Good Cop, Bad Cop
Jim watched as the suspect's eyes darted from him to Blair and back to him. Jim leaned back in the stiff, metal chair, his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face as he studied the man.
The kidnapper looked amazing normal: short dark hair, light brown eyes, pale skin. As Jim studied the suspect, those wheat-colored eyes focused on him, the heartbeat starting to climb as Jim stared calmly back. If the perp wanted to cast him as the bad cop, Jim could play the part. He frowned a little more as he let Blair take a turn trying to pry information out
Blair, with his fingers steepled in concentration, sat near the man, leaning forward and focusing on Carlson. "Look, if you just tell us where the girl is, the D.A. is willing to go easy. No one wants this to turn ugly. Give the D.A. a good headline for the papers, and he won't feel the need to hang you out to dry. Come on, work with us," Blair pleaded. Richard Carlson, prime suspect in the kidnapping of the Muskil girl, flicked his eyes toward Blair and then returned to suspiciously watching Jim.
Blair sighed. "Man, you know how politicians are, and the D.A. is definitely a politician. If he can't get up in front of the camera and make a big deal out of single-handedly saving the girl, he's going to make the 'tough on crime' speech and use your hide as exhibit one. So, give him a way to preen in front of the press," Blair cajoled.
Jim ignored the indignant complaints from the D.A. that he could hear on the other side of the one-way mirror. He struggled not to smile as Simon hurried to assure the prosecutor that Blair didn't mean it. Not an easy job considering that Blair meant every word, and most of the department agreed with him. Their new D.A. definitely cared more about the press releases than the day to day work of convicting criminals.
"This is your best chance for a good deal," Blair continued, and Jim focused on the interview. His eyesight slid out of control for a brief moment turning the pale blue painted concrete wall into a spiderweb of hairline cracks and turquoise shadows. Easily finding the dial, he brought his senses under control without altering his scowl, which had Carlson squirming in his seat and clinging to the edge of the table nervously.
"I want immunity," Carlson mulishly insisted, his eyes still on Jim. The man had repeated the same phrase a dozen times over the past three hours, and somewhere out there in the dangerously cold Cascade night a seven year old child might be shivering or suffering or dying.
Jim knew Blair was thinking about the same thing because his partner's mouth thinned into a straight line and his body went unnaturally still.
Blair nearly whispered, "If Kelly dies..."
Jim heard the strained tone that warned him that his partner was on the edge of completely losing it. As he stood, Carlson jerked in his chair. God, he was getting too old for twenty-hour stakeouts and three hours sitting in the narrow metal chairs in the interrogation room. He cracked an elbow joint with an audible pop and then cracked his knuckles. Carlson's eyes widened in fear.
"It won't work... you going all bad cop? I'm not buying it because I have rights. You can't touch me. I want immunity," Carlson babbled, but Jim could hear the man's heart pound so fast that it sounded like an animal trapped inside his chest. "I want immunity," he repeated.
Glancing over at his partner, Jim could see the frustration building as Blair's lips moved in silent curses that would have made sailors blush.
"Want a coffee, Chief?" Jim asked, completely ignoring Carlson. Blair glanced over, his eyebrows drawn in confusion, and Jim gave a tiny nod toward the one-way mirror. Blair's confusion deepened. "I'll just be gone ten or fifteen minutes," Jim casually shrugged and then headed toward the door without waiting for an answer on coffee.
The open door let in a cool breeze that cut through the warm air in the interrogation room where the heater left the air dry and stuffy.
"I need results, and I don't appreciate your partner's smart-ass mouth," D.A. Santelli snapped the minute the door clicked shut. The man's expensive coat smelled sour, but most of Cascade did. The city's coldest winter on record had left everyone permanently damp from the endless snow, and the overheated building meant that everyone had that curdled smell as if they'd forgotten their clothes in the washer and let them sour before putting them on. Jim reached over and flicked off the microphone so that Blair would have some privacy from Simon and the D.A.
"Sandburg is doing his job," Simon growled, his own frustration approaching a breaking point.
