Carter and Lee woke up and found themselves in a large, bright room, and they found themselves chained to the wall.
"Carter!" Lee shouted as everything came into focus.
"What is it now, Lee?" Carter asked.
"How did we get into this mess?"
"We went to see Hojun, and, damn, that's all I remember," Carter recalled.
"Where the hell are we?" Lee asked.
Carter looked around and didn't know what to make of their surroundings. There were gurneys covered in dry blood, piles of old bones, discarded rusted pipes, and vats of lye and other concoctions.
"Shit, how the hell are we going to get out of here?" Carter asked.
Carter looked up and saw their wrists were constrained by old handcuffs, in fact they looked ready to fall apart if giving the right jerk. Lee did the same and his cuffs broke and his stepped down, Carter struggled in his, writhing in the cuffs, while Lee came to a conclusion.
"Now I remember," Lee said, "we went to see Hojun, and Leaboo's men knocked us out."
"Oh really?" Carter asked as the cuffs broke, "I never would've guessed."
"Somehow he must have convinced us that he was Hojun so we would leave"
"THORN!" they exclaimed in unison.
"Shit, Leaboo probably has her by now!" Carter said, "Shit, what do we do now?"
They heard a loud, female, almost inhuman scream submerge from somewhere among their surroundings.
"It's Thorn! She's alive!" Lee said.
"But for how long?" Carter asked, "We've got to get out of here and find her!"
They soon realized that the problem was coming to them, they heard two heavy sets of footsteps from above, then slowly made their way down, all the while associated with Thorn's screams.
"They're coming down here, we've got to act fast," Lee said.
"How?" Carter realized that sometime during his blackout, his gun had been removed from his pocket.
The door opened, and Thorn was led in by a tall man with bruises all over his neck and around his eyes, and Thorn had a gash on her forehead and several gashes, bruises, and burn marks on her body.
"Carter!" she cried.
"Shut up!" the man said as he shoved her in, and locked the door behind him.
The man struck Thorn with his fist, knocking her down, and she slid across the room until she hit her head on the wheels of a gurney. She ran her hands over the back of her head, then on her forehead and down her face, which by now was stained with blood and tears.
"Carter!" she pitifully cried again.
Carter ran over to Thorn and knelt beside her, she held out her arms for him to help her up.
"Oh shit, Thorn," he said as he observed the damage done to her.
"Carter!" she choked on a sob.
"Shut up!" the man said, "Leaboo will have his way with you before this is over. And you better obey him."
"Man, shut the hell up with that bullshit!" Carter said, "You gone and done all this to her, she has a right to scream by now, I'm damn surprised she hadn't broken the windows to this damn place."
Carter picked Thorn up and held her in his arms against his chest as his eyes scanned every angle of the room they were in, looking for a way out. It seemed their best choice was to kill the man and steal his keys.
"You say that now," the man said, "just wait until Leaboo gets down here. I'll be glad to report this to him."
"Too bad you won't have that chance," Lee came up to the man and kicked him in the chest.
The man fell back against the wall and pulled out his gun and fired at Lee, who dodged every bullet. When the man fired the last bullet, he threw the gun at Lee, who dodged that too, and picked up it when it hit the ground. The man threw himself at Lee and pinned him to the ground, and started beating him.
Carter leaned Thorn against the wall and stood up, "Stay here," he said as he went over to them. Carter picked the man off Lee and punched him in the face, sending him back. Lee got up and went at him again, but the man grabbed him and threw him at Carter, knocking both of them onto the ground. Lee and Carter looked up and saw the man standing over them when something jabbed him in the gut. Thorn was standing across him with one of the pipes in hand and swung at him. He missed it and ran towards the wall and picked up another pipe and matched her swing for swing.
Suddenly the tables turned and the man started forcing Thorn back, she kept retreating until she got to a beam leading up to near the ceiling, and the man followed. Soon, Thorn found herself at a dead end, below her was a vat of acid, the same red acid that was almost used on her yesterday. Thorn found herself trapped, she was between the henchman and the acid, with no way out.
Lee and Carter got up and tried to get up to the beam to help her, but by that time, it was too late. The man swung and Thorn jumped, missing it. The man stepped forward to strike her again and instead she shoved him with her pipe and he fell into the acid.
"Oh shit!" Carter said as they watched the man's flash eaten away by the acid.
"What do you know?" Lee asked, "'Is just like the joust on American Gladiators."
"Carter!" Thorn pitifully screamed.
"It's okay, Thorn, he's dead now, you can come on down, and we'll get the hell out of here," Carter said.
"Carter behind you!"
Carter heard a gun fire and a body fall to the ground, he turned around and saw Lee on the floor with his hand on his chest, and Leaboo entering the room.
"Well, well, well," Carter said, "if it ain't Mister Big Ol' Nasty Ass, still taking pleasure in hurting a little kid?"
"Carter!" Lee gasped, "don't be an idiot."
"It ends here," Leaboo said.
"You're damn right it is," Carter said.
Before Carter could do anything else, he heard the gun fire again, and this time, he fell to the floor.
"Shit," he hissed.
Leaboo removed the cartridge from his gun and put in another as he laughed, "Six years ago, I killed Professor Strong, now you two. It only makes sense, anyone who's cared for that girl ends up dead. She's simply a curse, and there's only one way to end a curse," he said as he stared at Thorn, who was now across the room from him, "sever its life."
"You're a sickass dude, you know that?" Carter asked.
He didn't have time to answer, a bullet entered his chest and went out through his back and he fell on the floor, his gun fell beside him and his eyelids closed.
Carter and Lee looked over and saw Thorn holding a smoking, very much real gun, painted bright green, exactly like her dart gun.
