him.

Carlos grew concerned. "Are you sure he didn't stop over at Demont's or something?"

"He wouldn't do that, Carlos, not without telling me first," Maria told him and he could hear her voice starting to quiver slightly.

"Maria, I'm sure he's just fine," Carlos said encouragingly, even though he knew she was right. It wasn't like Leon to just take off without letting someone know where he was going to be. He was more responsible than that. "Tell you what, I'll drive around to some of his hangouts and see if I can find him for you."

"Oh would you?" she asked. "That would be wonderful. I need to stay here in case he calls or I'd do it myself."

"No problem Maria, I'm on my way out right now," Carlos told her as he hung up.

'Leon, what are you up to?' Carlos wondered with a frown as he walked out the door.

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