And A Child Shall Lead Him
"So what do we do now?" Munch asked, "Sitting on our hands can only take us so far."
"Benson-Stabler, go back to Natasha's apartment and question everyone in that building. The old lady gave a vague description, try to get something better. Munch-Fin, go to her place of employment and ask around," Cragen ordered.
"You're letting me back on the case?" Munch asked.
"I don't need you hanging around here pouting. Go!" Cragen commanded.
The detectives rushed out. 1Am; Munch and Fin pull up in front of "Mr. Happy's", a strip club. They get out of the car.
"I can't believe you don't mind her working here," Fin commented.
"She works at night to put herself through college," Munch told him.
Fin smirked, "You know how many strippers I put through college?"
They walk in and are greeted by a beautiful red-head dressed in a playboy bunny costume.
"Hi! I'm Bunnie, can I help you gentleman?" Bunnie asked pleasantly.
Munch showed her his badge, "Detectives Munch and Tutoula, Natasha Klept work here?"
"'Tasha? Yeah, why?"
"She worked tonight?" Fin asked
"No…didn't call in either. Not like her," Bunnie's eyes go wide, "something happen to her?"
"We don't know yet. Has anyone been paying extra close attention to her lately?" Munch asked.
"No more the usual. We get the same guys in here night after night. Same types you know," Bunnie told him.
"Same types?" Fin asked
"You know, divorced men."
Munch looked to her over his glasses, "You have a problem with divorced men?"
"Not at all," she smiled, "They're our best paying customers."
"Has anyone been starting trouble with her?" Fin asked getting impatient.
"Come to think of it, she got into a fight with some guy last week. It was a very heated argument."
"What about?" Munch asked.
"I think they we're arguing about something he did for her but she didn't want. I don't know really, I was getting a C-Note in my thong."
"What this guy look like?" Fin asked.
"Tall, maybe like 6'1, built, kind of wide, blond spiky hair, and brown eyes. Would be cute if he could keep his mouth shut," Bunnie said rolling her eyes
Outside of Natasha's apartment complex, Benson and Stabler are walking out.
"35 people and no one saw or heard anything," Stabler complained.
"It was late at night, normal people were sleeping," Benson reminded him.
They stand outside the apartment looking to it.
"We can't quit now, John is counting on us," Stabler said.
"I know. Is there anything else we can do here?"
They look to the building for a few minutes.
"Wait, Natasha's apartment is on the 3rd floor right…" Benson points to the east side of the building, "…there, right?"
"Yeah." Stabler says.
Stabler looks, a smile spreads over his face. "It looks directly into the other building. Right into that…" he points, "…apartment right there. Let's go."
Benson and Stabler walk into the neighboring apartment complex.
Brooklyn; Munch and Fin are on the road. Munch is on his cell phone.
"We got the same description. Ok…ok…thanks," Munch hangs up, "nothing new," he says disappointedly.
"Don't fret about it." Fin told him.
"Hey, why are we in Brooklyn? I thought we were heading back to the station?" Munch asked.
"We're gonna talk to a couple informants of mine," Fin told him.
"Couple of no threat tokers I busted a few times for possession."
"How is this gonna help?"
"Don't you trust me yet? If this dude is selling or dealing they should know."
Fin pulls into a 7-11, two men stand infront. Fin and Munch get out of the car and walk up to them. The one guy is tall with longish blond hair covered by a beanie. The other is shorter and chubby. They both smoke.
"Jay and Silent Bob, we need to talk." Fin calls out.
"Fuck man, the po-po," Jay complains.
Bob just shrugs.
"Silent Bob?" Munch asks.
"Yeah, he doesn't talk much, but Jay does. You two selling again?" Fin asks.
"Nah man, we're just hanging out," Jay tells him.
Munch holds out a picture of Natasha, "Have you seen this girl?"
"Dude thinks he's the terminator or something," Jay says nudging Bob.
Fin pushes him against the brick wall of the store, "How about I empty your pockets and we'll take it from there?"