Sirens were heard and through the windows above blue lights were seen, Thorn ran over to Lee and Carter, "Carter, my God, are you going to be okay?"
"Yeah, I think we got lucky this time," Carter said, "how about you, Lee?"
Lee lowered his hand from his chest, revealing no sign of injury or penetration from a bullet, or even blood for that matter. The bullet had missed him, but he still had open injuries from the fight.
"We got damn lucky this time," Lee said.
"And now, it's all over," Carter said, "all this shit over one emerald, and we don't have the slightest idea where in hell it is."
"Yes we do, Thorn has it," Lee said.
"No I don't," Thorn said as she lowered her gun.
"Yes you do," Lee said as he clutched the gun, "right inside your gun."
The bodies were taken to the morgue, and Carter, Lee, and Thorn were rushed to the hospital. While they were there, Thorn explained that Hojun had given her the gun with the emerald placed in the handle, so she had been carrying it on her all along, and she had confided in Lee that she was carrying the emerald the entire time.
It was also revealed that when they had left to see Hojun, he had called them down to the hideout, but Leaboo caught them first, then while they were unconscious, he had gone to their apartment and kidnapped here. Then while they were locked in the room down below, she was kept in another room very similar, and Leaboo had left, leaving a henchman in charge, he demanded the location to the emerald, but when she refused to tell him, he beat her severely. In fact, when she was taken down to the room Lee and Carter were in, she was being taken down there to either finally divulge the emerald's location, or die.
Carter and Lee were both recovering when Hojun came in. "So, how are L.A.'s two top officers doing?"
"You mean I'm still in the L.A.P.D. after all this?" Carter huffed.
"And how, I spoke to your employers this morning, and they all agreed to keep you, considering you unraveled a case that's been going on for six years with no success until now," he said.
"Wonderful," Carter said.
"You'll be happy to know that your services are still desired in Hong Kong."
"Oh good, I'll be going back soon."
"Before you do that," Thorn said, "after you guys get out of here, could I take you to my home town first? Before we have to go our separate ways?"
"Sure, why the hell not?" Carter asked, "I've been halfway around the globe by now, one more vacation shouldn't hurt."
"Good, I'll go speak with the doctor and see how long you'll be staying, then I'll be able to catch the next flight going out around that time."
Thorn left the room and headed down the hall. Hojun went over to Carter's bed, "You do realize of course that now she'll need someone to look after her."
"Yeah…you see if you can find a good place for her to stay," Carter said, "I don't care how many injuries she's cost me, Leaboo was wrong as hell, she's not a curse."
"Well we'll have to see about relocating her with someone during the next few weeks, and if it turns out we can't find anybody, we may have to put her in a foster home," Hojun said. "But I'm not going to tell her that now, I'll let you three recover, then go on your trip, then find a way to tell her when you get back."
Carter, Thorn and Lee were released from the hospital after making a recovery in what seemed to be record time. They were at the airport waiting for their flight when Hojun showed up.
"Hey Hojun, what's happening?" Carter asked.
"It's all over, the emerald is back in its rightful location, Leaboo is buried, and the case is officially closed. Just some minor paperwork from here on out," Hojun took out a few papers, one with several lines at the bottom, "I just need you two to sign here."
Lee and Carter put their signatures down on the paper.
"Hey man, it's too bad about Thorn and all, not having anyone to look after her now," Carter said.
"Oh we found her a home."
"You did?" Lee asked.
"Yep, she seems very happy about it too."
"I hope it's with someone who likes her," Carter said.
"Believe me, it is," Hojun said as he put the papers into his pocket and walked off.
Thorn walked back to Carter and Lee, "We'll be boarding soon, and Carter, I'm sorry about ruining your vacation here."
"You gotta be kidding me, this trip out here has been one of the best times in my life."
"Yeah, so don't worry about it, everything's a'ight between us. Ain't that right, Lee?"
"It certainly has been something," Lee said, "but I don't think the police back in Hong Kong will believe me when I tell them what happened."
"No problem, take me back with you, I'll tell them exactly how it went," Thorn told him.
"Well Thorn, you certainly did give us a very interesting vacation," Lee said, "we certainly won't forget our stay in New York."
"That's good to know," Thorn said.
"Hey Thorn, Hojun told me about your new family, congratulations," Carter said.
"You mean it?" Thorn asked.
"Good, because now I have something to say," Thorn said.
"What's that?" Carter asked.
Thorn threw herself into Carter's arms and yelled, "Daddy!" and planted a long, wet kiss on his cheek.
Lee stood beside him and laughed, "Congratulations, Carter."
"Ah, Daddy #2!" Thorn moved from Carter to Lee and kissed him on the cheek as well.
"Wait a minute, what do you mean?" Carter asked.
"I told Hojun that I didn't want to live with anyone else, I wanted to live with you two, I know you like me," Thorn said.
"Well you can't argue with that," Lee said.
"True. Okay, I don't know how we're going to pull this off, but I'm sure we'll find a way."
"Thank you Carter," Thorn said as she jumped back into his arms and put hers around his neck, "I love you."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, just don't say that for everyone to hear, they might think we're a bunch of damn perverts," Carter said.
"Come on, we better get going if we want to catch our flight," Thorn said as she got down.
They grabbed their bags and boarded the plane, took their seats and within a few minutes, they took off.
"So you live in Berlin?" Carter asked.
"No, but this was the only flight heading out anywhere near my hometown," Thorn said, "you know Carter, I think you'll like it there. The women back home are dying to meet a nice man like you."
"Oh yeah? Where do you live?" Carter asked.
"WHAT!!?" Carter exclaimed.