"Blair is doing his best to give Carlson a reason to talk, and if you want that little girl found, you'll give him time to work," Jim said, stepping closer to Santelli until the man's eyes focused just on him.
Standing between Jim and Simon, the district attorney looked like an oversized lawyer doll with his dark suit and red tie, his briefcase and a cell phone clipped to his belt, and his prematurely thinning hair and baby face. Anywhere else, he might have looked authoritative, but his five feet seven inches just looked comical as he nearly backed into Simon to avoid Jim.
"Don't pull your shit with me, detective," Santelli snarled as he stopped backing up. "I'm not a criminal who's going to fall for the good-cop/bad-cop routine you and Sandburg use. I want answers or I'm going in there to talk to Carlson myself."
"And what? Offer him immunity?" Jim asked with an unpleasant smile. The man flushed, and Jim realized that the man was willing to do just that.
"One hour," he snapped instead of answering the question. "I'll be back in one hour." Turning around so fast that he smacked Simon in the leg with his briefcase, Santelli then pushed out of the small observation area attached to the interrogation room.
"Politicians," Simon spat the word like a curse. "So, get back in there and get me the girl before Telly-Santelli gives the man immunity," Simon ordered, using Megan's favorite hate name for their new D.A.
"Give Sandburg a minute," Jim said as he listened to the heartbeats inside the room. Blair was up now, pacing with short, fast steps and talking just as fast.
"Man, you're digging this hole, this huge hole, and if you keep digging, you're going to be in the bottom with no way out. But man, Kelly's just a little girl. She still colors the ponies in her coloring books pink. Just let us take her back to her mom."
"Look, I'm not an idiot." Carlson had a dismissive scorn in his voice now that Jim had left, and the animal-fast thumping of his heart had settled into something steady, even if it was still a little fast. "The goon leaves, and now you're trying to be all buddy-buddy with me. You don't have my best interests in mind, so get that D.A. in here so we can start talking immunity or I'll use the 'L' word and then we can't have this little chat at all. You and your bad-cop partner will have to sit out there while Kelly Muskil gets colder and colder."
Jim could hear Blair's heart rate nearly double, and, even though it was probably just his imagination, he could have sworn he smelled Blair's aggression. Over the years he'd learned that dark, musky odor. Jim cocked his head and moved a step closer to the door. If Blair did lose it, he wanted to be close enough to catch him before that white-hot temper took out Carlson. Blair didn't blow often, but when he did, even Jim avoided the fallout.
"Problem?" Simon asked, reaching for the microphone switch. Jim held up his hand palm out to stop Simon as he listened.
Blair laughed, a low, soft chuckle that made the hairs at the back of Jim's neck stand up.
"What? You think this is funny?" Carlson demanded.
"Funny?" Blair asked, the pacing stopping someone near the door, so still on this side of the table. "Funny is what they're going to do to you in prison. You'll be fresh meat, a scrawny little runt like you who kidnapped a little girl, who raped her."
"Hey, I never!"
"The motives on these things, it's either profit or sex and you don't seem interested in profit. Hell, you aren't even doing the one thing that could save your pathetic hide, so that suggests that you already got what you wanted. You're a rapist. You raped a seven year old child and now you're leaving her out there to freeze to try and hide the crime. I wonder what all those murderers in prison will think of that?" Blair's voice was barely more than a whisper, but Jim could hear every word as a cold shiver went through him. From Carlson's now-speeding heart, Jim guessed the man was starting to get a little worried.
"Hey, if you go spreading rumors like that!"
"Tell us where the girl is," Blair cut him off.
"I didn't rape her. You can't tell them that I raped her," Carlson sounded breathy, desperate.
"I can. If I don't have Kelly safe and sound and warm in the next few minutes, I'll toss you in the holding cells and charge you with pedophilia in front of all of them."
"You can't." And that was a whine. Jim could imagine the expression on Carlson's face, but he didn't move away from the door. Simon stood by the viewing glass just looking confused, so Blair obviously hadn't done anything too drastic... well, aside from blackmailing Carlson with the threat of gang rape and torture.
"You can't," Carlson whined again.