"Damn yo! We ain't selling anything!" Jay yells.
Fin lets him go, he straightens his jacket.
"Do that to lunchbox here, he might like it." Jay says.
Bob slaps him across the arm.
"Answer my partner's question," Fin tells him.
"Nah, man, we haven't seen that chick."
Bob looks at the picture then snaps his fingers. He starts to dance a bit.
"Oh yeah man, we did see her. She was dancing at Mr. Happy's. Nice ass on her." Jay says blinging Silent Bob. "Was gonna hit on her but her damn boyfriend got in the way."
"What boyfriend?" Munch asks.
"Damn this dude asks a lot of questions," he says to Silent Bob, "A guy named Howie, he tried to muscle us out of our territory. We told him off."
Bob hits him them points to himself. "Ok, Lunchbox told him off." Jay corrects himself.
"You?" Fin asked Bob.
Bob nods happily.
"You saw her with him?" Munch asked.
" Yeah, just a few hours ago. Had a kid with him," Jay tells him.
"Where does he live?" Fin asks.
"Don't know man, but he works out of an abandon warehouse in Manhattan. Use to be a dance club or something."
Fin hands him his business card, "Thanks, next time you get busted give them this. It's a get out of jail free card."
"Will this work in Jersey? We're gonna head back up there, business is better."
"Sure," Fin tells him.
"Thanks." Bob says. Jay hits him across the arm.
Munch and Fin get back the car and drive off.
"Damn it, Howie, Her ex. I should have known!" Munch yells.
"We got him man. Stop worrying. Go on and call Liv and Elliot, I know where this place is." Fin tells him.
Munch gets on his cell phone.
Manhattan: An abandon warehouse in a bad part of the city. Munch and Fin pull up to the side of the building and walk up to a small door. A horrible scent escapes to the outside.
"He's cooking," Fin tells him.
"Jesus, Ayana shouldn't be around that. Let's go."
Munch is about to walk in when Fin pulls him back.
"Now I know your smarter then that. One spark from that gun and we all blow up."
"What do you suppose we do then?"
Fin walks in, Munch is about to yell his name then realizes that would give them both away. Fin walks into a large empty room. There's a small door to the left which he walks over to and knocks on.
"Go away," A gruff voice from inside yells.
"Jay and Silent Bob sends me, heard ya got some product," Fin says.
There are some noises from the other side then the door opens. A tall man, blond hair, blue eyes, and 220 pounds steps out.
"Those little stoners actually came through for me," he smiled, "who the hell are you?"
Fin whips out his badge, "Detective Odafin Tutoula." Fin pushes him up against the wall. "Where are Natasha and Ayana?"
Howie scoffed, "I ain't telling you shit." Suddenly Howie kicks backward, his kick landing on Fin's knee. Fin tumbles to the floor in pain, his gun dropping from his hand. Howie picked it up in a smug manner and spun in it around his finger.
"You cops aren't so bright."
With that he smacked Fin in the head with the gun, knocking him unconscious.
Moments later: Fin wakes up. His eyes flutter to the swinging light over him. He looked around and saw Natasha lying on a cot, Ayana sleeping on her stomach. Fin hurries over to them.
"Natasha…"he shook her.
Ayana woke up.
"'tasha won't wake up."
Fin looks to her bounded arms. There are track marks on the arm nearest to him.
"Are you ok Ayana? He hurt you?"
"He slapped me…I stopped crying. Is papa Munch coming?"
"Yea, he'll be here soon."
Ayana climbs into his lap and cuddles against him.
Outside: Benson and Stabler pull up in one car and Cragen in another. They rush out to Munch who stands by the door.
"What's going on? Where's Fin?" Cragen asks.
"He's in there…I think something is wrong," Munch tells him.
Stabler makes his way to the front of the group, "I'll go in."
"You smell that? He's cooking Elliot," Benson says sniffing the air.
"Besides," Munch says grabbing a bullet-proof vest from the squad car, "I'm going in there."
"Munch…" Cragen starts.
"No. My daughter, her sister and my partner is in there. I'm getting them out."
That said Munch walks in, he stops at the door leading to where Howie is cooking and takes a quick breath. He opens the door quickly; Howie was at the small portable stove cooking his drugs.
"Gonna try your hand at this?" He says with an arrogant smile.
"Just give me the girls and my partner and we'll walk away from this. I promise." Munch pleads.
"Nah," he said shaking his head, "You see, they're integral parts to my plan."
"I really do not believe a meat head like you has a 'plan'."
"You must be the funny one, the comical sidekick to the 'tough' cop."
"Yeah, we're the original odd couple. Give me the girls Howie."
"No. Who else Am' I going to get to push my product?"
"How do you plan on getting a 4 year old to push product."
"For an SVU detective you are clueless. Some guys would gladly buy my product in exchange for a night with a young girl. Real school girl fantasy you know?"
Munch grabs Howie and threw him against the door leading into the room where Natasha and Ayana were. He holds him there and speaks to him through his teeth.
"You…won't touch her or her sister."
Howie smiles and pulls out a lighter.
"You try to stop me, and this whole place goes aflame. I have nothing to lose….how about you?"
Munch hesitates for second, letting his scowl turn into a defeated frown.
"See? Now, you're going to go out there and tell your little friends we escaped. I'll give you partner and stop looking for us. Got me?" Howie tells him.
"I don't like that deal."
Suddenly the door opens behind Howie and Fin pulls him down to the floor by his shirt. Munch stands over him about to handcuff him…
"Go get your daughter John," Fin said.
Munch flashes him a smile, Fin knows it meant 'thank you'. Munch rushes over to Natasha, he unties her and tries to wake her. He gets on his walkie.
"We need a bus, possible OD at the abandon warehouse on Manhattan Street, LETS GO!"
Munch picks up Ayana and hugs her tightly.
"Munchkin, I missed you so much," he hugs her, not planning on letting go.
She returns the hug gladly.
"I missed you too Papa. Is 'tasha gonna be ok?"
Munch strokes a piece of her long brown hair back, "Sure she wills Munchkin."
Later: Manhattan Hospital. Munch walks out an examination room with Ayana, the other detectives are there. Fin has a bandage around his head.
"She's clear! No damage," Munch tells them proudly
The other Detectives look grim.
"What's wrong?" Munch asks.
"Natasha didn't make it John. Howie OD'ed her," Fin tells him sadly.
Munch sighs and hands Ayana to Benson, "Liv, I promised her a soda after the exam…do you mind?"
"No problem John," Benson says taking Ayana and walking down the hall.
Munch rubs his sinuses and slumped up against the wall.
"I want Natasha's burial put on my expense," Munch told the other.
"John, the state will…" Cragen starts.
"The STATE will give her a measly block of granite and call it a proper burial. She deserves better. If it wasn't for her…Ayana might not be alive."
"What do you mean John?" Stabler asked.
"Ayana told me in full detail what happened. Howie came to Ayana with the drugs, wanting to use Natasha for his disgusting plan. Natasha begged him to do it to her…." Munch pulls off his sunglasses, "She saved Ayana's life and she was the first one I blamed when Ayana went missing."
Fin walks over and put an arm around him supportingly.
"It's cool man, you didn't know. None of us knew. You got your daughter back and that's all that matters," Fin told him.
"I got Ayana back, but at the price of her only living relative."
"Not true John, she has you," Stabler told him.
Benson walks back to them with Ayana; he quickly took a hold of her. Munch holds her closely as they walk down the hall.
Later: The 'wee' hours of the morning. Munch sits in his recliner with Ayana asleep on his lap. The suns rays wake him up. His eyes slowly open to the bright light, he smiles as he looks down to Ayana who sleeps peacefully on his lap. He rubs her head lightly…
"So, this is what it's all about?" He said to himself.
He got quiet for a moment….
"It's worth it."