"What? Like you can't take a little girl and abandon her somewhere, tied up or locked up or cold? Like you can't terrify a child just to get back at her father? Like you can't take your fight to someone who can fight back, but instead you torture a child? Oh, I so can. They'll rape you raw and leave you crying on the concrete if you let that little girl die, you piece of..."
Jim threw the door open as he heard the table legs shift on the floor as Blair hit the corner of it in his attempt to reach Carlson. Jim barely caught Blair's arm, reeling his partner in as Blair struggled to get to the man who now pulled madly at the handcuff that attached him to the far side of the table.
Using his body, Jim trapped Blair in the corner.
"Keep him away from me. He can't tell people that I raped her. He can't," Carlson screeched. Jim held Blair in the corner with one hand and a hip as he turned to face a confused Simon and a pale, shaking Carlson.
"Where is she? If I have proof that she hasn't been raped, then I'll say my partner is out of line. But if I don't have proof, I can't protect you," Jim suggested.
"Protect him?" This time Blair screeched and punched Jim in the stomach none too gently. Jim grabbed Blair's wrist and hung on as Carlson looked from him to Blair and back to him.
"19th and Union... the old post office that's boarded up," Carlson blurted.
"You fucking asshole. No heat. She won't have any heat," Blair struggled harder, and Jim had to focus on his furious partner who fought to get out of the corner.
"I'll get Brown and Rafe over there," Simon said as he pulled Carlson out of his chair and uncuffed him from the table. "You get your partner under control," Simon added as he hurried Carlson out. The minute the suspect left, Blair sagged, his anger evaporating into the despair and depression Jim knew so well.
"If she's dead..." Blair let his words trail off as the stinging smell of salt filled the air. Jim stopped trying to corral his partner and just put an arm around the back of his neck and pulled him into a hug.
"You did good, Chief. Brown and Rafe will find her," he promised. If he broke his promise later, he'd deal with his own regret and guilt as well as Blair's.
"He-" Blair stopped. Pushing himself out of Jim's arms, he wiped his eyes and took several deep breaths. "I just kinda lost it," he said quietly.
"Yep," Jim agreed, "but you got him to give a location."
"He thought he was safe once you left the room," Blair huffed a disgusted laugh. "He didn't know that you're all rules-happy, man, and I'm the one who can't seem to rein in his emotions."
"They always expect you to play good-cop," Jim agreed as he reached out and ruffled Blair's short curls. "It's what makes you so good at bad cop."
"Yeah," Blair started toward the door, straightening clothing and that had gotten pulled out of shape during their fight. "But one of these days, I'm going to take one of these people who hurts kids, and I'm going to accidentally drop him down three flights of stairs."
"No you won't." Jim followed his partner back out into the bullpen where the special task force to find Kelly Muskil had mostly cleared out, leaving maps and paperwork and half-filled cups of coffee across every flat surface in the room. "I'll always be here to make sure you never drop them down more than one flight," he said as he considered his desk with a little distress.
An active radio perched on top of a stack of blueprints for Cascade sewers balanced on top of Rafe's desk had provided a quiet chatter, but suddenly a tinny voice shouted through the box. "We got her. She's alive. She's cold, but alive. Tell the ambulance to go code 5," a familiar voice called. Only Jim could hear the cheering and crying behind Rafe as a little girl called for her mother.
Turning away from his violated desk, Jim saw the look of utter relief on Blair's face. "You know, some days I'm really glad I decided to become a cop... even if I do play bad cop more than is good for my hippy self-image." Blair's voice had a hint of wonder, and Jim reached over and ruffled Blair's curls before turning toward his desk, determined to find the surface before going home for the night. Besides, it would give him an excuse to stay and wait for the others to get back with their reports.
As Jim started crumpling scribbled notes on maps and random sticky-notes, Blair grabbed a trashcan off the floor and started dumping Styrofoam coffee cups in. "Some days, I think you're a damn fine cop, Chief," Jim admitted before falling silent. The sound of normal chatter over the radio filled the room as they worked to clear their desks. This case was closed.